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Merchet Also: -ett, -ete, -eit, -eat, -iett, -i(e)te, -iatte, mershet(e, marchet, -eit, market[1] was a fine paid on a marriage during the Middle Ages in England. The word derives from the plural form of daughter, merched, in old Welsh. Merchet was payment to a peasant's lord, whether by the persons marrying, or by a father for his son or daughter, or by a brother for his sister.[2] Theories regarding the practice include recompense for the loss of a worker,[3] but one idea most prominent when the word merchet was used, is that of ransom--and not necessarily the ransom of a female. Merchet is the ransom of flesh and blood, more often, perhaps, of the peasant's daughter or sister than of his son. All the curious theories which have grown up around the term, on the assumption that it had relation only to girls, are unfounded mainly because of the incorrect term assigned to the practice. The etymology of the term must be sought not in the root of any word having reference to maids or daughters in particular, but in the root of an unknown word having reference to blood, to purchase, to redemption or enfranchisement, or the price paid for it, or to a particular kind of tax, fine, impost, or exaction.[2]


  1. ^ "Merchet". Dictionary of the Scots Language, Dictionar o the Scots Leid. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b Rolls Series, Volume 31, Issue 2, Part 6; Volume 31, Issue 11. Great Britain. Public Record Office: Longman & Company. 1891. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  3. ^ "merchet". Your Dictionary. Retrieved 23 January 2018.