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

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First published 1990 (DOST Vol. VII).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Responsall, -al(e, adj. (adv.). Also: ri- and -sponss-, -spones- and -eall, -aill; -ill. [ME responsaill (c1400), thereafter appar. only Sc. till 17th c., e.m.E. responsall responsive (1607), responsible (1641), appropriate (1647), OF responsavle admissible in law (1309 in Wartburg), MF responsail (of a plea) to which the opposing party must answer, med. L. responsalis answerable, late L. responsālis, f. respondāre to reply. See also Responsall,n.2]

I. To be responsall (to a person) (for, also of, a thing).

1. To be answerable or accountable.(1) 1471 Acta Aud. 22/1.
He was chargit … for the releif of the landis of Panbride for the quhilk he mon be responsale to our souerane lord
1478 Acts II 118/2.
A master of his cunȝe of substans and knaulege that salbe responsale to his hienes … for the keping of the … statutis
1527 Bk. Dunvegan 69.
And tak na deforcement thairin bot of landed men that may be responsale to us for the said deforcement
1511 Reg. Privy S. I 344/2.
He salbe responsale of the movable gudis of aireschip to his broder elder that is furth of the realme
(2) 1531 Crim. Trials I i 156.
Religiuse menne and preistis, hynis, wifis, and barnis, quhilkis war nocht risponsale to our souerane lord, gef he had takin deforce
1534 Aberd. Trades 307.
That the said craft choose no deacons … bot them that be responsal to the town
1578 Reg. Morton I xlvi.
That he suld … be responsall and accusabill to his hienes and … his counsale
(3) 1618 Oliphants 194.
The thesaurer … of the said brughe being responsall for the tyme

2. To be responsible (for payment of a sum due); to be financially liable; to be guarantor.Also, once, const. to a creditor.(1) 1483 Acta Aud. * 129/1.
For the quhilk somez the said Elizabeth salbe responsale insafer as law will in paying of the said … dettis
1500 Acta Conc. II 470.
Robert … become plege and fand cawcione … that quhat that war recoverit apone the sade Jhone … he suld pay and be responsale tharefore
1522 Ib. MS XXXIII 6b.
Gif the Maister Glencarne and Robert Cunynghame ar nocht responsale for the sovmes intentit aganis thaim
1550 Reg. Privy C. I 106.
Giff he be nocht responsall for the said sowme, that the schereff … putt him in the irnis
1567 Ib. 547.
James Curll … still intromettis with the … custumes and haill proffeittis thairof, he nocht being responsall thairfoir nowther in landis nor gudis
1572 Prot. Bk. J. Robeson 161b.
The said Cristiane … pat the saidis sowmes in the handis of Robert Conynghame constabill depute as responsall thairfor
c1575 Balfour Pract. 118.
And gif the tutor happinis to intromet with the gudis and geir of the pupill, not beand responsal thairfoir, he may be removit fra intromissioun unto the time he find sufficient cautioun
1576 Reg. Privy C. II 521.
The said Murdo McClayne is responsall for ony ressonabill pane may be socht of the said Johnne and for satisfactioun of all partiis
1596 Boyd Fam. P. No. 84 (15 Dec.).
The samyne to be consignit in the hands of ane sufficient landit gentilman duelland within the perochin of Montoun responsill therfoir
(2) 1516 Renfrew Arch. Coll. I 107.
She findand sufficient causion to be responsall to all creditoris quhilkis sall happen to optene ony sowmez apoun hir

II. 3. Trustworthy; reliable (? esp. in matters of finance).Cf. 4 below, with which there is some overlapping.attrib. 1489 Lennox Mun. 129.
That our souerane lordis tresour, strynthtis, and arsenallis be put in suyr and responsale mennis handis
1535 Acts II 348/1.
All maisteris of girthis within this realme sall mak sufficient responsale men, ballies or masteris of girthis vnder thame
1582 Aboyne Rec. 156.
The said soume … to be consignit in the maist responesall and sufficient menis handis
1583 Inverness Rec. I 294.
And … to … consigne [the money] … in … ane of the maist responsall bailleis handis of the said burcht of Innernis for the tyme
1585 Edinb. Test. XIV 221.
It salbe lesum to the said James & Margaret to consigne the samin [£40] in sum responsall man handis
1598 James VI Basil. Doron 116/3.
Choose honest, diligent, meane but responsall men to be youre ressaueris in money maitteris
1679 Aberd. Council Lett. VI 194.
Mr. Forbes being the most responsall man presented is chosen master of the Consergarie House
1690 Acts IX 197/1.
The same is to be consigned in the hands of a responsall persone in the parish
1572 Prot. Bk. A. Lawson 19b.
The samin being consigned in ane vthir responsall hand … suld be als sufficient as the sadis dein of gild … had ressauit the samin
predic. 1546 Reg. Great S. 758/1.
The nerrest of the faderis kyn … bethocht wele qualifyit and responsale be the saidis nychbouris, sall intromet with his takkis, &c.
1582 Aboyne Rec. 156.
The said soume … to be … consignit in the handis of thair tutouris and curatouris being responsall

4. Able to meet one's financial obligations; solvent. Passing into: b. Well-to-do; of substance.Also post-positional with person.When predic., also const. in the amount due and to pay, etc. (the amount due).Also, applied to a person's financial situation.attrib. (1) 1531 Crim. Trials I i 156.
[He desired them to send for … the Laird of Balcasky, or some other] risponsale [persons]
1540 Elgin Rec. I 50.
John Brabuner … sall ramayne … in the towbowyth and thairefter conduce himself with ane responsall master vnder the payne of banissing of him
1540–1 Ib. 58.
Quhill he fynd … risponsall nychtboris souerte to the … bailȝeis
1545 Antiq. Aberd. & B. II 348.
And for sicker payment to be made to me yeirly … sall be actit … any other sicklyke three substantious and responsall men
1610 Laing MSS I 118.
That everie ane of yow have ane procurator fiscall quha salbe ane honest discreit and responsall man
1614 Denmylne MSS in Highland P. III 156.
To accept the few of Ila vpon condicions far aboue any thing that ony responsall man of qualitie did … offer for it
1647 Falkirk Baron Ct. 7 Dec.
Or then to give to thame sufficient and responssall debitouris for peyment thairof
1674 Argyll Justic. Rec. 38.
To … find sufficient responsall landit men cawtione and souertie for them
1676 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. IV 516.
Her mother … hes already intrometted with the … moveables without finding any responseall cautioner
1724 Glasgow B. Rec. V 201.
The touns factors … to use their endeavours to gett responsall tennants
(2) 1562 Aberd. Eccl. Rec. 12.
That thai sall … tak wp the … pecuniall pains of the personis responsall and rather villing to pay the samin nor to be demanit in thair personis
1564 Reg. Privy C. I 297. 1596 Elgin Rec. II 40.
Quhatsumevir persoun responsall removis furth of the kirk the tym of preaching … sall paye of thair ewest geir for the first fault 6 s. 8 d.
1678 Rothesay B. Rec. 362.
Wnder the paine of person responsall of paying fourty punds Scotts and persones irresponsall of loosing ther liberty
predic. (1) 1538 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 471.
Sen he is ane strangear and nocht responsale, that ye will caus him to find cautioun de judicio sisti et judicatum solvi
1549 Soc. Ant. XI 94.
That nay tennentis bot thai that is responsale tak teindis. And gif thai that ar nocht responsale salbe hereit throch taking of teindis [etc.]
1561 (c1650) Dundee B. Laws 25.
The sam man sall pay, gife he be responsall and have geir, … v merks
1562 Inverness Rec. I 95.
Actit souertie … that his syster … sall be responsall and vaillȝeant to pay creditouris still xx lib. in gudis and geyr
1574 Edinb. B. Rec. IV 19.
The allegit spulȝearis … cum responsall and may be eselie compelit to satefie for the samyn
c1575 Balfour Pract. 191.
All fre men may be pledge and borgh for thameselfis … for … debtis, sa lang as thay ar responsal, or hes ocht within the jurisdictioun of the judge, and may be distreinȝeit thairfoir
1584 Kirkcaldy B. Rec. 98.
Giff thai be responsall, thai sall pay ilk fault xl s., and giff … thai … be nocht valeable thairof, to stand … in the joggis
1590 Reg. Privy C. IV 558, 559.
Certane personis … quha on nawayes ar responsale or able to satisfie the said Edmond of the soumes contenit in this decrete… And in cais the saidis dilaited personis beis nocht found responsaill [etc.]
1597 Elgin Rec. II 60.
For the ȝeman soirt half merk and cottaris that may and ar responsall v s.
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. ii 31b. 1622-6 Bisset I 255/8.
The said burges … gif he be nocht ansuerabill nor responsall of himself sall cause him act ane sufficient and responsall cautioner … quha salbe bund for refounding of all coistis
1637 Rutherford Lett. (1894) 218.
I cannot take God's word without a caution, as if Christ … were not in my books responsal, and law-biding
1639 Cramond Cullen Ann. 40. 1674 Edinb. Test. LXXXV 1.
In respect of the irresponsalatie of the persones debitores therin that whensoever … the persones become mor responsall shoe may be preferrid to eak the same to this present testament
1686 Mackenzie Observ. 290.
If … it could be prov'd that such a person who was very responsal, offer'd to be caution, this I think would infer perjury
1693 M. P. Brown Suppl. Decis. IV 88.
At the time of setting the tack, he was responsal, and able to have paid all his debts
1701 Inverness Kirk S. 214.
That none of this stock shall be lent to any man, tho never soe responsall, without a cautioner for him
1599 Arch. Scot. IV 152.
In respect nather is he responsall in the sowmes whereupoun the cautioun is fundin
(2) 1554 Prot. Bk. Gilbert Grote 6.
[He was] nocht responsall to be causioune and souertie … for lovsing of the arrestment maid … vpone the cornis [etc.]
1564 Reg. Privy C. I 297.
All sic personis as owther refusis to pay the pecuniall panis, or that ar nocht responsall to pay the samyn
1622-6 Bisset I 269/20.
Diverse … personis [over] burdened with … dettis, … ar nocht responsall in guidis … to satisfie there creditouris
(3) 1693 M. P. Brown Suppl. Decis. IV 107.
Her father had continued in a solvent and responsal case to his death

5. Of a pledge, caution, etc.: Sufficient; adequate. 1553 Dundee B. Ct. II fol. 229b (30 May).
The said Jhone Wod to find caucioun responsale to the said Robert for the maile of ane hous
1565 Reg. Privy C. I 344.
To find cautioun sufficient and responsall that the saidis gudis … sal be furthcumand
1569 Crim. Trials III 395.
Except sic as … sall find sufficient and responsall souerteis
1599 Duncan Glasg. Physic. & Surg. 218.
To incarcerate thame, quhill cautioun responsall be fund
1663 Justiciary Ct. Rec. I 76.
The justices of peace have not power to incarcerate … parties in prison where responsall caution is offered and responsall cautioners were offered here
1678 M. P. Brown Suppl. Decis. III 247.
As to the tutor's offer nullo modo relevat, and she is not obliged to accept of it … because there is a clear liquid responsal debt for satisfying her obligation

b. Of land. 1587 Burntisland B. Ct. 2 Sept.
Ane annuall rent of sexscoir poundis … to be wpliftit fourthe of sufficient responsall landis at twa termis of the ȝeir

6. Answerable at law; willing to answer to a charge at law. 1582 Reg. Privy C. III 526.
The saidis personis continewand still in thair malice and not responsall for sic actionis quhen thay salbe persewit thairfoir
1587 Ib. IV 192.
His complices nawayes being responsall in law to answer for thair deid
1591 Reg. Morton I 179.
That lawland lardis … settis … [lands] to unlauchfull personis … the same being sornaris commone theiffis [etc] … and na wyis responsall to his majesteis lawis
1607 Inverurie B. Ct. 25 Aug.
And the auner of the persone nocht being responsall to be answerabill for the persone within thair hous

7. ? adv. ? With adequate security or caution. 1560 Old Dundee II 175.
What person taks … ony other common place … sall have his cautioner present … and … sall … infeft the township in as meikle annual rent … as the same extends to, and receive seizin of that whilk [he has] purchasit be bidding, and this until the lands takin in feu be biggit responsal

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"Responsall adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 Nov 2023 <>



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