A machine resembling the guillotine for beheading criminals in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; brought to Scotland by the Regent Morton from Halifax, in Yorkshire, for the purpose of beheading the laird of Pennycuick. It was also called “the widow.”
(A). One in which there is no person to be brought to trial. We have also the expressions maiden tree, one never lopped; maiden fortress, one never taken; maiden speech; etc. In a maiden assize, the sheriff of the county presents the judge with a pair of white gloves. White gloves symbolise innocence. Maiden primarily means unspotted, unpolluted, innocent; thus Hubert says to the king-
This hand of mine Is yet a maiden and an innocent hand, Not painted with the crimson spots of blood.
(The). Malcolm IV. of Scotland. (1141, 1153-1165.)
“Malcolm ... son of the brave and generous Prince Henry ... was so
kind and gentle in his disposition, that he was usually called Malcolm
the Maiden.” —
(London). So called from an image of the Maiden or Virgin Mary, which stood there before the Reformation.
or Virgin Queen. Elizabeth, Queen of England, who never married. (1533, 1558-1603.)
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894