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Dimitri Kepreotes

Brief history of the 'Kepreotes' surname

(ATHENS 2002, pp. 386-388)

This surname is not widespread in Kythera, although the small village of Kipriotianika, once known as Drimonari, owes its name to it.

The surname ‘Kepreotes’ belongs to the place-specific category of names and means one who is a descendant of Cyprus.

Deriving from a large island such as Cyprus, it is found throughout the Aegean and Ionian islands. It became more common following the fall of Cyprus to the Turks in 1570, when many of its inhabitants sought refuge on the Aegean islands and Crete. We therefore find the surname simultaneously in many regions that are in close proximity to Kythera. Several indicative examples are mentioned here:

We find the surname in this form from the year 1453. Records exist for a Maria, the widow of Nicholas Chiprioti from the village of Chalogeri. We also know of a Pierro Tripolitis Kepreotes and Tomazos Tripolitis Kepreotes mentioned in Venice in 1522 and 1524. In their case, the surname is written before the national derivation, which normally prevailed in later times. Furthermore, there is a record of Francesco Kepreotes in 1603 and Nicholas Kepreotes in 1605, also in Venice. In 1614, Nicholas was a commander of a frigate which sailed between Zakynthos and Moria (Peloponnese). And in 1657, there was a Christopher Kyriakopoulos, known as Kepreotes, in Handaka.

In Kythera itself, however, the first record of the name in this form comes from the census information. While there is an earlier reference to the name Dacipri, it has not yet been established whether there is any relationship between these two names, and whether Kepreotes is a continuation of Dacipri, which has exactly the same meaning. There is a reference to Dacipri from 1690, concerning the “casa del sargente Dacipri” which was among the homes that were suspected of having the plague, fortunately however without the disease causing any deaths.

There is a census entry in 1721 from the village of Kyperi (modern day Frilingianika) regarding the family of Lorenzo Chiprioti q. Nicola. Somewhere between 1724 and 1753 the family settled in Drimonari which, due to the name of the Kepreotes family, was subsequently called Kipriotianika. This followed the custom in Kythera of naming villages and dwellings after the largest - or only - family residing there. In this village, all inhabitants belonged to the Kepreotes clan, except one family with the surname Nichiforos, that of Manoli Nichiforo q. Vassili. The family were perhaps refugees from Crete, as it is a common name in the Cretan region of Sfakia.

It is quite possible that the same applies to the Kepreotes family who initially settled in Kyperi, together with the Nichiforos family, before resettling – together again – in Drimonari when they decided to remain permanently on Kythera. We observe that no trace of either family can be found on the island prior to this time, a fact which suggests that both were refugee families. Even their very arrival in Drimonari leads us to this conclusion, as the dwellings were established in a hilly region which was previously uninhabited in any systematic way.

From the family of the same Lorenzo Kepreotes (who had four sons: Nicholas, Kosmas, John and Michael) are descended all Kytherian families of that name.

In 1829, we learn of a Stefanos Kepreotes who was the captain of the ship Panagia Myrtidiotissa, and who was probably Kytherian, based on the name given to the ship.

From the end of the 19th century and throughout the 20th century, this surname is found throughout the Kytherian diaspora, especially in Australia, where there are many families who hail from the island of Kythera.


* NB The spelling of Kepreotes can appear as Kepreotis, Kypriotis and as other variations in the English language.

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