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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.

HERSHIP, n. Also herschip, hereship; har(e)ship, heer-, hair-, heir-, and reduced form ¶herschaw; herriship, -skip. [′hɛrʃɪp]

1. Plundering, devastation (Sc. 1808 Jam., herschip), esp. the forcible carrying off of cattle in a foray. Now only hist.Sc. a.1714 Earls Crm. (Fraser 1876) Il. 468:
This ther prentice sey or first expeditione wes called . . . in the Irish creach vachtin the young mans hership.
Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 161:
Hareship in the Highlands; the Hens in the Corn, If the Cocks go in, it will never be shorn.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 5:
Riefing hereship was become a trade.
Slg. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XVIII. 332:
This act of depredation [by Rob Roy] was remembered by the fathers of several persons still living, and is known by the name of the herriship of Kippen.
Sc. 1818 Scott Rob Roy xxvi.:
It grieved him to see sic hership, and waste, and depredation to the south o' the Hieland line.

2. The result of robbery or violence; loss, ruin, destitution, distress, famine (Sc. 1818 Sawers).Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 66:
But there had been mair Blood and Skaith, Sair Harship and great Spulie.
ne.Sc. 1791 Caled. Mercury (29 Sept.):
An anter case there fa's a brulzie, Fu' flaughtbred flie they ti the toulzie; Nae dreidan harship, skaith, na spulzie.
Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Proverbs 109:
Dead at the ae door, and herschip at the tither.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 254:
She dreided some herschip in the byous weather to her auld guidman.
Sc.(E) 1913 H. P. Cameron Imit. Christ i. xxv.:
A gudelie man leevin' athoot deescipline lies apen tae dreidfu' herschip.

3. Booty, plunder.Sc. 1750–1 W. MacFarlane Geneal. Coll. (S.H.S.) II. 3:
He . . . spuilzied these Lands, and brought away with him a Heirship and also a Daughter to the Baron of Cray.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 17:
Of gueeds an' herds we need nae speak nae mair, . . . They're a' made hership, an' for ought we ken, The herds may a' be feckly ta'en or slain.
Slg. 1808 Jam.:
Even within the last century, some of the Highlanders used to make predatory incursions into the Lowlands, and either carry off the cattle, or make the owners redeem them, by paying a sum of money. This in Stirlingshire, and perhaps in other counties, was called lifting the hership, or corr[uptly] herschaw.

4. Fig. A necessity which has become extremely expensive. Cf. Herial, n., 2.Sc. 1808 Jam.:
Any thing very high-priced, which must of necessity be had, is still said to be a mere herriskip.

[O.Sc. heres(c)hip, etc. id., from the end of the 14th c., herschip, etc., id., from c.1420; from O.Sc. here, predatory army, O.E. here, or *her- from Herrie, to harry, + n. suff. -ship. Cf. O.N. herja, O.E. herȝan, to harry, O.N. herskapr, harrying. The forms herriship, -skip, are late developments from Herrie, v., -skip is analogical, after heirskip s.v. Heirship, Hizzieskip, etc.]

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"Hership n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jun 2024 <>



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