Early English History. a member of any of several aristocratic classes of men ranking between earls and ordinary freemen, and granted lands by the king or by lords for military service.
Scottish History. a person, ranking with an earl's son, holding lands of the king; the chief of a clan, who became one of the king's barons.
(in Anglo-Saxon England) a member of an aristocratic class, ranking below an ealdorman, whose status was hereditary and who held land from the king or from another nobleman in return for certain services
(in medieval Scotland) a person of rank, often the chief of a clan, holding land from the king a lesser noble who was a Crown official holding authority over an area of land