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

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First published 2000 (DOST Vol. VIII).

Sarplar(e, Serpl(a)ith, n. Also: serplar(e, -air, -er; sarpleth, serplath, -eth, serplarth, serpla(y)t; sirpleth, -ith(e; surplaith, -at; sorpclaith; abbrev. serp. [ME sarpler (north., 1353–4), sarpuler (Chaucer), sarp(e)lere (Lydgate), e.m.E. sarpler (a1513), sarplier (1565), AF sarpler (1321–2 in OED), OF sarpilliere, cerpiliere, serpilliere (late 12th c., c1340 and 1403 in Larousse), med. L. sarpellarium, etc., serpalarius (1171 and 1208 in Latham); cf. MDu. sarp-, serpelier(e ‘a quantity of wool of a certain weight’ (Verwijs and Verdam).-aith, etc., the later Sc. ending, may have developed through -arth, perhaps, as in the case of sorpclaith, also influenced by Clath(e n.]

1. A bale of wool, skins or cloth, of a more or less standard amount, latterly authoritatively defined as amounting to eighty stones of weight.[
Sarplarium 1417 Exch. R. IV 270.
Ib. 275. 1483 Latham Med. L. Word List s.v. Sarpellarium.]
(a) 1428 Edinb. Chart. 63.
For ilk sarplare of wole and skynes, of friemen … iiij d., … of ilk twn, of friemen iiij d. … , and of all vther thingis, pock, pack and barrell, proportionablie ansuerand to the sarplar and to the twn
1447 Aberd. B. Rec. MS IV p. 495 (20 Oct.).
Of ilke sarplar of skynnis x s. and of ilke sarplar of woll ix s.
1457 Acts II 49/1.
It is sene speidfull … that thar saill na persounis bot hable and of gud fame and at he haif at the lest thre serplaris
1458 Reg. Great S. 142/2.
1464–5 Acts XII 30/2.
1478 Acta Conc. I 11/1.
[They] consentit … to compere … one Friday next tocum for the pley of the serplare of woll
1479 Ib. 28/1.
1483 Acts II 166/1.
The merchandis sall … bring in of ilk serplar of woll skynn hidis and claith … four vnce of brynt siluir
1492 Acta Conc. I 252/1.
Our souerane lordis lettrez … twiching thre serplaris of skynnis
(b) 1447 Dundee Chart. 24.
1458 Reg. Great S. 143/1.
Of strangeris and wnfremen foure pennys, and of al wthire thingis, pok, pak, and baraile proportionable ansuerand to the serplare and the town
(c) 1520 (c1580) Edinb. B. Rec. I 198.
For ilk pak of woll lattin out of the loft, cairtyng and weying of the samyn, iiij d., and of ilk serplarth takyn furth of the loft, carting and weying vj d.
(d) 1436 Acts II 23/2.
Ande of vthir gudis that aw na custum or that aw custum eftir the fraucht of the serplaith that is to say it at payis as a serplaith in fraucht sal bring thre vnce of bulȝeon hame
1482 Edinb. Chart. 167.
Of ilk freman … of ilk serplaith wol or skynnis iiii d. … and of all vther sic like thingis, baith polk, pak, and barell, proporcionably ansuerand to the serplaith and to the ton
1538 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 473.
Ilk serpleth of woll, ilk last of salmond, ilk iiiic claith, four uncis of brynt silvir
1582 Conv. Burghs I 140.
Ilk serpleth gudes to Danskyne and the eistar seais to be estimatt be the tun
1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Bvllion.
The serplaith of lambskins con. 8000 iiij ounce; the serp. of cunning skins con. 16000 iiij ounce; ilk serplaith of futfelles con. 4000 iiij ounce
Ib. s.v.
Serplath … conteinis foure score stanes for the Lordes of Councel in anno 1527 decerned four serplaithes of packed wooll to conteine sexteene score stanes of wooll … The merchandes vsis to pay fraucht for their gudes to Flanders be the sek, to France, Spayne and England be the tunne, and to Danskene and the Easter seas be the serplath
1597 Bk. Rates in Halyb. cxvi.
Ilk serplaith of cunning skynes contenand xvjm
1685 Paterson Sc. Arithm. 7.
(e) 1499 Halyb. 225.
The said Thomas left with me in Brugis ij serplaytis of woll
(f) 1495 Treas. Acc. I 220.
Tane fra the sammyn [sc. warehouse], x sarpleth of pakkit woll; price of the sarpleth xl li.
(g) 1518–19 (c1580) Edinb. B. Rec. I 186.
For the fraucht of xix s. gr. and xviij s. gr. the sirpleth of woll and skin
1554 Ib. II 203.
Because the merchandice passis nocht conform to the saidis ackis be sirpleth and vtheruis
1570 Reg. Privy S. VI 165/2.
Les nor he haif free thre sirpleth of guidis
1624 Huntar Weights & Measures 3.
1686 Mackenzie Observ. 119.
The sirplith of goods which was the common fraughting of merchandise betwixt this countrey and the eastern countreys is esteem'd to weigh eighty stone-weight or 1280 pound weight
(h) 1489 Aberd. B. Rec. I 416.
Thomas Mar sal deliver … ane surplat [pr. susplat] of woll in the Feir contening alsmony wauis [pr. wanis] and nalys of wecht as the surplat [pr. susplat] of woll that was the said Alexander Redes wecht
1542 Acts & Decr. MS I 141.
Ane surplaith of kirsp, ane of lane, ane of holane claith

2. transf. A wrapping or sack for a bale of wool or skins.(a) 1522 Dundee B. Ct. I fol. 100b (30 July).
Malcum Alderman … has … prefit … the deliuering as efferis of [4] canwes serplatis of the said maister Robertis
1537 Treas. Acc. VI 333.
Fourty aucht elnis canves to be serpleth to cary the kingis woll [£3 4 s.]
(b) 1535 Treas. Acc. VI 261.
ijcxxx elnis barres canwes to be sorpclaithis to cary the kingis gracis woll fra Selkirk, and to pak the samyn to be send to the sey [£17 5 s.]

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



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