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kerne (or kern), a light-armed foot-soldier of Ireland and of the Western Isles (the Irish kern, at least, being generally described as very poor and wild), HENRY V., iii. 7. 52; 2 HENRY VI., iii. 1. 367; kerns and kernes, RICHARD II., ii. 1. 156; 2 HENRY VI., iii. 1. 310, 361; iv. 9. 26;MACBETH, i. 2. 13, 30; v. 7. 17. (Jamieson, in his Etym. Dict. of the Scottish Language, gives“Kerne. A foot soldier, armed with a dart or a skean.
‘Then ne'er let the gentle Norman blude
Grow cald for highland Kerne.’
[Scott's] Antiquary, iii. 224.
It is used in a similar sense by [English] writers in reference to the Irish;” again [sub “Galloglach” ] he has“Kerns is merely another form of Cateranes.” Perhaps in the last of the passages of Shakespeare above referred to,
“I cannot strike at wretched kerns, whose arms
Are hir'd to bear their staves,”
kerns is equivalent to“boors;” compare
“And these rude Germaine kernes not yet subdued.”
The Tragedie of Claudius Tiberius Nero, 1607, sig. c 3 verso.)

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