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

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First published 2001 (DOST Vol. IX).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Stapil(l, Stapl(e, Steple, n.2 Also: stabill, stable, stappill, -yll, staipill, staiple, step(p)ill, steipill, steap(p)ill, stepell, steeple, stepple. [ME and e.m.E. stapull (1423), staple (1429), stapyll (?1482), stapell (1482), stappull (1483-4), OF estaple, staple (1280 and 1369 in Larousse), med. L. stapula, MLG stapol, stapel, MDu. stapel ultim. f. as Stapil(l n.1]

1. The town in the Netherlands, esp. Flanders, designated as the entry port and market for Scottish goods.At various times, specif., Bruges, Campvere (Veere), Middelburg, and later, Antwerp or Dort.In return for the monopoly of Scottish exports, the Staple offered Scottish merchants various privileges. Furthermore, it served as the source of the majority of Scottish imports. For further information see esp. J. Davidson and A. Gray The Scottish Staple at Veere (1909) and M. P. Rooseboom The Scottish Staple in the Netherlands (1910).(1) 1467 Acts II 87/1.
Oure souerane lord … grantit tollerance … til al merchandis of his realm that salis fra hin furth to pas with thar schippis & gudis to the ton of Myddilburgh & to do thar merchandise thar, nocht to remane thar as at a staple bot quhil oure souverane lord prouide for a stable to thame & quhil his henes se quhat fredomes & preuiliegis thai sal haf in tym to cum at the place quhar thai sal be staplit
1468 Smit Bronnen I ii 1019.
Owr soveran lord and his consell has raserwyt the stapill be maide qwhar plesyt thaym
1501 Treas. Acc. II 123.
To ane man to pas to Glasgo with the commissioun for the making of the stapill
1507 Treas. Acc. III 414. 1517 Treas. Acc. V 153.
To Robert Hart quhilk raid to Dunde and to Abbirdene for thair selyis to be affixt to the commissioun for the staple to be had in tymes cumin
1519–20 (c1580) Edinb. B. Rec. I 195.
That thair sould be ane stapill in the pairtis of Flanderis quhair that Scottis merchantis mycht resort and haif ordour amangis thame siclyke as vther natiouns hes, and desyrit that the said communitie of merchandis wald … declair quhilk of thir thre townis … Camfeire, Myddilburgh or Byrges ar maist convenient to the said stapill
1523 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 177.
That the staple was fixt and maid in Middilburgh and [that] thai and all uthiris skipparis and merchandis of this realm suld be weil tretit thar and all previlegis and fredomis kepit to thame, desyrand ane schip to be send to begyn the said staple
1523 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 174.
To ratify … the contract maid be Alexander Mur and schir James Cotis … with the burrow maisteris and communitie of the burgh of Middilburgh anent the staple to be kepit at the said toun
1526 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 247. 1539 (c1580) Edinb. B. Rec. II 97.
The burgh of Abirdene and commissaris thairof declarit thay on na wyse wald consent to changeing of the stapill vnto the tyme thay had the copye of the priuelegis contenit in the articlis, and delay to consult with thair nychtbouris of thair burch thairupoun
1541 (c1580) Edinb. B. Rec. II 105.
Anent their stapill: Consentis … at the nixt mercat to pas to the port and toun in Flandaris of the Dukis landis that will gyf … to thame maist and greitast priuelegis
1581 Edinb. B. Rec. IV 558.
That the said conseruatour stayis thaire gudis in the stapill at Campheir, compelling thame to mak markatt thaire and will nocht suffer thame to transport the saming in the countrie to thaire gritt hurt and preiudice of thaire priuelegis
1597 Acts IV 138/1.
That na schippe … sall land onie menis gudis … bot at the toun of Campueere or the ordinarie stapill for the tyme
1652 Stirling B. Rec. I 203.
[They] had a great mynd … to have dischargit both our staple at Campheir and the conservator of his office
1686 Mackenzie Observ. (1687) 200.
It is fit to know that there being a staple appointed where all staple goods to be brought from Scotland, are declared free of all custome laid upon imported goods
(b) 1537 Bk. Old Edinb. C. XV 19.
Ane lettre come fra the Campheir … quhilk buir ane complaynt upoun the violatioun of the staipill
1539 (c1580) Edinb. B. Rec. II 96.
Quhat priueleges the burrois of this realme havand thair staipill in Antuerpe desyrit thairfor
1574 Conv. Burghs I 26.
Anent transporting of the staipill: Item the saidis commissaris … hes thocht gud that ane supplicatioun be maid to my Loird Regentis Grace [etc.] … for obtenyng of thair … consent to the haill merchantis of this realme to transpoirt thair traffique frome the saidis partis of Flanderis to the tovne of Calais for ane tyme
(c) 1539 (c1580) Edinb. B. Rec. II 96.
To treit and avise anent the stappill desyrit be the toune Antuerpe … that quhat priuelegis the burrois … havand thair staipill in Antuerpe desyrit thairfor to thair natioun of the said toun of Antuerpe wald be granttit to thame
(d) 1627 Aberd. Council Lett. I 262.
Any motioun … for changing our steple fra Camphear to Middleburght
1628 Aberd. Council Lett. I 288.
1629 Aberd. Council Lett. I 305.
1629 Aberd. Council Lett. I 305.
A numer of other inconveniences quhilkis wald be all removed if the steppill wer at Middelburght
1655 Aberd. Council Lett. III 248.
That all merchants be ordainit to cum to the stepple
c1671 Aberd. Council Lett. III 177.
If the stepell stay in Dort … then the Hollens misor ocht to be maid usse of
(2) 1525–6 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 236.
To pas to the lord and toun of Feir in Zeland … to treit … vpoune the … making of the staple of the Scottis natioun in the said toun
1529 St. P. Henry VIII IV 564.
That thare was certane contractis maid betuix the toune of Burgese, than stapill of this realme, and the merchandis of Scotland
1587 Reg. Privy C. IV 237.
Albeit the staple of his Hienes subjectis in the Law Cuntreis of Flanders be establissed in … Campheir … [yet] sum merchantis of this realme ceissis not … to transporte thair guidis and staple wairis to uthiris townis
1657 Balfour Ann. II 39.
[1612] The Scottes staple was remoued from Midelbrughe to Campweer
1675 Aberd. Council Lett. V 419.
The Scotts Steple
(3) 1535 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 149.
Ane acquittance … of thair parte of the stapil of Myddelburcht

b. A market town, a commercial port. 1460 Hay Alex. 2719.
He was sa neir the toun of Tyre Quhilk was ane stapill

2. A market at which staple goods (Stapil(l) gudis q.v.) might be sold; the privilege of holding such a market, the prerogative of a royal or free burgh. b. A (free or royal) burgh designated as the market-place for a particular class of goods.The quot. f. Knox is perhaps a reference to Leith as within the freedom of Edinburgh (cf. quot. 1584). Cf. however many instances s.v. Stapil(l) gudis where Leith is specifically and vigorously excluded from functioning as a staple. 1536 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 171.
Na unfremen nor burgessis nor induellaris within our burgh to veiff ony voll, ches or uther gudis pertening to our thronne and stapill of our burgh bot thai satisfy and pay our thronman
1561 Inverness Rec. I 62.
Thomas and Robert Meldrum ar adjugit in admerciament for making of stappyll in Chanre and Rosmerke
1558-66 Knox I 406.
Leith, the principall port and stapill of all this realme
c1575 Balfour Pract. 51.
The indwellaris, nor na uther unfremen, may pack and peill the saidis gudis in the town of Leyth, quhilk is ane unfre town, nor ȝit in ony uther place within the fredome of Edinburgh, bot all sic merchandice … sould be brocht to the said burgh, as principall stapill thairof
1609 Inverness Rec. II 67.
Maickinge ane stapill thairof, as gif it var ane frie burghe
b. 1584 Acts III 302/2.
Ordinis the principall stapill of salmound fra Die northe to be at the burghis of Aberdene and Elgine and the principall stapill of hering and quheit fish slane … within the watter of Forthe to be in Leithe within the priuilege and fredome of the burgh of Edinburgh and within the port … of Creill and the stapill of salmound hering and quheit fish slane benorthe Fyvisnes to the watter of Die to be at Dundie or Perth

3. attrib. a. Stapill wair(is, geir, commoditie(s, = Stapil(l) gudis.(1) pl. 1587 Reg. Privy C. IV 237 (see 1 (2) above). 1598 Stirling Merch. Guild 11.
The den of gild and his breither … in ane voce declaris that they can navayis grant libertie to the said craftismen to by sell or tredd with onie of the said varis that are stabill varis and belongis to the said gildrie, nather yet ar the said craftesmen onie vayis capitabill of the libertie of gildrie to by tredd or sell onie of the said stapill vairis
1608 Irvine Mun. II 44.
That ilk burcht that hes ony burgessis quha pass … to landwart kirkis and clauchane tounis and thair haldis buythtis and sellis stepill wairis and leaves the same thair to be sald be unfremen restrane thair nychtbouris fra that kynd of tred
1612 Conv. Burghs II 365.
It sall be lesum … to schip thair staipill wayris in any hoy at ony of the said ports
1619 Dunferm. B. Rec. II 123.
Steipill wairis
1623 Aberd. Council Lett. I 209.
Our woll [etc.] … being the principall stapill warris quhairwithe oure merchandis mainteinyis thair tred
1613–25 Cochran-Patrick Coinage I 289.
The making of the woollskins and hyds whilk your countrie does yield in stable [pr. seable] wairis
1625 Linlithgow B. Rec. 15 March.
That … the saidis factoures tak not in hand to buy any Scottis staipill wairis to thair awin behuff
1625 Linlithgow B. Rec. 16 Sept. (see Stapil(l) gudis pl. (d)).
Steapill … wearis
1628 Aberd. Council Lett. I 292.
Indwellares in Frasersburgh … to desist and seas from treddinge and traffeckinge or selling of steppill wairis
1631–49 Conv. Burghs IV 556.
That some trustie person be ordained to take notice of the staple waires shipped at Lieth, especially of skins fast and louse
1641 Dunferm. B. Rec. II 251.
Steeple warres
sing. 1648 Inverness Rec. II 198.
To exact for ilk staine's weying of inbrocht guidis such as staiple wair four pennies, and for all wther hamhald geir sex pennies
1652 Lanark B. Rec. 149.
William Inglis and William Mount electit visitoris of the flesh mercatt, skin and hyde and to take ordour with all unfriemen that sellis any staple wair
1654 Dumfries Council Min. MS 11 Dec.
These who ar burgeses may keip craimes & oppin boothes and sell thairin staple wair
1664 Conv. Burghs III 572.
At thair errectione in ane free royall burgh they [sc. the Commissioners of Burghs] had grantit to them the priviledg of ane free port at Blacknes … for paking and peelling, livering and loading of all staple wair and merchandise, nevertheles the custome office is now keipit at Burrowstounnes and all stapl wair … loadined thair contrair the lawis of the kingdome
1672 R. Brown Paisley I 295.
None heirafter sall be hindered to sell staple wair on ane mercat day
(2) 1593 Stirling Merch. Guild 3.
Chrystie Swoird having challengit certane stapill geir in ane chapmans hands [etc.]
1598–9 Stirling Merch. Guild 11.
James Robison being apprehendit with stapill geir wes convict in ane vnlaw
1609 Inverness Rec. II 69.
[They] daylie vsis the tred and handling of frie burgessis, packis, peillis, sellis, stapill geir as giff they war frie burgessis and residentis within our said burghe
(3) 1627 Stirling's Royal Lett. I 114.
The hyds being both a staple commoditie, never prohibited by the laws to be exported and doeth pay vnto ws halȝeon and custome
1661 Aberd. Council Lett. IV 204.
The toune of Fraserburghe being but ane brughe of barrony hes sent away ane veshell to Holland (Zealand) with steple comodities
1676 Conv. Burghs III 694.
That all the saids staple commodities may be freely imported to this toun [sc. Campvere] without paying any toll or custom as is here called incoming convoy, licent money and vijeil-gilt money and last-gilt upon any of the Scotts shipps
1677 Conv. Burghs IV 4.
The agreement which makes lead, lead ur and salt to be staple comodities
1690 Acts IX Suppl. 146/2.
Salmond ar a staple commodity and so belongs to the burghs royall to export

b. Stappyll place, = 2 above. 1561 Inverness Rec. I 62.
Thomas and Robert Meldrum … made port within the towne of Chanrie and Rosmarke makand ane stappyll place in defraudyng of this bruch of Innernes of thair priuillege [etc.]

c. Stapill port, = 1 above (see also notes at 1 above). Also fig., the source of something. 1623 Aberd. Council Lett. I 213.
For transporting waires to the stapill port and not paying of thair dewties
1632 Aberd. Council Lett. I 344.
Anent the qualitie of the factors herefter to be admittit at the staiple port in Flanders
1632 Aberd. Council Lett. I 347.
That the burgh … produce Alexander Reid for transporting of staiple waires by the staiple port to Rotterdam
1634 Aberd. Council Lett. II 16.
He … affirmis that he nevir sold any of his gudes at na port in Flanders bot the steppill port
1634 Aberd. Council Lett. II 16.
Steppill port
1670 Elgin Rec. I 312.
Ane litle paper book containing the articles betuixt the borrowes and the stepple port at Dort
1677 Aberd. Council Lett. VI 77.
Mallicious practises in deverting the trade from the Staple Port to Rotterdam Amsterdam and other places
1697 Glasgow B. Rec. IV 257.
A generall convention of the burrows … for settleing the staple port
1699 Conv. Burghs IV 290.
The said James Gordon to be machler at the staple port
1719 Conv. Burghs V 220.
All Scots ships … coming from Scotland here to the staple port to liver shall enjoy freedom and exemption of the fraught [pr. paught] of all vivers here and at their departure
fig. 1690 Account Present Persecution of the Church in Scotland 56.
Such ingrain'd impudence … I had believed, could neither have come from Hell nor It, the two grand staple-ports for that commodity

d. Staplebreaker, a merchant who trades in ports of the Netherlands other than the staple port. 1649 Conv. Burghs III 348.
How much the merchand tread … to the Netherlandis … hes bein … damnified by enterloperis, lorendryvers, staple breakeris and strangeris

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"Stapil n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Jun 2024 <>



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