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Maiden

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.”

He who invented the maiden first hanselled it.
Referring to Regent Morton, who introduced this sort of guillotine into Scotland, erroneously said to have been the first to suffer by it. Thomas Scott, one of the murderers of Rizzio, was beheaded by it in 1566, fifteen years before Morton's execution.

Maiden Assize

(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.

Shakespeare: King John, iv. 2.

Maiden King

(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.” —Scott: Tales of a Grandfather, iv.

Maiden Lane

(London). So called from an image of the Maiden or Virgin Mary, which stood there before the Reformation.

Maiden

or Virgin Queen. Elizabeth, Queen of England, who never married. (1533, 1558-1603.)

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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