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

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First published 1971 (DOST Vol. IV).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Mele, Meil(l, n.2 Also: mell, meel(l, meal(l, meale, male, mail(l. [ON. mælir a measure, Norw. mæle a measure for corn, part of a barrel. (Cf. Mail(l n.2)]

1. At various dates and in various places: A measure of dry goods. 1153–65 Facs. Nat. MSS. I.
Abbaciam … de Loh Leuene cum … xx melis casei et … iiii melis brasij et i porco de Aethmor
1163–4 Scone Chart. in Regesta I. 264.
xxxiv. Et viginti dimidias melas casei
1536–7 Ayr B. Acc. 20.
For ane meill of lyme to the kirk xl d.
1575–6 Coll. Rebus Alban. 10.
For the landis of Vngenab in Vyist … fourtieaucht males of beir … for the landis of Kirkebast auchtene males of grane
1666 Corshill Baron Ct. 69.
Gilbert Dunlop, milner … compleaned vpon … Alexander Harper in Corshill for ane meill of corne sold frae the said milne

2. In Orkney: A measure a. of weight of victual (malt, meal, bear or oats), amounting to 6 settings or one twenty-fourth of a last, varying with the pundlar used,bear and oats being normally weighed on the bear-pundlar on which the meil and other units of weight were only twothirds of those on the malt-pundlar used for weighing malt and meal: see espec. H. Marwick in Orkney Antiq. Soc. XV. (1939) 10 f.

b. of amount of butcher-flesh, and c. ? of weight or ? of amount, of lime. a 1642 Orkney Rentals iv. 31.
To know the nature of these weights ther is ane each last of malt upon the malt pundlair 24 meills and in each meill ther is 6 settings and each setting ther is 24 merk. … In each meil on the bear pundlair ther is also 6 settings, but in each of these settings ther is but 16 mks. so that ther is ane third part takin down, and therby that quhich is ane meill upon the bear pundlair is but 4 st. one the malt pundlair. As for the meills of flesche they are not weyed, but are called so: and for euery settin of flesche ther is allowed 40d. sua ane guise is commonly allowed for ane settin of flesche, and ane sheep for ane meill of flesche
For further examples, see Cost n.3, Last n.1 2 (1).In the Rentals freq. abbrev. as m., e.g. 1502 Orkney Rentals i. 3, etc.(a) 1560 Orkney & Shetl. Rec. I. 130.
[Vnacum lie skat, viz., tribus melis brasei, vna petra siue leschepund butiri [etc.]
Ib. 138.] 1564–5 Rec. Earld. Orkney 275.
[Paying yearly] sax melis scheill maill and thre melis mait sufficient stuff on the auld pundar for weycht in Holme
1594 Prot. Bk. T. Auchinlek 34.
Ane farthing land extending to ane meill malt and mele flesche ȝeirlie
(b) 1548 Rec. Earld. Orkney 235.
Ane meil vittell and ane meill flecht to be paiit yeirlye be oure aire
1561–2 Craven Ch. in Orkney II. 14, 15. 1595 Orkney Rentals ii. 81.
6 meils oatmeal … to be weyhed on the malt pondlar
1595 Orkney Antiq. Soc. III. 69. 1607 S. Ronaldshay 5.
Comptand tua meillis of bear uppoun the common bear ponder aroycht for ane meill of malt, conforme to the use of the countreycht
1611 Moncreiffs 217. 1612 Orkney & Shetl. Ct. Bk. 9 Dec. 1615 (1621) Reg. Great S. 43/2. c 1617 Orkney Rentals iii. 29.
Of malt, 47 lastis 23 ms. 4 st. 11 mk. ½ pt. mk. of malt in beir, comptand 18 ms. malt to ane chalder of beir, extendis to 3 score 3 chaldur 35 meillis 3 st. beir oupon the beir pondlar
1624 Orkney Witch Trial in Misc. Abbotsf. C. 137.
He haveing put sex meillis of aittis vpoun his kill to dry
a 1642 Orkney Rentals iii. 17. Ib. 31. 1678 Craven Ch. in Orkney I. 78.
That theire should be a contributione be all the paroch extending to six meilles, half malt, half meall
a1688 Wallace Orkney 41.
Six settens make a meil (equivalent to a boll) and eighteen meils make a chalder
Ib. 109. 1702 Ch. in Orkney 67.
Given to Andrew Petrie for four meils of lime for the kirks' use
(c) 1575 Orkney Oppress. 11.
The said lord has raised the meal of fleshe to x where it was but iii ss.
1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Serplaith.
Ane gild oxe is apprised [in Orkney] to 15 meales [Bisset maillis] & ane wedder is four meales [Bisset maillis]
1677 S. Ronaldshay 56.(d) c 1670 Macfarlane's Geog. Coll. III. 2.
A meel
1676 S. Ronaldshay 106.
Three meels malt

d. As a rental valuation of land. 1562–3 Rec. Earld. Orkney 114.
[The arbitrators] hes fwndin the ten mellis malene and fowre settenis in Caro and Grymnis to be ane tua part and the sax melis fowyre settenis in Ronaldiswo to be ane thyrd
1570–1 Ib. 131, 2.
To Gilbert Tullocht in Nes tua mellis and four settenis cost melling, … and to Williame Tullochtis barnis, … the ij meil melling in Oabak … with four settenis mailling in Nes, … and ordanis everi brouther to hef ij m[eilis] fleche
1579–80 Ib. 297. 1596 Prot. Bk. T. Auchinlek 48. 1687 Orkn. & Shetl. Partic. Reg. Saisins 2 Ser. IV. 249.

e. A unit of measurement of a ship's burden: cf. Last n.1 3 (2). 1662 Orkney Antiq. Soc. V. 15.
To caus build ane great boat of and about the burdein of thriescore twelve meills
1701 Brand Orkney & Shetl. 5.
We were forc't to hire one of these open boats of about sixty meils which the Orkney men use for carrying victual to Ȝetland

3. In Shetland, appar. used as a general term equivalent to a lispund of butter or a bull of oil. 1628 Goudie Shetl. Antiq. 178; etc.
Ane last land … payis 6 meillis viz. 3 leispund butter 3 bullis oyllie

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"Mele n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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