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

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First published 1963 (DOST Vol. III).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Last, n.1 Also: laste, laist. [ME. last(e (1333–4), lest (1314–5), OE. hlæst burden, freight, lading: cf. OFris. hlest, MLG., MDu., Du. last, (whence ON. lest, Norw. lest, Da. læst), OHG., MHG., Germ. last, all in uses resembling those of the Eng. and the Sc. word.]

1. A denomination of quantities of commodities, chiefly as transported by water. Also comb. with -wecht.Freq. const. partitive, as ane last, twa last(is, of the commodity, also with ellipsis of of. sing., plur. and coll[ective].a. With the following quots. which indicate equivalences for the last of different commodities, see also Assisa de Tolloneis in Acts I. 304–5, Balfour Pract. 87–8 and Skene Verb. S. s.v. Serplath :(1) 1597 Skene Verb. S. s. v. Serplath.
Ane last of gudes fured hame conteinis commonlie twelue barrelles
1624 Huntar Weights & Measures 3. [2 bushell is a bowle.
The last of goodes is esteemed to wey 120 stone weight
1639 Berw. Nat. C. XXI. 106.]
A last, by water, is 16 bowles; by land, but 15 bowles
(2) 1360 Exch. R. II. 8.
Iidem onerant se … de iiij li. vj s. et x d. receptis per custumam duarum lastarum trium dacrarum et quatuor coreorum mercatorum regni … lasta stante ad xl s.
(3) 1497 Halyb. 182.
Rasauit … a last of sallmond. Sald tham for 26 s. the barell. Som, 15 li. 12 s.
1685 Paterson Sc. Arithm. 7.
Half a puncheon of the said Burdeaux [wine] measures being 8½ gallons is the barrel for herring, whereof 12 make a last
(4) 1508 Treas. Acc. IV. 48.
For tua last tar for the schip; ilk barrell xiiij s.; summa xvj li. xvj s.
1612 Bk. Rates (Halyb.) 324.
Pitch of small bind the last contening xii barrell
(5) 1513 Treas. Acc. IV. 484.
Send to the greit schip … of the aill maid of the Prior of Sanctandrois beir, v lastis, ilk last contenand vj skor of gallonys
Ib. 500.
iij lastis aile, ilk last contenand xij barrellis, ilk barrell contenand xij gallonis
(6) 1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Bullion.
The last of copper conteining 14 schip pund
The last of wax conteining xiiij schip pund
(7) 1624 Huntar Weights & Measures 3.
18 bowes and a halfe is compted for a last of rye
(8) 1511 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 134.
For ilk last of lint contendand [sic] ane hundreth and four staynis
 b. sing. 14.. Acts I. 361/2.
Thar is aucht for a last of wol for canage xviij d., for the canage of a last of hydys xij d., of a last of crouf, j d.
1424 Ib. II. 6/1.
Of ilk last of hering takin be Scottis men & barellyt iiij s. and of ilk last tane be strangearis vj s.
1428 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 3. ? 1468 Ib. 235.
Of ilk last barrell guidis, meill, pik, tar, or sic lyke, xvj d.
1490 Acta Aud. 138/2.
[To] pay a last of salmonde … of the bynd of Banff gude merchand ware saltit with gret salt
1492 Ib. 252/1.
To deliuer to thaim four sekkis of woll and xiiij stane out of a last
1498 Acta Conc. II. 257.
Ane laist of salmond
1498 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 67.
That na man saile within j last of gude of his awne
1506 Prot. Bk. J. Young (S.R.S.) 375.
Thre skoyr endis of irn, half a last lynt, a bote malvasy
1554 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 203.
Ane last hydis customit sall bring hame four vnce siluer … ane last killing twa vnce siluer
1583 Dundee Shipping L. 212.
Ane last knapit
1586 Coll. Rebus Alban. 102.
Every last of fischeis to be had in the said Iles
1597 Halyb. cxv.
The last of vlie ij unce … The last of as ij unce [etc.]
1645 Conv. Burghs IV. 554.
The lyke [duty] for ilk last of goods comeing from the easter seas
1687 Edinb. B. Rec. XI. 194.
To exact six shillings Scottis for each last of tarr in tyme comeing
plur. 1264 Exch. R. I. 4.
In septem lastis allecum, cum una lasta [etc.]
1327 Ib. 82.
Per custumam viginti lastarum sex saccorum et nouemdecim pellium lane
1507 Acta Conc. II. 231/2.
A letter of tak … of the assis hering … payand ȝeirelie four lastis of hering
1546 Reg. Privy C. I. 54.
Small artailyery … with bullettis … with tuenty lastis of polder
1554–5 Edinb. Old Acc. I. 126.
The compter chargis him with twa lasts of escheit unȝeonis
1554 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 205.
To sell the samen [soap] … in lastis, … barrellis and ferykynnis
1559 Admir. Ct. Bk. (Stair Soc.) 134.
For the fraucht of xvj lastis gudis sik as pik lint and irne, etc.
1563 Treas. Acc. XI. 239.
For v lastis of barrellis to impute pulder quhilk lyis in Dunbar in brokin barrellis
1589 Sutherland Chart. 162.
The spoliatioun of certane lastis of salmond out of the said erl of Suthirland corfhous
1590 Conv. Burghs I. 345.
The said excyse of sax lastis beir
1609 Soc. Ant. IV. 393.
Tua lastis of greit Rochell salt price of the last with the tries thrie scoir lib.
1639 Ruthven Corr. 14.
3 lastes of powder
1669 Edinb. Test. LXXIII. 351 b.
Of malt & beare lying in the lastes xxx bolles
coll. 1471 Acta Aud. 22/1.
Twa last of salmond & thre barelles of Hamburghe mesour
1479 Ib. 94/2.
Ilk last of iij last ry … sald be him in Camp in Flandris
1538–9 Acta Conc. Public Aff. 479.
[10 s. for each of] thre last treis
1540 Maxwell Mem. I. 280.
Sewin last of buttir, sewin dakar hidis
1562 Edinb. B. Deeds 56 b.
To mak the said Johne … countefre of thre last of ure
1576 Edinb. Test. IV. 168.
Five last of ais at iiij li. x s. the barrell
1583 Sat. P. xlv. 882.
To get a licence … For fortie last of Inglis beir
1588 Edinb. Test. XIX. 32 b.
Tua last of small bind of tar
1596 Conv. Burghs I. 487.
The vituall was in bing with 10 last vittuall pertening to the skipper
1672 Aberd. Council Lett. V. 157.
50 last of salt at 4 lib. 6 sh. 8d. the boll of Aberdein measure
1666-74 Fraser Polichron. 345.
Besids what was sold of salmon fresh there were 50 last salted and sold
1680 Glasgow Chart. II. 208.
Thertie tune of irone, twenty last of soape
c. comb. 1601 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. 393.
Roger McMurrie … to pay to him viij lib. x s. for ane last wecht of geir quhilk he frauchit with him in Air

2. In Orkney: The largest denomination, of weight cf meal, malt and bere; of amount of butcher-flesh; of quantity of butter and liquids.For several more examples of (1) see Cost n.3(1) 1502 Orkney Rentals i. 6.
In land maile of iij d. terre pro rege et iij d. terre conqueist, ant. of the haill ij lastis, jam tantum inde ane last cost tantum flesche
1503 Ib. 29.
Summa de malt scat iij last xij m[eals] iij s[etting]is. Summa de land male in coist vj lastis viij m[eals] ij s[etting]is xx merk. Summa de flesche v lastis xij m[eals] v merk
1561–72 Thirds of Benefices 42.
[Third of] coist [of the bishopric of Orkney] 26 lastis, 7 meilis, 1 setting and 7 markis
1564 Orkn. & Sh. Rec. I. 150.
Pro qualibet lasta viginti lastarum quatuor melarum et quatuor settinarum carnis, triginta sex solidos
1594 Prot. Bk. T. Auchinlek MS. 35.
To pay hir … ane last bere and half last mele … at the schoir of Kirkwall
1597 Skene Verb. S. s. v. Serplath.
The malt, meill and beare are delivered in Orknay be wecht in this maner, … Item 24 meales makis ane last; etc.
1642 Orkney Rentals iv. 31.
Ane last of malt is ane chalder and sex meills more
a1688 Wallace Descr. Orkney 109.
Last of malt is twenty four meils, and a last of bear thirty eight meils
(2) 1576 Orkney Oppress. 43.
The Laird with his companie wad remane quhill he wald dreink halff ane last of beir, and sumtyme mair
1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Serplath.
The butter is deliuered in barrelles quhair the quantitie is great, … Item, 12 barrelles makis an last

3. As a unit of measurement of a ship's burden, in Scotland and in Orkney.So also MDu., Du. last.(1) 1569 Edinb. Test. 260.
Ane bark of xiiij lastis with sailis [etc.]
1589 Douglas Chart. III. 295.
Ane litill small bark … of the birthe of tuentie lastis or thairby
(2) 1566 Rec. Earld. Orkney 376.
Williame schip, beand of the byrth of xiiij last or thairby
1620 Orkney & Shetl. Test. I. 56 b.
The half of a boit of thrie last price liij li. vj s. viij d.
1725 Peterkin Notes 216.
I have a salt boat here about two lasts burden

4. In Shetland: A unit of valuation of land, equivalent to 18 marklands.See also Captain F. W. L. Thomas What is a Pennyland? in Soc. Ant. XVIII. 279–80, 283. 1576 Orkney Oppress. 57.
For ilk thre ȝeiris gersowme of ane last of land thai war wont to pay fyve dolouris
1588 Goudie Shetl. Antiq. 151.
[The Earl of Orkney sells to Hew Sinclair of Burgh his] twa last of land of Ayt[h]
1605 Feu Contract in  J. Mill Diary (S.H.S. 5) (App.) 193.
The said twa last of land in Sandwick
c 1607–15 Goudie Shetl. Antiq. 156.
Thair pertenis to the Archdeanerie twentye last of land with twell mark for the glebe
Ib. 158.
Every last land is auchtein mark. Everie mark extendis to xxvi s. viii d.
1628 Ib. 178.
Ane last land being 18 merk payis 6 meillis, viz., 3 leispund butter, 3 bulles oyllie
c1650-1700 Descr. Zetland 19.
Here their lands are counted by lasts, marks & urds
a 1733 Shetl. Country Acts in Soc. Ant. XXVI. 201.
That none have more swine than four upon a last of land over winter

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"Last n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Jun 2023 <>



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