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

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First published 2002 (DOST Vol. XII).
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Ȝeman, Ȝo(w)man, Ȝeoman, n. Also: ȝheman, ȝemane, ȝemen, yeman, ȝea-, yea-, ȝemman, yhow-, ȝu-, yhw-, ȝy-, yeo-, yieman. Pl. also ȝee-, yee-, ȝhe-, y(h)e-, ȝea-, ȝie-, ȝho-, yo(w)-, yhwmen, ȝeomen, yeemenis, yeomanes, -mens, yemons. [ME and e.m.E. yoman (? a1300), yemen pl. (1345-8), yomen pl. (1363), ȝoumen, ȝemen, ȝimmen, ȝemmen, ȝonge men pl. (all Piers Plowman), ȝeman, ȝymman (both Trevisa), yeman (Chaucer), yeomen pl. (a1483), perhaps a contracted form of OE youngman (1052), or OE *ᵹéaman, ᵹeáman, f. OFris. gāman villager (The Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology (1988), s.v. yeoman).]Not recorded as a surname before 1565 (Ȝeman, Morayshire). See Black Surnames, s.v. Yeoman.

1. a. A free man ranking below a gentleman or burgess; a small landowner or farmer; a commoner. Also proverb. and attrib. with man and sort. b. specif. A man of this rank in the army, a common soldier. Only Barb. c. Appar., an ordinary seaman. d. ? A person, a fellow.a. sing. 14.. Acts II 18/2 (see pl. and 2 below). 1430 Acts II 18/2.
That ilk burges hafand l lib. in gudis salbe hail enarmyt as a gentil man aucht to be and at the ȝeman of lawer degre ande burges of xx lib. be bodyn with souer hate … habergeone suerd [etc.]
1522 Fife Sheriff Ct. 275.
And gif thai can be apprehendit that ȝe tak sicker souerte of thaim … of ilk gentilman landit … ane c lib. ilk gentilman wnlandit jc merkis & ilk ȝemman xl li.
1524 Acts II 284/2.
That quhatsumeuer tennent gentilman vnlandit or ȝeman hauand takkis or steidingis of ony lordis or lairdis … that happinis to be slane be Inglismen … the wyfis and barnis of thame … sall bruke thair takkis malingis or steidingis
1551–2 Acts II 485/1.
[Fines for swearing] ane landit man frehalder wassall fewar burges and small beneficit men ij d. ane craftisman ȝeman a seruand man and all vthers j d.
1571 Crim. Trials I ii 26.
Vpoun … Alexander Moncreif … being ane gentilman vnlandit, in the sowme … of ane hundreth markis; for the said William Moresoune, being ane ȝemane, in the vnlaw and pane of xl lib.
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 115.
That quha sould sla ane erle suld haue ane xl pund land, ane lord xx li. land, ane barroun x li. land, and ane ȝemane his escheit
1583 Maxwell Mem. II 153.
Quhat can be said of it bot ane wnnaturall disdanefull doing, and na thing to ȝour [sc. his father-in-law's] honour … as I wald haue beine laithe to haue done the lyk to ony ȝeman in the contrie
(b) 1609 Skene Reg. Maj. ii 147.
Pilgremage to chappels, wales, croces [etc.] … is … punished, viz. ilk gentleman or his wife landed, ane hundreth pundes: and vnlanded, ane hundreth markes. And ane ȝeaman, fourtie pundes
1617 Acts IV 540/1.
A constable sall arreist anye persoun of the degrie of a yeaman who salbe found weiring hagbuttis pistolettis and daggis
1693 Peebles B. Rec. II 143.
That who drank to excess shall pay … the yeaman, fourty shilling; and the servant tuentie shilling
(c) 1607 Reg. Privy C. VII 326.
[The said pains are far above the sums prescribed in the act of parliament, the said David being but] ane yieman and labourair of the ground
(d) c1420 Wynt. viii 3290.
Nere in that land Than wes a yhowman [C. ȝoman, W. ȝoung man] by duelland
(e) 1375 Barb. x 174.
Him selff … Suld be the wayne gang ydilly, And ane ȝuman wycht & hardy Befor suld dryve the wayne
c1420 Wynt. vi 2281.
[In Fife] For a yhwman [C. ȝoman] twelf markys ay The staare suld for kynbwt pay
(f) 1640 Kirkcudbr. Min. Bk. 54.
Gif he be ane heritor or substantious soccarer or yeoman
1661 Acts VII 231/1.
[Act against clandestine and unlawful marriages] vnder the paines following viz. for … ane yeoman one hundreth punds, for each persone of inferior qualitie one hundreth merks
pl. 1430 Acts II 18/2.
That ilk ȝeman that is of xx lib. in gudis haif a gude doublat of fence or ane habergeon ane yrn hat with bow and schefe suerde [etc.] … and all vther ȝemen of x lib. in gudis haif bow and schefe suerde and buklar and knyff and the ȝeman that is nane archer na can nocht deyll with a bow sall haiff a gude souer hat … suerde … buklar … ax [etc.]
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 190/25.
Honest ȝemen in every toun War wont to weir baith reid and broun, Ar now arrayit in raggis with lyce
1544 Treas. Acc. VIII 339.
Siclik lettres to the lordis, baronis and landit men, substantius gentill men, with substantius ȝemen baith to burgh and land
1564 Reg. Privy C. I 282.
a1570-86 Maitl. F. 437/5.
The haill pepill of Ruglingtoun … Rychemen puiranis and guid ȝemen
1572 Sat. P. xxxiii 294.
Now ȝe my burges, craftis & merchand men, And ȝe, my commounis, with my hynd ȝemen
1580 Reg. Privy S. VII 392/2.
All gentilmen houshaldaris and utheris worth thre hundreth merkis of yeirlie rent or abone and all substantious yemen or burgessis lykwayis houshaldaris worth fyve hundreth merkis … be haldin to haif ane bybill and psalme buik in vulgar language in thair houssis
1587 Acts III 446/1.
Ane condigne inqueist … the maist pairt quharof salbe landit men having at the leist four plewis of land or thre hundretht markis of ȝeirlie rent vnredemable and vtheris substantious famous and honest ȝemen
(b) 1617 Acts IV 540/1.
Anye of his majesties subiectis of the degree of yeamen who sall refuis or delaye to concure with the constable in the executing of his office salbe imprissoned and punisched by the commissioneris and justices
(c) 1622 Reg. Privy C. XII 744.
All and sindrie landit gentlemen and substantious yeemen within the boundis of Moydert [etc.] … that they … weill bodine in feir of weir … ryse … and assist the saidis commissioneris
(d) 1557 Digest Justiciary Proc. B 145.
Lettres chairgeing all erls lordis barronis gentilmen frehalderis and substantious ȝiemen to convene at Melros
1596 Dalr. I 36/32.
Ȝiemen and housbandmen thair sal ȝe sie gang weil arayed with maiestie and authoritie … albeit in al prouinces with vs be commone ȝit maist of al in Fife
(e) c1420 Wynt. ix 3137.
Gud yomen for archery Rycht wele bodyn, and honestly
1692 Kirkcudbr. Sheriff Ct. Deeds II 614.
[George Carsone … and John Carsone, his son] being yowmen and labor[er]s of the ground
(f) c1420 Wynt. vii 3599.
Yhwmen, powere karl, or knawe, That wes off mycht an ox til hawe, He gert that man hawe part in pluche, Swa wes corne in [his] land enwche
c1420 Wynt. viii 1825.
Yhwmen [C. Ȝhomen] and gentilmen alsa The lyvys all thai tuk [thaim] fra
c1420 Wynt. viii 5168.
He spak till Alysawndyr Ramsay … For to purchas a cumpany … Off gentill-men wyth scheld and spere … And gyve he na had all gentillmen He bad tak knawyn yhwmen then
(g) 1609 Skene Reg. Maj. i 73b.
Cro or assythment for slavchter … all quha are inferiour in parentage are husbandmen (or ȝeomen). And the cro of ane husband man is saxtene kye
1617 Acts IV 540/2.
Giff thair be anye harme done to the constable … by thame who maid the frey they salbe punischit by the justices at the nixt sessioun they being of the qualitie off yeomen and being of ane heighar qualitie the Counsell salbe informit thairoff
infl. pl. 1640 Kirkcudbr. Min. Bk. 4.
That, ilk of the sogers quhilk are to go furth to service … have the said twa pairt of the 40 days lone (to be peyit be the tennants and yeomanes, ilk ane for thair awne pairtes)
1650 Rec. Kirk Scotl. 617.
Compellit the gentell men, burgesses and yeemenis, to furneis and rander thair horsses for thair service
1678 Laing MSS 413.
The taking of the two yemons hes so allarmed the countrie that non of these sort of persons stayes at ther oune houses … as for the two yemons, Mr. Scote [etc.] … declaire that they did goe frequently to conventickells and did ryde armed through the countrie
1690 Acts IX App. 148/2.
Moved that there may be imposed ten shillings sterling for every foot militia man to be payed at Lambmes and be the yeomens and tennents. Answered that the yeomens and tennents would not be able to pay the ten shillings … and in caice the yeomens were burthened they behooved to be freed from the militia
proverb. a1598 Ferg. Prov. No. 85.
A good yeaman makes a good woman
attrib. (1) 1375 Barb. xiii 225 (C) heading.
How the ȝhemen men and the pouer men maid of schetis the maner of baneris
a1500 Sir Eger 2729.
There was no yeomen men but ten, For all the rest were landed men
c1541–2 State P. (Reg. H.) 27.
The men … of Northumberland … hes tane … syndry vder gentill men and ȝemen men to the numer of thretty personis presoneris
1566 Treas. Acc. XII 24.
Chargeing all and sindrie erlis, lordis, baronis, frehalderis, gentilmen and substantius yemen men that thai … weill bodin in feir of weir, addres thame to meit our soveranis the viij day of October
1570-3 Bann. Trans. 124.
I … havand an yeoman man, ane that had bene ane of the watchmen of before [sc. at Dumbarton Castle], wha knew all the craigs whare it was best to clymb
1573 Reg. Privy C. II 274.
Having consideratioun of the harvist … and unwilling to stay the commonis and lauboraris thairfra … thairfore … gevis licence … to all the commonis, yemen men and careageis, to depart and pas hame … and that all nobill men, landit men and substantious gentilmen … pas furthwart, and attend upoun his grace
a1578 Pitsc. I 98/14.
Tua of his awin brether was slaine witht sindrie wther gentillmen and money ȝeamen men of commons
1593 Acts IV 18/2.
The panis and vnlawes of lawborrous … salbe for euery erll or lord tua thowsand pund … and for euerie ȝeman man ane hundreth markis
1595 Reg. Privy C. V 244.
Ane hundreth markis of every gentilman unlandit, and fourty pundis for ilk yieman man for every day that his wyffe, sone or dochter transgressis the said act
1596–7 Elgin Rec. II 48.
Sic peopill alandward as hes not cum in to the examinatiounes as ȝit … sall pay ilk ȝeman man 13 s. 4 d., ilk cottar iij s. 4 d.
1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Feodum.
For escheits of ȝeemen men and vther mean persons, xx shillings
1604 Misc. Maitl. C. I 403.
The minister … to travell with the gentilmen and substantious yeamen men of his parochin … to get fra thame support to the persecuted kirk of Geneva
1606 Dundonald Par. Rec. 118.
Thomas Wallace … despysing the minister … said … that he was bot to be ane minister for ruid plewmen and yeamen men and had nether graces nor doctrine
1677 Inverness Rec. II 276.
Bot as for the fisher or ȝeoman man that is out of the town or seek he is excused and not obleidgit to send ane for him [sc. to take his turn in the town guard]
(2) 1597 Elgin Rec. II 60.
Thair sessioun clark … to haue for … euerie gentilmanis mariage … ten shillingis money, for the ȝeman soirt half merk and cottaris that may and ar responsall v s.
b. 1375 Barb. v 235.
Quhile I lyff & may haiff mycht To lede a ȝowman [C. ȝheman] or a swayne He sall nocht bruk it but bargayne
1375 Barb. v 257.
Now takis James his wiage Towart Dowglas his heritage With twa ȝemen [C. ȝhomen] for-owtyn ma
1375 Barb. xiii 229.
At that bataill … [quhar] … [Thai] war fechtand enforcely, Ȝomen and swanys and pitaill [C. ȝheman, swanys … poveraill] That in the park [to ȝeme] wittaill War left, quhen thai wist … That thar lordis with fell fechting On thar fayis assemblyt wer
1375 Barb. xvi 101.
[He] Send lycht ȝomen [C. wicht ȝhomen] that weill couth schout To bykkyr the rerward apon fute
1375 Barb. xix 165.
His men all worthyn ar sa wicht For lang wsage of fechting … That ilk ȝowman is sa wicht Off his that he is worth a knycht
c. ?14.. Ship Laws c. 18 (A).
Ilk ȝeman [H.2 ȝong man] aw to schaw the maister quhat maner of wechtis that thai sall tak in for portagis
d. 1540 Lynd. Sat. 813 (Ch.).
Now till wee get the kings presence Wee will sit doun and keip silence. I se ane ȝeoman [B. I se ane ȝonder], quhat ever be Ile wod my lyfe, ȝon same is he

2. A retainer or servant in a royal, noble or high ranking ecclesiastical household. Also attrib. with man and stable. b. With specification of his area of responsibility. Also comb. 1429 Acts II 18/2.
That na ȝeman na comon to landwartis wer hewyt clathes siddar na the kne … bot allanerly centynnal ȝemen in lordis housis at ridis with gentill men thar masteris the quhilkis sal haf narow slewis [etc.]
1438 Reg. St. A. 430.
Fee and heritage wyth houshald for me and twa gentilmen twa yhemen wyth the boyis folowand my wyfe
1473 Treas. Acc. I 57.
To the qwenis vj ȝemen
a1500 Rauf C. 628.
‘Pas agane, porter, and lat him swyith in’ … And the ȝaip ȝeman to the ȝet is gane
1503 Treas. Acc. II 311.
For ij½ elne chamlot to be ane doublat to Alexander Gordoun or he enterit to be ȝeman
1503–4 Treas. Acc. II 424.
To the quenis ȝemen brocht ane quyk deir fra Faukland to Strivelin
attrib. 1529–30 M. Works Acc. (ed.) I 21.
To Johne Blair sclater … betand the kingis awine eting chalmeris in the abbay that wes rewyn with wynd the yeman stable guttar in the utar yet [etc.]
1542 Reg. Cupar A. II 208.
He [sc. the gardener] sall haue dailie … ane point aile, ane ait laif, and efferand of fysche and flesche to ane ȝeman man in the abbotis hall
b. 1473 Treas. Acc. I 67.
Gevin to Rob Purvas, ȝeman of the kingis stable on Ȝule evin … xxiiij s.
1474 Treas. Acc. I 50.
Gevin to Desert, ȝeman of the qwenis stable
1473 Treas. Acc. I 55 heading.
The hensmen and ȝomen of the stablis for the king and the quene
1495 Treas. Acc. I 268.
To Terres and ane odir ȝyman of the stable
1496 Treas. Acc. I 269.
Ȝymen of the stable
1505 Treas. Acc. III 107.
Ȝemen of stabill. Item, for iiij elne Franch tanne to Donald, the ȝeman
1506 Treas. Acc. III 48.
Payit to Hary Ropper, ȝeman of the quenis wardrob, that he hed laid doun for xx elne cammes to be tua pelat cases
1507 Treas. Acc. IV 82.
To Alexander Gordoun ȝeman of [the] stable, his wage quhilk he wantit quhen the king wes at the Month, and ran the post
1526 Exch. R. XV 288, 290.
Et Johanni Arch … lie yeman in coquina familie … et Johanni Mackaw, lie yeman in lie breidhous
1526–7 Treas. Acc. V 317.
To Thomas Hamiltoun, ȝeman of the spys hous
1527 Exch. R. XV 384.
Et Andree Murray lie yeman in butelaria domini regis … et Thome Hammiltoun lie ȝeman in speciaria
1528 Exch. R. XV 462.
Et Johanni Donaldsoun lie yeman averaria
1529–30 Reg. Privy S. II 67/1.
Ȝeman of the lardnar
1531–2 Reg. Privy S. II 145/1.
Thomas Hammiltoun, ȝeman of our soverane lordis spice-hous
a1578 Pitsc. I 325/2.
The king callit on ane ȝemen of the stabill and desyrit ane of his abullȝementis, hose, cloke, cott and bonnett
comb. 1541 Reg. Privy S. II 661/2.
Johne Drummond, principale carpentar, gunnar, meltar and ȝeman kepar of oure soverane lordis artailliery

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"Ȝeman n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Apr 2024 <>



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