Alexander Keith Genealogy Project

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History of Alexander Keith

A brief history of Alexander Keith written by the historian Arthur L. Keith, edited by David Keith.

Alexander Keith of Baltimore County, Maryland was born about 1681 undoubtedly in Scotland, for in this respect we may trust tradition. Other emigrant Keiths came from Ireland and are the so-called Scotch-Irish, though they may have been as surely Scotch as these who came directly from Scotland. Alexander Keith’s motive in venturing to the new world can only be guessed at. They may have been economic only, or the spirit of adventure may have led him to break home ties. We have no clue as to his religious faith unless the fact that his death is given in the records of the Church of England(Episcopal) may indicate that he was of that faith. His son John Keith was certainly a Baptist as were also many of his descendants. It was probably no desire to seek religious freedom that brought him to the new continent. He may have been attracted to our shores through the fact that friends or kinsman had preceded him. But he had no known connection with any other Keiths in the colonies at that time. One George Keith processed him to Maryland by about forty years, settling in St. Mary’s County but notwithstanding the fact that one published account makes Alexander and George brothers there is not a scintilla of evidence to prove it.Apparently soon after his arrival in Maryland Alexander Keith married Christian(Christianne), daughter of William Forfar (Farfar and otherwise). Before 1680 we find both Keiths and Forfars living in the parish of Feteresse, Kincardenshire, Scotland. Possibly William Forfar and Alexander originated from that district. Future genealogists might explore that possibility.

Alexander Keith in a deposition now in the Land Office at Annapolis on Nov. 20, 1718 gave his age as 37 years. We are safe in then giving 1681 or about that as the date of his birth. As we shall see later he died July 2, 1721, that is, at about the age of forty years. On the same date, Nov 20, 1718 William Farfarr deposing on the same matter gave his age as about 69 years, therefore born about 1649. We may feel somewhat certain about these ages and that they are not loose approximations, as when ages are given as 30, 35 or 40(multiples of five).

William Forfar had but one child, Christian (at least who grew to maturity).

The land which Alexander Keith bought (through his wife) of William Forfar was probably within the present limits of the city of Baltimore. There Alexander Keith and wife Christianne began their wedded life and their two sons John and Alexander were born and there William Forfar and his daughter Christianne Keith sleep quietly amid the tumult of a great city.

In March, 1713 and November, 1713 and March, 1714 Alexander Keith served as juror. On June 21, 1717 John Barrett of Baltimore County made will, probated Mch 24, 1717/18, in which he mentions grandson Nick Corbin, eldest son of Edward Corbin, wife Alice, John Reyston, James Wells, John Keith, son of Alexander Keith (to whom he leaves two heifers three years old). The will was witnessed by Alex. Keith, Kath. Lindall, and Moses Edwards. In 1712 John Barret had bought land of William Farfar. The reason for his interest in the son of Alexander does not appear. On Nov. 10 (also given Nov. 20), 1718 Alexander Keith, ae 37 years, in a dispute about “Dickson’s Neck”, Baltimore County deposed that he and a certain Thomas Cannon being disposed to take up land laid a warrant on a piece of land which upon enquiry he found Dickson’s land and that thereupon he relinquished it. Alexander Keith died July 2, 1721. His death is record in the register of St. Anne’s Parish at Annapolis. It is not clear why his death was recorded there for his home was certainly in Baltimore County. As we shall see later he was in dept when he died to D. Dulany of Annapolis. His death may have occurred while he was visiting Dulany in regard to his dept. This will of William Farfar, dated Dec 26, 1721 clearly proved that his son-in-law was no longer living. Alexander Keith died intestate, aged about 40 years. He would likely be buried where he died, namely, at Annapolis. There is no further record of Christianne Keith. In her readiness to hive over her sons to Alexander Grant, as shown by William Forfar’s will, we may have an indication that she also was expecting death soon. In March, 1722 Alexander Grant petitioned the court for leave to take the two young sons left by Alexander Keith to the care of their grandfather who is lately dead and who on his death bed desired that such be done. Petitioner desires possessions of their land and cattle during their minority. The court grants petition of Alexander grand and his wife Mary and orders that the income of the estate be used for their education and that their land be returned to them at 21. On Aug 20, 1722 John Lancaster presents bond of administration on estate of Alexander Keith, dec’d. Sureties were Thomas Hicks and Philip Lindall to the amount of 40 pounds. In 1724 John Lancaster administrator of Alex. Keith. Made account. In November, 1726 Alexander Grant again petitioned the court. He reminds the court that he was appointed guardian of the two orphan sons of Alexander Keith, late of this county; he mentions a small tract of land the only filial portion which was left and said orphans by their father; refers to the fact that the court at the petitioner’s request had asked John Israel to view and report on this land, which he had neglected to do till his death, after which the court had asked John Willmott (?) and Luke Stansbury to view land; that the petitioner had asked John Cockey to meet the gentleman on said land and to administer oath, which he refused to do; that the gentlemen met and assessed rent at 600 pounds of tobacco which the petitioner deems too much for the land, as the land is of no advantage being without fencing and other conveniences. Petitioner asks to be relieved from the care of the land while agreeing to take Christian care of the said orphans. The court orders that John Merryman and Nicholas Haile (?) value the said land again and apply to Mr. Cockey as a Justice to qualify the said appraisers. On Feb 21. 1729 D. Dulany offered petition stating that Alexander Keith late of Baltimore County died in the petitioner’s debt and that administration of his estate had been trusted to John Lancaster who wasted the deceased’s estate and ran away, and asks that remedy be had from the administrator’s sureties, which was granted. From these records it appears that the two orphan sons of Alexander Keith had been cast upin the world in a practically penniless condition. The only land which Alexander Keith had was probably of no great value being without fencing and other conveniences. Whatsoever personal goods he left seems to have been taken from the orphans by the administrator, John Lancaster. 1. Alexander Keith, born about 1681, died July 2, 1721, arrived in Maryland before 1709, married Christianne Forfar in or before February, 1709.


i. John Keith

ii. Alexander Keith


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