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

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First published 1937 (DOST Vol. I).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Cobill, Coble, Cowbill, n. Also: cobyll, kobill, cobbill, cobile, cobell(e, cobel; coible, cobble, koble; covbille. [Of obscure origin; the relationship to ONth. cuopil boat or Welsh ceubal, -ol, ferry-boat, skiff, is not clear.]

1. A short flat-bottomed rowing-boat, chiefly used in salmon-fishing or as a ferry-boat. 1264 Exch. R. I. 9.
[In constructione vnius noue batelle et cobelle
1342 Ib. I. 478.]
In factura de crouys, et conduccione cobellorum et retium
(a) a1400 Leg. S. xl. 504.
Ane alde coble thare he fand, That mony hoilis in it had
Ib. 511, 523. 1571 Rec. Kinloss Mon. 96.
All fysche faltis, nettis, coiblis, and wther fysche grayth [pertaining to the fishings in the water of Bewlie]
1581 Elgin Rec. I. 159.
The tackis of the teynd salmon of the thre coblis of Innerspey
1595 Duncan Appendix.
Ponto, a ferrie bote, or coble
c1650 Spalding I. 294.
Thay gat about threttie chalderis of vittel and siluer rent out of the bischopis kavell, consisting of thrie cobles on the water of Done
1688 Edinb. Test. LXXVIII. 20 June.
Robert Bartoun, somtyme keipper of the coble of Cramond
(b) c1420 Wynt. viii. 4143.
A lytill kobill thare thai mete, And had thame owre, but langere lete
1476 Acta Aud. 47/2.
To prufe that thare vakit a fisching of a cobil of Speye belanging to the said prioure before the vaking of the fisching of the cobill that is contenit in the soumondis producit
1498–9 Acta Conc. II. 297.
As to the cobil and laxnet, the proffittis of the fisching that he mycht haf had of the baite and cobill [etc.]
1503 Treas. Acc. II. 376.
To the man of the cobill … feryit the king and court our the Water of Tay
1508 Reg. Privy S. I. 232.
A fre cobill on the water of Forth, with the fisching and proffitis thairof
1513 Doug. vi. v. 15.
Hymself the cobill dyd with hys bolm furth schow
1531 Bell. Boece II. 146.
Dongallus … come to the watter of Spey, and gat ane cobill to pas ouir the samin
1542 Reg. Cupar A. II. 181.
To vphald ane sufficient rowar to the cobill, and cariage man to cary the fysche
1562 Carte Northberwic 85.
The teynd fisches of the boittis and cobillis of the said hevin
1572 Reg. Privy S. II. 111.
Quhair certane thair nychtbouris … wes tane be the way at the cobill of Dryburgh
1580 Antiq. Aberd. & B. III. 174.
Thair scarring and debarring of the salmound fischis with cobillis, aris, and nettis
1593 Ayr Charters 118.
To fische the said watter … be bottis, cobillis, nettis, and leastouris
1608 Echt-Forbes Chart. 130.
It sall not be lesum … to stent net or netis be fassening of the samen on ilk syd of the watter … without cobill
1613 Conv. Burghs II. 409.
The impost … to be tane ans in the ȝeir, … of ilk cobell or four oirit bott
1634 Ann. Banff II. 250.
Certane new slayne blak fisches slayne be them with cobill and net wnder the silence of nicht
(c) 1492 Acta Conc. 216/2.
That thai eik na covbille for the said fischingis bot as vse and wont wes of before
1495 Ib. 393/2.
The proffitis of the twa parte of a cowbill and xij vther nettis of the said watter of Spey
1564 Antiq. Aberd. & B. II. 88.
Croftam vulgo lie Cowbill Croft cum cymba lie cowbill de Casteltoun
1578 Reg. Great S. 788/1.
Salmonum piscariam unius cimbe lie cowbill

b. Cobil and net, as a symbol of transferring the ownership of a fishing right. 1566 Prot. Bk. W. Douglas 81 b.
The forsaid landis … to be knawin to the samyn … be thak and raip, clape and hoppir, cobble and nett, … as ws is in sic thingis
1566 Prot. Bk. W. Cumming 69.
[Giving] Donald McIllechoan reall possession of the half cobyll salmon fysching … be deliuering to hym cobyll and net
1581 Ib. 269 b.
Robert Fraser arrestit the said fyschis … , lyk also possest the said Robert … be deliuering of cobill and net

2. A stone vat for the steeping of malt. See also malt cobill. 1519 (c 1580) Edinb. B. Rec. I. 187.
The biggingis … with barnys, killis, cowbillis, and servandis, with all necessar thingis to mak malt with
Ib. 189.
To big vpoun the saidis akeris duelling houssis, malt barne, kill and cowbill
1563 Perth Burgh Ct. MS. 13 b.
The sowme of xx s. of the few maill of … the kill, barn, cobill & pece of ȝaird
1589 Edinb. Test. XXI. 104.
In the cobill steipand ellevin bollis beir
1619 Ib. L. 223.
In the hous, barne, kill, and cobill, and abone the samyn, foure chalderis of maid and vnmaid malt
1665 Brechin Test. VI. 300.
The malt kill and cobill estimat to lxvj lib.

3. A cistern for the reception of drainage. 1535 M. Works Acc. IV. 87.
For … biging and casting of ane gret cobyll for the closet of the toure
1588 Edinb. B. Rec. IV. 523.
Vnderstanding that the transe of Bellis Wynd heid owerflowis with filth, in defalt of the tenement of land … quhilk wantes ane sufficient cobill to serue the droppis thairof
1592 Ib. V. 67.
[The council] ordanis Robert Gray, merchant … to caus clenge his cobills in Snawdouns close and to keip the samyn … unryning over
1616 Aberd. B. Rec. II. 340.
Ane devyse … for sinkis to serve the haill houssis, and to discend in tua cobbillis or ane cobill, … quhilkis cobbillis the said Thomas … sall big about and fluir the samen with flagstanes

4. Attrib. with bote, brae, court, croft, draucht, fisching, hauch, hous, land, man, seat, (in sense 2) stane. 1617 Edinb. Test. XLIX. 228 b.
Ane cobill boit with hir airis and ankeris
1647 Kelso Baillie Ct. MS. 88 b.
Begyneand at the great stane on the cobilbraeheid
1589 Glasgow B. Rec. I. 133.
The Coble Court of Glasgw, haldin at the Brumelaw thairof
1564 Antiq. Aberd. & B. II. 88 (see 1 c above).
Croftam vulgo lie Cowbill Croft
1577 Aboyne Rec. 142.
The landis of Wratoun, the croft thairof, Tolquhyne mylne of the samin, the cobill croft
1550 Reg. Great S. 121/1.
Decem libratas terrarum … cum earum … piscaria et lie cowbill drauchtis … super aqua de Clyde
1562 Inverness B. Rec. I. 76.
To haf bot half cobyll fysching of the vatter
1617 Reg. Great S. 634/2.
Cum magnis salmonum piscariis lie cobill fishing super dicta aqua
1632 Lanark B. Rec. 324.
The landis of Cobillhauche
1659 Melrose B. Rec. I. 230.
William Bell … having sex buttis of land lyand upon the north syde of the cobilhous
1454 Exch. R. V. 675.
Cum le Cobylland de Doune
1501 Reg. Privy C. I. 103/1.
The cobbill land of Down in Menteith, and the ferry cobbill thairof
1490 Treas. Acc. I. 133.
To the cobill man of Cambuskynnell quhen the King past owre
1581 Inverness B. Rec. I. 288.
The cobbill men awnaris of the said fisching
1648 Kelso Baillie Ct. MS. 89.
Robert Palmer, cobilman of the nether cobles
1600 Reg. Great S. 384/1.
Terras et villam de Ballater, cimbam, lie cobilseat et scheling earundem
1585 Prot. Bk. R. Brown 7 b.
The said Robert at his remvwing to tak away the timber of his saidis housis and his cobill stanis

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"Cobill n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 28 Jan 2023 <>



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