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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

HERIAL, n. Also herrial, -yall, her(r)ie(a)l, hairrial; and in sense 1., †herezeld, †herald (Sc. 1713 Letter in Atholl MSS. (23 Dec.)). [′hɛrɪəl, ′her-]

1. A feudal privilege formerly possessed by landed proprietors of claiming the best animal belonging to a tenant on the latter's death, synonymous with the Eng. term heriot (Sc. 1946 A. D. Gibb Legal Terms 40). Also attrib.Sc. 1711 Lamont Papers (S.R.S.) 326:
The services and homage of the said James Lamont and his heirs to be faithfully rendered to the said Duke . . . with the herezeld of the said James and his heirs whenever they shall happen to die.
Inv. a.1738 Stat. Acc.1 XIII. 152:
Another very lucrative perquisite they [bailies of regality] had, was, what was called the Herial Horse, which was, the best horse, cow, ox, or other article, which any tenant on the estate possessed at the time of his death.
Cai. 1774 Weekly Mag. (13 Oct.) 80:
My mither paid three herryalls 'cause she lost three husbands.
Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. lv.:
He [a horse]'s the young laird's frae this moment, if he likes to take him for a herezeld, as they ca'd it lang syne.

2. By extension: that which causes loss or ruin, a great or unwarranted expense, a constant drain on one's resources (ne.Sc. 1957).Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 226:
It's a perfit herrial t' ha'e t' keep sae mony servan's.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb x.:
They're sic a herrial, that buiks.
Abd. 1903 Abd. Wkly. Free Press (17 Jan.):
Yer sulphates an' nitrates are a fair hairriet [sic] o' th' lan'.
Abd. 1929 J. Alexander Mains & Hilly 128:
It's a rael hairrial gyaun tull a bazaar.

[O.Sc. hereyeld, -ȝeld, id., from early 15th c. The word corresponds in meaning to Eng. heriot, O.E. hereȝeatwa, army equipment, orig. provided by the superior for his tenant and returned to him on the tenant's death, the obligation being later commuted for a payment in money or kind, but the form is that of O.E. hereȝeld, the war-tax imposed on the Anglo-Saxons during the Danish invasions, and there has apparently been confusion in Sc. between the two, no doubt influenced by the separate existence of O.Sc. yelde, payment.]

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"Herial n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 May 2024 <>



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