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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SUCKEN, n.1, adj., v. Also †suckine; sookan-, sooken (Ork.); shucken; sockcom; ¶sockmen, by erron. association with Eng. sockman. [′sʌkən]

I. n. 1. (1) The lands of an estate on which there was an obligation to grind corn at a certain mill, or the totality of the tenants of such lands, the Thirl (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Now only hist. Cf. Insucken, Outsucken.Abd. 1711 S. C. Misc. (1935) I. 19:
To bring such coal corn as he gets from the sucken to the new mill.
Dmb. 1733 T. Watson Kirkintilloch (1894) 162:
The lands pertaining to the inhabitants of Kirkintilloch about the town are, and were always, habit and repute a part of the thirle and sucken of the mill of Duntiblae.
Sc. 1735 Session Papers, Petition Magistrates Kirkintilloch (22 July) 2:
The Mill of Bruntisland, called Ged's Mill, which had a large Sucken, as this has here; it was there proved, That the Sucken were in use sometimes to wait six weeks thro' Scarcity of Water.
Abd. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XVII. 407:
The parish is accommodated with 7 corn mills, to some one of which the tenants of a certain district, called the sockcom or sockmen, or sucken are astricted.
Sc. 1808 Morison Decisions App. 7:
The sucken of the Forfar mills.
Rnf. 1880 W. Grossart Shotts 220:
“Thirlage” was a servitude to a particular mill, and “sucken” the population so thirled.

Hence suckener, a tenant in a sucken, one who is bound to grind his grain at a certain mill (Sc. 1773 Erskine Institute ii. ix. § 20, 1808 Jam.).Mry. 1713 W. Cramond Grant Ct. Bk. (1897) 21:
John Grant to have ane under miller, and the suckeners to give such reward as is done to others of his office.
Rs. 1740 W. MacGill Old Ross-shire (1909) I. 166:
John Grant, miller, who deserted the said mill whereby the suckeners . . . for want of service abstracted their corns.
Abd. c.1754 Sc. N. & Q. (March 1924) 42:
For every boll or sixteen pecks, the Suckeners shall be obliged to pay one haddish of unsifted meal.
Sc. 1820 Scott Monastery xiii. note:
Perquisites demanded by the miller, and submitted to or resisted by the suckener as circumstances permitted.
Abd. 1877 W. Alexander Rural Life 147:
It [mill-stone] would have its equilibrium so disturbed as to get suddenly upset on the short end of the spar, throwing the hapless suckeners or tilting them up in the air.
Ork. 1922 P. Ork. A.S. I. 29:
Ye sookaners o' the Mill o' Bae, Come tae her the morn wi' simmons an' strae.

(2) transf. the area in which a person carries on his trade or profession, in 1871 quot. of a doctor's practice.Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xix.:
The younger Dr. Drogemweal, who had settled “doon throu',” so as to be beyond the limits of his father's “sucken.”
Abd. 1877 W. Alexander Rural Life 9:
In some cases, the smith had his “sucken” bound to attend his smiddy.

2. The obligation imposed on tenants on an estate to use a certain mill, or the payment due in kind, service or money for the use of the mill (Sc. 1808 Jam.). See Multure.Sc. 1709 Compend of Rights 164:
What Corns or Grains soever shall happen to be grounded thereat, shall pay Multure, Sucken, Knaveship and other Duties.
Sc. 1806 R. Jamieson Ballads I. 294:
Her daddie, a cannie ald carl, Had shucken and mouther a fouth.
Sc. 1821 Scott Pirate xi.:
Ilka body grinds their ain nievefu' of meal in this country, without plaguing themsells about baron's mills, and thirls, and sucken.

3. A nickname for the inhabitants of Broughtown in Sanday, Orkney, appar. as being thirled to the mill of Bea nearby (Ork. 1922 P. Ork. A.S. 29). See 1922 quot. under I. 1. (1) and 1721 quot. in III.

II. adj. 1. Bound or astricted to a certain mill (Sc. 1825 Jam.); also transf. obliged to give one's custom to one particular shop or the like. A reduced form of Bunsucken, earlier bond-sucken.Gsw. 1738 Records Trades Ho. (Lumsden 1924) 244:
The purchasers of the saids fews to be astricted and sucken to Caldercruix miln.
Lnl. 1767 Session Papers, Provost of Linlithgow v. Elphinston State of Process 32:
His father was sucken to the mill.
Sc. 1825 Jam.:
We're no sucken to ane by anither.
Per. 1835 Laird of Logan 174:
What ken ye about pickin' or setting the millstane? though you hae the hale carse sucken to you.
Abd. 1878 J. Davidson Inverurie 7:
The corns sucken to the mill.

2. Fig. Tied, bound, restricted or limited in some way; in debt (Ork. 1971).Rnf. 1813 G. MacIndoe Wandering Muse 70:
It's no' a' goud that's sheen, a' silk that's sleek, Nor's life ay sucken to the rosy cheek.

III. v. To bind or astrict tenant farmers to have their corn ground at the estate or some other specified mill.Ork. 1721 in H. Marwick Merchant Lairds (1939) II. 37:
Eisnes milns in Sandy being all suckned to the miln of Bea.

[O.Sc. suckin, = I. 1., 1423, suckener, 1578, Mid.Eng. soken, id., O.E. sōcn, O.N. sókn, a seeking, attack, concourse, resort, parish, a jurisdiction, deriv. of O.E. sēcan, O.N. sœkja, to seek.]

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"Sucken n.1, adj., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jul 2024 <>



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