The title
of Sir applied to Priests; and academic titles.

It can be
confusing at times to see priests with the prefix Sir
which was a common title given to them in England and
Scotland in the sixteenth century. The origin  of
this application , or rather the peculiar class of the
Priesthood to whom it was applicable, has not been well
defined.  It was essentially to distinguish them from
persons of civil or military Knighthood that they were
first called the Pope`s Knights, and not as some have
supposed, a title conferred on them by  the Bishop of
Rome. Walter Myln for example, replied to his accusers
when they called him Sir Walter  that “I have been
ouer long one of the Pope`s Knights.”.

A better
and more logical explanation is given in Laing`s Works of Knox
 which explains that it denoted the academic rank or
degree which had been taken, and not intended to denote an
inferior rank of priesthood. The title was never applied
to laymen but given to regular and secular clergy, or
other`s in Priests Orders who had  taken their
Bachelor degree, but was not in itself an academic rank. 
Those priests who were appointed Chaplains were chiefly
those persons who had  not been able, for a variety
of reasons, to pursue their studies to a Master of Art`s
degree and were given the title to mark the difference.
The title of Master or Maister, by those who graduated was jealously guarded to
the turn of  the 17th century and is still used by some

On the
other hand ecclesiastics of all ranks from Archbishop 
and Abbotts, to Friars and Vicars who had a Master of
Art`s degree were never called Sir, always Master, prefixed
to their baptismal name in addition to their office, thus Maister James Beaton, Archbishop of St Andrews; Maister
Patrick Hepburn , Prior of St Andrews.

designations are also difficult. The three universities in
Scotland which were founded in the 15th century took as
their model the Universities of Paris and Bologna. The
general name given to all students was  Supposita
or Supposts implying that they were subject to the
Provost and Masters in the University.  The
were persons who had taken an oath
on entering the college and were matriculated in the
registers. Confusingly this was not confined to just those
educated in that college but could also include persons of
learning (and age) from elsewhere. The usual course lasted
for four years  and devoted to philosophy, including
rhetoric, dialectics, ethics and physics. In the middle of
the third year students were allowed to propose themselves 
as candidates for a Bachelor`s degree. For this purpose
those who had completed or determined their course ,
obtained the title of Determinants. Those who
acquitted themselves were then confirmed Bachelors by the
Dean of Faculty. The Intrantes or Licentates 
were a class further advanced  and the title denoted
that they  were preparing to take their Masters
degree. A more extended examination was taken for the
Master of Art`s degree before they were laureated;
which allowed them to teach .

The Tonsure.

The shaving of the hair as a symbol of
clerical office  was not a Church custom until the end of the fifth
century but it became the norm in the sixth century when the “corona
clerici” was adopted. It was advocated sometimes as a memorial of the
Crown of Thorns, sometimes as a prophetic emblem of the unfading crown of
glory. Celtic monks shaved only the forehead, in front of a line drawn
from ear to ear, leaving long locks behind.