Scot free

Scot and lot (from Old French escot, Old English sceot, a payment; lot, a portion or share) is a phrase common in the records of English medieval boroughs, applied to householders who were assessed for a tax (such as tallage) paid to the borough for local or national purposes.

They were usually members of a merchant guild.

Before the Reform Act 1832, those who paid scot and bore lot were often entitled to the franchise. The expression used today originated from this time period. Those who did not pay their taxes "got off 'scot-free'".

References

  • D. P. Fry, 'On the Phrase Scot and Lot', in Trans. Philological Society (1867), pp. 167-197;
  • C. Gross, Gild Merchant, i. c. iv.
  • Pollock and Maitland, Hist. Eng. Law, p. 647.
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