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

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First published 1951 (DOST Vol. II).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Greve, Greff, Greif(f, n.1 Also: greiv(e, greeve, grieve, grewe, greiwe, greyff. [Northern e.m.E. (1537) and ME. (only c 1180), greve, ONhb. grœ́fa (= WS. ᵹeréfa, see Reve n.). In later use only Sc. and northern Eng.]

1. In early use (rendering L. prepositus): The chief magistrate or provost of a burgh. Cf. Borow and Burrow greff. 14.. Acts I. 49/2.
The schireff or his seriandis sall call the greyff of the toune and thre uthir lele men of the samyn toun
Quha sa … be chalangit of thyft or that he has gevin thyftbote, and that may be tayntit on him be the greyff of the toune … he sal … underly the law of wattir

2. The manager or overseer (of a mine, works, etc.); the overseer or foreman of a gang of workmen. See also Cole-greve. 1531 Reg. Dunfermline 362.
It is appoyntit that.[the] abbot … and convent of Dunfermeling and thair successoris grevis sall pas in at ony stair thai sall pleis to thirll ane gall west through to thair awne coill
1534 Linlithgow Pal. 309.
To ilk ane of the said men woklie iiij s … and to thair greif woklie viij s.
1543 Reg. Privy S. III. 41/2.
Schir Johnne Polwort, … greve of the coilheuch of the landis of Bonytoun
1547–8 Treas. Acc. IX. 155.
To Alexander Cunynghame, … to pas to the grevis of the colpettis about Edinburght
1609 Hilderstoun Silver Mines I. 165 b.
James Glen, greve
1643 St. A. Presb. 10.
Anent the reference made the last day concerning the salt pannes, Mr. Arthur Myrton declared that the greeves were cited to be heir

b. The overseer or head-workman on a farm; a farm-bailiff.(a) a1500 Henr. III. 117/41.
This awstryne greif ansuerit angirly: ‘For thi crampyn thow sall bayth cruk and cour’
1513 Doug. xiii. Prol. 173.
Tyte on hys hynys gaif the greif a cry, Awaik on fut, go till our husbandry
1551 Treas. Acc. X. 25.
Ane boy to send for the greif of Raith, to cum to Lynlythqw to mak his comptis
1571 Inverness Rec. I. 203.
The said Thomas allegis to haif rasauit his schaiff fra the greiff
1590 Black Bk. Taymouth 303.
Off meill spendit upone the scheiring and leading and the greiffis
1603 Aberd. Sheriff Ct. II. 44.
[He] enteris the said Thomas in and to aucht oxingait of the said towne and lands … as greif and servand to him thairof
1613 Orkney Rentals App. 93.
The land maill of 8 d. terre … laborit in a bw be the greif
1615 Crim. Trials III. 362.
Thomas Cochcrane, greif at Littill Fausyde
1670 Forbes Baron Ct. 280.
John Chalmers, greiff and ground officer, … desyrit ane act of court aganest any tennents … that [etc.]
(b) 1571 Melville Chart. 119.
Becaus the gudis that he had ar only the plennissing of his landis and mains, he himself culd mak na speciall inuentare thairof, bott committit the same to … his greiwe
1581 Hamilton Cath. Tr. 90/16.
As the greuis ar ordanit to put thame [sc. the scheraris] in ordor
1595 Duncan App. Etym.
Magister, villae vel pagi, a greiue
1602 Monkland Baron Ct. 4.
That na tennentis that awcht doseruice sal fe nane of it with na vther … without that thai bryng tham that thai fe with … [be]fore the grewis that thair names may be writtin
1670 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. III. 661.
James Duncan in Borrowstounes, greiv to Graing
1692 Foulis Acc. Bk. 148.
To Th. Hunter my fathers old greive, in charitie

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"Greve n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2024 <>



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