The Family of the Reverend Doctor Daniel KEITH

We became interested in the family of Daniel KEITH though the family of his son - Edward Joseph KEITH - from whom many people are descended, either though his legitimate family with Ann Boleyn McPHERSON or his more extensive family in Australia through his parallel relationship with Louisa HANKS. We present here the information and copies of original sources as far we have been able to deduce them. We may have missed a few important facts so please email if you can add to this story.

                          See McPHERSON tree
                            |                 |                                  |                   |
         ?             John McKIECH==v==Janet McLAREN/ROY                 John McPHERSON===v===Mary CAMERON
                                m:14 Sep 1756                                              |
         |                           |                                                     |
      Mary BURN=====v===============Daniel KEITH========================v=============Jane McPHERSON
                m:16 Jul 1787      bap:4 Dec 1757                 m:17 Oct 1794
                    |                    |
                    |           |--------|------------|-------------|----------|-----------|-----------|----------|
             Catherine Ann  Isabella   Mary    Edward Joseph  James G.B.    Robert    Thomas D. Frances J.A. Jessica A.
                1788-1790  1797-1811 1798-1874    1801-1837     1802-1811  1804-1804   1805-?       1807-?    1809-1852
                    |          |        |             |             |          |           ?           |          |
                                        |             |
                      |-----------------|             |-----------------------------------|
                   m2:1831           m1:1819        m:1825                             Mistress
                    John             William       Ann Boleyn                           Louisa
                  BLACKWOOD          PORTER        MacPHERSON                           HANKS
                 1809-1854          1791-1823      1793-1857                          1801-1837
   |-------|---------|                 |              |------|---------|--------|         |---------|---------|
Thomas F. Mary S. Margaret H.        Jane         Frances    Ann   Magdelene  Dudley   Edward J. Isabella   Alfred
  1833-? 1840-1903 1842-1897         1823-?       1827-1887 1829-? 1832-1833 1834-1868 1832-1902  1833-?  1836-1929
   |       |         |                 |              |      ?         |        |         |         |         |

Was Daniel KEITH born in Scotland?

The KEITH family (descended from Edward Joseph KEITH) has always assumed they originated in Scotland. Some have even assumed a connection with the well known KEITH clan. But there is no direct evidence for this claim - indeed there is no good evidence that the family name has always been KEITH. We can be reasonably certain about the family from Edward Joseph (1801-1837) onwards. His parents were Daniel KEITH and Jane McPHERSON, but Daniel proves to be more of a mystery.

What do we know about Daniel?

There is good documentary evidence that Daniel was an ordained minister and was awarded the degree of Doctor in Divinity. He is referred to as the "Reverend Doctor" (for example see his Will below). Starting with the degree:

  • He was conferred as Doctor in Divinity by St Andrews University Scotland on 4 February 1809, his application supported by the Duke of Kent.
  • Why St Andrews? Other prestigious universities awarded this degree (Edinburgh for instance), suggesting Daniel may have had a connection with St Andrews.
  • The St Andrews University archives note that he was "Said to have studied at St Andrews above 30 years ago, but not traced." (See University record here.)
  • 30 years before 1809 would have placed Daniel as a student at St Andrews around 1775-1780.
  • The St Andrews archives have a Daniel M'KIECH as a scholar 1775-1778 (see details here). This is likely to be our Daniel.
  • At what age would a young man attend St Andrews? Daniel M'Kiech was a "ternar" (i.e. "the son of artisans and tenant farmers" who paid fees at one third of the top rate). He held bursaries and scholarships that would have paid his fees. If we assume Daniel was around 18-20 years old when he began at St Andrews, he would have been born around 1755-1757. His father would have been an "artisan" or tenant farmer, on a rural holding probably close to St Andrews in Perthshire (otherwise he might have gone to another university).

If we now look at the parish records for the period, we find a Daniel McKIECH was baptised at Monzie, near Crieff, Perth on 4 December 1757 to John McKIECH and his wife Janet ROY. A brother to Daniel was baptised on 23 March 1760 also at Monzie. These are the only baptisms I can find for John McKiech and his wife Janet.

Baptism record for Daniel McKIECH at Monzie, Perth on 4 Dec 1757

Baptism record for John McKIECH at Monzie, Perth on 23 Mar 1760
Note: these images are from Scotland's People

The marriage of John McKiech and Janet is problematic. A John McKIECH married a Janet McLAREN at Monzie on 24 Sep 1756. The location and date would fit - but the surname differs. Perhaps the parish minister made an error, or perhaps Janet used her father's name on the marriage and her mother's name on the births?

Marriage record for Daniel McKIECH at Monzie, Perth on 4 Dec 1757
The text reads "Sept 3rd 1756
John McKiech in this (parish) and Janet Mclaren in Monzievaird
were contracted in order to marriage and being thrice orderly pro
claimed were married 24th day of Month and year

Daniel KEITH in Canada

The next definite record we have for Daniel KEITH is his marriage in Quebec in 1787. Just when and why Daniel McKIECH became Daniel KEITH is not known but it appears to have been between 1778 and 1783. There is some evidence that Daniel became a school teacher in Aberdeen after leaving St Andrews but I have not sighted this yet. Perhaps KEITH was more socially acceptable, with its association to the KEITH clan.

There is a shipping record for a Daniel KEITH arriving in New Brunswick in 1783 in the "Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s" edited by Filby but not enough detail to be sure this is our Daniel KEITH. However, Daniel did travel to Quebec as he was ordained in Quebec as a Protestant Minister on 4 June 1785. Presumably he trained in Quebec as ordination was usually at the place of training. It may be possible that he trained elsewhere and either completed his ordination in Quebec or was re-ordained to suit the customs of the local church officials. Ordination would imply that Daniel had been well educated, presumably he drew on his time at St Andrew.  If the shipping record is correct, then Daniel must have gone straight to Quebec and completed his training and ordination.This would imply he had been called to Quebec.

The first definite record of Daniel KEITH is his marriage to Mary BURN at the Protestant Church, Trois Rivières, Quebec, Canada (see details below). The town of Trois Rivières (Three Rivers) is just east of Quebec. In the 1780s, Quebec had just become a British possession, having been wrestled off the French in the Battle of Quebec in December 1775.

Wherever Daniel came from, he was known as the Reverend by the time he married Mary BURN on 16 July 1787 at Trois Rivières Protestant Church. A year later on 8 July 1788 Daniel baptised his daughter Catherine Anne at the same church.

Note: these images are from

But this family was short-lived. His wife Mary died and was buried on 5 July 1788 at Trois Rivières. The date would suggest she died in childbirth. Two years later their daughter Catherine Anne died and was also buried at Trois Rivières, on 16 December 1790. Daniel, now aged only 30 was a widower.

Marriage to Jane McPHERSON

Daniel married Jane McPHERSON at the Trois Rivières Protestant Church on 17 October 1794. He was a widower aged 34 and she a spinster aged 18. The McPHERSON family plays an important role in the early history of Quebec and more will be available here.

Daniel and Jane had Isabella born in 1797 and Mary born in 1798. Neither child appears to have been baptised at Trois Rivière or in other Protestant churches in Quebec, but could have been baptised elsewhere in Canada (or not at all). There is no direct evidence to hand that shows they were actually born in Canada. However, Mary married first William Porter and later John Blackwood (see Mary's story below) in Canada, and she is recorded in the 1901 census for Canada and gave her place of birth as Quebec.

From Canada to Somerset

How and why Daniel transported his family from Quebec all the way to Bristol is unknown. We do not know when they left Quebec, the route they took or where they arrived in England but they did so prior to 1798.Presumably, Daniel was called to Bristol to continue his teaching.

The first record we have of Rev. Daniel KEITH outside Canada is in the Land Tax returns for 1799 for Bristol. These taxes were to raise funds for the Crown for the 1799 year, so he would have entered into leases on the properties in 1798 or even earlier. He leased two properties in Lower Church Lane Bristol; a dwelling and a garden. The location lies beside the Church of St Michael Without (i.e. outside the walls of the city). Although Daniel was an ordained Minister, he does not appear to have taken up a position at a local church. He was a Protestant, not Church of England. His Will records he held the  "copyhold" for a manor and houses at Somers (Summers) Hill Bristol. Copyhold was a customary right to occupy land. It was heriditary, so maybe he had family or other connections in the area, although copyhold could be bought and sold. There are records that he was a teacher so may have taken up a teaching position in the area, although this does not explain why he left Canada.

Church Lane today with the Church of St Michael Without

The next record we have is when his first son - Edward Joseph KEITH - was christened on 16 May 1802 at Kelston, a small hamlet part-way between Bristol and Bath. We do not know whether Daniel was now living here or travelled to the church for the baptism. The entry in the Parish Register for Kelston is intriguing. It states "Edward Joseph son of the Rev Daniel & Jane Keith born May 2nd 1801 was christened". Most other entries in this register are for baptisms and do not give the date of birth. The year is overwritten and smudged. It appears the Minister wrote 1802 and then changed this to 1801. Could Edward been born in 1802? Further down the same page in the Register is the entry for Daniel's next child, James George Bowen KEITH. This entry also gives the date of birth, 23 December 1802. If this date is correct then Edward could not have been born six months earlier. Daniel was an ordained Presbyterian Minister so may not have been comfortable in the local Church of England establishment. There would not have been a Protestant or Presbyterian Church in Bristol at the time. It is also noteworthy that in each case the children were almost a year old before they were christened. Christenings or baptisms were usually conducted a few days to a few weeks after birth. On the basis of other entries, I suggest that Edward and James were christened "privately" at home rather than in the local church  but were still recorded in the parish register.

Daniel and Jane went on to have four more children all baptised in Bristol but images of the Parish Registers are not yet online.

Name Birth/Baptism Date of Death/Burial
Isabella b. 1797 location ? bur. 25 Jan 1811 Hammersmith
Mary b. 1798 location ? 10 Mar 1874 Montreal
Edward Joseph b. 2 May 1801 Bristol 29 May 1837 Sydney Australia
James George Bowen b. 23 Dec 1802 Bristol bur. 16 Jan 1811 Hammersmith
Robert b. 22 April 1804 bur 3 May 1804 St George, Bristol
Thomas Davis b. 5 Aug 1805 Bristol ?
Francis Jane bap. 9 Aug 1807 St George, Bristol ?
Jessica Amelia b. 1809 10 Dec 1852, Sydney Australia

Doctor of Divinity and the seminary in London

Daniel was awarded the degree of Doctor in Divinity at St Andrews University, Scotland on 4 Feb 1809, apparently supported by the petition of the Duke of Kent. The intervention of the Duke is interesting - The Duke, otherwise The Prince Edward was the fourth son of George III, King of Great Britain. He was also the father of Queen Victoria. The Duke spent some of his earlier life in Canada, including around two years in Quebec so met Daniel Keith and knew of his teaching activities in Quebec.

At about the same time as the awarding of the degree in 1809, Daniel and Jane's youngest child Jessica Amelia was born. At this time also, Daniel and family moved to London where he ran a seminary on the Lower Mall, Hammersmith. The Lower Mall runs beside the Thames and the poor state of the river at this time may have been the cause for the next tradegy in Daniel's life. The seminary was at No. 10 Lower Mall and this building still exits today. It was built about 1792 and there is more information about the building here. It was originally named the Mansion House but some time between 1800 and 1839 become known as Kent House. In his 1839 "History of the Parish of Hammersmith"( which can be viewed online) Faulkner gave a description of Kent House and commented that it was being run as a seminary. In the British History page there is a comment that the origin of the name of Kent House is not known, but perhaps Daniel Keith gave it this name in honour of his benefactor the Duke of Kent.

Death of Daniel and two children

In the space of a few weeks in January and February 1811 two of Daniel's children died - James George on 16 Jan and Isabella on 26 Jan. Daniel himself died on 15 Feb 1811.

Daniel's Will

Daniel left a Will. This was unusual in 1800 unless the person had significant money and land. We do not know the value of the estate but it would have been over £20 as it attracted Death Duties. Note that the Will is the only original record we have acknowledging that Daniel had been awarded the degree of Doctor of Divinity.

Duty RegisterEntry in Death Duty register
Will1Will of Daniel Keith Page 1
Will2Will Page 2

The Will is difficult to read in places but it leaves his estate to his "dear wife Jane Keith" comprising the "copyhold estate in the Manor of Fulham, Middlesex to which I was admitted by a Court holden on the seventh day of October 1808" also "my copyhold or lifehold estate & houses situate at Somers Hill St Georges near the city of Bristol". He leaves all this in trust "to permit my wife to occupy my house at Hammersmith if she shall think proper and as long as she remains my widow". It also appoints two trustees to manage the estate and to provide for any children that may be alive until they reach the age of twenty-one years and then to transfer the estate to these children within six months of the death or marriage of Jane.

The Will refers to two "Copyhold" estates, one in the Manor of Fulham, Middlesex and the other at Somers Hill (Summers Hill) St George, Bristol. Rights to the former "to which I was granted by a Court holden on 7th October 1808". Copyhold was an ancient form of customary land tenure whereby occupation rights to land owned by the local Lord of the Manor was granted to a person in return for a specified service. In the 1850s this service was converted to a rent. The agreement was entered into the Manor Book or Roll and a copy was provided to the tenant - hence "copy hold". Copyhold passed down through the family as of right and did not need to be specified in a Will or change of agreement with the Lord (as compared to Lifehold which was only for the life of the tenant). Copyholds could be sold by the tenant, usually by the tenant giving the right back to the Lord on the condition that it be transferred to the purchaser.

The Copyhold at Fulham in London was awarded by a Court, suggesting either Daniel contested the succession or bought the right and this sale was contested by the Lord of the Manor. The Bristol copyhold would suggest Daniel received this through a family succession. The right remained in his family as it appears that Jane lived there after Daniel's death where she died in 1824. It is referred to in the addition to the Will in 1843.

This copy of the Will has an interesting addition in the left margin. It is hard to read but it is dated 1843 which was 19 years after Jane had died.
"On the 26th June 1843 xx with the Will xx of the goods chattels and credits of the Rev Daniel Keith formerly of Somars (sic) Hill St Georges in the City of Bristol but late of the Lower Mall Hammersmith within the city of Middlesex Doctor of Divinity deceased left unadministered by Jane Keith widower deceased whilst living the Relict so executing one of the xx of legatees by trust xx legatee during life or Widowhood appointed in the said Will was granted to Jessica Amelia Keith spinster one of the natural and lawful children and as such one of the xx legatees subsituted in he said Will having been first sworn duly to administer the said Executrix died intestate and Adam xx and Hugh Edwards esquires the other xx legatees in trust being dead as by Acts of Law appears."

The outcome of this addition was to appoint Jessica Amelia KEITH as the executrix and trustee to Daniel's Will because Jane and the two named trustees had all died. She may have stayed at Hammersmith.

What became of Daniel's wife - Jane McPHERSON?

When Daniel died in 1811, his wife was aged 35 and she had four or five children aged from 2 to 13 years under her care (Mary, Edward Joseph, Frances Jane and Jessica Amelia). She may also have had Thomas Davis as we do not know when he died. Although Daniel left an estate valued at over £20, Jane may have found life difficult without Daniel's income and without any close family or relations in London. It is unlikely that she continued to run the seminary at Lower Mall, although it does appear to have remained a seminary through to the mid-1800s or later.

It is also possible that Jane took the family back to Quebec to join her family there. A Mrs Keith and family arrived in Quebec from London, noted in the Quebec Gazette No. 2680 on 30 May 1816. If this is Jane then Mary was aged 18, Edward aged 15, Frances aged 9 and Jessica aged 7.

Duty RegisterCard index for Quebec Gazette

The next few years are not clearly identified in the records. At some stage Jane returned to England as she died there on 26 March 1824 with the burial recorded at St Georges, Bristol. Jane may have lived on the copyhold land at St George as mentioned in Daniel's Will. Her daughter Mary with her husband William McNish PORTER also travelled to Bristol, perhaps at the same time, as their daughter Jane PORTER was born in Bristol in 1823. Edward is mentioned in the Quebec Gazette for June 1822 but he and sisters Frances and Jessica could also have returned to England with Jane and Mary.

The Children of Daniel and Jane KEITH

What happened to the eight children of Daniel and Jane?

  • Isabella died at Hammersmith in 1811 aged 14.
  • Mary returned to Canada, married twice and had four children. There is more about Mary's family here.
  • Edward Joseph became a lawyer, married Ann McPherson (his mother's sister) in London in 1825, immediately sailed for Australia where he had four children with Anne and three with his mistress Louisa Hanks. He died in Sydney in 1837.
  • James George Bowen died at Hammersmith in 1811 aged 9
  • Robert died a few weeks after birth in 1804
  • Thomas Davis was born in 1805 but disappears from the records. Presumably he died at a young age.
  • Frances Jane Avice (or Jane in some records) was born in 1807 so was 17 when her mother died. She accompanied her brother Edward and his new wife to Australia where she married and died in Adelaide in 1882.
  • Jessica Amelia was born in 1809 and she also accompanied Edward and Frances to Australia in 1825. She died in Melbourne in 1852.

Return to the Benton Family Index Page

Last updated: 10 January 2019