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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

FEU, n., v. Sc. Law. Also †few. [fju:]

I. n. 1. The tenure of land in perpetuity in return for a continuing annual payment of a fixed sum of money to the owner of the land; formerly also for payment in kind or rarely for something of token value merely, in all cases paid as a commutation of the military service due by the vassal to his superior under the feudal system. Sometimes used adv. = by feu tenure.Sc. a.1714 Earls of Cromartie (ed. Fraser, 1876) II. 491:
For this service King James the 5 gave to him Kinchuldrum, Achilty, and Comery in few.
Sc. 1785 J. Anderson Acct. Hebrides 69:
The term feu is, I believe, peculiar to Scotland: it means a perpetual property granted by a feudal superior to a vassal, on his continuing to pay a certain stipulated sum annually, in name of feu duty.
Kcd. 1813 G. Robertson Agric. Kcd. 205:
The people are all holders of their houses and gardens in Feu.
Ags. 1820 Montrose Chronicle (18 April):
The Lands will be sold to be held Feu, for payment of an yearly feu-duty of only 5s.
Slk. 1875 Border Treasury 539:
It was what's ca'd a feu, or lease in perpetuity, held in consideration o' the peyment of a few pence Scots ilka year, if demandit by the superior.
Sc. 1927 Green's Encycl. III. 249:
The essentials of an instrument of sasine relating to subjects held feu before 1845.

2. A piece of land held by this tenure, the commonest in Scotland, esp. in towns and villages; hence, in mod. usage, a building site. Gen.Sc. Also attrib.Fif. 1710 R. Sibbald Fife and Knr. iv. i. 130:
The precinct of the house, and fews belong to the Earl of Kellie.
Kcd. 1813 G. Robertson Agric. Kcd. 199:
There are already 150 houses built, and 50 more feus, or stances taken.
Sc. 1820 Scott Monastery xi.:
Enlarged on her own incapacity, as a lone woman, to manage the feu.
Sc. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 I. 60:
Pathhead is the principal village in the parish, made up for the most part of feus from the property of Crichton.
Rxb. a.1860 J. Younger Autobiog. (1881) 15:
The croft lands, originally let in small feu acres.
Bnff. 1888 Trans. Bnff. Field Club 28:
In the confusion, many inferior feus became distinct feudal holdings.

3. The annual payment for a feu, a feu-duty. Gen.Sc.Ags. 1776 First Hist. Dundee (ed. Miller, 1923) 147:
It pays a feu of six pounds, ten shillings Sterling yearly.

II. v. To grant or hold land by this tenure. Sometimes with out, to parcel out ground into feus. Also used intr. in a passive sense, as in phr. ground to feu. Gen.Sc. Vbl.n. feuing.Fif. 1710 R. Sibbald Fife and Knr. ii. ii. 41:
The Earl of Murray possesseth the wester half of Abirdour; it had also other Lands Fewed.
Sc. 1749 Records Conv. Burghs (1915) 294:
That the forsaid houses and yeard at Milnburn should be fewed out by publick roup.
Sc. 1784 A. Wight Husbandry III. 587:
He feued from the town 150 acres.
Edb. 1825 R. Chambers Trad. Edb. (1847) 11:
He purchased a field near the town for £1200, and feued it out for a square.
Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Miller xx.:
His brother, Lawyer Cauldwell, and he have been speculating largely in feuing and building.
Sc. 1888 C. Mackay Dict. Lowland Sc. 57:
A space of unoccupied ground on the “Corran” at Oban, . . . in the midst of which on a pole was a board inscribed “This land to feu.”
Abd. 1905 Sc. N. & Q. VII. 41:
This plan is interesting chiefly as showing how the feuing stances in the new streets were being taken up.

III. Combs.: 1. feu-building, (a) building on feued land; 2. feu-charter, the document constituting a new feu; 3. feu-contract, see quots.; †4. feu-disposition, a document disposing of property in feu “instead of a feu-charter . . . sometimes used to constitute a feudal legal fee” (Sc. 1890 J. Craigie Conveyancing 123); 5. feu-duty, the fixed annual payment for the feu, now gen. payable twice yearly at Whitsunday and Martinmas; 6. feu-farm, †-ferme, the tenure of land in feu; now only in the formula of a feu-charter, see 1937 quot. †Also = 5. and attrib.; 7. feu-holding = 6.; the land so held; 8. feu-mail, = 5.; 9. feu-right(s), the right(s) established by feu-charter. See 1929 quot.1. Fif. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 IX. 109:
Its appendages, Burnside and Bankton Park, which are entirely new feu-buildings, lie, the former a little to the south-west, the latter a little to the north-west of the village.
2. Sc. 1748 Kilkerran Decisions 387:
The feu-charter is the constitution of the vassal's right.
Sc. 1814 J. Sinclair Gen. Report Agric. Scot., App. I. 192:
An original charter is generally therefore granted by a subject-superior in the form of a feu-charter.
Sc. 1937 St Andrews Cit. (29 May) 9:
In practically every case now when a man builds a house he gets a feu charter fom the owner or superior of the ground. . . . The charter is delivered to the new owner, and by the simple process of registering his deed in Edinburgh his title is complete.
3. Sc. 1826 W. Bell Dict. Law Scot. 6:
The difference between the feu-contract and the feu-charter is that, by the contract, the vassal obliges himself personally, and, in the clause of registration, may be compelled by direct diligence to implement his obligation; whereas, in the feu-charter, although the vassal is equally liable, the means of compelling performance is not so direct; it is through the medium of an action and decree that diligence can be obtained.
Sc. 1891 J. Craigie Conveyancing 123:
Unlike the feu-charter, blench-charter, and feu-disposition, the feu-contract is a bilateral deed, and it is used when parties wish to be able to enforce by direct personal diligence on the deed the obligations undertaken under it.
4. Sc. 1838 A. Duff Deeds and Forms 58:
A feu-disposition is very distinct from the ordinary disposition of sale; it is a feu-charter in every thing but the substance on which it is written.
5. Gsw. 1713 Records Trades Ho. (ed. Lumsden 1934) 2:
Received from John Clark of wester musset four years fewdewty of his Lands . £4 13 4
Sc. 1772 Edb. Evening Courant (7 March):
These Lands are holden of a subject superior for payment of two merks Scots of feu-duty.
Ayr. 1790 Boswell Letters (1924) 477:
The half year's rents and feuduties of the village.
Sc. 1820 Scott Monastery xxviii.:
The vassals are so wilful now, that the Abbot himself dare not control them, for fear . . . they refuse to pay their feu-duties.
Sc. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 I. 241:
He offered to pay to the minister and his successors that rent as a perpetual feu-duty.
Sc. 1951 Scotsman (29 May) 1:
Dunbar. — Attractive Modern 4-roomed Bungalow, 1–5th Acre. Rent, £36; Feu-duty, £4.
6. Sc. 1701 Lamont Papers (Sc. Rec. Soc.) 317:
[Lands] to be holden of the granter and his heirs male and successors, in feuferme and heritage.
Rnf. 1880 W. Grossart Shotts 152:
All the reservation he made was the feu-ferm rights of Little Hareshaw.
Sc. 1937 Green's Legal Styles V. 155:
I A.B. in consideration of the feu-duty and other prestations after specified have sold and hereby in feu-farm dispone to C.D. and his heirs and assignees . . . to be holden of and under me and my heirs and successors as immediate lawful superiors thereof in feu-farm fee and heritage for ever.
7. Sc. 1747 Scots Mag. (Aug.) 366:
That all tenures of lands held ward of any subject-superior, whether simple or taxed ward, be turned into feu holding, for payment of a certain feu duty yearly, in place of the casualties of ward holding.
Mry. 1813 W. Leslie Agric. Mry. 44:
This kind of tenure has been distinguished from remote times, by the designation of feu holding, differing from that of a freehold, chiefly in deriving the title and right of succession, not from the sovereign, but from a fellow subject, in the incidents payable thereupon to him.
Sc. 1870 J. H. Burton Hist. Scot. VI. 245:
Some of these were mere leases, others were feu-holdings, under which the occupant of the land, though holding in vassalage, was the real owner.
8. Sc. 1752 J. Spottiswoode Stile of Writs 237:
Without doubling of the Feu-Mail at the Entry of the Heirs or Successors of the said A.
9. Sc. 1700 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1908) 303:
A fewright of three nynteen year tack of eight score foots in length and the whole breadeth betuixt the heigh way and the rop work.
Sc. 1748 Morison Decisions 5725:
It is the charter and sasine jointly that constitute the feu-right.
Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. xi.:
They . . . had contrived to get feu-rights to their little possessions, their huts, kail-yards and rights of commonty.
Sc. 1929 Gsw. Herald (27 Dec.) 3:
Feu rights differ from leases in this, that a feu is a perpetual right, . . . while a lease must run out at some time. . . . Under a feu right the feuar is a proprietor, while under a lease the lessee, as a rule, has only the use of the land.

[O.Sc. few, feu, in the senses of the n. above, from 1493, of the v., from 1570, few-ferme, 1457; O.Fr. feu, fieu, fiu, feudal holding, late Lat. fevum, id., prob. of Teut. origin. Cogn. with Eng. fee, fief, feudal.]

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"Feu n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 Feb 2024 <>



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