;for which most dutiful kind of dealing towards us, the same appearing most evidently to proceed of a singular and an extraordinary zeal and devotion you bear towards us, we could not in honor but by our letters make known unto you in what great good part we accept the same, and how sorry we were to see your honourable mind wounded with so just cause of grief as seemeth to have grown of our Deputy’s over-strait dealing towards you, to whom we have by our letters presently sent unto him signified how greatly we do mislike the same: as also commanded him not only to further hereafter your service to the uttermost of his power, but also to seek by all the means he may to repair the decay of your reputation and credit, that lately hath ensued by his hasty and violent breaking of the said enterprize

I guess that 'strait' here is an archaic spelling of the modern 'straight', but then how to deduce further? I tried Google to no avail. My guess: Figuratively, 'straight' means 'Not evasive; honest', based on definition 3. So 'overstraight = overly straight => overly honest. Yet this contradicts the fact that the Queen mislike[s] the Deputy's dealing, so the Deputy probably isn't being honest?

  • 4
    Strait (tight, narrow, strict) and straight (uncurved, direct, honest) are not related. Commented Jan 10, 2015 at 20:00
  • 2
    This question appears to be off-topic. It would fit better on English Language & Usage
    – Jasper
    Commented Jan 10, 2015 at 21:39
  • 3
    I read it as straight but parsed it as strict, I didn't realise strait could mean strict. I like how I learn things about my own language on this site. :)
    – Alan Third
    Commented Jan 10, 2015 at 21:47
  • Where is the "deputy", and who and where is the "you" in "dealing towards you"?
    – user3169
    Commented Jan 10, 2015 at 22:24

3 Answers 3

  1. Forms overstreit adj. [see below for streit] Etymology From streit adj. Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

(a) Too precise, too rigorous; (b) too perilous, too severe.

[So, the dealing was not liberal. It was one of those definitions above.]

In the margin [of this entry]: Related Dictionary Entries [I assume this is an alternate spelling too] Oxford English Dictionary (Please note that the OED is a subscription resource)

The earliest known use of the adjective over-strait is in the Middle English period (1150—1500).

OED's earliest evidence for over-strait is from before 1400, in the writing of Robert Mannyng, poet and historian.

over-strait is formed within English, by derivation.

Etymons: over- prefix, strait adj.

over-strait, adj. Opens in a new window

University of Michigan_Middle English Dictionary

[2) streit, adj., O.Fr. estreit ; strait, ' stricfus,'

' angustus, artus,' PR. p. 479; LA5. 22270;

Bek. 260 ; Ch. C. t. ^ 174 ; streit ))at is to

seie narou Mand. 45 ; strait ayenb. 54 ;

strei3t blind Trev. VI. 235 ; till a strdte

{sb.) thai held thair wai Barb. iv. 458 ;

strdtest {stiperl.) Barb. vi. 463.

straitnes, sb., narrowness, Barb. xii. 430.

3) over-hand, -herre, -lej^er, -ling, -lippe,

-man, see under uver.

There are 708 entries with over in them, many under uver. Either before a verb, after a verb or alone or with a passed participle etc.

This dictionary is hard to understand for a non-specialist like myself but it does seem that strait aka streit means narrow.

To me this seems to mean the opposite of: overly liberal dealing with

Middle English Dictionary

The dictionary is from Oxford University Press in 1891, it is by FRANCIS HENRY STRATMANN A NEW EDITION, RE-ARRANGED, REVISED, AND ENLARGED BY HENRY BRADLEY.]


After looking at the larger context of this letter, I agree that the comments are likely correct and that "strait" here means "strict" or "by-the-rules."

In this letter, the Queen is apologizing because her Deputy (like an administrator), refused the Duke's request/offer of assistance. It seems that his offer may have been extravagant. The footnotes mention that he asked to serve under the Deputy and offered to enlist his private military forces in direct service to the Deputy. The Deputy refused these offers and the Duke got upset and (presumably) complained to the Queen about it.

We don't know all of the politics that would have been involved, but likely, the Deputy didn't want to have to work with the Duke and refused him on a technicality, which the Queen then overrode.


English language and spelling has changed a bit in 440 years. Therefore I agree with @Jasper that this is a bit off topic for ELL.

The following explanation is my opinion. I don't claim to be an expert on archaic expressions and spelling.

The paragraph is a apology. The cause is "our Deputy’s over-strait dealing towards you". I agree with you that 'strait' is likely to be a different spelling of our word 'straight'. The sense is that the Deputy has been too straight and therefore rude by honesty. We might use blunt or outspoken. This would be consistent with use of mislike.

  • I thought this sounded like a reasonable answer, but looking at a larger piece of the context, that doesn't seem to be the meaning. books.google.com/… Commented Mar 7 at 13:41

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