Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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MARTINMAS, n. Also martinmass; marti(e)mas(s) (Wgt. 1720 Session Bk. Glasserton MS. (24 April), 1748 Ib. (17 Jan.)), martymas (Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch xxii.); mertinmas(s) (Gsw. 1904 H. Foulis Erchie v.); mert(i)mass (Ags. 1721 Marriage Contract), mertemass (Inv. 1716 Steuart Letter Bk. (S.H.S.) 31), mertimis (Fif. 1725 A. Laing Lindores (1886) 310); mairtimas (Ags. 1914 Rymour Club Misc. II. 126), mairtimiss (Abd. 1920 G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 21). [′mɑrtɪməs, ′mert-]

Sc. Law: the feast of St. Martin (11th November), recognised as one of the legal annual term-days, the other being Whitsunday, formerly one of the days for the hiring of servants. The Martinmas term day for removals, as opposed to payment of rent, etc., was moved to 28th Nov. by Act 49 and 50 Vict. c.50. Also used attrib. of the first or autumn term of the academical year at the Universities of St Andrews and Glasgow. Comb. Martinmas foy, a feast given to a departing ploughman. See Foy. Ayr. 1700  Arch. & Hist. Coll. Ayr. & Wgt. IV. 196:
For this last cropt and term of mertimass last.
Abd. 1720  Auchterless Kirk Sess. Rec. (8 Aug.):
Accompted for his Intromissions with the annual rents till the terme of Martimas Past.
Sc. 1773  Erskine Institute ii. ix. § 64:
Custom has fixed on two terms in the year, as the periods from which the rents of that year are to be accounted in bonis of the liferenter; the one-half at Whitsunday, when the corns are presumed to be fully sown, and the other half at Martinmas, when they are reaped.
Ayr. 1792  Burns Can ye labour lea i.:
I fee'd a man at Martinmas Wi' airle-pennies three.
ne.Sc. 1881  W. Gregor Folk-Lore 168:
During the burning of the [Halloween] fire and the scattering of the ashes, the half-yearly servants on the farm, if they intended changing masters, sang: — This is Hallaeven, The morn is Halladay; Nine free nichts till Martinmas, As soon they'll wear away.
Knr. 1894  H. Haliburton Furth in Field 20:
It depends a good deal on the departing ploughman's character, or rather disposition, whether his foy at Martinmas is big or little. As many as eight or nine men, with as many of the maid-servants additional, may take part in a Martinmas foy.
Ayr. 1912  G. Cunningham Verse 47:
Boot Mairtimas time aye clubbit thegither And bocht a bit heifer at ane o' the mairts.
Sc. 1927  Gloag & Henderson Intro. Law Scot. 146:
The legal terms, in farms primarily arable, and where the tenant's entry is at Martinmas, are the Whitsunday and Martinmas following the term of entry.

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"Martinmas n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jan 2019 <>



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