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

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First published 2000 (DOST Vol. VIII).
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S(c)hire, n. Also: s(c)hyr(e, s(c)hir, scire, schyir, schier, s(c)hyer(e, schyier; scheir(e, sheir, scheyr, scheyir; s(c)hair, shayr; (scyre, skir-, sire, seihire). [ME and e.m.E. schire (Ancr. R.), sher (c1450), shiere (1549), sheere (1615), OE scìr str. fem., = OHG scìra care, official charge, of the same ulterior origin as Cure n.1]

1. a. In earliest use: A subdivision of the royal demesne, in which the services and duties owed by the tenants were overseen by a royal grieve, lord, thane or prelate.For full discussion, see G. W. S. Barrow The Kingdom of the Scots (1973), Chapter 1.Also attrib. with stane. 1070–93 Early Chart. 9.
[Et schiram de Kirkaladunt et Inneresc minorem, cum tota schira de Fotriffe et Muselburge
c1100 Ib. 17.
In Coldingamscire

Scyram de Kircalethin
1154–9 Regesta I 182, 183.
… Scyram de Gelland … scyram de Gatemilc
1153–62 Ib. 215.
Preterea do eis communem pasturam in sire de Erdos sicut habent in sire de Callin
1160–1 Ib. 218.
Kinninmoneth cum tota schira
1163–4 Ib. 260.
In tota skira de Kilrimund
1153–78 Laing Chart. 1.
11.. Reg. Dunferm. 10.
Vicecomitis et prepositis Strivelinis scyra
Ib. 88.
Hadigtunes scyra
11.. Reg. St. A. 132.
c1163–4 Ib. 187.
Foregrund seihire
1261 Lindores Chart. 142.
Ad sectam et multuram tanguam ad molendinum scyre de Lundors
1322 Facs. Nat. MSS II xxv.
Abirbrothoc cum tota schira sua
1358 Exch. R. I 564.
Onerat se de … firmis, tam burgi, quam shyre, de primis quatuor terminis
1360 Ib. II 41.
Infra septem shiras vicecomitatus de Perth
1566 (1668) Reg. Episc. Aberd. II App. 321.]
Schiram seu baroniam de Fettirneir
(1) 1408 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 67.
The cause … twouchande a caene of corne to be ressavit of the schyre of Kingorne
c1446 Reg. Episc. Aberd. I 249.
The schyr of Tulynestyn
1497–8 Acta Conc. II 127.
The landis of Litil Baldoquhasch, liand in the schyre of Rayne within the schirefdome of Abirdene
1524 Reg. Episc. Aberd. I 389.
Alexander Senȝour seriand and mayr principall of the schir of Rane
1558 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV 491.
With the croft and myllandis thairof and thair suckin and thirll multuris of all landis of the haill schyre of Clatt
1581 Prot. Bk. J. Robertsone 13b.
The … mylln of Mwny lyand within the schir or baronry of the bischopry of Abirdeen
1621 Inverness Rec. II 158.
From the schir of Nairn at the eist to the heicht of Straglass at the vest
(2) 1427 Melville Chart. 21.
The cheiffe lorde of the Wemys schire
c1446 Reg. Episc. Aberd. I 248.
Forbes charter contenys certane lymyt meris betwix his land … and the … land of Tulynestyn schir
1494 Acta Conc. I 338/1.
Manuring of the landis of Balgony in Culros shire
1521 Fife Sheriff Ct. 239.
The landis … lyand wythtin Luchoris schyre
1536 Dunferm. Reg. Ct. 132.
Jhone Lochquhoyr officer of Kyngorn schyr
1561 Reg. Dunferm. 425, 428, 430.
The rentall of the haill patrimonie of the abacie of Dumfermling … Dumfermling schyre … Newbirnschyre … Kynglassie schyre … Kynnederschyre … Mussilbrughe schyere
1606 Retours I Inq. Spec. Fife (173).
Molendino de Muckhart in dominio de Muckhartschyre
1610 Ib. (210).
Terris de Weyms-schyre
(3) 1424 Lanark & R. 283.
That nane sal forstall na by within vthiris schyris na fredom withoutyn leve
1494 Acta Aud. 192/2.
Ilk persone haffand ane pleuch within the said schir
1545 Grant Chart. 95.
The landis of Cloway, lyand within the forsaid barony and schyir
c1549 Reg. Episc. Aberd. II 307.
The said … Erle of Huntlie … and his airis … our … bailȝeis … of all and syndry our landis schyris and annuell rentis
1551 Prot. Bk. Sir J. Cristisone 108.
[Bailie depute of the] schire
1574 Acts III 87/2.
Sa that … the persoun travelling … procure the lyke licencis of the officiar of the nixt schyre or toun throw quhilk he mon pas. And sa fra schyre to schyre quhill he be at his resting place
1576 Edinb. B. Rec. IV 52.
That na outlandis persoun be resauit in seruice … that bringis nocht with thame the testiemoniale of the minister of the toun or schire quhair thay haue duelt
1617 Acts IV 538/1.
Single and double aill to be brued in everie schyir [etc.] … with consent of the barone and overlord of the ground
1623 Lett. & St. P. Jas. VI 353.
Thair is no schyir quhairin his maiestie hes not heritabill mairis or servandis
1627 Bk. Carlaverock II 83.
Quhat shyres is allotted to ȝour lordship

b. An administrative unit, or district, governed on behalf of the king by an appointed official, usu. a sheriff; a sheriffdom; a county. Also possess. or attrib. with clerke.Appar. freq. based on, and in some cases, initially coextensive with, the area described in a above.Rarely, referring to the landward part of a shire (as opposed to the ‘burgh’ part).(1) sing. 1565 Linlithgow Sheriff Ct. 4 Oct.
Gret falt within the schire anent thair mettagis of stoup pek and firlot
1570 Sat. P. xiii 99.
Ȝe wer ay callit for ȝour tyrannie Strypis of the schyre
1581 Acts III 224/1.
It is statute and ordanit that all inhibitionis and interdictionis to be raisit heirefter for quhatsumever caus … be … producit … to the schiref clerk of [the] schire quhair the persoun interdytit or inhibite duellis and makis his residence. And gif the said persoun haue his landis … liand in ane vthir schireffdome … that the persoun at quhais instance the vthir is interdytit or inhibite produce the said interdictioun and inhibitioun dewlie execute and indorsate to the clerk of the schire
1584 Conv. Burghs I 197.
That a commission of iusticiary may be gevin to the magistratis of the heid burgh of ilk schyre to call … the contravenars thairof
1587 Acts III 459/1.
Efter the cuming of the saidis iustice deputtis to euery heid burgh of the schire [etc.]
1628 Soc. Ant. II 432.
I acquainted the small barrons and frie holders within the schyre of his maiesties will
1635 Dumbarton B. Rec. 48.
Forsameikill as his maiestie hes appoyntit justicis of his hienes peace throw this kingdome in ilk schyre thairof
1641 Acts V 657/2.
That in everie schyre at leist thair be ane schooll or hous of vertue erected
1657 Glasgow B. Rec. II 366.
For geting the cese [= cess] imposit on the Gorballis … remittit and defalcit af the schyre
1660 Aberd. Council Lett. IV 10.
Ane list of … commisiar clerks, keippers of the register of ther particular schyre
1684 Symson Descr. Galloway 66.
His majestie's militia troop of horse for this shire
1696 Cunningham Diary xxxvi.
Ane extract of the valuations of such lands of the shire as bears commissioners fies
(b) 1509 Aberd. Sheriff Ct. I 95.
Till underly the law to be bannyst the schir of euer
1612 Inverness Rec. II 91.
Quhat nowmber of jaylles … ar … necessarie to be in that schir
1627 Bk. Carlaverock II 89.
I houp that ȝour lordship sall find into this shyr … sufficient stor of men
1656 Aberd. Sheriff Ct. III 63.
That no shirreffs officiar conceall any slauchter, thift blood ryot or oppresion comitted within the shyr
16.. R. Gordon in Macfarlane's Geog. Coll. ii 393.
Every shyr had one voyce altho they had more commissioners than one
Ib. 400.
Thois wer seated and cald up in voycing acording to the dignitie of the burrow or shyr whiche they did represent
(c) 1676 Kirkcudbr. Sheriff Ct. Processes No. 220 (8 Aug.).
Ordaines ane comissioune to be sent to Drumorrell for taking of the witnesses oathes because they live in the shyere and the witnesses names must be particularlie condiscendit upon in the comission
1679 Laing MSS 416.
And the wounding of an other upon the borders of this shyer
(d) 1550 Buccleuch Mun. II 198.
Or within ony part of the scheir we dwell in
1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Schireff.
Aluredus … divided England in Satrapias, centurias, et decurias, and called Satrapiam ane schire, that is ane cutting or section, as is written in the auld Britton lawes verb centuria: like as we say as ȝit, scheire cornes, or scheire grase, or an paire of schires, quhair with claith is cutted. And swa ane scheire, or schiref-dome, is an part of land, cutted and seperate be certaine meithes & marches from the rest, within the quhilk the schireffe, as judge, dois justice
1612 Inverness Rec. II 89.
For mending of all hie wayis and commowne passage to or from any marcat towns vithin the scheir
(e) 1627 Haddington Corr. 155.
The laird of Howstowne … was appoyntit to be conviner of the shayr in Pollogs absens
1653 Peebles B. Rec. II 17.
Quhich toune hes taken moneys fra the merchandis [of Brighousknow] and acted them not to [word illegible] thair merket within thair awne schair
pl. 1457 Acts II 52/2.
All his schirrefis … to cum to the clerk of his regestre and ger copy all thir articulis actis and statutis abone writtyn and ger proclame thame opinly throu out thar schyris
1524 Ib. XII 40/2.
That the Justice Clerk send his deputis incontinent throu all shiris to tak dittay
1551 Armstrong Hist. Liddesdale I App. xcii.
Chargeing the inhabitantis of thai schiris convene in Hawik … to pas upoun the thevis of the debatable ground
1567 Anderson Collect. Mary II 256.
Be oppin proclamatioun at the mercat-croce of Edinburgh and all utheris mercat-croces of the heid burrowis and schyris of this realme
1582 Reg. Privy C. III 501.
[Justices by commission, to] hald thair courtes of justiciarie within the tolbuithis of the burrowis of thay schyres … quhair the saidis generall justice courtes or aires ar ordanit to be haldin
1638 Rec. Kirk Scotl. 145.
And your grace ordained that the schires should convene be their commissioners: … therefore, when the commissioners from schyres and presbitries mett and sett downe [etc.]
1640 in Spalding II App. 490.
It is earnestlie recommendit to all the schyres in the kingdome, that colonells be chosen where they ar not as yet
1645 Acts VI i 353/2. 1648 Moray Synod 92.
For advancing of the … levie committees are appointed to sitt throughout the severall shires of this kingdome
1650 Rec. Kirk Scotl. 617.
Thair wes ane associatioune concludit and drawn up among the westland schyres
1658 Aberd. B. Rec. IV 175.
The civill officers in the shyres and incorporatiounes of this natioune that ar now in office suld be continuit vntill [etc.]
(b) 1684 Melville Chart. 182.
The southern and western shyrs, quhair severall rebells … committ great … abusses
(c) 1581 Acts III 228/2.
The heid burrowis of all scheyris
(2) 1512 Treas. Acc. IV 350.
To pas with lettrez of wappinschewingis within the schir of Roxburgh
c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 74.
Williame Meldrum … borne within the schyre of Fyfe
1554 Grant Chart. 282.
1574 Aberd. Sheriff Ct. I 260.
In Ratye withine the schyir of Banf
1611 Reg. Privy C. IX 630.
It is our pleasour that ye imparte our mynd in this point to the commissionaris of the Middle Schyris, laitlie callit the Bordouris
1614 Denmylne MSS in Highland P. III 167.
The shyres of Argyll and Tarbett
1622-6 Bisset I 150/9, 10, 12.
The schyre or schirefdome of Innernes is devyded in thrie schyris or schirefdomes. viz. Rose ane schirefschip and Caithnes ane uther, to be severall jurisdictionis and schyris, bot all suld ansueir to the iustice air of the schirefdome of Innernes
c1650 Spalding I 135.
Forfar, heid brughe of the schire of Angouss
Ib. II 321.
Thair wes tua hundreth and fourtie hors laid vpone the schires of Abirdene and Banf
1652 Lamont Diary 50.
Throughe the greatest pairt of all the burrowe-towns of the shyre of Fyfe, … likewayes through some places of the landwart
1665 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. II 21.
He had keiped the haill shyre of Rosse in fray and feir of weir
1667 Dumfr. & Galloway Soc. 3 Ser. XXXVI 38.
We intend … to send to yow our particular commands for setleing a militia in the shyre of Dumfreice and further secureing the peace of the western shyres
1669 Rothesay B. Rec. 172.
For thrie monethis excyse of the schyre and towne of Bute
1684 Dumfr. & Galloway Soc. 3 Ser. XXXVI 145.
a1686 Turner Mem. 221.
The shyre of Niddisdaill and steuartrie of Kirkcudbright
16.. Abercrummie in Macfarlane's Geog. Coll. II 2.
The Rins and shyre of Galloway
1570 Reg. Morton I 57.
Warne all the gentill men of Lynlythqw schyir or therabout to be wyth ther haill forces
c1586 Maxwell Mem. II 159.
Lyithkov scheir
1685 Acts VIII 458/2.
Edinburgh shire
16.. Macfarlane's Geog. Coll. II 193.
Lanrick shyre
(3) 1427 Acts II 15/1.
Swa that of ilk schirefdome thare be sende chosyn at the hede court of the schirefdome twa or ma wismen … the quhilk salbe callit commissaris of the schire
1581 Ib. III 224/1 (see (1) sing. above). 1630 Ib. V 220/1.
The commissioners for the shyres
1640 Dumbarton B. Rec. 62.
The Erle of Argyll, cornell of the shyre
1648 Misc. Maitl. C. II 457.
The commissioners of shyres and borroughs in parlament have voted the breaches of the Covenant and treaties
1648 Aberd. B. Rec. IV 91.
Clerk to the committee of the shyr
c1651 Scotland and the Commonwealth 26.
The ensewing meitting at Rothesae, wher none of the burgesses did come at all, nor any of the gentlemen of the schyrs that wer writtin to
?c1675 J. Gordon Hist. III 72.
It should be determined whither the commissioners for shyres (since they are alwayes two in number), should have each of them a distincte vote in Parliament
1668 Edinb. B. Rec. X 51.
The commissioners for the shyre
1671 Haddington B. Rec. (Robb) 13 Sept.
Mr. Harie Cokburne proveist … to meit with the comittee of the shyre and represent the tounis grievances anent the burdens laid on thame without thair consent
(4) 1457 Acts II 47/2.
And at the schirref of the schyr at the lordis sittis in be redy [etc.]
c1476 Lennox Mun. 107. 1496 Acta Conc. II 6.
That letters be writin to the schiref of the schyre to distrinȝe [etc.]
1498 Ib. 197. 1513 Wigtownshire Chart. 60. 1532 Instit. Ct. Sess. in Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 376 (see S(c)hiref n. 1 b (3)). 1540 Acts II 362/1.
At the saidis munstouris be tane be the schireff of the scire
1567 Grey Friars II 54.
That ye pas to oure schiref of oure schire
1587 Acts III 449/1.
The schiref of euerie schyre [etc.]
c1615 Chron. Kings 172.
1616 Laing MSS 147.
The shireffis of the schyres within your chairge
1652 Aberd. Sheriff Ct. III 74.
Shirreff and comissar deput of saids respective shyres
1666-74 Fraser Polichron. 284.
And so forward to Narden, where the shereff off that sheir receaved them
1688 Conv. Burghs IV 80.
The shirreffs of shyers
1689 Boharm Kirk S. 20 Jan.
All ministers to give in exact lists of all papists within their parishes to the sheriff of the shyre
(5) attrib. 1659 Lamont Diary 113.
For shyre clerke fies
possess. 1659 Lamont Diary 113.
The shyrs clerke allowance
(6) 1529 Stirling B. Rec. I 37.
That na flescher within burgh, na within the schier, that bringis ony flecht to the said burgh to sell [etc.]
1651 Aberd. B. Rec. IV 125.
That the toune be not ingadged in any thing that concernes the shyres pairt
1652 Peebles B. Rec. II 5.
Unfriemen exerceing merchandice within this burgh and schire
1661 Aberd. Council Lett. IV 139.
The shyre and toune have the layeing on of ther owne excyse

c. transf. The residents within a shire, collectively; the leaders, or representatives, of a shire.(a) 1561 Peebles B. Rec. I 276.
That na man that cumis to this mercat to by meill on the mercat day be ansuerit quhill the tovne and schyre be first seruit
1640 Haddington Corr. 178.
I haw refused a meiting of the shyr on Munday, and a brydell att Struther on Theusday
1648 Ancram & Loth. Corr. I 225.
My lords, we haue had tua randevous of thir schyres, Monday and this day, Thursday
1649 Acts VI ii 146/1.
Any petitions from shyres presbiteries sessions or other kirk judicatories aganst the engagement
(b) 1654 Argyll Synod II 64.
Mortified mony which was dedicated by the shair to be a fundatione to the schooll of Kilmichall in Glasrie

2. A region or district.Some examples may belong in 1 above. c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 472.
Ȝit am I haldin a haly wif our all the haill schyre
1531 Bell. Boece I x.
My landis braid, with mony plentuus schire
1533 Boece 73.
To induce craftismen and to draw thame fra vthir partis the king gart distribute thame in sindry schiris quhare iugis for the tyme (now erlis or schireffis) exercit iustice
Ib. 184.
To euery province and schyre schireffis and officiaris war depute
Ib. 232.
Fra ane louch quharein rynnys the ryver of Quhabir … the inhabitantis callit the schyre Lowchquhabir
1535 Stewart 25901.
Conranus … maid that act, Befoir the air ane dittay for to tak In euirilk schyre … ; Quhilk lawis ȝit ar keipit at this da
1540 Lynd. Sat. 1242 (Ch.).
Lords I haue past throw mony vncouth schyre Bot in this land I can get na ludgeing
1562-3 Winȝet I 102/13.
In euery prouince, schyre, citie and hous is ane principal or superior
1641 Misc. Spald. C. I 11.
Haveing laitly sein certane cairttis of divers schyres of this our ancient kingdome sent heir from Ansterdam

3. Applied to a similar administrative unit or geographical area in England. c1475 Wall. viii 946.
All Mydlame land thai brynt wp in a fyr, Brak parkis doun, distroyit all the schyr
Ib. 991.
Off wyn and quheyt thar is in Rychmwnt schyr
1535 Stewart 28890.
All the laif that duelt into that schire
1549 Compl. 104/16.
Thai … menteine that thai var borne in Kynt schire, Ȝoirke schire [etc.]
a1598 Ferg. Prov. MS No. 1690.
Lincolinschyr belis & bagpyps Devonshyr whytpotis

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"Shire n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 3 Feb 2023 <>



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