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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 1963 (DOST Vol. III).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Kepar(e, Keipar(e, n. Also : -air, -er(e, -eir, keipear, keippar, -er, keyper, kipper, keeper, -ar, -air; also Keppar. [ME. keper (a 1300), f. Kepe v.]

1. One who observes, complies with, adheres to, etc. (Cf. Kepe v. 3–5.) 1488 Stewart Mem. 77.
Thai sall … tak ane awfald parte with the partii kepar again the partii brekar
1551 Hamilton Cat. 9.
Rewardis to the keparis of the samyn [holy days]
1562-3 Winȝet II. 56/26.
A mater … in quhilk thow suld nocht be an actour … bot a keipar; nocht a lawmakar, bot a lawkeipar
1581-1623 James VI Poems I. 217/135.
Eicht thousand Spaniollis braue … Good order keiparis

b. (Ill, gude) kepar, one who gives (irregular, regular) attendance (at church, etc.). 1603 Elgin Rec. II. 114.
Baith Blakhillis and Glakmarres ill keiparis of the kirk
1627 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 261.
We have bene hitherto so gude keparis of all metings

c. One who conducts or is present at conventicles. 1670 Acts VIII. 9/1.]
[That no outed ministers … preach … in any meeting without the familie … and that none be present at any [such] meeting … declareing heerby all such … to be guiltie of keeping of conventicles
1672 Ib. 89/1.
Act against keipers of conventicles and with-drawers from publict worshipe
1675 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. IV. 444.
Mr Jon King being … ane habituat keeper of conventicles
1676 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. MS. 13 Nov.
Maister William McMillan ane notor keeper of feild conventicls

d. One who keeps company with another. 16.. Hist. Kennedy 149.
Being a ordinary hantar and keipar of cumpany with the said laird

2. One who guards, defends or watches over something or some-one; a guard, defender, watchman. b. Said of a thing which serves as a defence or protection. comb. with dyke.(1) a1400 Leg. S. xxix. 530.
Gud men mad hym kepare Of the feildis
Ib. xl. 450.
A bule fers & fel, As kepare of the catel, One the maister thef ruschit
c1420 Wynt. viii. 1076.
He made hym, syn he wes stark and sture, Kepare off hys chawmbyre dure
a1500 Bk. Chess 2087.
A quheyne … may [move] … to the poynt before the tovne kepar
a1500 Seven S. 1091.
Thow sall … with the keparis of the towne This nycht be put in dungeoun
a1578 Pitsc. I. 174/30.
Schir Robert Douglas laird of Lochlevin was keiper of the kirk dore at that tyme
1580 Cath. Tr. 58/24.
Quhen he denyes … everie ane of thame to have his angel keiper
1596 Dalr. I. 214/24.
Vortigerne had for a hyre alluret the keipers of Constantine … to betray him
(2) 1537 Hamilton P. I. 42.
The Creature Almychty we pray be youre haly kepare
1548 Corr. M. Lorraine 227.
And Jesw be your keyper
1567 G. Ball. 162.
Lord … thow art keipar lait and air, Protectour and defence of me
(3) transf. and fig. ?1438 Alex. ii. 7377.
The King of Grece, … Of honour he is keper
1456 Hay II. 29/2.
Evill men suld be wedit out be knychtis, keparis of the law
Ib. 86/2.
The mannis wit … is the kepare of virtues and the spyare out of vicis
1562-3 Winȝet II. 60/21.
The Kirk of Christe, a diligent and a war [= ware, vigilant] keipar of that doctrine to it deliuerit
1570 Sat. P. xviii. 37.
The Regent … was keipar of ȝour commoun weill
b. 1578–9 Reg. Privy C. III. 81.
To fortify and strenthin the keipar dyke that enveronittis the toun of Annand

3. One having the care, charge, supervision or upkeeping (of a thing). (Cf. Kepe v. 10–11.)a. Of a prison, temple, church, etc. b. Of a district, establishment, etc.: a governor or steward. c. Of a great variety of other things.a. (1) a1400 Leg. S. xxxvii. 325.
Thane keparis of the presone … thru smal holis lokit done
c1475 Wall. iii. 234.
In our presone … Our slouthfully our keparis leit him pas
1552 Treas. Acc. X. 159.
To Thomas Hall … kepar of the irnehous of Edinburgh
1630 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 319.
The keipers of your ward house to atend at the tollbooth
(2) a1500 Henr. Test. Cress. 107.
This auld Calchas … Wes keiper of the tempill, as ane priest
(3) 1581 Bk. Univ. Kirk II. 510.
Clerkis of assemblies, takaris vp of the psalmes, beddales and keiparis of the kirkis
1622-6 Bisset I. 100/31.
Deanis, archedenes, … sachristeris, keiparis alsweill of cathedral as metropolitan as collegiate kirkis
b. a1400 Leg. S. xxxiii. 25.
A tribone … [of] the thred part of a cyte Or of a cunctre kepare is
1406 Douglas Chart. 367.
Archebalde, Erle of Douglas … and kepare to the landis and rentis of the priorie of Coldinghame
We hafe made … our lufit squyer … our substitute & kepare vnder vs of the landis
c1420 Ratis R. 1378.
The vyce … makis thé bot a kepar knawin Quhar thow suld lord be of thin awin
1458 Peebles B. Rec. I. 126.
Sanct Androwis kyrk … to the qwhilkis … the communite of Peblis ar tutowris, keparis or gouernowris
1499 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 76.
Thai heif declairit to the keperis and rewlares of Leyth that thai latt in na persouns thairin
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 264/10.
Thair was chosin vj keparis of Scotland quhill the mater war decidit
Ib. 268/7.
This king, becaus his eldest son haltit, … maid his next sone … kepare of the land
1539 Treas. Acc. VII. 175.
Watte Lowdoun, keipar of the park … of Linlithgu
1626 Stirling's Royal Lett. I. 40.
Concerneing the sufficiencie provyding of fosteris and keipers of the said forrest
c. a1400 Leg. S. xii. 137.
He hyme mad Hale kepare of al the thinge That he had in-to gowernynge
c1400 Troy-bk. ii. 327.
Thoas, Of the palladinar kepere
14.. Acts I. 329/2.
Keparis of tron, keparis of gaugerij [etc.]
1441 Cart. S. Nich. Aberd. II. 325.
[They] arr ordanit keparis and gaderaris of the profite that may cum of the schippes
1492 Highland P. II. 192.
The saide soume … being put in pose and keping in the handis of the kepare of the commone purse
1501 Treas. Acc. II. 93.
Thom Talȝour, kepare of the Kingis pailȝons
1541 Reg. Privy S. II. 661/2.
Johne Drummond, principale carpentare, gunnar, meltar and ȝeman kepar of oure soverane lordis artailliery
a1538 Abell Chron. 5 a.
He wes … maid gydar of all Egipt … and kepar of all the wittall in the gret darth
1546 Reg. Privy S. III. 295/2.
Makkand him ordourar of oure soverane ladyis tapessarie and kepar of hir wardrop
1552–3 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 271.
To the kepar of the knok, for his fee
1581 Treas. Acc. MS. 712 b.
To … [the] keipare of his hienes cachpell
1612 St. A. Baxter Bks. 78.
Alexander Sharpe, keipar of the key of the keist
1618 Conv. Burghs III. 71.
David Aikinheid [etc.] … haivers and keipers of the standert of the elne, Johne Scherare … keipar of the juge, and Gawin Blair … keipar of the wechtis
1660 Aberd. Council Lett. IV. 10.
Ane list of … commissiar clerks, keippers of the register of ther particular schyre

d. Designating the officer having custody of one of the seals or other symbol of royal authority.As kepar of the grete sele, the prive sele, the signet, the testimoniale of the grete sele, the coket (q.v.), the rollis, the thesaurers register, the cunȝe irnis: see further these various nouns.(1) 1578 Acts III. 97/2.
Commanding the keipers of the signet previe and greit seillis that thai pas na signatour or lettre bot vpoun the warrand keipand all the premissis
1584 Ib. 310/1.
Dischargeing the keipparis of our seallis to pas the saidis giftis
1621 Ib. IV. 616/2.
The act … anent pryces sett doun to be takin by all wreateris, clerkis, keiparis of seallis and vtheris
(2) c1420 Wynt. vii. 1338 (W).
Sanct Thomas wes his chancellare, And of his gret sele the kepare
1542–3 Reg. Privy S. III. 4/2.
Makand him chancellare of hir realme and keipar of hir grete seill
(3) 1524 Reg. Privy S. I. 502/1.
With command to the keparis of the prive seal and directour of the chancellary to ansuer … to all presentationis
1528–9 Ib. 583/1.
Makand him kepar of our soverane lordis prive sele
1578 Acts III. 96/1.
Our souerane lordis officiaris, to wot, the lord chancellair, … advocatt and kepar of the previe seall
(4) 1567 E. Loth. Antiq. Soc. IV. 23.
That the secretare or his deputtis keparis of the signet pas lettres of ressait to the said George
1594 Hist. Writers to Signet 230.
Quhatsumevir writtare obeyis nocht his lordschipis depute keipare of the signet
1622-6 Bisset I. 129/28.
The clerk keipare of the signet
(5) 1526 Reg. Privy S. I. 512/1.
Ane lettre to Patrik Houstoun … makand him directour of the chancellary and kepar of the testimoniale of the grete sele
(6) 1554 Treas. Acc. X. 243.
To Schir George Richardsoun, kepar of the rollis
1558 Ib. 445.(7) 1672 Acts VIII. 88/2.
That there be payed to the keiper of the thesaurers register and his servants, for registration of signatures fourtie shilling scots
(8) 1527 Reg. Privy S. I. 567/1.
Makand him wardane principale and kepar of the Kingis cunȝe irnis
1536 Ib. II. 306/2.
Makand thame keparis of the Kingis gracis irnys of his cunȝe

4. The keeper of a castle. a. The governor or commander. b. A defender, one of the garrison.a. 1375 Barb. x. 552.
My fader wes kepar of ȝon hous [sc. Edinburgh Castle]
c1420 Wynt. viii. 2465.
Schyrravis, bayhlyis, and keparis Off castellys, and othir offycyaris
1511–12 Reg. Privy S. I. 362/1.
A lettre maid to Robert Lawder … makand him kepare and capitane of the castell of Lochmabane
a1586 Maitland Geneal. Setoun 18.
[He] was capitane and keipar of Beruick
1687 Rothesay B. Rec. 442.
Sir James Stewart his predecessors … heretable captaines and keipers of the castle of Rothesay
b. c1420 Wynt. viii. 4354.
The Stwart … can hym speyd Till his castelle, and tharein made Keparis, that it in yhemsale hade
1478 Acta Aud. 62/2.
The captain, counstabill, & kepiris of the said castel to ressaf thaim in ward
1526 Reg. Privy S. I. 518/1.
Taking … of the Kingis castell … of Dunbertane fra his servandis keparis thairof
1607 Crim. Trials III. 48.
Ȝou sall put garesounes and keiparis in everie one of the same [castellis and houssis]

5. One having the care, charge or tutelage of another; a guardian, nurse, personal attendant, etc. c1475 Wall. II. 366.
Quhen Wallace was ralesched off his payne … His trew kepar he send to Elrisle
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 220/18.
James of Levingstoun, that tyme kepar to the king and capitane of Striuling
1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. III. 21.
Then suddanelie my keipar to me said, Ascend galland
1518 Douglas Chart. 388.
To our louit seruitrice Marioun Douglas, kepar to our derrest sone
a1538 Abell Chron. 116 b.
He institut with consall of the lordis 4 keparis of the King be ȝerlie quartaris
1567 Treas. Acc. MS. 275.
To Nichola the fule and hir keipar
1649 Edinb. Test. LXI. 214 b.
Reddy money … intromettit with be the claingers as his keipares the tyme of his seiknes
c1650 Spalding II. 56.
The Erll of Hairtfurde, keipar of the young prince, is maid marques of Somerseat

6. One who has the custody of another as a prisoner; a warder, keeper. c1515 Asl. MS. I. 209/26.
This Eduard of Carnauerane was put in preson … and his kepar was Sir Henry Sanct Thomas
1596 Dalr. II. 320/25.
How he insinuat of his flicht to his keiperis
1603 Philotus lxxvi.
Thus I … may … vnkend pas out, For ocht my keipars can

7. a. A keeper of a herd of cattle, sheep, etc.; a herdsman. b. One who has charge of other animals.a. 14.. Acts I. 37/2.
It is nocht leyfull til ony burges … to halde swyne in the burgh bot gif he hafe a kepar [L. custodem] folowand thaim in the feylde
a1500 Henr. Fab. 753.
The keipar of the gait
1513 Doug. iii. iv. 24.
Flokkis and herdis of oxin and of fe … And trippis eik of gait, but ony kepar [Sm. keipar]
1557 Peebles B. Rec. 236.
To provide ane kepare to the said hill … that stirkkis, caulffis, and hors may be pasturit thairupone
1576 Reg. Privy C. II. 524.
Keparis of the cattell sa dispasturing the ground of the opposit realme
b. ?1438 Alex. 534.
First in ȝouthed or men couth him [Bucephalus] ken Of his keiparis he wirreit mony men
1529 M. Works Acc. I. 10 b.
Dauid Thomsone kepare of the cart hors & furnessar of thair foddyr
1542 Treas. Acc. VIII. 102.
To James Aytoun [etc.] … keperris of the doggis
1542–3 Reg. Privy S. III. 19/1.
Makand him maister and keipar of all the Duche stude meris within the realme

8. One who owns, conducts, or keeps as part of his establishment (a business, a fair, etc.). (Cf. Kepe v. 12–13.)(1) 1639 Acts V. (1870) 606/1.
That the keiparis of horsis exact nothing above the pryce prescryved
1641 Ib. 548/2.
Postmaisteres, jornay maisteres and keeperes of jornay housis
1647 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. II. 801.
Agnes Maxwell and Jean Sommervaill keeperis of twa scovles within this burgh
1653 Banff Ann. I. 187.
All havaris and keiperis of swyn
1665 Lamont Diary 179.
James Thomsone in Kennoway, the great ins-keiper ther
1687 Rothesay B. Rec. 443.
As shereff of the shyre and keipers of the faires holden therin
1688 Edinb. Test. LXXVIII. 20 June.
Robert Bartoun, somtyme keipper of the coble of Cramond
(2) 1631 Aberd. B. Rec. III. 38.
The statutes maid … againis keipares and gaddereris of middingis on the commoun streites

9. One who keeps possession of or retains anything. 1569 Reg. Morton I. 43.
All … havaris, keparis, withhaldaris and indwellaris of the abbay and place of Melros … to rander … the samyn
1586 Red Bk. Grandtully II. 131.
That the said Sir Thomas, nor na vtheris keparis and detanaris of the saidis housis in his name sall … be … accusit for keping … of the samyn

10. Applied to certain mechanical devices for holding something in place.a. The catch or fixed part of a bolt or a latch which receives the movable rod or bar when fastened. b. The catch of a clasp. c, d. See contexts: (?).a. 1530 M. Works Acc. (ed.) 33.
For … ii gret irne sloittis with ii keparis to the irne yet and treyne yet
1593 Edinb. D. Guild Acc. 500.
To the dur off the ministeris ȝett … ane new hand with ane kneyit snek ane sneck heid and ane keipper
1601 Ib. 771.
Ane snek and ane keipar to Mr. Johnne Hallis dur … ane pund weycht of leid to batt in the keipar
1626 M. Works Acc. MS. XIX. 10 b.
For ane new hand with scheild, sneck and sneckheid and keiper … for the constabillis chalmer doore
1702 Foulis Acc. Bk. 307.
For 2 snecks and hands and keepers for closet doores
b. 1625 Brechin Test. IV. 183 b.
Auchtein hankis of kleispis keiparis & maillȝeis
1703 W. Andrews Bygone Church Life in Sc. (1899) 159.
The kirke bible … For keepers to the clasps, brass nails, putting on the stoods
c. 1536 Edinb. Hammermen 148 b.
Gevin for the making of ane keiper & berrer to the crowatis with twa boitis to beir thame in ij s.
d. 1615 M. Works Acc. (ed.) 376.
To Merteine Schell smyth for making kipperis, vyce naillis and rodis for the forsaid kist

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"Kepar n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 13 Apr 2024 <>



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