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

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First published 1971 (DOST Vol. IV).
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Marschal(l, Mareschale, Maris(c)hall, n. Also: mer-, mair-, mara- and -schalle, -scal(l, -scheal(l, -schiale, -shall(e, -shal(e, -sheall, -shiall, -chal(l, -chale, -cheal(l, -chiale, -tiall, -s(c)hael(l, -schail, -seaill, -schaul(l, -chiaul, -s(c)hel(l, -chel(l, -sell, -cheil, -schile. [ME. marescal (1258), ME. and e.m.E. marscal (a 1300), mareschal (1297), mar(s)chal (1290), marshall, e.m.E. marciall, -tiall, OF. maresc(h)al (mod. F. maréchal), med. L. marescallus, Frankish L. mariscalcus lit. ‘horse-servant’, groom, farrier.]The usual early forms are the disyllabic ones, the trisyllabic forms becoming common only after the mid-16th c. The forms in mer- are doubtless chiefly editorial by expansion of the abbreviation for -ar, -er.

1. One who tends horses, a farrier.Also Hors marschall n. c1475 Wall. v. 755.
Marschell thou art with out commaund off me, Reward agayne, me think, I suld pay thé
1509 Rentale Dunkeld. 106.
Lie merchale

2. A household officer charged with the superintending of the seating and other arrangements for banquets and ceremonies.Also marschel of the sail (= hall). 1375 Barb. ii. 4.
He callit his marschall till him tyt And bad him luk on all maner That he ma till his men gud cher
c1420 Wynt. vi. 2003.
As sone as hys supere wes dycht And hys marschalle hym to the halle Fechyd
c1450-2 Howlat 323.
The falcone … Was ane erll of honour, Marschell to the empriour
Ib. 676. c1475 Wall. viii. 1281.
Sone eftir meit a marchell gart [all] absent Bot lordis
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 1150.
The seymly souerane of the sail marschel he wes
a1500 K. Hart 308. 15.. Clar. ii. 1628.
The merchellis … Full bissilie went ben and but the hall
Ib. iv. 2795.
The counte [sat] at the tabillis end, The discreit marchell thair estaitis kende

b. In the Scottish royal household.Also marchal of or in (the King's) hall (also hous).(1) 1331 Exch. R. I. 398.
[Domine Mar. marescalli (£26. 13. 4)
1402 Ib. III. 561.
Waltero … , camerario domine regine (£6. 13. 4). Et Willelmo Giffart, marescallo domine regine (£5)
1413 Ib. IV. 171.]
Per recepcionem Willelmi de Berclai, marescalli sui (sc. of the governor)
1489 Treas. Acc. I. 109.
Wilȝeam Pettycrw merschell
1490–1 Ib. 197.
Thomas Steuart merschiale, souerte
1498 Reg. Privy S. I. 26/2.
Umquhill Umfra Culquhune, merchell
1500 Acta Conc. II. 453. 1501 Treas. Acc. II. 92.
Payit to Johne Inglis, marschael, his fee of the Mertymes terme bipast [£6. 13. 4]
1504 Ib. 309. 1505 Ib. III. 176. 1507 Reg. Privy S. I. 219/2. a1578 Pitsc. I. 259/9.
Schir Dawid Lyndsay … and Johnne Inglische the mairchall quho war … spetiall serwandis to the Kingis grace [sc. James IV]
(2) 1524 Reg. Privy S. I. 494/2.
Ane lettre to Andro Mailvile makand him ane of the merschellis principale in the Kingis hall quhar it sall happin his hienes to be
1527 Ib. 569/2.
Makand him ane of the marschalis of our soverane lordis hall
c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 1534.
In his hall cheif merschall And auditour of his comptis all
1596 Dalr. I. 302/15.
That in perpetuall ane of that surname [Keith] sal be mareschall in the Kingis hous

3. a. A senior officer, under the commander in chief, in the command of an army; a commander, general.Passing into the following senses. ?1438 Alex. ii. 5523.
Lyoun … was marshale Of Alexanderis hoste all hale
1456 Hay I. 112/10.
The first [necessity] is the duk of the bataill … that men callis now constable, or marschall in his absence, to the governaunce of the ost
Ib. 116/15.
For stryking of the provost of the ost quhilk is callit the provost of the mareschaulis in France, and in Scotland the constable depute
Ib. /19.
He that rebellis to the prince or to him that is his constable or mareschale or othir depute to govern the ost
Ib. 151/9.
And in generale till him self and his constable and marescallis and othir grete men
c1460 Alex. (Taym.) 911.
Off marascalis thai ordand alwayis tua, On eurie syde the battell ane of tha
1531 Bell. Boece II. 434.
The town of Edinburgh was stuffit with mony sodjouris baith of Inglis and Scottis; … the marscheall [M. the capitane; L. prefectus], callit Thomas Knatoun

b. The commander of the cavalry in an army. 1375 Barb. xi. 456 (C).
And schir Robert of Keth that wes Marshall [E. marschell] of all the host of fee
Ib. xiii. 54 (C).
King Robert … His marschall with a gret menȝe … For to prik emang the archeris
a1578 Pitsc. I. 265/30.
All his airme of Ingland, … the captans heirof was the Earle of Surrayis princiepall lwtennant to the Kingis maiestie and wnder him his sone lord Halbert … and the lord Dacaris marschell, [etc.]

4. A high officer of state in Scotland.Also attrib. in marshal-court.Among his duties of which there is evidence at different dates were certain functions shared with the Constable in the court of chivalry for trial by combat, that of guarding the sovereign and parliament ‘within doors’, the keeping of the regalia, and (less certainly) command of the cavalry in the national army. As judge he and his marschal-deputes had jurisdiction in military courts concerning the release and ransom of prisoners. From an early date the office was hereditary in the family of Keith: see also 1334 Acts I. 122/2. — c 1305 Misc. Hist. Soc. II. 34.]
[En lostel le Roi doit estre mareschal de fee ou vn chivaler suffisant pour luy par qi il voet respondre pour faire loffice de marischalcie … , & a luy apent de faire apparailer la sale al honour le Roi & asserra au manger les mangeantz apres la table le Roi assise, par auisement du seneschal & du conestable. … Et le mareschal auera sa court en temps de guerre de tote manere de trespas fait desouz baner & fressement estre determine
c 1176 Liber Calchou I. 71.
[& Herueum marescallum de ecclesia de Keth ville ipsius Heruei
1313 Liber Scon 97.
Et Roberto de Keth marescallo nostro Scotie militibus
1340 Exch. R. I. 466.
Domini Roberti de Keth, marescalli Scocie
1362 Reg. Great S. (1814) 25/1.
Willelmus de Keth, marescall noster Scocie
1543 Acts II. 427/1.]
Johannes Keith deputatus mariscalli
(a) 1375 Barb. xvii. 28 (E).
That he wald … mak covyne With the marschall
1398–9 Acts I. 210/2.
Sir Thomas the Hay constable, Sir Wilyhem of Keth marchal
1438 Sc. Hist. Rev. XXIV. 287.
Sir Wilȝame de Keyth the lorde of that ilk, marschall of Scotland
1494 Loutfut MS. iii b.
The marschal or his deputis suld haf him in the west end of the barreris to his tent
1531 Bell. Boece I. xxxvi.
Dunnothir the marschel of Scotlandis hous
Ib. II. 443.
The constabill, the marcheall, the chalmerlane and chancellar of Scotland
1606 Reg. Privy C. VII. 221.
That … the gairding of the utter barr … [of the Parliament House] apperteyns to the lord constable as a pairt … of his office, and that the … guairding of the inner barr only apperteyneth to the marshall
1607 Misc. Spald. C. II. 221.
For eschewing of … contentioune betuix the saidis lordis marschall and constable
a1633 Hope Major Pract. I. 17. 1682 M. P. Brown Suppl. Decis. II. 18.
The lords found the title of nobility and office of marshall was annexed to the blood
attrib. 1633 A. Nisbet System of Heraldry II. (1742) iv. 75.
The marshal court of the kingdom of Scotland holden at Leith … by an noble earl William, earl Marshal, … Great Marshal of the kingdom … anent the riot committed [etc.]
(b) 14.. Acts I. 346/2.
For the fee of the Kingis constable x li. Item for the fee of the merschell x li. And all the trespas done vnder the wand of the Kingis merschell and constable [etc.]
1531 Bell. Boece II. 416.
Robert Keith, merscheall
1550 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 602.
[David Hamilton has a decreet] befor the merchell and his deputis [that Nisbet should pay him one third of a ransom]
1551 Ib. 610.
[Three] merchel deputis of Scotland [charged to give decreet]
1592 Acts III. 565/1.
George Keith erll and merschell of this realme
(c) 1604 Acts IV. 264.
George Erle Marschell great mairschell of Scotland
1628 Reg. Privy C. 2 Ser. II. 526.
Manie of the pryme officiars of estait … as namelie the lord stewart, the admirall, mairshall, constable [etc.]
(d) 1533 Boece xi. xix. 447 b.
Narracions following sall declare how fra the samyn stok [Keith] sprang the grete mareschellis of Scotland
Ib. xvi. iii. 613 b.
Johnne Keith mareschile
1596 Dalr. I. 127/9.
Quha is … ouir campis in weiris, marischale … we cal
1631 Misc. Spald. C. II. 228.
That nothing … in the … report … tuitcheing … the office of constabularye should be prejudiciall to the said earle [Marischal] anent the rights … of his office as marishall of the kingdome
1628 Reg. Privy C. 2 Ser. II. 393. 1662 Acts VII. 371/1.
[In Parliament,] oine servant allowed to the lord chancellour, tuo to the constable, tuo to the marishall and one to the advocat
1675 Edinb. B. Rec. X. 245.
In publict papers granted be the king sometyme the marishall is placed before the constable

b. Erle Marscheal, also of Marchall, a title of nobility conferred in 1458 on Sir William Keith and his heirs as Marshals of Scotland.Hence also (my) lord marschal [see also Lord n. 28 b and (16)], Countes Merschell, ladie Merschall, and Maister (of) Marschal (see Maister n. 20).(1) 1482 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV. 34.
Wilyeame Erle Marscheal
1489 Irving Dumbartonsh. I. 19.
Be Wilyame Erle Marchall
1491 Reg. Episc. Aberd. I. 327.
William Erell Marcheil and Lord Ketht
The said lorde Erle Marschale, … marchel
1516 Treas. Acc. V. 80.
Betwix the Erll Marschell and Lord Forbes
1524 Acts II. 288/1.]
[Domini … deputarunt Wm Forbes de Carsinda deputatum comitis mariscalli
1551 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 610.
[William,] Erle Merschell generall of this realme
1562 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV. 598.
Williame Maister of Merscheall and William Erll Merscheall
To the said William Erll Marischeall
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 26.
Sister to the Erle Merchell
1595 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 64.
Lord George Erle Marcheal
1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Baro.
Earle Martiall … the jurisdictioun of weir-fare perteinis to him
1597–8 Reg. Privy C. V. 435.
George Earl Mairshaell
1641 Acts V. 349/1.
[Parliament] allowes the Erle Mershall only to have a servant within the house who shall call in the maissers be directione
1630-1651 Gordon Geneal. Hist. 236.
The heretable lord marshiall of Scotland
1657 Balfour Ann. IV. 385.(b) 1606 Reg. Privy C. VII. 221.
The Erle of Marschalls deputis protestit that nothing done at this tyme sould be prejudiciall to the Erle of Marchall and his office
1707 A. Nisbet System of Heraldry II. (1742) iv. 76.
William Wilson … depute-marshal, for himself and … in name … of William Earl of Marshal, … great marshal of the kingdom of Scotland, heritable keeper of the regalia thereof
(c) 1627 Chron. Perth 31.
Sir George Hay chancellor wes … accusit befoir the King at Londone one diueris poyntis be my lord merseaill
(2) 1549 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV. 623.
Dame Mergarett Keith Countes Merschell
c1650 Spalding II. 287.
Be the old Ladie Merschallis advyss

c. Knight marischal: An office awarded to Sir John Keith, third son of William, sixth Earl Marischal, and subsequently the first Earl of Kintore, as a reward for his services in saving the Scottish regalia during the Commonwealth. — 1660 Honours Scotl. 133.
His majestie hath therfore mad … the said John Keith Knight Marischal of the kingdom of Scotland [etc.]
1661 Acts VII. 94/1. 1662 Ib. 371/1.
Admittance [to Parliament] is allowed … to the Knight Marishall
Ib. /2.
It is appointed that the Knight Marishall & the maissers be carefull … that thir orders [regarding Parliainent] be obayed

5. The (Earl) Marshal (of, in England). 1461 Liber Plusc. I. 328.
In Angliam intrando usque prope locum ubi dictus Eril Marschail [v.r. Marchiale] residebat
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 212/10.
The Erll of Mar challangit the erll marschell of Yngland
1531 Bell. Boece II. 467.
The marcheal of Ingland
1533 Boece xvi. v. 615 b.
Richard King of Ingland to erle merschell of Ingland gaif the reull of the marchis
1535 Stewart 57154.
Thairfoir King Richart … His erle merschell the wardane than maid he
1596 Dalr. II. 142/28.
The Duke of Norfolkis sone, cheif tresurer and merchall in Ingland

6. a. In France (? and other countries) the title of a high officer of state with military and chivalric duties. 1375 Barb. xviii. 473 (E).
Off Fraunce … knychtis twa; … The tothyr wes the merschell Bretayn That wes a wele gret lord at hame
1456 Hay I. 179/16.
The mareschall of Fraunce
a1500 Rauf C. 962.
That the marschell of France was newlingis deid
1494 Loutfut MS. 2 a.
The feild … sall be diuisit be the constable & marchiaulis or thair deputis
And the king or his marschall of the marche quhar the gaigis war gevin suld be callit
Ib. 5 b.
The marschaillis ar ane office quhilk pertenis til haue the knawlege of batalȝies be land and the governance of the sammyn for thai represent the counstable
1531 Bell. Boece II. 447.
At the first skarmusche Schir Johne Claremont, merschal of France, … was slane
1550 Corr. M. Lorraine 323.
I delyverit your grace wretingis … to the marechal of Sanct Androus
1675 Stirlings of Keir 507.
Marachall de Coiquie his armie … are … cut off. … The marachall coming to relive the seage, … the duke fell upon him

b. The marshal (also the under-marshal) (of Berwick). 1571 Reg. Morton I. 72.
Ȝistrene the marishall of Berwick … come heir
1572 Ib. 74.
1569-73 Bann. Memor. 177.
The vnder merchell of Berwicke come to Leith
1573 Inv. Q. Mary cl. 1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 217. c1615 Chron. Kings 128.
Sir William Drewre, knycht, mersell of Berwik

7. a. In the burghs of Stirling, Edinburgh and Irvine: The designation of some officer or functionary.In Edinburgh and Stirling, the marshal's man administered certain punishments to criminals. 1652 Stirling B. Rec. II. 315.
Spent with the marschall quhen he was dealt with to permitt his man to scourge some theives
To Philip the marschallis man
1655 Nicoll Diary 153.
The marschellis man [in Edinburgh] … wes apoynted to haif cuttit Mr Patrick Maxwell haill lug
1681 Irvine Mun. II. 294.
Robert Brysone thesaurer pay to William Meldrum marshall ten merkes Scots to ane accompt of his bygane service to the toune

b. In Elgin: A functionary with duties and perquisites similar to those of the lokman or staffman (= burgh executioner) of the south Sc. burghs. 1681 Elgin Rec. I. 325.
The thesaurer to pay to Johne Findlay, marschell, 20s. Scotts money monthlie, the said Johne keiping the streitts clean
1690 Ib. 349.
That … all strangeris … remow … wnder the payne of putting them furth of the toune with the martiall
1692 Conv. Burghs IV. 635.
[At Elgin, in 1687,] payed to the mershall as his fie and for his cloathes, £28
1711 Elgin Rec. I. 383.
Donald Paterson … to serve … as their marshall or hangman in everie part thereof

c. In the Aberdeenshire Sheriff Court of 1653: ? = The ‘marshal’ of an (English) court of law, ‘answerable for the charge and custody of prisoners and for the keeping of order, and frequently entrusted with the keeping of a prison.’ — 1653 Aberd. Sheriff Ct. III. 61.
Alexr Irving … to present himselff to the marshell … to be put in prisone or uther wayis disposit upon as the judges sall think fitt

8. a. In the army of Scotland: The title of a low-ranking regimental officer of regiments of foot. — 16.. Nat. Lib. MS. Hist. Ser. 183, 130. p. 151.
That a marischal be chosen to take order for the march and stirrage and to give the watch word to such as shall march and stir for the time
1684 Misc. Maitl. C. III. 74.
Foot Guards … Quartermaster 4s. [daily], marishall 2s., chyrurgeon and mate 5s.
Ib. 76. 1702 Ib. 94.
Martiall 2s., store keeper 4s.

b. Felt (= field) marshall (after Germ. feld-marschall), put for: A military provost-marshal. — 1684 Lauder Notices Affairs II. 550.
The felt marshall carried chains, axes, bolts and all the other ingins by which delinquent souldiers use to be punished

9. Erron. for: Marquis. 1596 Dalr. II. 338/22.
Him quha is marchell [L. marchionem] of Northamptoune

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



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