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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

HEIRSHIP, n. Also Sc. forms -schip; -skip, -skep, -scep, -scaip, -scape, -scap, -skap, and herskip.

1. The state or rights of an heir; succession by inheritance (Rxb. 1825 Jam., -skap; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl., heir skip; Ork. 1957); heredity.Sc. 1827 C. J. Johnstone Eliz. de Bruce II. xiii.:
The comfort and blessing it was to have Robbie's heirskep settled.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xiii.:
Andro Sooter, no havin' come into the possession o' a fiddle by heirscape as I had done.
Abd. 1880 G. Webster Crim. Officer 13:
There was a law bizness aboot the heirskip o' 't; fat they ca' a Succession Case.
Fif. 1899 Proc. Philos. Soc. Gsw. XXXI. 43:
The old wife who tells you . . . her skill is a matter o' heir-skep.
m.Sc. 1979 Tom Scott in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 87:
"Sall the faith o oor forebears be tint ti the daed,
No tho the heirskip sould pass frae the people ... "
Abd. 1994:
Fit aboot oor herskip? Buchan Heritage Society Fowk ken aa aboot it!

Phr.: heirship moveables, moveable property which formerly could be claimed by the heir in addition to heritable property. The right to make this claim was abolished in 1868 by Act 31–2 Vict. c.101.Sc. 1727 Morison Decisions 5406:
The Lords found the heirship moveables could not be deducted.
Sc. 1754 Erskine Principles iii. viii. § 7:
That sort of moveables called heirship, which is the best of certain kinds. . . . The list of heirship-moveables . . . must be greater or less, according to the variety of moveables belonging to the deceased.
Sc. 1861 Bell Dict. Law Scot. 421:
Heirship Moveables are the moveables to which the heir in heritage is entitled, in order that he may not succeed to a house and land completely dismantled.

2. An inheritance, a legacy (Rxb. 1825 Jam., †1923 Watson W.-B., -skap; Bnff. 1957).Sc. p.1714 Jacobite Minstrelsy (1829) 131:
I'll leave some heirship to my kin.
Abd. 1759 F. Douglas Rural Love 16:
“Gae keep your heirships,” answer'd Megg, “When young I'll sere, when auld I'll beg.”
Rxb. 1825 Jam., s.v. Carried:
Jenny's gotten an heirscaip left her, and she's just carryit about it.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin vii.:
Gin ye be certain o' sic an heirskap as Jeames Bodkin's fortune maun be, I'm no gaen awa ae fitstap, till ye tak' a complete suit o' the best Wast o' Englan' frae me.
Sc. 1871 P. H. Waddell Psalms xxxvii. 18:
An' their heirskip sal stan' for evir.

[O.Sc. airschip, 1446, arscap, archap, 1457, id. Eng. heirship does not appear till 1691. The [-sk-] forms point to L.Ger. origin, M.L.Ger. arfskap, Fris. erfskip, inheritance, but the word had been early assimilated to heir, E.Mid.Eng. eir, eyr, ayr, etc. and the suffix to -ship. The form may also have been influenced by Hership.]

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"Heirship n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Jun 2024 <>



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