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Borderers, Black Rent and Steel: Rapine Related Word Origins from Northumbria

Yep - I am a Northumbrian and this is my ancestry. The Italian is well diluted and the majority of my ancestors are Borderers. So this may be of interest:

Incidentally, the author he mentions (George MacDonald Frazer) wrote a book about the Border Reivers called The Steel Bonnets. The verb bereave derives from being "reived" or raided and murdered and Blackmail derives from Black Meal or black rent. Who says we aren't cultured? >};o)

-Phil B.

Phil, I read Frazer in an attempt to learn some dialect and greatly enjoyed his work, his memoir of Burma: All Safe out Here [I think but am not certain] and Black Ajax, a tragic true story of bare knuckle boxing from New Orleans to London and finally to a man's fading days in Ireland were excellent works.

Robert E. Howard seemed to savor the term reiver and applied it to his heroes whenever possible. I am thrilled to discover the word linkage here and I'm sure our Robert E. Howard fans will enjoy the sourcing.



[bəˈrēvmənt, bēˈrēvmənt]


noun form of bereave





(be bereaved)

be deprived of a loved one through a profound absence, especially due to the loved one's death:


Old English berēafian (see be-, reave). The original sense was ‘deprive of’ in general.


bereaved (past participle)

bereaves (third person present)

bereaving (present participle)


"Of old he had a band of Irish reivers and harried the costs of the British Isles..."

-Robert E. Howard, Tigers of the Sea


noun form of reave






carry out raids in order to plunder.

•rob (a person or place) of something by force:

•steal (something).


Old English rēafian, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch roven, German rauben, also to rob.


reaves (third person present)

reft (past tense)

reft (past participle)

reaving (present participle)

A Well of Heroes

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deuceMarch 9, 2017 1:54 PM UTC

I'm of reiver (Nixon) stock on my maternal side. I visited the ancestral homeland of Liddesdale—"the bloodiest valley in Britain"—a few years ago. The Scottish throne basically authorized the construction of a "Fort Apache" there called the Hermitage to try and keep the locals under control, to no avail.

We know REH was familiar with the Border ballads and he may've had Border blood himself. He was a huge fan of Sir Walter Scott in his youth.
curriMarch 9, 2017 11:53 AM UTC

You (or someone you know) might be interested in this:

"...I’m equally delighted to announce that a book of mine that’s been out of print for some years is available again. The Academy of the Sword is the most elaborate manual of sword combat ever written; it was penned in the early seventeenth century by Gerard Thibault, one of the greatest European masters of the way of the sword, and published in 1630, and it bases its wickedly effective fencing techniques on Renaissance Pythagorean sacred geometry. I spent almost a decade translating it out of early modern French and finally got it into print in 2006, but the original publisher promptly sank under a flurry of problems that were partly financial and partly ethical. Now the publisher of my books Not the Future We Ordered and Twilight’s Last Gleaming has brought it back into print in an elegant new hardback edition."