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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

LEVELLER, n. One of a body of peasants in Galloway who had been dispossessed of their holdings by the enclosure system in the early part of the 18th c. and who organised themselves in 1724 to knock down or level all the walls built round the fields. The practice was known as levelling. Hist. See Crockett The Dark o' the Moon and A. J. Armstrong The Levellers.Sc. 1724 R. Wodrow Analecta (M.C.) III. 152:
A great gathering of people, to the number of 500 or 600, for demolishing of enclosures and gentlmen's parks. They began about Dumfreice, and are come the lenth of Kircudbright, and have the name of “Levellers” and “Dyk-breakers.”
Gall. 1810 S. Smith Agric. Gall. 45:
The peasantry in the lower parts of Galloway assembled in parties of several hundreds, throwing down the stone dykes which had been built for inclosures, without, however, attempting any other violence. From this circumstance they got the name of levellers; and the disturbance is still spoken of in the country by the name of levelling.
Gall. 1841 W. MacKenzie Hist. Gall. II. 395:
Here [at Keltonhill Fair] was first suggested the plan of “levelling,” or demolishing the obnoxious fences.
Gall. 1896 H. Maxwell Hist. Dmf. 303:
The ringleader of these Levellers was the celebrated Billy Marshall, of the blood royal of the Gipsies.
Sc. 1953 J. Handley Farming in 18th c. 199:
The activities of these “Levellers.” as they were called, were quelled by a force of dragoons who were brought from Edinburgh by the landowners.

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"Leveller n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 Apr 2024 <>



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