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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 but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Erl(e, Eirle, Earle, n. Also: erll(e, errle, eyrle, earlle, airle; eryll, -yl(e, erill(e, -ile, erell, earill, -el(l; herll. [ME. erl(e, erel(l, etc., OE. eorl. See also Ȝerle n.]

1. A feudal nobleman, corresponding to the ‘count’ of other countries.(a) 1375 Barb. ii. 234.
Twa erlis alsua with him war
a1400 Leg. S. xxxi. 420.
With emperoure Oto wes thane Ane erle that wes a fare man
c1420 Wynt. vi. 2465.
Harald, that ane erle wes than, … Off Denmarkys be natyowne
Ib. viii. 1740.
In Fyffe that tyme wes nane Erle, lord, na capytane
14.. Acts I. 299/3.
The croo of the kingis soune or of ane erl of Scotland
a1500 Henr. Bludy Serk 3.
Dukis, erlis, and barronis bald He had at his bidding
c1500-c1512 Dunb. liii. 34.
For hir saek, I wissitt to be The grytast erle, or duik, in France
1560 Rolland Seven S. 625.
With him come diuers grit kings & knichts Duiks, barrouns, erls, & mony worthie wichts
1596 Dalr. I. 113/3.
In distributione of thir titles of nobilitie this ordour is obseruet, that he haue nocht the title of a duke quho had nocht first of ane erle
(b) 1456 Hay I. 220/9.
Suppose … syndry kingis, dukis, and symple erllis dois all thre thir thingis
c1450-2 Howlat 322.
The falcone farest of flicht … Was ane erll of honour
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 1334.
With all the wourthy that were, Erll, duke and douch-spere
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 242/26.
Thair was maid in the forsaid parliament thre erllis
c1568 Lauder Minor P. i. 43.
It nowthair sparis king nor empriour, Duke, erll, lord, nor pussant conquyrour
1589 Reg. Privy C. IV. 406.
To be free and unaccusable for thair ressett and furnissing grantit to the saidis Erllis

b. Applied to nobles of antiquity … a1400 Leg. S. xxi. 856.
Traiane the emperoure … ane erle send for to spere
c1400 Troy-bk. i. 238.
Dukis of gret possessions, And erlis that war mekle of mycht
?1438 Alex. ii. 1466.
Quhair the gude is erle or knicht, Duke or admerall or king of micht

2. As a title followed by of (a territorial designation).(a) 1375 Barb. ii. 103.
Men hes gert you undirstand … that the Erle of Carryk Clamys to govern the kinryk
1395 Menzies Charters MS. 10 Feb.
Wytnes … Schyr Robert Stewart Erl of Fyfe
1405 Antiq. Aberd. & B. III. 200.
The said Erle of Mar hase gifin his … ful consent that [etc.]
c1420 Wynt. vii. 389.
The Erle than Off the Mernys, … Ras wyth Downald in to were
1456 Hay I. 125/35.
All this … we say of othir princis … , as is the Erle of Fois, the quhilk is Prince of Bearn
1478 Acts II. 122/2.
The gret brek that is now … betuix the erle of Buchane and the erle of Eroule
1516 Reg. Privy S. I. 418/2.
Ane lettre of chalmerlanery and bailliery made to Colin erle of Ergile
c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 216.
This Admirall was Erle of Arrane
1603 Moysie 13.
The erles of Ergyle and Athole wes that same day agaitward to return to thair awin duellingis
1641 Acts V. 430/1.
The said noble erle, Alexander erle of Levin
1664 Wemyss Corr. iii.
For the Erle of Weymsse — thes
(b) Brus viii. 400 (C).
Schir Johne Cwmyne, Erll of Bouchane
Ib. 414.
The erll of Lennax als wes thar
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 212/10.
The Erll of Mar challangit the erll merschell of Yngland
1533 Boece xiv. xiii. 567.
Duncane Erlle of Fiffe
a1578 Pitsc. I. 84 h.
Confederance betuix the Erlle of Douglas and othiris errlis aganis the king
1612 Highland P. III. 123.
The erll of Ergyle … exhibite ellevin of that nomber of the Clangregour
1644 Wemyss Corr. 91.
The Lord Reaye is takin prisoner, and the Erll off Craufurd
(c) 1385 Red Bk. Menteith II. 260.
Syr Robart Stewart Eryl of Fyfe and Menteth
1420 Reg. Great S. 29/2.
A hee and mychty Lord, Schir Archebald Eryle of Douglase
1431 Ib. 45/1.
Vylliame of Douglas knycht and Eryll of Angous
1507 Grant Chart. 46.
George Erill of Rothas … and barowne off Ballynbrecht
1545 Corr. M. Lorraine 133.
The erell off Leonax … was departit at the poist to London
1608 Kinghorn Kirk-S. 12.
[The session] ordanis the Earill of Kingorn to be adwerteissit
1663 Wemyss Corr. 110.
The right honorabll the Earell of Weims
(d) 1421 Douglas Chart. 57.
We Archebalde of Dowglas, eirle of Wygtoun [etc.]
1429 Reg. Episc. Brechin I. 42.
I Waltere Stewart … , of Athole and of Cathenes eyrle
1547 Sutherland Chart. 106.
Iohne, eirle of Sutherland
1554 Misc. Bann. C. III. 69.
Thai Eirlis of Orchadie iustlie … hed succedit to the forsaid Eirldome of Orchadie
1554–5 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 353.
For clengging of the eirle of Irgyllis clois
c1615 Chron. Kings 78.
The Eirll of Orknay
(e) a1578 Pitsc. I. 7/16.
How the earle of Crawfurd maid a band With Williame the gret erle of Douglas
1652 Wemyss Corr. 96.
The right honorable the Earlle of Wiemes
1659 Irvine Mun. II. 81.
[He] hes takin in tak … from the Airle of Eglintoune his mylne … with the mylne lands
(f) a1538 Abell 110 a.
The erll of Douglas ... maid ane lig with the herll of Craufurd

b. With ellipse of the designation, usually in the said (or foresaid) erle. 1391 Lennox Mun. 43.
The quhilkis faleȝand, to the nest and lachful ayris of the forsaid Erle
1392 Ib. 48.
But the wyl and the lewe of the forsayde Eryll
1409 Exch. R. IV. p. ccxii.
The seelis of the saide lorde … and of the saide Erle … ar to put
1494 Acta Aud. 198/2.
The said erille and Adam suld haff … renunsit all maner of excepciounis [etc.]
1546 Reg. Privy C. I. 43.
The saidis Eirleis charter tallie to be holdin of our Soverane Lady
1570 Leslie 22.
The king alleget that the Erle wes preissand to the croun
1638 Antiq. Aberd. & B. II. 439.
Whereas his Maiestie … did promitt to pay to the said Erl fifteen thousand pounds
c 1642 Orkney Rentals v. 6.
5 merk terræ pertaineing to Edward Tulloche wodsett to the Earel

c. Preceding a name or designation. 1375 Barb. x. 631.
Erll Thomas than … Toward the wall clam hastely
c1475 Wall. iii. 255.
The erle Persye to Glaskow couth he fair
1600 Acts IV. 249/1.
To his hienes dearest cousin, … Lodouick duik of Levenox, Eirll Darnelie

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"Erl n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 Nov 2022 <>



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