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

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First published 2001 (DOST Vol. X).

Toun, Town(e, Ton(e, n. Also: toune, tounn, tound, townn, toon(e, tun(e, touin(e, towine, -un(e, -en, townith, towinthe, thoun(e, thown(e, thowine, thon. [ME and e.m.E. tun(e (both Orm), ton (Cursor M.), toun (Manning), toune (1377), town (Trevisa), OE tún, ON tûn.]In early use in place-names referring to a farm settlement. 1098 J. B. Johnston Place-names of Scotland (1970) 199.
1119–24 Liber Calchou 4.
In Sprostona … decem acras
c1141 Early Chart. 101.
c1145 Edinb. Chart. 4.
a1150 J. B. Johnston Place-names of Scotland (1970) 199.
c1150 Liber Calchou 106.
Ecclesiam uille mee de Langtune
1206 Misc. Spald. C. V 209.
Ex alia parte super terra de Aberbuthenoth que appellatur Kirketun
1214–49 Liber Melros I 241.
Elia de Haultone
c1250 Barrow Anglo-Norman Era App. C. 200.
Milnetun [mill settlement]
13… Liber Melros II 331.
Terram quam Willelmus de Alwenton eis contulit in territorio de Halsington
13… Liber Scon 147.
Alexandro de Cokburne de Langtoune
1388 Reg. Episc. Aberd. I 184.
Carta de Capronstown
1403 Coll. Aberd. & B. 479.
Cum tota villa de le Kyrktoune
1567 Liber Calchou 522.
The towne of Sprouston
1633 Reg. Great S. 754/2.
Rex … concessit Jacobo Bett … lie Nathertoun-mylne de Balmerinoche cum ejus terris

1. A settlement, a group of dwellings and other buildings inhabited by (a number of) the tenants of an estate; a farm or estate including dwelling house(s) and farm buildings and freq. the land. Freq. toun and lands, toun and sulȝe (see Soil(l n. 1 for further examples). See also ferme toune (Ferme n. 5).There may be some overlap with 3 below.(1) a1400 Leg. S. xxvii 93.
He gaf of heretable rycht To Godis seruice al that ton In-to fre possessione
1450–1 Reg. Episc. Brechin. II 85.
The xiij fat of al that cumis to the myl of Achdouy to grynd be Alexander Wricht and his coteris of the toun of Achdouy
1472 Reg. Cupar A. I 164.
To hafe grantyt, set and for ferm lattyn ane quarter of our toun of Lytyl Perth to John Sperk
1473 Reg. Cupar A. I 166.
To haf grantyt, set, and for ferm lattyn our landis of Cragnenady … to … Wilȝam Coly inhabitand in the samen with his biggyngis al profitis and esmentis pertenand to the sade toun
1473 Reg. Cupar A. I 188.
Tha sal devyd the toun at the next Quhissunday evynly in four tounys, or at the lest in thre
a1500 Henr. Fab. 426.
This wylie tod … Full sair hungrie vnto the toun him drest
c1520-c1535 Nisbet Luke xiv 18.
I haue boucht a tovn [L. villam] and I haue nede to ga furth and se it
?1529 Prot. Bk. J. Brydin No. 86.
Michell Ranaldsone croft under the toun of husbandland
1536–7 Sc. Hist. Rev. VII 360.
Galtovnsyd Dornyk and Newsteid quhilkis stedingis and tovnis … is extreme lauborit that thai ar nocht sa fertill nor plentwus as thai war in auld tymes
1566 Reg. Privy C. I 421.
Four husband landis, thre cotlandis, and ane half cotland, liand in the toun of Ovir Ancrum
a1586 Maitland Ho. Seytoun 49.
Sir Richard would have the originall of the surname to be from the two old Saxon words Sey and Ton: the word sey signifying the sea, and ton a mansion place, in our language
1596 Oldcambus Acc. 16.
To the plewmen of the towne and Windilawis
1611 Reg. Panmure I xciii.
The ground of this towne is wery fertil, and goud for al kynd of cornes that growes in Scotland
1626 Craven Argyll Diocese 47.
Jura … a mountanous barren iland having in all only twelff small tounes
1627 Rep. Parishes 197.
In this parochine thair is first a populous toune quhairin thair is fortie single roumis
1650 Brechin Presb. 23.
Isobell, being in the byr milking the kye, hard such a din in the byr that shee thought that all the toun had been falling
c1690 Antiq. Aberd. & B. II 443.
The toun of Whitestones pays by one tennant eighty-eight pounds of money, one ston of butter [etc.]
(b) 1479 Newburgh B. Ct. 22a.
The comone landis off the thowine
(c) 1495 Reg. Paisley 405.
Ane hows pertenyng to the saidis abbot and convent liand in the thoun of Arkilston within the said barony of Renfrew
(d) 1550 Reg. Cupar A. II 101.
Thai sall haue pastoring to fowr ky with the laiff of the cottaris of the towun
(2) 1485 Exch. R. IX 646 n.
All the akeris that ar occupiit be the said Johne Bonar … ar of the toune and landis of the Dron
1493 15th Rep. Hist. MSS App. viii 53.
Landis … lyand in the towne and sulȝe of Pennyrsax
1498 Liber Melros 489.
My forsaide land and toun of Malkarstoun … with al the appourtenaunce vtouth and enovth
1520 Fife Sheriff Ct. 173.
The said Hew Muncreif wes sufficiently infeft in the said landis & toun of Petgorno
1527 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 88.
The toun and sulye of Byrkynsid within the schirefdom of Roxburgh
1532 Reg. Privy S. II 166/1.
The toun and sulȝe of Stanhous
1539 Reg. Cupar A. II 11.
All and hale ane auchtane pairt of our town and landis of our grange of Abyrbothrie
1557 Reg. Cupar A. II 152.
Ane quarter and ane half quarter of our toun and landis of Wester Inneraritie
1576 Reg. Privy C. II 558.
Tenentis of the half toun and landis of Elistoun
1623 Brechin Test. IV 103a.
The towne and landis of Kingorme
c1650 Spalding I 22.
James Grant … cam to the toun and landis of Petchass, young Ballindallochis duelling place
1659 Stewart Mem. 134.
The toun and landis of Belnagard with houssis … crofts grassings, shellings [etc.]
1693 Antiq. Aberd. & B. III 520.
The town and lands called the dominical lands of Maynes of Lessendrum with the manor place houses … and pertinents
(b) 1542 Grant Chart. 88.
Siklik is narast … ayr … of all and haill the half thowne and landis of Inuercabok
(c) 1689 Urie Baron Ct. 99.
It is … ordained that the said wpper toones and lands furnish for transporting baggadge tenn horss

Passing into: 2. A (large) village; a larger settlement or burgh which has its own administrative organisation, a town; a city. Also in collocation with castel, tour, etc. referring to the inhabited buildings in an area; see Tour n.1 1 b for further examples.Freq. in contradistinction to the country or the city. For examples with qualifiers, e.g. burrow-toun, fisher-toun, parliament toun, etc. see under the first element.There is some overlap with 3 below.For further background information see Michael Lynch, Michael Spearman and Geoffrey Stell (eds.) The Scottish Medieval Town (1988).(1) 1375 Barb. i 185.
He … all the land gan occupy Sa hale that bath castell & toune War in-till his possessioune
1375 Barb. xi 145.
To Berwik ar thai cummyn … sum logyt without the town ys In tentis and in pailȝownys
a1400 Leg. S. vii 304.
Jerusalem the fare towne
?1438 Alex. i 2.
Alexander … Lay to assege the toun of Tire
?14.. Ship Laws c. 12 (B).
A mayster … hyris his men in a toune that the schyp is of
1442 Aberd. B. Rec. I 9.
Al man that has back yettes close thaim swa that thair cum na skath throw thaim to the toune
1460 Hay Alex. 3390.
[He] gart warne all mankynd … In toun and land bayth hors and fute away To pas with him
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1253.
The scheip … couth tak His way vnto ane merchand off the toun, And sauld the woll that he bure on his bak
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (STS) lxxxviii 31.
O! towne of townes, patrone and not compare: London, thou art the floure of cities all
1511 Aberd. B. Rec. in Dunb. (STS) III 338.
To … cleing the towune of all myddingis
1513 Doug. xii xi 90.
To bet doun The principall palyce and all the ryall tovn
1540 Lynd. Sat. 3163 (Ch.).
Seik out throw all towns and cities
1563–4 Inverness Rec. I 114.
Ewerie houshaldar in the towne wyth thair famelie be inrollit in ane buike be the clerk of the towne
1586 Jurid. Rev. IV 297.
The toun being the heid burgh of the barony quhair court is usit to be haulden it was lesum [etc.]
1602 Haigh Mining P. 12 Oct.
Gevand thame power to big and erect townis and burghis besyde the saidis myndis to creat bailleis officiaris and vtheris memberis within the samyn
1652 Lamont Diary 51.
The towne of Bruntelland begane to be cassaed
1685 Dunlop P. III 11.
We [have] so framed the modell of the toun that everie toun lot hath a ga[rden] adjasent to it and two ackers of toun land lying near the toun
16… R. Gordon in Macfarlane's Geog. Coll. II 393 (see 3 (1) below).
1701 Edinb. B. Rec. XII 279.
The councill appoints the magistrats … to … search for all the hand milnes within the good toun and suburbs therof
(b) a1400 Leg. S. vii 810.
Thai of new wald wal thare tone
a1400 Leg. S. xxix 683.
Thar-for send he fare & nere To cyteis & tonys sere
a1400 Leg. S. xxxiii 351.
A tone callyt Dyaspoly
1444–5 Irons Leith I App. 542.
Al and sundry thar tenement with the pertinens liand in the tone of Leith
1482 Edinb. Chart. 146.
Walter Bartrahame, prouest of the tone of Edinburgh
(c) 1495 Reg. Paisley 404.
The custumys in the thown of Paslay wrangusly thayn
(d) c1500-50 Brevis Cronica 335.
King Edwart send ane greit army to besege Berwyk … bot the nobill Scottis defendit the towen
(e) 1559 Knox VI 94.
The toon and castell of Barwick
(f) 1570 Leslie 106.
The saide archebischop come to the townith of Edinburgh
(g) 1587 St. A. Baxter Bks. 42.
Of Jhonne Blakis land besouth the towinthe, v s.
(2) a1500 Bernardus 257.
How sal thow byg castel, towne or toure
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 3459.
Ceteis, castellis, tounis, and towris, Uillagis, bastailȝeis, and bowris
1560 Rolland Seven S. 9.
Of townis and towris, greit villages & cieteis

b. (Owt) off, fra, to, in, into, within toun, (out) of, etc. town as a geographical location or community contrasted with country, or with reference to a particular town (or towns). Also pl.Chiefly without qualification.sing. 1375 Barb. ii 132 (C).
[He] bad him pas his way off toun
a1400 Leg. S. iv 12.
James … Eftir Cristis ascencione Passit prechand fra tovne to towne
a1500 Henr. Fab. 181.
Scho passit owt off town To seik hir sister
a1500 Rauf C. 349.
Folkis … Thankand God … Thair lord was gane to toun
c1475 Wall. iii 415.
He … chargyt him tak souerte of Wallas, He suld him kepe fra merket toune or fair
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 126/1.
Schir lat it never in toune [M. toume] be tauld
1513 Doug. ii xi 115.
To town agane I sped with al my mycht
1535 Stewart 43904.
That causit ws to leif the wildernes And draw to toun
1560 Rolland Seven S. 3748.
Thay socht in mony sindrie toun, Be eist, be west, south, north, baith vp and doun
1572 Sat. P. xxxi 38.
Innocents ar murtherit downe Without remors, in land and towne
1661 True Character Ragged Presbyter 78.
The old Saviour needs must gang Now a new one's come to town
1665 Kirkcudbr. Sheriff Ct. Deeds I 47.
When I com to toune I doe oblige myselfe to renew my tikett
1681 Colvil Whig's Suppl. (1681) ii 59.
Wives who rail and herbs in town sells
1695 Acts IX 433/1.
The other advocats in toun were taken up by the defender
pl. c1520-c1535 Nisbet Matth. xiv 15.
Lat the pepile ga into townis, to by thame mete
1529 Misc. Maitl. C. II 84.
The pestelens is spred in diuerse tonis
1558-66 Knox I 276.
The same boldnes took diverse otheris, alsweall within townes as to landwarte
1594 Acts IV 73/1.
This act … sall extend … aganis the heretouris and lyfrentaris of landis within townis and suburbis thairoff

c. Immediately following the name of a town. Chiefly in verse. 1375 Barb. ii 81.
The byschop off Androws towne
c1475 Wall. v 535.
In Parys toune
c1475 Wall. vi 110.
Wallace in to gud liking gais In Laynrik toun amang his mortaill fais
a1508 Kennedy Flyt. 267.
This Corspatrick betrasit Berwik toun
1513 Doug. viii iii 7 (Sm.).
The mychty power of Rome toune
1535 Stewart 42633.
Commandand him … In Lundoun toun befoir him to compeir
1540 Lynd. Sat. Proclam. 97.
In Cowpar toun
1560 Rolland Seven S. 518.
Romulus, quhilk buyldit Romes toun
1571 Sat. P. xxv 113.
Edinburch toun
1583 Pittenweem Ann. 9.
In Pettynweme toun
1596 Dalr. II 244/3.
S. Johnes toune

d. specif. ? A royal burgh. 1473 Ayr B. Ct. 119b (15 Jan.).
For distrobillyn of the kyngis toun
1460–88 Facs. Nat. MSS II lxxvi.
The king desiris the … fauouris of his said cousing … becaus of … the repare of his liegis … in his lordschippis and tovnys

3. coll. The community of a town, the townspeople; the administrative body of a town, the council or corporation. Once, in pl. Also with plural verb.There is some overlap with 2 (and ? 1) above.(1) c1420 Wynt. iv 2563.
Batht land and towne Tyll Rome made contributyoune
1456 Hay I 148/27.
Sa am I counsailit be worthy men of the toun
c1475 Wall. i 88.
Eftir mydnycht at rest wes all the toun
1481 Peebles B. Rec. I 189.
The inquest … said thai thocht it wes na preiudice nor hindering … to the thon … that the said land mycht haf interes in Sant Mychellis Wynd
1494 Stirling Chart. 54.
The fischings of the watter of Forth pertening to the toun and burgh of Striueling
1498 Montgomery Mem. II 55.
Gevin to … Hewe Lorde Montgumry … the office of chaumerlanry of the towune of Erwyne
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 137/59.
At hir [sc. the queen's] cuming great was the mirth and joy … Untill hir ludgeing the toun did hir convoy
1515 Mill Mediæv. Plays 140.
1519 Anal. Scot. II 300.
For honor of the gud tovine
1527 Wigtown B. Ct. 188a.
1530 Edinb. B. Rec. II 36.
Doand at was in him till haif infekkit all the toune
1534 Glasgow Prot. IV 71.
Efter the forme of an recognition mayd upone the sayd waest tenement, as is contenyt at lyntht in the ak bwkis of the town
1544 Aberd. B. Rec. I 194.
The townn is decavit and puir
1546 St. P. Henry VIII V 560.
The provust and town gaderit … and comme to the castell
1547 Aberd. B. Rec. I 254.
1585 Edinb. B. Rec. IV 442.
The towne to elect ane vther persoun to be bailyie
1592 Edinb. B. Rec. V 72.
That the toun pay the charges of the calsaying of the Kirkheuch Wynd
1611 Stirling B. Rec. I 127.
Tennentis of all landis belangand to this burghe … halden of the toun in few
1639 Aberd. B. Rec. III 163.
His lordship desyres the len of sex peice of cannon for the vse of the toune of Montrois
1640 Dumbarton B. Rec. 62.
Proceedings regarding the purchase of … Spanishe salt bot be Air burgesses to the prejudice of this toun
1673 Glasgow B. Rec. III 166.
For serving the toun with haickna choches
1697 Glasgow B. Rec. IV 256.
Which is the expenssis of a treat given be the toun to my lord Ross and his lady
16… R. Gordon in Macfarlane's Geog. Coll. II 393.
This wes to mak a distinction betwixt burrows royall and thois towns who held thair lands and towns of the Churche under the name of a regalitie
a1578 Pitsc. II 205/20.
Thir haill townis [sc. Dundee, St. Andrews and Cupar] convenit … to the nomber of fyve thowsand men
(2) 1603 Moysie 115.
The heall toun of Edinburgh wer comming out with theare handsenyeis in all dilligence
c1650 Spalding II 435.
The toune of Abirdene … ar chargit … to declair the availl of thair goodis plunderit be the Irishis

4. attrib. and possess. With the names of persons, things, places, rights, etc.: Of, belonging or pertaining to, located in, exercised by, for the use of, in the service of, etc. esp. (the community or governing body of) a town, also, rarely, of a farm or other settlement.attrib. a1500 Seven S. 370.
The tovne lordis that couth him meit Grat for sorowe
1547 Stirling B. Rec. I 50.
The narrownes of the passage at the nuke and point passande to the touin burne
1563 Dumfries B. Ct. 196a.
The sovm of nyne punds mony payand the tone maill
1565 Kinnaird Farm Bk. 45a.
Stottis that ar ane ȝeir auld out gain tway town calf tain
1570 Leslie 208.
Sax peaces of gret artaillyerie war planted … hard at the toun syd
1573 Breadalbane Ct. Bk. 1.
Decernit … for abyding fra the schering of the toun cornis of the landis of Killin
1589 Prot. Bk. J. Inglis 16 Dec.
Vtheris tenentis of the towne croftis to be callit the outhous croft
1589–90 Lanark B. Rec. 96.
Magdelein Robesone … wes decernit to be scurgit throw the toun, and brint on the brow with the toun irn
1606 Dunferm. Acc. in Sc. Ant. IV 38.
For ane stane weight of leid to the toune use
1667 Irvine Mun. II 215.
James Galt … to dress the toune knok for ane yeir
1682 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. MS 19 April.
Fynes Robert McClellane tailyeor in ten merks Scots for his intrusion wpon the toune meidous
1690 Haddington B. Rec. (Robb) 10 May.
The counsell allows ane accompt dew to John Lamb for match furnished to the toun guard
1698 Peebles B. Rec. II 160.
The counsell … alloues him to inclose the south syd of the town loft from the first pew … to be a seat for the dean of gild
proverb. a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1442.
Tel yow and tel al the toun hennis
possess. 1463 (c1580) Edinb. B. Rec. I 21.
That thai [sc. the mills] ly nocht ydill in the touns defaltt
1541 Aberd. B. Rec. I 177.
Thai … protestit that this lycens hurt nocht the townis rycht
1546–7 Perth Guildry 239.
For wyne proponit to the quenys grace the gouernour and vthir lordis … as the writin subscriuit be townis handis beris
1573–4 Edinb. B. Rec. IV 11.
That euery mesour haue the townys merk vpoun the lyp
1600 Paisley B. Rec. 234.
[They] were feit hirds to keip the touns ky
1613–14 Ayr B. Acc. 56.
The townis part … extendis … to the sowme of ijclxx li.
1620 Elgin Rec. II 163.
The taikins and tounes signe is givin to the tounes poor and they ordenit to wear them publictly on their breistis
c1653 Irvine Mun. II 254.
Soum of our tounds foke
1653–4 Dumbarton Common Gd. Acc. 199.
To speik the tua Dutch schipps … anent this tounes dewis
1662 Peebles B. Rec. II 52.
To make weying stone weychtes, conforme to the tounes stone
1684 Peebles B. Rec. II 114.
The tounes papers … wer laid in the charter chist
1692 Peebles B. Rec. II 139.
That the hay on that syde … shall be applyed for keeping the touns common bull
ellipt. 1593–4 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. I 295.
Quhatsumeuer persoun ar poindit … that thai lows thair poindis within xxiiij houris efter the dait heirof and efter thair poinding, vtherwayis the samen perpetuallie to be the tounis

b. attrib. With termes, in the manner of the speech of townspeople, plain, simple; stalis (? Stal(l n. 4), ? storage areas, barns, etc. 1560 Rolland Seven S. Prol. 130.
Quhair scho befoir with strange termis was offendit, I promeist hir of honestie to quyte thame, And with toun termes my bow it suld be bendit Fra clerklie termes my pen suld be suspendit
1550 Buccleuch Mun. II 199.
Haif sett and for maill latting … the Manys of Cranstoun, toun of the samyne, tounstalis and maner place [etc.]

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"Toun n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 8 Aug 2022 <>



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