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

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First published 2001 (DOST Vol. X).

Thirlage, Thrillage, Thrallage, n. Also: thirllage, thirladge, -aige, -e(a)ge, thirl(l)edge, thirlige, thirlelege, therlage, thrillag, -ege, thryl(l)age, threllage. [Thirl(l n., v.2 Also in the later dial.]

1. Thraldom, subjection, servitude, or an instance of this. Also fig.(1) 1375 Barb. i 101.
Landis … That he put to swylk thrillage That thai that war off hey parage Suld ryn on fute as rebaldaill
1375 Barb. i 352.
To luk gyff he … Mycht wyn … his men out off all thryllage
1375 Barb. i 471.
To delyuer thar countre Fra folk that … Held thaim and thairis in thrillage
1375 Barb. i 113.
c1400 Troy-bk. ii 984 (C).
c1420 Wynt. ii 537.
1513 Doug. viii Prol. 38.
The thral tobe of thrillage [Sm. thirllage, Ruddim. thirlage] Langis ful sair
(b) c1475 Wall. iii 61.
For freindis thaim tauld was bound wndir trewage [1570 was bundin in thirllage] That [etc.]
1526 St. P. Henry VIII IV i 434.
His hienes will pretermitt all sic articulis quhare throw indignacioune or thirlage may rise
1531 Bell. Boece I 170.
The Romanis contending to saif thaim fra thirlage of barbar pepill
1549 Compl. 93/1 (see Thirl(l v.2 1 p.p. (1)).
c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus ii 272.
Infidelis … he did downe thring Be battell mort, and put thame to thirlage
1567 G. Ball. 97.
(c) c1420 Wynt. i 463 (W).
At he To Seme and Japhet in thrallage [R. threllage, E. thrillage] Suld serue
(2) 14.. Reg. Maj. c. 45.
Sal euermar be fre mane frely to pas quhar he will ner or fer for outyn ony manis askyng for resoune that to bondagis or to thrillagis in ony maner is pertenand
1460 Hay Alex. 2924.
I haue gret wounder that ȝe dar But his [sc. Darius'] consent gif ony lord trewage Or put this citie in ony wrang thirlage
?a1500 Steel Roy Robert 140.
Thir exilit all ȝour fals barnageis And fred our realme of all thirlageis
1533 Boece 6b.
Than be new invasioun of Scottis and Pichtis almaist subdewit to the first thirllage … fra Saxouns thay [sc. the Britons] implorit helpe

b. fig. Spiritual bondage, esp. to sin or Hell. 1540 Lynd. Sat. 3461 (Ch.).
Quhen our foir-father fell … Captive from gloir in thirlage to the hel
a1568 Scott xv 4.
Vp helsum hairt! … Art thow nocht … Fermit in grace and free of all thirlaige
a1568 Bann. MS 44a/15.
Adame … Maid ws to licht … Law in to hell in grit thirlelege

c. transf. A bond or tie of some other sort, as, old age, marriage. 1513 Doug. xi iv 61.
This mysfortoun is myne of ald thirlage, As tharto detbund in my wrachit age [L. sors ista senectae debita erat nostrae]
1530 Lynd. Test. Pap. 865.
Thay [sc. the clergy] wald no more to mariage be thrall … Apperandlye, thay did expell thare wyffis, That thay mycht leif at large without thirlage

2. Legal servitude, service due to a superior, or an instance of this. 1491 Ayr Friars Pr. Chart. 62.
Als frely of ony annuell or ony wthir thirllage as befoir the day of myn infeftment in the samyn
1533 Bell. Livy I 96/14.
And euery ane of thir partis war callit tribis, be thirllage of tribute that thai aucht to pay to the king
1549 Lamb Resonyng 91/6.
Kyng Henrie … marijt Matild, this sam Edgaris sistir, and swa it apperit that Kyng Henrie wald nocht haif chargit his guid-brothir with sic ane vnpleisand thirlage
1549 Lamb Resonyng 165/2.
Gife sic superioritie had bene, we repute ane greit honour for to haue fred our selffis fra sic thirlage

b. specif. The servitude of having grain ground at a specified mill, or the right of a superior to such a servitude from tenants; subjection (of lands) to such a system. Also, an instance of this. Cf. Thirl(l n.(1) 1556 Wemyss Chart. 184.
The mylne and mylne landis of Cameron with the haill multuris … uith all thirleage and sukkin thairof
1581 Glasgow B. Rec. I 87.
Cassis, annullis, abrogatis and of na force strenth nor effect makis the foirsaid pretendit statute of thirlage … permittand … the burgessis … to grind thair stufe at quhatsumeuir myln thai pleis
1607 Melrose Reg. Rec. I 40.
The first pairt of the allegeance aucht to be repellit in respect of the persewaris seasing produceit of the mylne and astrictit multeris libellit and alse of the act of thirlege
a1633 Hope Major Pract. I 216.
Thirlage of landis being clear be ane infeftment or wther tytle the quantitie of the multur might be craved according to the use and custome of the most part of the lands thirlit and astricted to the milne
a1633 Hope Major Pract. I 217.
The lords fand that 40 yeirs' possession with acts of court could not prove thirlage except ther wer ane direct deid done be the maister
1660 Melrose Reg. Rec. I 331.
Everie one of them hes a chartour beareing them free of thirlledge to any mylne
1663 Aberd. Council Lett. IV 242.
It wilbe verie expedient to obtaine that act of thirladge of his landes
1666 Melrose Reg. Rec. II 162.
1675 Holmains Baron Ct. 22 Nov.
John Irving elder and George Walker confessed to breaking thirlage
1681 Stair Inst. ii vii § 21.
Thirlage is extended to sequels, which is understood to be the knaveship, bannock or lock, payable besides the multures, to the millers and their servants for their service
1681 Stair Inst. iv xv § 5.
Thirlage of lands to mills of the King's property is sufficiently instructed by use of coming to the mill and paying the insucken multures
1681 Stair Inst. ii vii § 16.
The first and most unquestionable way of constitution of thirlage is, when an heritor thirleth his own lands to his own mill, by consent of his tenants, whereby the multure becomes a part of the rent
(b) 1676 Aberd. Council Lett. VI 5.
The magistratts … promised a decreit of therlage against the old towne
(2) 1607 Melrose Reg. Rec. I 40.
In sua far as the deffenders denys the thirlege the persewar takis instrumentis thairupone
1662 Decis. Lords G. 12.
He and his authors have been in immemorial possession of the astricted multures lybelled … possession immemorial is equivalent to a legal constitution of a thirlage
1667 Rothesay B. Rec. 130.
His maister … producit ane seasing grantit to his umquhile father of the said thirladge

c. (A) servitude to a proprietor's asset other than a mill. 1650 Glasgow Chart. II 7.
Togidder with the superioritie and thirlige off all and sindrie tuentie thrie killis … situat neir the saidis mylnes
1670 M. P. Brown Suppl. Decis. II 474.
Seeing as a man may thirl his tenants to his own mill, so he may thirl them to a boat built by himself … and this thirlage will affect the ground and pass with it

d. = Sucken n., the lands astricted to a specified mill for the grinding of tenants' grain. 1663 Decis. Lords G. 69.
It was alledged that invecta & illata cannot be extended to such corns as are bought by merchants and … made malt of within the town … thereafter transported over seas … It was answered that invecta & illata is and ought to be extended to all corns that tholes fire and water within the thirlage whithersoever the victual be transported
1678 Fountainhall Decis. I 25.
Corns which were imported ungrinded, and killed and milled within the bounds of the thirlage
1694 M. P. Brown Suppl. Decis. IV 188.
Anent their obligation to go to the milns with malt bought within the thirlege

3. Alienation of property or land; mortgaging. 1578 Acts III 100/2.
Quhatsumeuir rentis … & vtheris proffittis micht be brocht in pertening to his maiestie other in propertie or casualitie besydis the thirlage of his awin leving & the rentis of his proper dependance

4. A burden, imposition (on one's assets). 1570–1 Reg. Privy S. VI 206/1.
The commoun rentis of our said burgh in respect of the greit thirlage thairof is nocht abill to big … the saidis bulwerk … without the help … of ane exactioun

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"Thirlage n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 6 Oct 2022 <>



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