Definition of heriot in English:



  • A tribute paid to a lord out of the belongings of a tenant who died, often consisting of a live animal or, originally, military equipment that he borrowed.

    • ‘At a similar date the king, Æthelred, refused to accept the heriot of the widow of Ætheric of Bocking, effectively refusing her right to take over her husband's lands as his widow.’
    • ‘And the heriot of the man who falls before his lord during a campaign, whether within the country or abroad, shall be remitted, and the heirs shall succeed to his land and his property and make a very just division of the same.’
    • ‘On top of this, the dutiful John Ronewyk carefully recorded a list of the ‘fines terrae’ owed by those replacing dead tenants, and the heriots (the best beast in the herd) of those heirs who took over from their dead fathers.’
    • ‘The serf also paid a variety of dues to the lord: the annual capitation or head tax (literally, a tax on existence), the taille (a tax on the serf's property), and the heriot (an inheritance tax).’
    • ‘In addition, the heriot, that is the death duty paid to a lord when a thegn died, was set at four horses (two with saddles), two swords and a coat of mail.’


Old English heregeatwa, from here ‘army’ + geatwa ‘trappings’.