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

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First published 1983 (DOST Vol. V).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Penny-land, n. Also: pen(n)ie-, pen(n)ey-, pen(n)e-, peny- and -lande. [Cf. ME. penilond ? land paying a penny rent per annum (a 1300); the corresp. med. L. term is denariata.]

1. A division of land, of variable size, which formerly paid a tax of one silver penny to an overlord, ? orig. the Norwegian King.Cf. also halfpenny-land Halfpenny n. b and farding land Farding n. 2.Following a cardinal number other than 1, chiefly without inflexion: cf. Penny n. 7.a. In Orkney and Caithness and earlier in Shetland, equal to one eighteenth of an urisland (s.v. Ure n.4 (2)), appar. reckoning eighteen English pennies to the Norwegian ounce. See esp. Capt. F. W. L. Thomas ‘What is a Pennyland’ in Soc. Ant. XVIII. 253 f., esp. 258–60, and Hugh Marwick Orkney Farm-Names (Kirkwall. 1952) 191 f., esp. 210.Also abbreviated as d. land or d. terre, and in the macaronic form pennie terre.(1) 1502 Orkney Rentals i. 5.
[Orkney:] sing. Toftis j d. terre pro rege ant in butter scat vij d. jam tantum. … Et in land maile the said pennie terre ant aucht [etc.]
Ib. 17; etc.
Remember that in this toun ther wantis ane pennie ob. terre quhilk etc.]
1509 Rec. Earld. Orkney 84.
The quhilkis persons … schew ilk penny land in skyft and towmal be it self of the fyff d. land pertening to the said Trinitye stuk and that the thowmalis and inskyft of the penny land pertening to the said David … beginnys [etc.]
1553 Ib. 106.
And alse becaus Johne Lowranssone alegit that thair is ma markis in the penny land nor [etc.]
1587 Orkney & Shetl. Rec. 210.
All and heall the four merk land vdall being ane pennyland called Wasdeall, … all and heall the thrie penny land of kinges land called Cursetter
1592 (1610) Reg. Great S. 90/1.
Withe the skattis of ane pennyland ane mark mair wthall land in the said towne
1612 Orkney Rentals ii. 2.
Ane vre of land is xviij d. land. Ane penny land is four mk. or four farding land. Ther is also ten kowsworth of land in ane penny land
1614 Ib. 148.
Ane penny half d. land callit Vquever
1615 Orkney Bp. Ct. (ed.) 36.
Fra all and haill the said ane penny land
1617 Orkney Rentals ii. 150.
Ilk penney land underwritten being stentit according to old use and wont termelie to 5 s. money
1677 Sc. Hist. Rev. XVII. 19.
Peney land
uninfl. plur. 1438–9 Rec. Earld. Orkney 71.
That … he had selit the charteris off the xij penny lande off Tollop to the forsaide Thomas
1465 Orkney & Shetl. Rec. 48.
Ane letter off … tak off thre pennyland off Stanbuster … maid to oure … man [etc.]
1502 Orkney Rentals i. 4; etc.
Nether Knarstane ij d. terre & j farding ant in butter scat xvj d. jam tantum. … Et in land maile the tua pennie terre & j farding pro rege ant xx m. jam tantum
1524 Rec. Earld. Orkney 423.
Ane chartir of foure penny land with hows and harbry
1536–7 Ib. 221.
The twa penney land callit Fea
1579 Ib. 146.
Anent the six penny land of Swartebrek in Tohope and thre penny land of Havell thair
1587 Orkney Oppress. 95.
The saids landis of Saba extending to nyne penyland
1587 Orkney & Shetl. Rec. 212. 1605 Rec. Earld. Orkney 180.
The thrie penie land in Grawis
1623 Orkney Bp. Ct. MS. 49.
The said George Bischop of Orknay … renunceit … all … the auchtene penny land
1627 Orkney Rentals iii. 85.
South Ronoldsay … is dewydit in sa money vrslandis ewerie vrsland conteining auchtein pennie land possest in smallis by mein men and labourit be tham payand for ewerie pennie land scatt and teind to the king according to the rentall
plur. 1509 Rec. Earld. Orkney 84.
As twiching the debaite of fyff penny landis inskyft and fredome pertening [etc.] … and ane penny land pertenit [etc.]
1623 Orkney & Zetland Sheriff Ct. in Misc. Maitl. C. II. 194.
Efter ane exact enumeratioun of the pennylandis within the said earldome of Orknay
1654 Retours Inq. Spec., Orkn. & Shetl. (61).
In the 9 penny lands of Clett
1663 S. Ronaldshay 42.
That the whole south parisch be calculated by the severall penny lands in ilk towne
1673 Orkney Antiq. Soc. III. 63.
[The baillie to] stint the several pennylands and pennymales for the same soume
(2) 1577 Reg. Privy S. VII. 156/2.
[Caithness:] [A pennyland in Wattin called] the pennyland of Sanct Magnus
1697 Rental of Brabster, Caithness in Old-lore Misc. VII. 199.
Brabster. Andrew Jack ther laboures a pennyland and payes therfor of Mertimes debt and tallow silver 07, 03, 4
(3) 1299 Orkney & Shetl. Rec. 38.
[Missive by lawthingmen of Shetland:] Mork gullz brendri meðuelltu iorðu huert penings land

b. In the West Highlands and the Hebrides, also in Ayrshire and formerly elsewhere in the South-west (see c and 3), equal to one twentieth of the tirung or unciat (L. unciata), qq. v., reckoning 20 pennies to the ounce (see the quot. for 1662 below).The precise origins of the West Highland ounceland-pennyland valuation remain uncertain: see esp. B. Megaw ‘Norseman and Native in the Kingdom of the Isles’, Scottish Studies XX. 19 and 38 (note 8), and cf. A. McKerral ‘Ancient Denominations of Agricultural Land in Scotland’ in Soc. Ant. LXXVIII. esp. 54–60, also Id. in Soc. Ant. LXXXV. 56–9 and Capt. F. W. L. Thomas in Soc. Ant. XX. 209–13. 1524 Reg. Great S. 477/2.]
[Gilchristo Mac ymar Mcay … duas schanmarcatas terre in Kontyr, videlicet denariatam terre de Arydermede [and three other pennylands]
1534 Thanes of Cawdor 160.
The landis of the Errycht extending to v penne land with the glennis and pertinents of the samin togider with the a penne land of Glassormoyr
1536 Reg. Privy S. II. 306/1.
The nonentres of the xx penny land of Glenneves … and als the nonentres of the vi pundis worth of land of Sleisgarow in Glengary
1540 (c 1670) Fraser Polichron. 130.
In all … his thratty penny land of Midganies lyand within the Isle of Sky
1587–8 Collect. Rebus Alban. 162.]
[Dedimus … prefato Hectori Mcclane … quatuor denariatas terrarum de Schabbay, unam denariatam cum dimidio denariate terrarum de Skur [etc.]
1613 Bk. Dunvegan I. 53.
The quhilkis landis … is namit efter this maner viz. three pennie land of Daibuaith half pennie land of Killibeg ane pennie land of Manuis [etc.]
1615 Retours Inq. Spec., Argyll (15).]
[ denariata terræ de Moy, cum lacu de Lochbowie, … denariata terræ de Kylymoir in Scarba extendente ad 2 mercatas terrarum
1633 Sc. Hist. Rev. IX. 346.
Auld writ on parchment grantit be one Johne of Arincrauche Lord of Knapadaill to ane Gilleaspeck Campbell Lord of Lochahaw of the lands of Arincraw and ane number of pennylandis
1644 Retours Inq. Spec., Inverness (68).]
[40 libratis terrarum antiqui extentus de Northwist … 9 denariatis terrarum insulæ de Hilleskere in Northwist
1650 Ib. Ayr (445).
David Kennedie of Knokdaw … in the 10 pund land of Conery … with the milne and 2½ penny lands of Nether Cunray called Straid, within the erledome of Carrik
? 1662 Tiree Rental in Sc. Hist. Rev. IX. 344.
A tirung is a 6 merkland and is divydit into 48 malies or 20 pennylands
1674 Rental of Duart, Mull in Highland P. I. 278.
1½d. Kenlalein … pays of money £90 and the casualties of a pennyland, viz. four quarts butter [etc.]
Ib. 280; etc.
1½d. Arrevolcheyn … pays of money £40 with the casualties of half a pennyland
1674 Rental of Morvern in Ib. 286.
6½ [merkland] Barr and Mungastill … pays of money £280, of butter 10 quarts, of cheese 10 stone, with the pressants of a 13d. land

c. In a translation (c 1610) of an earlier (1306–29) charter (of Wigtonshire). — 1306-29 (c 1610) Wigtownshire Chart. 159.
That pennie land of Killichaffie in Galloway with that farthing land near Bearch with the pertinents

2. An extent of land of one penny rental value in the merkland-poundland Old or New Extent system of land valuation.Chiefly in sums larger than a single penny or a few pence.See esp. A. McKerral in Soc. Ant. LXXVIII (see note to 1 b) 60–6. 1539 Glasgow Dioc. Reg. I. 67.
James Noble is rentalit in tuenty penny land in Stobo lyand besyde the chemysse
? c 1550 Sc. Hist. Rev. I. 460.
Katrine Blair … is rentaillit … in xxxiij s. iij penny land lynd in Lumlocht
1553 Glasgow Dioc. Reg. I. 142.
Eodem die is rentallit Jhone Gybson in sex s. thre penny land lyand to the est end of Mekle Gwne … for vthyr sex s. viij penny land liand in to the est syd of Pratyk
1564 Sc. Hist. Rev. I. 460. 1574 Retours Inq. Spec., Argyll (2).]
[Duncanus Campbell … in 20 libratis 6 solidatis et 8 denariatis terrarum de Stronkynknock [in Cowal]
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 37.
Quhair it was ordanit that ilk penny land of ald extent to pay xij shillings
1595 Retours Inq. Spec., Ayr (17).
[17 solidatis et 9 denariatis terrarum de Reidwray
1600 Ib. Kirkcudbright (43).
40 denariatis terrarum antiqui extentus de Troqueir in lie rundaill jacentibus
1616 Ib. (123).
Quæ quidem quinque partes extendunt … ad 54 solidatas 7 denariatas terrarum prædictarum 9 mercatarum terrarum de Blaiket
1628 Ib. Argyll (33). 1646 Ib. Ayr (401).] 1650 Ib. (447). 1651 Ib. (449).
Johne Reid of Daldilling … in the 4 pund 5 shilling 1 pennie land of Daldilling of auld extent
1653 Ib. Dumfries (212). 1654 Ib. Kirkcudbright (263); etc. 1657 Ib. Dumfries (234).
The advocatione of the pareoch kirk … of Wamphray. E. 1d. The 40 penny land of Moffat … E. 40d.
1659 Ib. Renfrew (158). 1662 Ib. Argyll (68).]
[In … Ilay, … 16 solidatas et 8 denariatas terrarum de Bra et Tydrum

3. Fossilised in place-names in various prec. senses.(1) 1527 Reg. Great S. 106/2.
[Caithness:] Terrarum de Furso … , Murkill, Bordland, le Sixpennyland, Wattyn [etc.]
(2) 1450 Reg. Great S. 81/2.
Terras vulgariter vocatas le Pennylandis [in Carrick]
1484–5 Ib. 340/1.
Myddilpennyland [Renfrew]
1498 Acta Conc. II. 277. 1505 Reg. Great S. 607/1.
2 mercatis terrarum de le Penneland [Ayr]
1547 Retours Inq. Spec., Ayr (5). 1652 Argyll Sas. I. 122.
All the lands called the Pennylands … and Pennychastell extending to 4 merklands … the 4 merk land called the Pennylands of Dana … 2 merk land called the Halfpennylands of Downorsay
(3) 1539 Reg. Dunferm. 390.
Terras de Penneland [in Dunfermline]
Pro terris de Peneland

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"Penny-land n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 May 2024 <>



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