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 since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.
Blak-maill, n. Also: blake-, black-maill, -maile, -meill. [Blak a. 3, mail Male n. rent.] A payment exacted or made in return for protection from spoliation or injury; an illegal exaction. 1530 Crim. Trials I. i. 145.
Adam Scot of Tuschelaw, convicted of art and part of theftuously taking black-maill … from John Brovne of Hoprow 1551 Hamilton Cat. 98.
Quhay takis ouer sair mail, ouer mekle ferme or ony blake maillis, fra thair tennands 1567 Acts III. 32/1.
That nane take assurance … of the said theuis, or pay thame blak maill a1570-86 Maitland M. Fol. xcv. 27.
Be commoun taking of blak maile Thai … now ar sa wrakit 1587 Acts III. 464/2.
The kingis commissioneris … sall … tak vp dittay of the takaris vp and payaris of blak meill and to mak rentale of the quantitie thairof 1622 Aberd. Eccl. Rec. 104.
He is fund giltie of tacking blak maill from the poore beggaris, to suffer thame beg throu the towne 1678 Mackenzie Laws & C. (1699) 330.
By black-mail is understood, the paying of money, or any gratuity to thieves, for their protection
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"Blak-maill n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 30 Nov 2023 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/dost/blak_maill>