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

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First published 2002 (DOST Vol. XI).

Tun, Ton, n. Also: tun(n)(e, twnn-, twn(e, ton(n)(e, town(n)(e, toun(n)(e, thon(e, thoune. [ME and e.m.E. tunne (Layamon), tun (Cursor M.), tonne (c1325), toun (Trevisa), townne (c1425), tune (c1475), ton (1531), tounne (1577), OE tunne, OF tonne, med. L. tunna, MLG tunne, MDu. tonne, MIr., Ir., Gael. tunna.]

1. A barrel, a cask ((of) a commodity). Chiefly used for the transportation of wine but also for other goods. Also fig. or in fig. context.(1) 1375 Barb. v 403.
In the wyne-sellar … he … off the townnys [C. tunnys] the hedis outstrak
?14.. Ship Laws c. 28 (B).
Gyf a ton or a pype be tynte in the wyndyng … the maystyr aw to mak thaim gude
1492 Aberd. B. Rec. I 419.
The merchandis … sal bringe hame … for euere sek j tovne and d. of gudis humvart
1517 Wigtown B. Ct. 77a.
Johne Schevaleyre marciand … hais sellyt ane chyp of Cascone vyne contenand xviii thonys for xxiiii cronys the thovne of vyne
1538 Treas. Acc. VIII 158.
Coft auchtene of syddir, cost ilk tune for fraucht treis and all expensis nyne frankis the tune
c1575 Balfour Pract. 635.
It is … forbiddin to all cheifis [etc.] … quarter-masters and marineris, to mak opning of ony cofferis, … packettis, maillis, … tunnis, or utheris vessellis, of ony prizes that thay tak
1598 Skipper's Acc. (Morton) 11a.
Sum of tons scho is maid is iii scor 2 tons ine monyeis v honderis [etc.]
1598 Skipper's Acc. (Morton) 11a.
vi last samone at vii frankis the tone
1665 Aberd. Council Lett. IV 284.
The saids sex tuns with the furnitur underwretin viz: ane iron sling, aught cheingȝies sex bolts with sex vadges to lock the bolts, four iron gavelocks
1674 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. IV 275.
Importation of brandie upon payment of ten lib. sterling per tune for custome
1680 Torry Coal & Salt Wks. 80a.
7 girds on two tuns for lifting salt
(2) c1390-1434 Sc. Merchandise 120.
Fore how mony scheldis that the ton of wyne is bocht
1458 Reg. Great S. 143/1.
[To levy] of ilke town … of gernelgud of fremen 2 pennys
1474 Acta Aud. 31/1.
Twa tunne of wad
1488 Acta Conc. I 97/2.
1503 Crim. Trials I i 120.
1510 Rentale Dunkeld. (SHS) 7.
1531 Aberd. Pynours 61.
1574–5 Reg. Privy S. VII 5/2.
The … exactioun following … twa schillingis of everie tun of guidis enterand within the said port
1581 Edinb. Test. IX 174.
Tuentie twnnis of full met wyne
1590 Edinb. B. Rec. V 19.
Four tounnis of beir with foure gang of aill and to furneis breid
1594 Conv. Burghs I 438.
For vptaking … of euery twn of geir that sall … cum fra forayne natiouns and lose vpoun thair schoir, twelf penneis
c1595 Skipper's Acc. (Morton) 73a.
Thes is the count of the tones of wyne and fraycht that the schepe is maid
1602 Conv. Burghs II 134.
Sex bollis salt makis ane twn of furing hamewart and outward
1612 Bk. Rates (Halyb.) 334.
All … wynes of the Frenche kingis dominionis in impost for euery tun thairof [£36]
1652–3 Dumbarton Common Gd. Acc. 189.
Ane tune of vinnegar
1595 Conv. Burghs I 466.
Tua twn hering
(3) fig. a1500 K. Hart 424.
Dame Plesance hes gart perce Dame Venus' tun
a1500 Quare Jel. 536.
Yf thé lestith as thou hath begonne Of jelusy to drinkyn of the tonne
1513 Doug. i Prol. 59 (Sm.).
All man purches drink at thi sugurat tone
1535 Stewart 37224.
Malcum Duffe … Tuke sic seiknes … all his bodie swellit lyk ane tun

Passing into: b. A cask or barrel of a standard size used as a unit of capacity or weight; a unit of capacity or weight.(1) 1428 (1653) Edinb. Chart. 63.
And of all vther thingis, pock, pack and barrell, [a tax] proportionablie ansuerand to the sarplar and to the twn
1441 Aberd. B. Rec. MS V ii 647.
[They] arr ordanit keparis and gaderaris of the profite that may cum of the schippis that cummys to the toune that is to say the fraght of sek and tun to the kirk werk
1515 Reg. Privy S. I 409/2.
Auctorite … [to] … bere … to and fray this said realme v townis of quhat merchandis it sal ples hym
1546 (c1580) Edinb. B. Rec. II 126.
Wynes to be sawld in tun and half tun
c1575 Balfour Pract. 88.
Twa thousand pund of irne makis the tun
1596 Reg. Privy C. V 305.
Off every last of barrellit guidis, quhilk is ane tun and ane halff, fyve shillingis; and of every tun of guidis and mercheandice iii s. iiii d.; and of every pype, hoigat and barrell accordingly
16.. Admir. Ct. Form 65.
Loadning be the tuns is when the merchant puts aboard such ane number off tunes and payes fraught for the samen
1602 Conv. Burghs II 134.
Gif ane awner settis out his schip in daill furing, quhat twnis … sche careis, the schip sall haue the iust thrid of quhatsumewir fraucht sche makis
1622-6 Bisset II 208/16.
The sek of woll is commounlie sett be the skipperis to ane tun and ilk tun contenis sex hundreth pund troyis wecht
1622-6 Bisset II 209/28.
Sex barrellis of Inglis drinking beir makis ane tun
1655 Acts VI ii 829/1.
As to the contents of a tun of all liquid commodities imported, it is hereby declared, that … two buts, two pipes, four hogsheads of what sort soever, six teirces, three punchions or tertions, and eight quarter-casks, shal be accounted or reckoned for a tun
1656 Acts VI ii 857/1.
Scotch coals … are rated and valued at four shillings a tun
1666 Glasgow Chart. II 115.
The … dewes … of all ships … coming and going furth of the … Clyd … viz. from ane frieman … of anie frie burgh out of ilk tune thrie shilling eight penneyes … from ane unfrieman, out of everie tune conteineing eight barrells five shilling four penneyes [etc.]
1667 Edinb. B. Rec. X 28.
[He] shall be lyable to pay the mark of the tun efter the livering of the ship or vessel … and if it shall happin that any … skipper shall conceall the value of the tuns of the goods … then [etc.]
1686 Mackenzie Observ. (1687) 120.
The herring-barrels contains now eight gallons and an half … twelve of these go to a last, and eight to a tunn
1686 Mackenzie Observ. (1687) 120.
Now if the ground be true, that the pint doth weigh fifty five ounces, then consequently the tunn should weigh 116 stone fourteen pound
(2) c1390-1434 Sc. Merchandise 32b.
Here begynnys the reknyng of the wyne. It is till vndyrstand that xvj stope makis a cester [Flemish sester], and xxij cester makis a ton of wyne
1504 Treas. Acc. II 277.
For xx twn of plaistir
1597 Halyb. cxvi.
Ilk tun of leid
c1615 Chron. Kings 174.
Caussit transportt tua hunder tune of the siluer vnfynnit to Ingland
1631 Buccleuch Household Bk. 25 Sept.
For 8 tunne of pets at 6 st. the tunne
1632 Linlithgow B. Rec. 9 Nov.
Ilk twne of coill and salt
1642 Conv. Burghs IV 547.
That the ordinar weight of all heavie goods which are accompted mort charge the tunn thereof shall weigh 2,000 weight
1680 Glasgow Chart. II 208.
Thertie tune of irone
1684 New Mills Manuf. 74.
Ane tune of oake timber
1595 Conv. Burghs I 466.
Ilk twn lynt, hempt, cabilȝarne
1626–7 Glasgow Chart. II 580.
Collis, 6 tune

c. specif. Used in calculating the carrying capacity of a ship. 1509 Reg. Privy S. I 283/2.
Ane schip or schippis of the birth of [50] tun or within
1516 Reg. Privy S. I 430/1.
Gevand hym licence … to pas with his bote of the birth of vi tunis or under in the realme of Ingland
1569-73 Bann. Memor. 120.
Mr. James Kirkcaldie come home out of France in a littill barke of threttie tunne
1587-99 Hume 54/83.
Faire seemely shippes of four, fiue hundreth tuns
1601 Reg. Privy C. VI 219.
[To uplift the following] towst and dewtie [ … viz. 2 s. for each] tun of birth [of all vessels unladened entering the said haven]
1603 Reg. Great S. 515/2.
Ilk schip abone 40 twn to pay for hevyn-sylver and dok-silver 13 schillingis 4 penneis
1640 Pittenweem Ann. 42.
I … do declare my said ship was of the burden of 100 tunnes
1676 Aberd. Council Lett. VI 20.
Anent their writting to His Grace the Duke of Lauderdale for downgetting of the 50 sols upon the tun of Scotts shipps tradeing to France
1681 Colvil Whig's Suppl. (1681) i 14.
A lower tire of guns, Shot from a ship of many tuns
1689 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. XIII 397.
The shipe called the Phenix … off fiftie tunes of burding
1692 Conv. Burghs IV 661.
They have seaven ships belonging to them betuixt ane hundreth and ane hunder and twenty tunns the piece

d. possess. and attrib.possess. 618 Barb. xvii 618.
Pyk and ter … haiff thai tane And lynt [etc.] … And mellyt ather other in, And gret fagaldis tharoff thai maid … Till a gret townys [C. twnnys] quantite
1641-8 Skipper's Acc. (Smettone) 21b.
For the tunes exeyes 5 g. 12 s.
attrib. (1) 1579 Conv. Burghs I 81.
Thair be elected … certan jedge maisteris at every sea poirt … for setting of all gudes nocht of tun mesour
1624 Huntar Weights & Measures 2.
A tunne weight of light goodes … is esteemed to wey 600 pund weight
1686 Mackenzie Observ. (1687) 119.
A tun-weight of light goods, which is the common fraughting of all merchandise betwixt this countrey and France, England or Spain, which tunn is esteem'd to weigh 600 pounds weight
(2) 1437–8 (c1580) Edinb. B. Rec. I 5.
Quhat persouns frauchtis ane schip hamewart thai sall gif a twn fraucht to St Geillis wark
1466–7 Acts II 87/1.
A tone fraucht to the kirk werk of the toune
1474–5 Cart. S. Nich. Aberd. II 332.
The aldermen … has set the sundais fisch, the watter met of salt and quhete, and the ton fracht as it fallis til Gilbert Morison for a yere next tocum
1498–9 Acta Conc. II 307.
The sade Alexander laid in to ane schip … certane bere [etc.] … to be furit in Scotland and promictit til mak thankful payment … for the fraucht thairof … [the said Gilȝeame alleged that Alexander was owing him] vj tun fraucht
1512 Treas. Acc. IV 302.
ijcxxvj pece coppir, weyand togidder vmlviij li. … tyn, weyand vjcviij pund pece … to the said skippar, for the fraucht of the said coppir, tyne, and xxvij rowis poldavis, put to tua twne iij pip fraucht
1600 Reg. Great S. 377/2.
Doliorum pecunias (lie tun-silver)
(3) 1498 Aberd. Pynours 57.
Tunnys and utheris gudis tunlike

2. A cask or barrel in general use; a tub, a vat.For bouting tun see Bouting vbl. n. (4). a1400 Leg. S. v 36.
He gert bringe hym til hym sone And in a mekile towne be done Ful of brynand olȝe
c1420 Wynt. viii 810.
1456 Hay I 51/29.
All the golde ryngis … the quhilkis mycht nocht all gang in twa grete tonnys
1460 Hay Alex. 2955.
Sche [sc. the whale] haid ane mouth was mare nor ony tun
1460 Hay Alex. 17647.
Diogines … nowther wald duel in citie nor in towne Bot in ane tvn he made his mansioun
a1500 Seven S. 756.
He … A tvme toun gart tak … And boryt the bodome in holis all
a1500 Seven S. 759.
He … fillit the twn with watter fow
1492 Myll Spect. 290/10.
Scho maid a twn to be fillit full of the blud of his knychtis quharin scho put him and his heid downwartis
1533 Bell. Livy II 210/24.
Sic haly reliquis as mycht nocht be tursit for the tyme suld be closit vp in litill tvnnys and put in the tempil & housis of the preist quirinall vnder ȝerde
1560 Rolland Seven S. 5158.
We sall schaw the place Quhair that ane twn of reid gold lyis hid

3. A ? barrel-shaped casket used for the burial of human remains. 1513 Doug. vi iii 140.
The banys, walit by and naitly chosit, Choryneus in a brassyn twn hes closit
1560 Rolland Seven S. 2915.
Within the twn he fand, Ane heidles corps vnto the nek standand
1606 Birnie Kirk-b. ii.
They digge graues … in hight so that the defunct is rather set in a tun nor tombe ouer end on their feet

4. A barrel secured in a water-way for use as a buoy. Also possess. 1578 Conv. Burghs I 63.
Ȝe may assure thame that the channell, entrie, or gate of Campfeir is … sua gude as ever it was, and … we have put oure tunnis and markis in the said gat alangis all places neidfull and accustomat
1580 Dundee Chart. No. 71.
Ane great nomer of twnis and meathes quhilkis thai ar to … place at the entrie of the said rever quhairby thair salbe ane suir passage alsueill for pepill as for schippis
1596 Old Dundee I 120.
For placing tuns in the water mouth as meiths and signs to designate the dangers therein
1650–1 Aberd. Shore Wk. Acc. 336.
Ressavit from Deir Coup for the use of the tunes for helping his schip
1676 Rooseboom Sc. Staple App. 177, p. ccxx.
The magistratts are hereby oblidged to entertaine continually the marcks, meiths, tuns and bowes at the entrie and within the channell
1685 Dunlop P. III 11.
Being about twentie miles from the mouth of the river Port Royall where its all along navigabell by 200 or 300 tuns
possess. 1612 Conv. Burghs II 362.
Bruges, Handwarp … Campheir, or ony other townis quhair the Scots natioun had … thair staipill … To desyre of new the redressing of thair twnnis heids and meithes in the best deips for the mair assuret entrie of thair schips

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"Tun n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 3 Oct 2022 <>



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