Scottish Genealogy

Monday, 10 September 2012

Old Scots Words: Hagbut or Hakbuit

I seem to be getting through the alphabet very quickly!  These posts are going to move to a monthly slot now in order to leave some space for some on other topics too.

Today's 'H' word is one that I have come across a fair few times in various documents:

Hagbut or Hakbuit

This word has a huge variety of spellings and I list a few below - these variations can all start with 'Hak' 'Hack' 'Hag' 'Halk' or 'Hawk' (and a few other variations too!):

This is not a specifically 'Scots word' as it is simply a variation of the French haquebute and usually refers to a type of musket which must have been commonly used across many countries.  the Dictionary of the Scots Language (DSL) has a few examples of its use dating mostly from the 1500s and 1600s and we can assume that it's use was mostly concentrated in these centuries.

There are also numerous examples of these weapons being referred to in original documents:

for example, a 1610 letter from James Campbell of Laweris, Ford[-], to the laird of Glenurquhay in the Breadalbane Muniments held by the National Records of Scotland records [NRS ref. GD112/39/21/25] states that the writer had "met Allister McKeindowy who shot a hagbut at them"

and another document from the same collection [NRS ref. GD112/10/1/1] records a tack by the laird of Glenurquhay to Patrick Dow, his son, "of two merkland of Corricharmish with grazing thereof, in Glenloquhay, for one year, he being diligent in keeping forest of Mamlorne, and shall not shoot with gun nor hagbut at deer, roe nor blackcock, neither himself nor those of his company, 19 April 1612".

So this odd looking word does crop up reasonably frequently in a variety of places and is worth remembering - especially when working with records dating from the 16th and 17th centuries - perhaps some of the more 'tumultuous' periods of Scottish and British history. 

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