Definition for BOR'OUGH

BOR'OUGH, n.2 [bur'ro; Sax. borhoe, a surety; borgian, to borrow; borg, interest; borga, a debtor, a surety; borgwed, a promise or bond for appearance, a pledge; borg-bryce, burg-break, violation of pledge; borghand, borhhand, a surety or bail; beorgan, to keep, guard or preserve; G. and D. borgen, to borrow. See the preceding word.]

In Saxon times, a main pledge, or association of men, who were sureties or free pledges to the king for the good behavior of each other, and if any offense was committed in their district, they were bound to have the offender forthcoming. The association of ten men was called a tithing, or decenary; the presiding man was called the tithing-man, or head-borough; or in some places, borsholder, borough's elder. This society was called also friburg, free burg, frank pledge. Ten tithings formed a hundred, consisting of that number of sureties, and this denomination is still given to the districts comprehended in the association. The term seems to have been used both for the society and for each surety. The word main, hand, which is attached to this society, or their mutual assurance, indicates that the agreement was ratified by shaking hands. Spelman. Blackstone. Cowel. Some writers have suggested that the application of this word to towns sprung from these associations, and of course was posterior to them in time. [See Encyc. Art. Borough.] But the word was used for a town or castle in other nations, and in Asia, doubtless long before the origin of the frank pledge. In Connecticut, this word, borough, is used for a town or a part of a town, or a village, incorporated with certain privileges, distinct from those of other towns and of cities. In Scotland, a borough is a body corporate, consisting of the inhabitants of a certain district, erected by the sovereign, with a certain jurisdiction. Boroughs are erected to be held of the sovereign, as is generally the case of royal boroughs; or of the superior of the lands included, as in the case of boroughs of regality and a barony. Royal boroughs are generally erected for the advantage of trade. – Encyc. Borough English, is a customary descent of lands and tenements to the youngest son, instead of the eldest; or if the owner leaves no son, to the youngest brother. – Blackstone. Cowel. Borough-head, the same as head-borough, the chief of a borough. – Ash.

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