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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.

Merchet, n. Also: -ett, -ete, -eit, -eat, -iett, -i(e)te, -iatte, mershet(e, marchet, -eit, market. [North. ME. (? or AF.) merchet (12th c.) (see Acts I. Pref. 34/1), med. L. (Sc. and Eng.) marcheta, marketa, merchet-, marchetum, of obscure origin. ? Derived f. Welsh merch, plur. merched, -et, woman, young woman, daughter: early and medieval Welsh law had a corresponding due known as gobr merch or amobr or (in the Latin versions) merces filiarum ‘the fee paid to a lord by the person subject to that payment on the marriage of a female’.]

A feudal casualty payable to the lord on the occasion of the marriage of the daughter of a tenant or vassal.For many additional examples, see Bludewite and Hereȝeld.Commonly specified as one of the rights or privileges accompanying a grant of land.Said, appar. first by Boece (Scotorum Historiæ, ed. 1527, fols. 36 and 259 b), to have originated as a substitute for the jus primæ noctis: 1531 Bell. Boece I. 84.
[Malcolm and Margaret] solistit the nobillis to revoik the said law, takand thairfore ane goldin penny, callit the marchetis; quhilk is yit payit to the lord of the ground, quhen virginis ar to be maryit, in redemption of thair honour and chaistite
1533 Boece xii. xiii. 478 b.
And ȝit this price is payit, vulgarlie callit the marcheit of wemen
(a) Burgh Laws in 14.. Acts I. 24/1.
Quod intra burgum non debet exaudiri blodewit nec styngis-dynt nec merchet nec herieth
14.. Reg. Maj. iv. 31 (St. S. 11).]
[De merchetis mulierum
1374–5 Yester Writs 26.
Et quod tenementum libere de blvdewyte merchet et heryelde
1440 Cart. S. Nich. Aberd. 10. 1461 Charter (Reg. H.) No. 362.
With bludwytis herȝeldis mershetis of wemen aueragis & caryagis
1488 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV. 429.
Rasing of … wnlawis and merchetis with al wther profictis … that pertenis to the office of balyery
1496–7 Acta Conc. II. 54. c 1520–50 St. A. Formulare I. 397.
1522 Stirlings of Keir 318.
With … mercheitis of wemen, vnlawis [etc.]
1537 Liber Dryburgh 283.
Merchiattes of women
1548 Crosraguel Chart. I. 106.
Merchite of wemen
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 5711.
Ȝe lordis … That ȝour pure tennantis dois oppres … With merchetis of thare mariage
1561 Reg. Privy S. MS. XXX. 84 b; 1592 Banff Ann. II. 397.
1599 Reg. Privy S. MS. 26 b, 31.
Merchett, -ete
1622-6 Bisset I. 65/15.
Mercheittis of wemen
1630 Skene Mem. 214.
1669 Burnett Fam. P. MS.
To be haldin in … bloodwittis, merchietts of marrage [etc.]
(b) 1450 Reg. Episc. Glasg. 376.
Homagijs curijs … bludewitis heryheldis et marchetis
1509–10 Breadalbane Doc. No. 37. 1609 Skene Reg. Maj. i. 72 b.
The marchet of ane woman … is ane ȝoung kow, or thrie schillings

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"Merchet n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Apr 2024 <>



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