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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 1986 (DOST Vol. VI).

Portag(e, n. Also: porth-, poirt- and -adge; -aig(e, -ayg; -ege. [Late ME and e.m.E. portage action of carrying (Prompt. Parv.), freight (1454), cost of carriage (1472–3), tonnage (1436), (mariner's) portage (Cely Papers, 1485–6), AF portage, F. portage action of carrying, also (OF) tax paid on entering a town, med. L. portagium, f. L. portāre to carry.] Portage.

1. The action of carrying or transporting (goods; also, once, passengers); carriage, transportation.(1) 1498 Halyb. 95.
For the porthag
1633 Linlithgow B. Rec. 16 Aug.
That no merchand grant poirtage to skipperis … dualland in wnfrie brugh
1666-74 Fraser Polichron. 313.
Plunder of all sorts fit for portage was carried away
(2) 1498 Halyb. 160.
Paid for portag of ij gret masses of lettris fra Rom
1538 Treas. Acc. VII 40.
For the portage of the said wyne fra the caiff to the boit
1567 Edinb. Test. I 28.
Portage and cariage of the geir foirsaid
1669 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. III 72.
The portadge [of letters] to be at the rates following, viz., for the portadge and cariadge of every single letter … tuo shilling Scotts money
(3) c1590 J. Stewart 79/235.
Or in Barcelone to byd Quhill thay the portage of sum schip mycht gaine

2. Burden, tonnage (of a ship). 1494 Acta Conc. I 381/1.
Gif it sall happin the said schip to be of mare portage [etc.]
1632 Acts V 243/1.
Thair … shippes … of quhatsomeuer portage or burden

3. concr. The goods transported or for transportation.In our examples, only by ship: freight, cargo. 1513 Doug. ii iii 64.
With alkyn portage quhilk was hydder brocht In barge [etc.] … our see
Ib. iii ii 6.
Ȝe mycht haue sene the costis and the strandis Fillit with portage and pepil tharon standis
1550 (c 1650) Dundee B. Laws 13.
That all portage be giwen vp in judgment to be disponed at the will of the counsell with the rest of the guides principall under the paine of confiscation of the said portage
1592 Burntisland B. Ct. 26 May.
The boit fraucht off certane barrellis off portage
1694 M.P. Brown Suppl. Decis. IV 204.
That portage being only as ballast

b. spec. A part of the cargo which a member of the crew was entitled to ship as his share of the venture, sometimes forming part of his wages; a ‘mariner's portage’.(1) ?14.. Ship Laws c. 10 (B).
Ilk yhong man aucht to schaw thair maystyrys qwhat maner of wecht thai sal tak in for thair portage
The maystyr aw to say tyl his falows, Lordys frauchtys in yhour portage [Harl. S. 2 portaige]
1551 Dundee B. Ct. II fol. 88 b (18 Sept.).
His childris portage ane last yrne & ane last tar
1590 Welwod 61.
The mariners may aither kiepe thair portage in thair awn hand or sett it for sic fraucht as the schip gets, nather is it to be required quhat stuffe be in thair portage but what bowk, nather is the schip halden to byde quhil they prepare thir [sic] portage
1589-1600 Skipper's Acc. (Morton) 13 a.
The sum of thar portage
Ib. 55 b.
For the compenyes portage tha woll be awne for costom and for losing of the colis and oupe bering xvi s. 8 d.
1602 Conv. Burghs II 134.
Gif the schip be laydnit with … girnell geir, the marineris portage to be put in girnell with the rest
Ib. 137.
That na skipper salbe obleist to ansuer ony of his company of thair furing or portage efter the schip is full laydin
1622-6 Bisset II 247/5.
16.. Admir. Ct. Form 64.
But becaus commonly the sailers gets not leave to lay on ther portage aboard they get fraught for ther portage as the Mr. peyes to the skipper … all chairges born them [etc.]
1675 Glasgow B. Rec. III 206.
That … the said incorporatiounes … [try] to hyre them without giving them any portage … that they obleidge the said skippers … to mak the first offer of the portage to the awners or fraughters that hyres them
(2) 1556 Dundee B. Ct. III fol. 42 (11 April).
Enterit his schip with thir gudis … Walter Cryste nyne last of beir with ane last of portage
1579 Reg. Privy C. III 247.
[They have been] in use and consuetude, past memorie of man, of portage as ane part of thair fie and hyir for the said navigatioun
1588 Dundee Shipping L. 222.
The childer hes of portaig thrie last & ane half; the rest appertenis to the awneris … mercheandis & maryneris
1589 St. A. B. Ct. 2 Sept.
The said James Jak to saill with him … for certane hyre and portage
1589-1600 Skipper's Acc. (Morton) 19 b.
That the schip hes maid owt … is iii scor and ii lastes with portege and all … is iiii lib. xii s.
Ib. 49 b.
Ib. 66 b.
Chelderis hiris out of Dansking To Robert Stene for hes haf hiris and iii barellis portage
16.. Admir. Ct. Form 64.
Portage in Dutch is called fureing … when the Mrs. agrees with the sailers for such ane number off crownes off wages he agrees also for so many punshions off portage
Ib. 65.
And the skipper hes no power of loadening or laying in any thing, no not so much as portage
(3) 1589-1600 Skipper's Acc. (Morton) 2 a.
Taking of the portegis viii tons iii ponchons is to the aneris

c. attrib.? Also Portage burde and Portag(e daill. 1579 Reg. Privy C. III 247.
Without he transport agane his said portage wyne to … Leith
1600-1610 Melvill 168.
My cusing … conducit a bott to carie a town of his portage wyn about to Carell
1603 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. I 434.
To pay to him x s. restand of his fie and viij s. for portage coillis

4. Freight or carriage charges, porterage.1669 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. III 72 (see 1 (2) above). 1692 Conv. Burghs IV 158.
His releife from all importers and exporters … not excepting portadge

5. The house of the portayg, in sense 3, or perh. sense 4, above. — 1601 Dundee Shipping P. 72.
For the despaytch of the wayne and the schip in the hows of the portayg

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"Portag n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 28 Sep 2022 <>



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