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Ultimately derived from the Latin mansus, "dwelling", from manere, "to remain", by the 16th century the term meant both a dwelling and, in ecclesiastical contexts, the amount of land needed to support a single family.
When selling a former manse, the Church of Scotland always requires that the property should not be called "The Manse" by the new owners, but "The Old Manse" or some other acceptable variation. The intended result is that "The Manse" refers to a working building rather than simply applying as a name.
The term "son (or daughter) of the manse" refers to the son or daughter of a Presbyterian minister, who therefore was brought up in a manse.
Among those to whom the epithet has been applied are:
- Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for International Development
- Wendy Alexander (sister of Douglas), Labour MSP; former leader of the Labour Party group in the Scottish Parliament (2007–2008); former minister in the Scottish Executive (1999–2002)
- John Logie Baird, engineer and inventor of the world's first working television system
- Richard Baker MSP, Shadow Justice Minister in the Scottish Parliament
- Lord Beaverbrook, press baron
- Gordon Brown, former Chancellor of the Exchequer (1997-2007) and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (2007-2010)
- John Buchan, novelist and Unionist MP, served as Governor General of Canada
- Peter Fraser, advocate; former Lord Advocate (1989–1992); former Conservative and Unionist MP
- David Frost, interviewer and broadcaster
- James Gray, Conservative MP
- William "Captain" Kidd, pirate, was reputed to have been a "son of the manse", but this has been discounted.
- Andrew Bonar Law, former Prime Minister (1922–1923)
- Eric Liddell, athlete and rugby internationalist, winner of the 400 metres at the 1924 Olympic Games; missionary to China; portrayed in the film Chariots of Fire
- Angus MacVicar, Scottish author and playwright
- Sheena McDonald, broadcaster
- Michael Moore, Liberal Democrat MP
- Rab C. Nesbitt, fictional layabout
- George Reid, fourth Prime Minister of Australia
- John Reith, founder of the BBC
- William Ritchie Sorley, philosopher
- David Steel, former leader of the Liberal Party and the Social and Liberal Democrats; former Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament
- David Tennant (stage name of David McDonald), actor
- William Montgomery Watt, Islamic studies scholar and Orientalist
- Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States of America
- John Witherspoon, signatory of the United States Declaration of Independence
- David Goy QC, Tax barrister
- Josiah Dennis, First minister of the East Yarmouth Parish, as the town of Dennis, Massachusetts was known in 1736.