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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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Mark, Merk, n.2 Also: marc, marke, (march), merke, merck, mairk. [ME. and e.m.E. mark, ME. and late OE. marc (med. L. marca, -us, ON. mǫrk, MDu. marc, F. marc, etc.).]In the earlier instances the form merk normally represents only an editorial expansion of the abbreviated mark (taken as merk). Ascertained instances of merk have not been found before the late 16th c.

1. A unit of weight, used espec. for gold and silver, also for bread. Also comb. in merk-wecht.Equivalent to 8 oz. (or, orig., two-thirds of the 12 oz. pound): see also Skene Verb. S. s.v. Mark, Huntar Weights & Measures 2, 1636 Cochran-Patrick Coinage II. 105.(1) c1400 Troy-bk. ii. 310.
That they wolde haue twenty thousand Of markes of gold awenande And alsmekle of syluer fyne
c1420 Bute MS. fol. 167.
The lafe thar of new bakyn sal wey iiii mark iii s. & x d.
14.. Acts I. 312/2.
The halfpeny lafe … new sal wey sex markys evyn
— (see Inglis n.2). — 1498 Halyb. 206.
iij syluer pecis wyth a cowir weand 9 mark
1505 Treas. Acc. II. 244.
[4404] Franch crownes quhilk held nocht wecht, quhilk weyit lv mark, and ilk mark contenand viij unce of gold
1538 Ib. VI. 412. Ib. VII. 36.
Ane bust weyand j merk iiij uncis vj grote wecht ½
Ib. 34. 1646 Edinb. Test. LXII. 271.
Half a mark of brase clinkards estimat all to [13s. 4d.]
(2) comb. 1577 Reg. Privy C. II. 601.
The gold of the mynis … quhilk he sall fyne to the foirsaid fynnes deduceing onelie for his panis sex schillingis for the merk wecht
1593 Acts IV. 48/2.
Foure penny pece … aucht scoir to be in the merk wecht, with aucht peceis of remeid in the merk wecht alsweill licht as havy
1611 Edinb. Test. XLVI. 252.
Tua merk wecht thrie drop les of siluer pirne at xxvj li. the mark wecht
1631 Cochran-Patrick Coinage II. 26.
Of whiche farthing tokins there sall be threescore tuelffe in the vnce weyght and fyve hundreth threescore saxteene in the marke weyght

2. In Orkney and Shetland: A unit of weight of victual, butter, oil and tallow or of amount of butcher-flesh. ? Orig. half a (? Norwegian) pound.Equalling one twentyfourth of a setten (Setting n.) or of a lispund (Lispund n.).Also abbrev. as: mk.See Last n.1 2 (1), Lispund n., Mele n.2 2, and Setting n., for numerous examples. 1633 Orkney Witch Trial in Reg. Privy C. 2 Ser. V. 546.
Quhen scho kirnit the milk scho got ix markis butter
1633 (1711) Sibbald's Orkn. & Shetl. 32.
Mark; it answereth to a pound, but really contains 18 ounces
1702 W. R. Mackintosh Glimpses of Kirkwall (1887) 42.
That none of the flesshers exact any more than twentie pennies Scots for the merk of unrynded tallow

b. Also (cf. sense 1) as a unit of weight of copper. — 1576 Orkney Oppress. 41.
Lykwyis the merk of copper of auld was sauld for twa schillingis of wairis and now thai [the Dutchmen] tak four schillingis thairfor

3. A money of account of the value of 13s. 4d. or ⅔ of the pound of the currency specified or assumed; chiefly the mark Scots. Also mark Inglis, Scottis.Orig. the value of a mark weight (sense 1) of silver which at 20 silver pennies to the oz. = 160d. or 13s. 4d. The mark Scots shared in the general depreciation of Scots money and so ultimately (by the 17th c.) had the value of only 13⅓d. English.Also Half-mark, q.v. a 1173 Reg. Paisley 6.
[Et dimidiam marcam argenti
1203–10 Inchaffray Reg. xxiii.]
Annuatim unam marcam argenti
1264–6 Exch. R. I. 19.
[In viginti lastis allecum … xx marcas
1366 Facs. Nat. MSS. II. 33.]
Duo milia marcharum … mille marche … mille marce
1584-9 Maxwall Commonpl. Bk. 1 b.
Aucht scoir of dns. is ane mark
1685 Paterson Sc. Arithm. 9.
In Scotland we oftentimes keep our account by marks, which is the ⅔ of a pound, and the 1/12 of an English merk
1634–5 W. Brereton Trav. (Chetham Soc., 1844) 188.
[Only note their most common computation of moneys to be by marks rather than pounds [etc.]
? 1662 Ray in P. H. Brown Trav. 240.
Thirteen pence half-penny English, a mark Scotch
1689 Morer in Ib. 278.]
As when a man is supposed worth 50 l. per annum sterling they call it near 1000 mark
sing. (a) 1398 Liber Melros 490.
That I … sal paye ilk wowke … halfe a marc of gude mone of Scotland
1447 (1451) Reg. Great S. 106/1.
And ane mark to Jhone of Prestoune
c1475 Wall. vi. 444. 1492 Peebles B. Rec. I. 194.
A mark of siluer pait [etc.]
1671 Dunferm. Hammermen 86.
[Fined] in the soume of thirteen shillings and fourpence (being ane mark)
1686 G. Stuart Joco-Ser. Disc. ii.
If we ha' scant a mark o' gear
(b) c 1489 Liber Aberbr. II. 262.
i li. granis i merk
1491 Ayr Friars Pr. Chart. 65.
Ane hale merke of annuell yerely
1658 S. Leith Rec. iii.
That no penny brydles be dearer nor a merck
1669 M. Works Acc. MS. XIV. 4b.
Musguetts … ane merk in value better then thos received
1672 Acts VIII. 86/1.
Thrie pound and a merk Scots
1674 Peebles B. Rec. II. 90. 1688 Edinb. B. Rec. XI. 237.
Tacks man of the merk per tun of goods imported
(c) 1627 Rep. Parishes 2.
Ane mairk of maill and twa mairkis of teind
plur. (a) 1381 Douglas Chart. 29.
For twa hundreth marcis of sterlinges be yhere
1391 (1473) Lennox Mun. 44. 1394 Liber Aberbr. II. 43. 1396 Sc. Ant. XIV. 218.
xix marcis of vsuale moneth of Scotland
c1420 Wynt. vi. 2284, 5. 1423 Melville Chart. 23. a 1434 Exch. R. IV. 567 n.
Yherly … ten markkis
1440 Cart. S. Nich. Aberd. I. 10.
For sevyn score of markis
1456 Misc. Bann. C. III. 94.
iiijxx of markis and mair
1480 Acta Conc. I. 74/1.
To distrenȝe the said Johne Broun for the said soume v marcis Scotis for ilk pund grete
1496 Ib. II. 24. 1497 Ib. 57. 1513 Treas. Acc. IV. 419.
Vc lx li. in ridaris [etc.] … of the first thousand markis gevin be the lard of Lochinver
1514 Rec. Earld. Orkney 88.
Four markis usuale mone of Scotlaund
c1540 Lynd. Syde Taillis 64.
Pure claggokis … Quhilk hes skant twa markis for thare feis
1552 Lochwinnoch Par. 48. 1561 St. A. Kirk S. 132.
The sowm of ane hundreth marchas in money
1572–3 State P. (Reg. H.) No. 95 A.
Haiffing heritag worth foure hundreth markis Scottis be ȝeir
a1578 Pitsc. II. 216/29.
The boll of quhyt gave aucht markis
1605 Glasgow B. Rec. I. 228. 1611 Reg. Panmure I. xciv.
They had ane annuel of tua markes quhilk ves thought ane some in thois dayes
1637 Dysart Rec. 72. 1661 Edinb. Test. LXX. 25 b.
At ij marks Scottes the leivar
1680 Dunlop P. III. 8.(b) 1475 Exch. R. VIII. 311 n. 1478 Antiq. Aberd. & B. III. 339.
The said pensioune of fyve merkis
1489 Treas. Acc. I. 109. Ib. 112. 1513 Prot. Bk. J. Young 428.
Twenty merkis in Franche crownys of wecht [etc.]
1518 Peebles B. Rec. I. 48. 1535 Stewart 44323.
Of stirling money … Tua thousand merkis and vther jowellis mo
1556 Inverness B. Rec. I. 3. 1584 Sempill Sat. P. xlv. 223.
Five hundreth merkis he to him gave
1615 S. Leith Rec. 14. 1618 Edinb. Test. L. 164.
At sexteine merkis [sic in MS.] the elne
1627 Rep. Parishes 41.
It payed of auld fyve hundreth merkis
c1650 Spalding II. 19. 1642 Irvine Mun. II. 54.
The principall soume of tua thousand merks money
1656 Aberdeen B. Rec. IV. 163.
The best ky beeff at nyne punds, the secound sort at nyne merks and under
1662 Lanark B. Rec. 189.
Ten merks Scotts
1677 Elgin Rec. I. 322. 1678 Mackenzie Laws & C. ii. xiv. 211.
A landed man whose rent exceeds a thousand merks or ten chalders of victual
1680 Cunningham Diary 118.
At 10 merks per boll
Ib. 142.
At 10 merks Scots per boll
1683 Kirkintilloch B. Ct. 125.(c) 1587 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 30.
To be frie of sex thousand mairkis of the said tuelf thousand mairkis
1605 Stewart Mem. 115. 1627 Rep. Parishes 2. 1647 Burnett Fam. P.(d) 1686 Cunningham Diary 26.
For 200 mks.
1691 Foulis Acc. Bk. 135.
For 50 mks. in the year
1697 Ib. 220.
200 mks.
coll. (a) 1389 Wemyss Chart. 24.
Twa hundyr mark of sterlyngys
1393–4 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 29. 1399 Holyrood Chart. 113.
For xxv marc of siluer
1409 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 73.
Twa hundreth mark of vsuale moneth
c1420 Wynt. vii. 2093. Ib. 2348. 1436 15th Rep. Hist. MSS. App. viii. 45. 1447 Rec. Earld. Orkney 189.
At I haffe wedsete … fowr markis wortht off lande … for fowr mark Inglis
1457 Peebles B. Rec. I. 121.
The said Ser Jon sal mak serwis for the sal that left the thwa mark to be don at that autar
1465 Misc. Spald. C. V. 393.
Aucht mark of siluer
1540 Lynd. Sat. 3856. a1578 Pitsc. II. 227/1. 1600-1610 Melvill 8.
A thowsand mark betters cheape
1672 Kirkcudbr. Sheriff Ct. Processes No. 157.
Seven mark
(b) 1560 Rolland Seven S. 4318.
Ane litill hound He will not cois for mony merk and pound
1600 Wedderb. Compt. Bk. 122.
3 sitting lyon peces at 8 merk the pece
1628 Milne-Home MSS. 233.
The salmon fishings … commonly called the twenty merk fishing of Finsehaw
1677 Corshill Baron Ct. 143.

b. In Orkney, without specification of the currency and as mark Orkneis. — 1509 Rec. Earld. Orkn. 82.
Wnder the pane of ane mark Orkneis to be paytt to the aneris of Saba [etc.]
1519 Orkn. & Shetl. Rec. 64.
And gif thay do nocht to pay a mark for everie laid or loading vnaskit leive

c. Applied to foreign moneys of account of the same name. 1456 Hay I. 219/21.
To pay to the Pape of tribute a thousand troyes markis of silver
1547 Perth Guildry MS. 253 (14 Oct.).
xlij sprus merkis lent siluer
1589–1600 Skipper's Acc. (Morton) 64 a.
Lent him ane mark denis

d. Mark mark like (= MDu. marc marc gelike), mark for mark, pound for pound, in equal proportion. — 1480 Acta Conc. I. 79/2.
That the saides Macolme & Arthure sall pay in like proporcioune of the said annuel efferand to the part of the land that ather of thaim has mark mark lyke comptand be the ald extent
1482 Acta Aud. 100/1.
That he had payit merk merklike sa fer as come to his parte

e. Merks for five, ? one mark in every five (? of rent from land, ? thus equalling a tithe of the produce). — 1608 Craven Argyll Diocese 60.
The edge of his eyes is altogether obliscat who sees not that particular patronages given by your highness … shall in time turn to this tragedy: I will give you merks for five, your charge shall be without the house, my grieve and purveyor; within, my œconomes and promptuar; as for the sabbath ye shall be only burdened to read a prayer and a chapter

4. As a valuation of land. a. = Markland n.1, Markis worth n. 1. Comb. with land, landis. 1333 Reg. Episc. Aberd. I. 55.]
[Cordys extenditur ad x marcas set plus valet, De Kyntor c et i marcas [etc.]
1529 Yester Writs 140.
The ten markislandis of ald extent of Estir Hassindane … and are wortht now be ȝere xx markis
1589 Edinb. Test. XXI. 43.
The ij merkis land and ane half in Mcbehies, … ane merkis land in Blook [near Stewarton]
1680 Rothesay Par. Rec. 53.
The said Mr Duncan to gett 4 of the 5 s. of the merks land payable out of the landward

b. In Orkney and Shetland. = Markland n.2(1) 1329 Diplomatarium Norvegicum II. i. (1851) No. 170.]
[Item j Klæte tolf mærkr
1488 Rec. Earld. Orkney 197.
Four merkis of land
1502 Orkney Rentals I. 6; etc.
Quoy bewmont j merk terre viz.j farding terre conqueist
1503 Ib. 26.
In this uris terre … iiij merk makis the d terre
1504 Rec. Earld. Orkney 76. 1520 Ib. 204.
Ane mark of laund in Burness … for full laundis prise
1546 Ib. 233. 1570 Ib. 131. 1610 Ib. 185.(2) c 1500 Orkney & Shetl. Rec. 55.
In Linga in Quhalissan Sound x merk at viij d. the merk, item in Herokle of Ȝale vii merk at ix d. the merk [etc.]
c 1524 Rec. Earld. Orkney 421. 1525 Goudie Shetl. Antiq. 141.
In How vii mark with rotht and owthell and ix mark land in Esthous
1536 Soc. Ant. XVI. 193, 4.
Fyve merkis land viz. the merk lyand in Russater in Fetlair [etc.] … the said v merk landis with howsis towmells [etc.]
1581 Ib. 201.
Four ures land in Litilholm in Quhalsay Sound [etc.] … all six pennies the mark
c 1607–15 Goudie Shetl. Antiq. 156.
Thair pertenis to the archdeanerie twentye last of land with twell mark for the glebe
1612 Orkney & Shetl. Ct. Bk. 10 Aug.
And the said twa merk land to be … als mekill … as the twa merk uthall landis quhillk lay rig and reindall of befoir with and amangis the said James landis of Bua
1628 Goudie Shetl. Antiq. 178. 1639 Sc. Hist. Rev. XXI. 130.
Aught uris of land makis ane merk of land [etc.]

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"Mark n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Mar 2023 <>



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