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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1976 (SND Vol. X).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

WARD, n., v. Also waird. Sc. form and usages. [wɑrd, ‡werd]

I. n. 1. Sc. Law: the oldest form of feudal land tenure, viz. by military service, with various attendant rights and obligations, esp. that of the superior to uphold and draw the rents of the lands of a deceased vassal while the heir was uninfeft or remained a minor, as an equivalent for the loss of military services during such period, the usage being termed simple ward. Later commutation was admitted for a monetary payment in lieu of the drawing of rents, called taxed ward. Ward-holding was abolished by the Heritable Jurisdiction Act in 1747. Phr. to hold ward, of a vassal: to hold lands by this form of tenure; of the lands: to be held under this tenure. Now only hist.Sc. 1709 Compend of Securities 112:
If the Lands hold Ward. . . . Forasmuchas I hold, at least my Predecessors held the said Lands of our Immediate Superiors thereof, by Service of Ward and Relief.
Sc. 1734 J. Spotiswood Hope's Practicks 178:
Ward . . . is Feudal, occurring, when a Vassal, dieing infeft and seased in a Military Feu, leaves behind him a Minor for his Heir.
Sc. 1736 Caled. Mercury (26 Nov.):
The Lands of Rossland holding Ward of the Lord Blantire.
Sc. 1754 Session Papers, Fordyce v. Urquhart (22 July) 5:
The Subject of the old Extent originally was only Lands holden Ward and Blance of the Crown: For Lands holden Feu of the Crown, being considered as the King's Property, were not subject to Taxation, till the Act of Parliament 1597.
Sc. 1872 C. Innes Sc. Legal Antiq. 50:
Ward and relief were the common casualties of superiority.

Combs. and deriv.: (1) black ward, see 1773 quot.; (2) simple ward, the original and uncommuted form of ward (Sc. 1769 Erskine Principles ii. v. § 4). See 1. above and (3); (3) taxed ward, tax(t)-, see 1. above and Tax, n., 1. (2); (4) wardatar, a person given by the original superior the enjoyment of the lands held ward while the heir of the deceased vassal is a minor, the donatory of a ward; (5) ward-holding, the tenure of land by ward; (6) ward-land, land held in ward; (7) ward-vassal, a Vassal who holds his land by ward-tenure.(1) Sc. 1709 Morison Decisions 13319:
The lands held black ward within a regality.
Sc. 1722 W. Forbes Institutes I. ii. 98:
When a Sub-vassal holds Ward of a Ward-vassal, this is called Black-ward, or Ward upon Ward.
Sc. 1773 Erskine Institute ii. iv. § 4:
A vassal who held a fee ward of a subject-superior, who likewise held the same fee ward of his superior, was said to hold his lands by black ward.
(3) Sc. 1734 J. Spotiswood Hope's Practicks 192:
Taxt-ward is a debitum Fundi, and simple Ward is a debitum fructuum, for which the Intrometters are personally liable but not the Feu.
Sc. 1892 J. A. Henderson Ann. Lower Deeside 59:
The king, in changing the holding of the lands from simple ward to taxed ward.
(4) Sc. 1734 J. Spotiswood Hope's Practicks 184:
If the Wardatar i.e. Donatary to the Ward, was in Possession, he continues it for three Terms after the Majority of the Nonenter'd Vassal.
Sc. 1773 Erskine Institute ii. ix. § 62:
Both wardatars and liferenters should give security to uphold, in good condition, the subject of the ward or liferent.
(5) Sc. 1708 Rights & Liberties Commons Gt. Britain (Pamphlet) 4:
Ward-holding gives the Superiour a Right to all Meals and Duties of the Vassal's Lands during all the Years of the Vassal's Minority.
Sc. 1814 J. Sinclair Agric. Scot., App. I. 187:
The principal holding was Wardholding, by which the vassal was bound to attend his superior to the field. The most remarkable feature of this holding was the casualty of ward, or the keeping of the minor heir during his minority; in consideration of which, the superior was entitled to the rents of the estate.
(6) Sc. 1722 W. Forbes Institute I. ii. 134:
Where the Vassal holds Ward-Lands of several Superiors, he is liable but for one Avail of the Marriage, which falls to the eldest Superior.
Sc. 1891 J. Craigie Conveyancing 10:
By 20 George II., c.50, the tenure of ward lands held of the Crown was converted into blench holding for payment of one penny Scots at the term of Whitsunday yearly.
(7) Sc. 1722 W. Forbes Institutes I. ii. 130:
No private Deed of a Ward Vassal, without the Superior's Consent or Appointment of Law, can burden the Fee.

2. Custody, imprisonment; jail, prison. Chiefly Sc. since the 17th c. Liter.Rxb. 1706 J. Wilson Ann. Hawick (1850) 117:
[He] is also fined for “breach of waird, into which he was incarcerate.”
Lnk. 1719 Burgh Rec. Lnk. (B.R.S.) 301:
The baillies and councill fine the haill persones in twentie shillings Scotts per piece, and ordains them to remain in waird till payment to the thesaurer.
Sc. 1785 Hughie Grame in Child Ballads No. 191 A. xviii.:
Fourteen foot he leapt in his ward, His hands bound fast upon his back.
Sc. 1828 Scott F. M. Perth xxx.:
I have already said your Highness lies in ward here.
Edb. 1897 W. Beatty Secretar viii.:
Keep that auld carle Geddes in gude ward till my retour.

3. In phr. ward and warsel, security, pledge. See Warsel.Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 32:
E'en sit you still an' rest you here wi' me, An' I shall ward an' warsel for you be.
Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 79:
See, there's a ring, I'll never need it more, And it stan's ward an' warsel for your power.

4. An administrative division of a shire, gen. under the jurisdiction of a sheriff-substitute or other royal official. Chiefly hist. Local government changes have diminished the significance of wards and the name is now chiefly associated with Lanarkshire as a geographical term. Also in n.Eng. dial.Sc. 1710 Descr. Sheriffdom Lnk. & Rnf. (M.C.) 66:
The downmost parish of the over waird upon the south syde of Clyde.
Sc. 1738 J. Chamberlayne Present State Scot. 76:
Clydsdale is divided into two Wards, called the Upper and Nether, in the latter of which is contained the Barony of Glasgow.
Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 26:
Blaw up, there's gallant hearts in Kyle An' the upper ward o' Clyde.
Sc. 1827 R. Chambers Picture Scot. I. 327:
Lanarkshire is divided into three Wards, called the Upper, Middle and Lower Wards. Each of the wards is governed by a sheriff-substitute, appointed by the sheriff-depute of the county.
s.Sc. a.1884 J. Russell Remin. Yarrow (1894) 233:
The forest [Selkirkshire] was divided into three ‘wards', that of Tweed, Yarrow, and Ettrick. Each ward had a ranger, who collected the rents.
Rnf. 1887 Trans. Highl. Soc. XIX. 74:
Turning from the lower to the upper ward of the county we are reminded of the numerous animals of note bred in the Neilston and adjacent parishes.
Lnk. 1960 Stat. Acc.3 31:
By the middle of the eighteenth century, the population of the county had so increased that it was considered desirable to subdivide it into three wards in place of the two medieval divisions.

5. An enclosed piece of land, a field, paddock, etc. (Sc. 1808 Jam.), freq. as the second element in combs., as a pasture for animals, e.g. calf-ward (Ib.), see Cauf, n.1, 3.(9), swine-ward, see Swine, n., 3. (19); as an area enclosed by or planted with trees, e.g. saugh-waird (Abd. 1783), thorn-ward; and also in place-names as Backward, Broadward, The Ward, Wardhead, Wardhill, etc., and fictionally as Smiddyward (Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb i.).Abd. 1699 A. Watt Hist. Kintore (1865) 30:
He likewise saw the Magistrates of the said Town of Kintore throw down dykes of a ward built at the end of the Kirkstade fold.
Bte. 1707 Rothesay T.C. Rec. (1935) II. 581:
The east calfe ward set to Robert Wallace with the burdon of grassing the tounes calfes and upholding a ligget gate at the west end.
Edb. 1726 Edb. Ev. Courant (4 July):
Stolen out of the Thornward, near Dalkeith a Brown Horse.
Abd. 1733 Session Papers, Fraser v. Buchan (27 Feb.) 4:
Thomas Smith possess'd a Ward within my March.
Mry. 1775 L. Shaw Hist. Moray 203:
The moss wards, now belonging to the Town [of Elgin].
Fif. 1831 Fife Herald (7 July):
That Part of the Wards of Cupar, presently possessed by the Heirs of Mr Tullis.
Mry. 1887 J. Thomson Recoll. 15:
Higher up the burn the mountain ash, the sloe, and hazel divided “the wards” into green, sylvan glades, where in early spring the primrose and wood anemone covered the mossy green sward.
Abd. 1952 W. Alexander Place-Names (S.C.) 131:
Ward, dialectically sometimes waird, was a word in general use before the enclosure of farm land took place. The word survives now only in the names of farms and sometimes in the names of fields.

6. A store-room. Obs. in Eng. since 16th c.Sc. 1753 W. Maitland Hist. Edb. 186:
Below the Northern Part of the said Parliament-house, called the Ward, are deposited, during the Summer-season, the publick Lamps belonging to the City.

7. A bulwark, breakwater.Gsw. 1761 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1912) 70:
It was necessar before any buildings be made on said ground that a strong ward be made for keeping out the sea.

8. The pin used for fastening a mortised joint, also in comb. waird-pin (Cld. 1825 Jam.); also a split-pin (Lnk. 1973, waird).

9. Phr. after word comes ward, in quot., where ward is a mistake for Weird, q.v.Sc. 1722 R. Wodrow Sufferings ii. i. s.2:
It was pretended, Forty Ships with an army from Holland, were landed at Dunbar to assist the Whiggs. . . . However, as our Proverb runs, “After Word comes Ward”; the first Assistance ever this contending Party for our Religion and Liberty got, and their first Relief was from Holland, some Twenty two Years after this.

10. Deriv. wardsman, in Heriot's Hospital, Edinburgh: see quot.Edb. 1906 C. B. Gunn G. Heriot's Hospital 39:
The supervision of the boys during playtime by certain uneducated and too often coarse men, called wardsmen.

11. A guardian, in the legal sense.Bnff. 1863 St Andrews Gazette (14 Nov.):
Compeared a young woman about seventeen, who prefers a claim of affiliation. Sheriff — What is the name of your ward? John E —. Sheriff — Is he the father of your child? Yes.
Arg. 1914 N. Munro New Road ii.:
He was, officially, MacCailein's Baron-Bailie, also Islay's business man or “doer”, ward of his lordship's natural son, and private secretary.

II. v. 1. As in ‡Eng., to guard. Vbl.n. warding, the post of custodian, keepership, obs. in Eng.; also in phr. watching and warding, one of the duties of a burgess in a royal burgh up till the late 18th c., consisting in taking one's turn to patrol the streets and to help in suppressing disturbances, now obs. since the establishment of police, but retained arch. in the formula of the burgess oath (see 1838 quot.).Edb. 1703 W. Skinner Trained Bands (1889) 54:
Exempt and free of watching and wairding the burgh.
Sc. 1729 Session Papers, Litsters v. Wakers (4 July) 6:
Watching and Warding is expressly by the Set of the Town and Decreet Arbitral, established to be a part of the Publick Burdens.
Sc. 1764 Session Papers, United Incorporations v. Nicolson (10 Feb.) 45:
Canongate is a Burgh of Regality, consequently Watching and Warding is no Part of the Reddendo of its Charter.
Sc. 1773 Erskine Institute ii. iv. § 8:
This service of watching and warding is due by the burgesses within the territory of the borough.
Arg. 1805 P. Macintyre Odd Incidents (1904) 33:
In future apportioning of the service of watching and warding within the said burgh.
Sc. 1838 W. Bell Dict. Sc. Law 118:
In all taxations, watchings and wardings to be laid on the burgh, I shall willingly bear my part thereof, as I am commanded by the magistrates.
Sc. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 I. 717:
Every fourth man was obliged in turn to take his duty as one of the night watch. Hence arose the practice of what was called watching and warding.
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona xv.:
They began to crack about the Bass and which o' them twa was to get the warding o't.

2. To keep (a person) in custody, to imprison, confine, jail. Rare and obs. in Eng. Now arch. Vbl.n. warding, imprisonment. Phr. and comb. †act of warding, a warrant for imprisonment for debt issued by magistrates in a royal burgh (Sc. 1838 W. Bell Dict. Law Scot. 13); warding-place, a jail, prison.Sc. 1722 W. Forbes Institutes I. iii. 26:
Magistrates of Burghs Royal are also privileged to issue forth Acts of Warding.
Sc. 1752 J. Louthian Form of Process 78:
To set him at Liberty, out of their Tolbooths, and others their warding places.
Sc. 1754 Morison Decisions 7610:
A warrant of warding, in case payment should not be made within fifteen days.
Gsw. 1765 in P. B. McNab Hist. Incorp. Gardeners Gsw. (1903) 54:
To apprehend their debitors by virtue of letters of Caption, Acts of Warding, or other writts.
Sc. 1832 Scott Talisman xvi.:
He was put under warding for a time.
Sc. c.1900 A. Lang Poet. Works (1923) I. 46:
They were warded in the Bass, till the time they should be slain.
Sc. 1912 E. Russell Maitland of Lethington 237:
By wholesale warding of all who were thought dangerous she kept them from joining Moray.

3. To fasten a mortised joint by driving a pin through it (Cld. 1825 Jam.). Agent n. wairder (Ib.). Cf. I. 8.

[O.Sc. ward, feudal tenure, 1375, part of a county, 1425, grass-field, 1473, ward-land, 1483, ward and warsall, a.1600, wardatar, 1535 (for form cf. Donatory), ward, to guard, c.1480, to imprison, 1482, to walk and ward, 1450, watching and warding, 1579.]

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"Ward n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 Apr 2024 <>



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