1) In general, the meaning was profit, advantage, usefulness, but in Yorkshire the word was often applied to cattle and it could have several distinct shades of meaning. These all had to do with the animal’s profitability in the period it was able to give milk after calving.
1545 I bequeath to ... my father the proffettes of a cowe iij yeres ... to Leonarde my brother a cowe not ij yeres ... to William Dicconson of Harrogaite a cowe noyte one yere
1551 I gyff to Elisabeth Turner one cowe ... and ijs viijd for the nawte of the saide cowe, Fewston. In this period the cow was said to be ‘at note’: 1552 ‘and deliver to Henry Jesope one cowe at noyte’, Cumberworth
1557 Crister Leche owes me for a cow noyt iiijs, Monk Fryston. In an agreement drawn up c.1635 William Haigh of Falhouse near Thornhill, asked that his brother Francis buy a new noyted cowe for him and allowe her summer and winter keeping: in return William was agreeable to paying him an indifferent rate for the noyte and 30s for the ... keeping, Thornhill. The spelling ‘noyt’ is a characteristic of the dialect in the south-west of the county. The 1557 spelling ‘nawte’ seems to suggest that not all clerks were aware of the distinction between ‘note’ and the two similar words for cattle
that is nawt and neat. Examples which seem to make this same point are frequent: 1512 Fyrst viij oxyn ... xiiij ky ... xij yong noyt of on yere ... xvij noyt of a noder yere, Fewston
1568 Item 9 hede of yonge noit, the pric’ Ł4 10s, Grinton
1596 Item Elizabeth Clarkeson of Sattron for the neat of a coowe 4s, Crackpot, 1678 We present Thomas Ellis for not sending to the feild coman noate, Bridlington.