a surname said to be derived from the German tribe of the Catti,
which, about the period of the downfall of the Roman empire,
inhabited what is now the electorate of Hesse Cassel, the sovereign of
which, among other old titles, was called princeps Cattorum. On
being driven from their country, a portion of them, in the first
century, are traditionally stated to have landed on the coast of
Caithness, the most remote and northern district on the mainland of
Scotland, to which they gave their name. They are also said to have
given their name to the clan Chattan.
In all the
accounts of the origin of the Keiths it is recorded that in 1010
Robert, the chief of the Catti, in a great victory which Malcolm II.
obtained over the Danes at Barrie in Forfarshire, slew, with his own
hand, Camus their leader, when the king, dipping his fingers in the
blood of the fallen general, drew three perpendicular strokes on the
upper part of Robert’s shield, whence his descendants bear three
pallets, gules, on a chief. Malcolm also created him heritable great
marischal of Scotland, and bestowed on him several lands in East
Lothian, still called Keith, the ancient name Catti, in process of
time changed to Keithi and Keycht, being at length softened into
Keith. According to Sir Robert Sibbald, (Hist. of Fife, p. 94,
edit. 1803,) he also got the isle of Inchkeith in the Firth of Forth,
which likewise took its name from him. Their alleged descent from the
Catti appears to be only one of the fictions of the early chroniclers.
The name Keith seems to be the British Caeth, ‘confined or
narrow,’ and is supposed to allude to the strait channel hemmed in by
the steep banks of Keith water. It is certain that the descendant of
Robert, in the reign of David I., Herveus, son of Warin, possessed
half of the district of Keith in East Lothian, which was called from
him Keith Hervei, and afterwards Keith Marischal. He was a witness to
charters of David I., particularly to that of his grant of Annandale
to Robert de Burs. His son, Herveus de Keith, king’s marischal under
Malcolm IV. and William I., witnessed several charters of the latter,
from 1189 to 1196. He had a son, Malcolm de Keith, witness to a
donation to the monastery of Kelso in 1185, who predeceased him,
leaving two sons, Philip and David.
elder son, great marischal of Scotland, succeeded his grandfather, and
died before 1220. By his marriage with Eda, granddaughter and heiress
of Symon Fraser of Keith Hundeby, (now Humbie) proprietor of the other
half of the district of Keith, he acquired the whole barony of that
Herveus de Keith, and his uncle David, acted as joint marischals of
Scotland at the marriage of Alexander II. and the princess Joan of
England, at York, on 15th June 1220. He died soon after
1242. His son, Sir John de Keith, great marischal of Scotland, died
close of the 13th century persons of the name of Keith had
become very numerous in Scotland. One of them, Sir William Keith of
Galston in Ayrshire, in 1318, when the Scots surprised Berwick, and a
number of the garrison and inhabitants had made a sally from the
castle, repulsed them with great valour. In 1330 he was one of the
knights who accompanied the Douglas to Spain on his expedition to
Palestine, with the heart of Robert the Bruce. Three years later, he
commanded in Berwick, and in 1335, was ambassador to England; but the
following year he was killed at the siege of Stirling.
Sir John de
Keith’s grandson, (the son of his eldest son,) Sir Robert de Keith,
great marischal of Scotland, was one of the most illustrious knights
of his day. In 1300 he was a prisoner in Cumberland, and in 1305 one
of the commissioners chosen by the Scots people for the settlement of
the government, as well as appointed a justiciary beyond the Forth. On
26th October 1305, he was one of the guardians of Scotland.
In 1308 he joined the standard of Bruce, and distinguished himself at
the battle of Inverury, where Comyn of Badenoch was defeated, for
which he got a grant of several lands, and particularly a royal seat
in Aberdeenshire, called Hall Forest. In 1314, on the approach of the
English army under Edward II., to Falkirk, previous to the battle of
Bannockburn, Sir Robert Keith and Sir James Douglas were despatched by
Bruce to reconnoitre them upon their march. In the battle which
followed he had the command of a strong body of cavalry. In Scott’s
‘Lord of the Isles,’ after describing Bruce’s battle array and the
position of the right wing under Edward Bruce, he says,
“Behind them, screened by sheltering wood,
The gallant Keith lord marshal stood;
His men-at-arms bear mace and lance,
And plumes that wave, and helms that glance.”
To Sir Robert
Keith was committed the important charge of attacking the English
archers, which he did so effectually, by making a circuit to the
right, and assailing them in flank, that he threw them into disorder,
creating a confusing from which the English army never recovered, and
thus contributing greatly to the signal victory which secured the
throne to the heroic Bruce. He was one of the magnates Scotiae,
who signed the famous letter to the Pope in 1320, asserting the
independence of Scotland. He was one of the commissioners to treat
with the English, and a guarantee of the truce concluded with them in
1323. He had from Robert the Bruce a charter of the lands of Keith
Marischal, of the office of great marischal of Scotland, &c., to
himself and his nearest heirs male, bearing the name and arms of
Keith, dated at Berwick-on-Tweed, 7th November 1324; and so
high did he stand in the confidence of that monarch, that, in April
1326, he was nominated one of the commissioners to ratify an alliance
with the French king, Charles le Bel, at Corbeuil, but does not seem
to have gone to France. He witnessed charters of Robert the Bruce in
1328 and 1329, and was slain at the fatal battle of Dupplin, 12th
August 1332, when Edward Baliol surprised the royal army under the
earl of Mar, and put it to a complete rout. He had a son, Sir John de
Keith, who died before his father, leaving a son, Robert, who
succeeded his grandfather, and besides being great marischal, was also
sheriff of Aberdeen. He fell at the battle of Durham, 17th
October 1346, where Edward de Keith and Edmund de Keith, brothers,
belonging to a different family, were also slain.
died without issue, his grand-uncle, Sir Edward Keith, third son of
Robert de Keith, great marischal, succeeded, in terms of the charter
and entail of 1324. He died before 1350. He was twice married, and by
his first wife, Isabel de Keith, of the family of Galston, he had two
sons and two daughters. By his second wife, Christian, only child of
Sir John Menteith, lord of Arran, he had an only child, Janet, married
to Sir Thomas Erskine of Erskine, and their posterity, in right of
Lady Erskine’s mother, Lady Eline, daughter of Gratney, earl of Mar,
succeeded to that earldom. John Keith, Sir Edward’s second son, was
ancestor of the Keiths of Innerugie and Ludquhairn. The principal
branch terminated in two daughters, co-heiresses of Innerugie, namely,
Margaret, married to the fourth earl Marischal, and Elizabeth, wife of
the seventh Lord Forbes.
Keith, great marischal of Scotland, the eldest son, was, in 1357, one
of the commissioners to treat for the liberation of David II. In the
following year, he was sent to England, on that monarch’s affairs, and
again in 1369, as one of the commissioners for a truce, and one of the
guarantees thereof. He was present at the coronation of King Robert
II., at Scone, in March 1371. He and Margaret his wife, with whom he
got large estates in the Mearns, she being the only child and heiress
of Sir John Fraser (eldest son of Alexander Fraser, high chamberlain
of Scotland, and Mary, sister of Robert I.,) made an excambion of
certain lands in the counties of Fife and Stirling, with William de
Lindsay, lord of the Byres, for part of the lands of Dunnottar, in the
shire of Kincardine. Here he built a strong castle, on a stupendous
perpendicular rock, jutting into the sea, which afterwards became
celebrated in Scottish history, and the ruins of which are among the
most extensive and most majestic of the kind in Scotland. In ancient
times the church, as well as the burial-place of the parish, was on
the top of this rock, and when Sir William Keith resolved upon
building a castle on it, he first erected a church for the parish on a
more convenient spot. On pretence, however, that he had encroached on
consecrated ground, the bishop of St. Andrews excommunicated him. He
immediately appealed to the Pope, Benedict XIII., setting forth the
necessity of such a fortress, with the circumstance of his having
built another church; on which his holiness issued his bull, dated 18th
July 1394, directing the bishop to take off the excommunication, and
to allow Sir William to enjoy the castle at all times, on payment of a
certain recompense to the church. Dunnottar thenceforth became the
principal seat of the family, till the forfeiture of the tenth earl
marischal in 1716. Sir William Keith died between 1406 and 1408. This
powerful and wealthy baron had three sons and four daughters.
Muriella, the eldest daughter, was the second wife of Robert, duke of
Albany, regent of Scotland, by whom she was mother of John, earl of
Buchan, constable of France, and two other sons.
Keith, eldest son of Sir William de Keith, great marischal of
Scotland, married a daughter of King Robert II., from whom, on the
resignation of his father and mother, he had a charter, dated 17th
January 1374, of all the lands, possessions, and offices belonging to
them, reserving their liferent. He died soon after, leaving a son,
Robert de Keith, who also died before his grandfather, leaving a
daughter, Jean, married to the first earl of Huntly. In Wyntoun’s
chronicle (ii. 371) is an account of a conflict, near the kirk of
Bourtrie in Garioch, in 1395, between Robert de Keith and Sir James
Lindsay of Crawford, who had gone to the relief of his wife, the aunt
of the former, by whom she was besieged and molested in her castle of
Fyvie in Formartine, in which conflict Robert de Keith was
discomfited, with the loss of fifty men, Sir Alexander de Keith, the
third son, designed son of Sir William, the great marischal, and
brother of the duke of Albany, in the chartulary of Aberdeen in 1403,
had the command of the horse at the battle of Harlaw, against Donald,
Lord of the Isles, in 1411.
the second son, succeeded his father in his estates and as great
marischal of Scotland soon after 1406. In 1421, he was one of the
commissioners to treat for the liberation of King James I. He was also
one of his hostages, his estate being then valued at 800 merks. He
married the heiress of Troup in Banffshire, and got with her that
barony. By this lady he had three sons and three daughters. John, his
second son, obtained from his father a charter of the barony of Troup,
2d June 1413, and from him descended George Keith of Northfield, who,
on 24th September 1782, was served heir-male of Sir Robert
Keith, great marischal of Scotland, father of John.
the eldest son, one of the guarantees of a treaty of peace with the
English in 1457, was by King James II. created earl marischal of
Scotland before 4th July 1458. (See MARISCHAL, earl of).
of Craig, Kincardineshire, distinguished themselves in the 18th
century by their diplomatic services. About 1480, John Keith, stated
erroneously by Douglas, both in his Peerage and his Baronage, to have
been of the Keith Marischal family, got from his father the lands of
Craig and part of Garvock in the Mearns. The 7th in descent
from him, Colonel Robert Keith, had, by his wife, Agnes, daughter of
Robert, Murray of Murrayshall, one son, Robert Keith, at one period
secretary to the forces, with the combined armies on the continent
under the earl of Stair. In 1749 he was ambassador at Vienna, and in
1758 was transferred to St. Petersburg. He was at the Russian court in
the summer of 1762, when the empress Catharine, having thrown her
husband, Peter III., into prison, where he was murdered a few days
afterwards, got herself crowned empress of all the Russias. Mr. Keith
died at Edinburgh in 1774. The early part of the first volume of the
Memoirs and Correspondence of his son, Sir Robert Murray Keith, K.B.,
edited by Mrs. Gillespie Smyth (2 vols, London, 1849), is occupied
with his correspondence. By his wife, Margaret, second daughter of Sir
William Cunningham of Caprington, he had, with other children, The
Right Hon. Sir Robert Murray Keith, K.B., a general in the army, and
for twenty years the representative of Great Britain at the court of
Vienna, of whom afterwards; Sir Basin Keith, who died in 1777,
governor of Jamaica, and Miss Anne Keith, in her latter years called
Mrs. Murray Keith, the well-known Mrs. Bethune Baliol of Sir Walter
Scott, in the Introduction to the Chronicles of the Canongate. Born in
1736, this lady died in 1818. In a letter to Mr. Terry, the celebrated
comedian, dated 18th April of that year, communicating the
intelligence of her death, Sir Walter Scott says: “She enjoyed all her
spirits and excellent faculties till within two days of her death,
when she was seized with a feverish complaint, which eighty-two years
were not calculated to resist. Much tradition, and of the very best
kind, has died with this excellent old lady; one of the few persons
whose spirits and cleanliness, and freshness of mind and body, made
old age lovely and desirable.” (Lockhart’s Life of Scott, vol.
iv. p. 139.) She was the authoress of a song in three stanzas,
entitled ‘Oscar’s Ghost,’ inserted in Johnson’s Scots Musical Museum.
In a note by Mr. Kirkpatrick Sharp in the edition of that work of 1839
(vol. i.) He says: “Miss Anne Keith resided many years in Edinburgh
(51 George Street), keeping house with her elder sister, Miss Jenny,
both universally loved and respected. Sir Walter Scott told me that
Mrs. Anne Keith amused herself in the latter years of her life, by
translating Macpherson’s Ossian into verse. He did not know what
became of the MS. after her decease.” Scott’s tale of the Highland
Widow seems to have been founded on some story told him by Mrs. Murray
Keith, as in contemplating the design of it, he says in his Diary,
under date May 27, 1826: “Mrs. Murray Keith’s Tale of the Deserter,
with her interview with the lad’s mother, may be made most affecting,
but will hardly endure much expansion. The framework may be a Highland
tour, under the guardianship of the sort of postilion whom Mrs. M. K.
described to me – a species of conducteur who regulated the
motions of his company, made their halts, and was their cicerone.”
brother, the Right Hon. Sir Robert Murray Keith, K.B., was born 20th
Sept. 1730. He was educated, with his brother Basil, at the High
school of Edinburgh, and early entered the army as a cornet of
dragoons. In July 1747 he was appointed a captain in the regiment of
foot then raised in Scotland for the Dutch service, in which he
remained for several years, “greatly esteemed by his brother officers
for his skill and judgment, as well as for his politeness and
learning.” At this period he wrote a number of poetical pieces, which
appeared in a collection entitled ‘The Caledoniad,’ published at
London in 1775, in 3 vols. 12mo. One of these, ‘A Paraphrase of the
first four verses of Barbara Allan, made on Lord Douglas’ regiment
receiving orders to march from Maestricht to San van Ghent, in Dutch
Flanders,’ is printed in the Notes to Johnson’s Musical Museum
(edition of 1839, vol. iii.) He afterwards obtained a commission in
the British army, and in 1760 was commander of a battalion of
Highlanders, which distinguished themselves during the German
afterwards colonel of the 87th regiment of foot, and in
1769 he was nominated ambassador to Saxony. In 1771, he was appointed
envoy at Copenhagen, where his spirited conduct in 1772, in rescuing
Carolina-Matilda, the unfortunate queen of Denmark, sister of George
III., from the prison into which she had been thrown in the castle of
Cronenburgh, obtained for him great praise, and the order of the Bath.
On hearing that the queen had been seized and that her death was
contemplated, he forced his way into the council, and threatened war
against Denmark, if a hair of her head were touched. She was soon
after allowed to retire to Zell in Hanover.
In 1773, Sir
Robert was sent to the court of Vienna, and in 1775, on a vacancy
occurring in Peebles-shire, he was elected M.P. for that county. He
was also a member of the privy council, a lieutenant-general in the
army, and colonel of the 10th regiment of foot. He died at
Hammersmith, July 7, 1795, in his 63d year. In the obituary of the
Gentleman’s Magazine for that year, Part 1, page 535, it is stated
that “Sir Robert was corpulent, with a short neck. He died in the arms
of his servant, immediately after entertaining company at dinner. His
father, Ambassador Keith, as he was called at Edinburgh, died 21st
September 1774, almost as suddenly.” Sir Robert Murray Keith was
particularly celebrated for his colloquial talents. The Memoirs and
Correspondence, Official and Familiar, of Sir Robert Murray Keith;
With a Memoir of Queen Caroline Matilda of Denmark; and an account of
the Revolution there in 1772; Edited by Mrs. Gillespie Smythe, were
published at London in 1849, in 2 vols. 4to.
of Ravelstone, Mid Lothian, became the owners of that estate by
purchase in 1726, from Sir Archibald Primrose of Dunipace, baronet, by
Alexander Keith, writer in Edinburgh, who claimed, but without any
ground, to be descended from Alexander Keith of Pittendrum,
Aberdeenshire, 4th son of 3d earl Marischal. He was
succeeded by a son, Alexander, an under clerk in the court of session,
born in 1705. In 1766, the latter purchased the estate of Dunnottar
from the last earl Marischal. He married Johanna, daughter of John
Swinton of that ilk, advocate, a kinswoman of Sir Walter Scott, and by
her had four sons and two daughters. At his death in 1792 his eldest
son, Alexander, succeeded to the estates of Ravelstone and Dunnottar.
When George IV. visited Edinburgh in 1822, he was created a baronet,
as he exercised on that occasion the office of Knight Marischal of
Scotland. On his death in 1832, the baronetcy became extinct, and the
estate of Ravelstone went to Sir William Keith Murray of Ochtertyre,
baronet, in right of his wife, Sir Alexander’s daughter and heiress.
The office of knight marischal was conferred on the earl of Errol,
high constable of Scotland; and on his lordship’s death, in 1846, it
was bestowed on the marquis of Douglas and Clydesdale, who succeeded
his father in 1852m as 11th duke of Hamilton.
Keith, see KEITH-ELPHINSTONE, GEORGE.
fifth earl Marischal,
the founder of a university at Aberdeen, eldest son of William Lord
Keith, and Lady Elizabeth Hay, daughter of the sixth earl of Errol,
was born about 1553, and succeeded his grandfather in 1581. He studied
at King’s college, Aberdeen, and also spent several years at
universities on the Continent, when he visited most of the courts of
Europe. It is stated that he was kindly received by the landgrave of
Hesse, the chief of the Catti, as a descendant of that tribe. At
Geneve, where his younger brother, William, his fellow-student, was
unfortunately killed in a scuffle, he had for his instructor the
celebrated Theodore Beza. After his return to Scotland, he appears to
have been involved in some of the turbulent proceedings of those days,
as, June 8, 1585, he obtained a remission under the great seal, for
being art and part in the slaughter of his kinsman, William Keith,
apparent of Ludquhairn; and we learn, from Pitcairn’s Criminal Trials,
that in 1595, he was charged before the king and council, for
entertaining a deadly feud with the laird of Meldrum. He seems also to
have had some connection with the celebrated conspiracy which ended in
the Raid of Ruthven, although he afterwards acted as chancellor of the
assize of peers which found the earl of Gowrie guilty of treason for
his share in that transaction. In 1589 he was sent
ambassador-extraordinary to the Danish court, to arrange the marriage
of James VI. to Anne of Denmark, when he was at the whole expense of
the embassy, which was conducted by him on a most magnificent scale.
In 1592 he received a parliamentary ratification of his conduct on
1593 the earl founded the Marischal college of Aberdeen, and endowed
it, by charter, with funds sufficient for the maintenance of a
principal, three professors, and six bursars, an act of munificence
which has transmitted his name with honour to posterity. He reserved
to himself and his heirs the nomination to professorships, which
appointments are all now in the Crown, in consequence of the
forfeiture of the Marischal family since 1716. By subsequent
endowments, the number of professorships has bee increased to
thirteen. In consequence of the state of decay into which the old
structure was rapidly falling, the university was between 1840 and
1844 rebuilt on a more extensive and magnificent plan than formerly,
from a design by Archibald Simpson, Esq., architect, Aberdeen, a royal
grant of £25,000 having been made for the purpose.
In June 1609
the earl Marischal was appointed by James VI. his high commissioner to
the Scots parliament. In the decline of life he retired to Dunnottar
castle, where he died, April 2, 1623. His lordship was twice married,
and was succeeded by his eldest son, William, the sixth earl. See
MARISCHAL, Earl. The woodcut subjoined is taken from an engraving of
his lordship’s portrait in Smith’s Iconographia Scotica.
[portrait of George Keith]
a voluminous writer both for and against the Quakers, was born in
Aberdeen about the middle of the seventeenth century, where he was a
fellow-student with Bishop Burnet, and took his degree of M.A. He
quitted the Presbyterian church, in which he had been brought up, and
turned a Quaker. He afterwards went to Pennsylvania, where, becoming
dissatisfied with the sect, he founded a new one of his own. On his
return from America, he entered into the Church of England, took
orders, and became rector of Edburton, in Essex. He wrote a great
variety of books at first for, and afterwards against, the doctrines
of the Quakers, and some against Penn, with ‘Reasons for Renouncing
that Sect,’ 1700. He was a believer in the transmigration of souls and
the millennium, and is described as an eloquent speaker, and an able
disputant. He died about 1715. – His works are:
Immediate Revelation; or, Jesus Christ the Eternal Son of God.
1668, 1676, 4to.
Vindication from the Forgeries and Abuses of T. Hick and W.
Kiffin. 1674, 8vo.
The Way Cast up; with a Preface, by Alexander Skein. 1677, 8vo.
The True Christ owned, as he is True and Perfect God and Man;
containing an Answer to a late Pamphlet having this title, The
Quakers’ Creed concerning the Man Christ Jesus. Lond. 1679, 8vo.
Divine Immediate Revelation and Inspiration continued in the
Church; or, the Presbyterian and Independent Visible Church in New
England. 1691, 8vo.
An Account of the great Divisions amongst the Quakers in
Pennsylvania. Lond. 1692, 4to.
More Divisions amongst the Quakers; with a Discourse of this
Mystery of Iniquity. Lond. 1693, 4to.
Heresie and Hatred justly returned on the Guilty, &c.,;’ being
an Account of the chiefest Passages of a late dispute between him and
Delaval; containing also, New England’s Spirit of Persecution
transmitted to Pennsylvania, &c. 1693, 4to.
Truth advanced, in the Corrections of many Gross and Hurtful
Errors; with a Chronological Treatise of the several Ages of the
world. Lond. 1694, 4to.
A Farther Discovery of the Spirit of Falsehood and Persecution
in Samuel Jennings. Lond. 1694, 4to.
Gross Error and Hypocrisie detected in George Whitehead and some
of his Brethren. Lond. 1695, 4to.
A Copy of a Paper given into the Yearly Meeting of the People
called Quakers; with a Narrative concerning the same; containing also
a short List of the Gross Errors of Whitehead, Penn, &c. A farther
Discovery of Falsehood and Persecution of Sam. Jennings and his party,
in Pennsylvania. A Seasonable Admonition against Mr. Edwards Book,
called, an Epistle to Friends. The Antichrists and Sadducees detected
among a sect of Quakers; and his Remarks on John Penington’s late
Book. Lond. 1695, 4to.
Thanksgiving for the Deliverance of the King and Kingdom, on
Isai. xxxviii. 19, 1696, 4to.
An Exact Narrative of the Proceedings at Turner’s-Hall, the 11th
of June, 1696; also a 2d, 3d, and 4th Narrative of the like
Proceedings. Lond. 1696, 4to.
The Christian Testimony, of some called Quakers in America, at
Reading in Berkshire, to some Fundamental Truths of the Christian
Religion. Lond. 1696, 4to.
Explications and Retractions of divers Passages contained in his
former Books. Lond. 1697, 4to.
A Letter to Tho. Curtis, Jenj. Coals, &c., commonly called
Quakers, who meet in Sun Lane, Reading, from Wm. Paine, &c. Lond.
Second Narrative of the proceedings at Turner’s-Hall. Lond.
A Reprimand for the Author of a Libel, entitled, George Keith an
Apostate. Lond. 1697, 8vo.
Third Narrative of the Proceedings at Turner’s-Hall. Lond. 1698,
The Arguments of the Quakers and my own against Baptism and the
Lord’s Supper, examined and refuted. Lond. 1698, 4to.
The Deism of Wm. Penn and his Brethren exposed; containing the
Fallacies of W. Penn in his Gospel Truths, &c. A Synopsis of Mr.
Penn’s Deism and Scepticism; collected out of his Book called, Rule of
Faith and Life, and Judge of Controversy; with a Christian Catechisme
for the Instruction of Youth and others, against Quakerism; and a
Postscript, concerning the Light within. Lond. 1699, 8vo.
Some of the many Fallacies of Wm. Penn detected. 1699, 8vo.
Account of his Travels to Bristol and other Places. Lond. 1699,
Bristol Quakerism Exposed. Lond. 1700, 4to.
A Narrative of the Proceedings at Cooper’s-Hall in Bristol.
Lond. 1700, 4to.
An Account of the Quakers’ Politicks. Lond. 1700, 4to.
A Serious Call to the Quakers, inviting them to return to
Christianity. 1700, 4to.
Account of a National Church and the Clergy.
Reasons for Renouncing Quakerism. Lond. 1700, 8vo.
Sermons. Lond. 1700, 8vo.
Good Conscience; on 1 Pet. iii. 16. 1700, 4to.
Apostles’ and Prophets’ Doctrines the Foundation of the Church
of Christ, on Ephes. ii. 20-22. 1700, 4to.
Two Sermons on Luke i. 6. 1700, 4to.
An Answer to xvii. Queries sent to George Keith by the Quarterly
Meeting of the People called Quakers, at Oxford. Oxf. 1701, 4to.
Fifth Narrative of the Proceedings at Turner’s-Hall. 1701, 4to.
The Standard of the Quakers Examined; or, an Answer to Robert
Barclay’s Apology. Lond. 1702, 8vo.
Reply to Mr. Mather’s printed Remarks on a Sermon, printed by
G.K. 1703, 4to.
Sermon on 2 Cor. v. 14, 15. 1703, 4to.
Power of the Gospel in the Conversion of Sinners, on 1 Thess. i.
5. 1703, 4to.
The Notes of the true Church, on Acts ii. 41, 42. 1704, 4to.
The Use of the Holy Sacraments, on 1 Cor. xii. 13. 1704, 4to.
Two Sermons on Rom. i. 16. 1705, 4to.
Journal of his Travels from New Hampshire to Caratack, on the
Continent of North America. Lond. 1706, 4to.
Against the Quakers, on Heb. xi. 6. 1707, 4to.
The Magick of Quakerism. Lond. 1705, 8vo. The same. Lond. 1707,
New Theory of the Longitude. Lond. 1709, 4to.
Sermons preached at Turner’s-Hall, on 1 Pet. iii. 16.
Two Sermons on Luke i. 6. With a Serious Call to the Quakers, on
2 Cor. xiv. 15.
KEITH-ELPHINSTONE, GEORGE, VISCOUNT KEITH.
See ELPHINSTONE, GEORGE KEITH.
KEITH, JAMES FRANCIS EDWARD,
a distinguished military commander, the youngest son of William Keith,
ninth earl Marischal, was born in 1696. He was destined for the law by
his father, but his own disposition led to the army, and the breaking
out of the Rebellion of 1715 afforded him an opportunity of following
the bent of his inclination. By the persuasion of his mother, who was
warmly attached to the Stuarts, he joined the standard of the
Pretender when he was only nineteen years of age. He was wounded at
the battle of Sheriffmuir, and after that event succeeded in effecting
his escape into France, where he subsisted for some time on supplies
sent from Scotland, and a small annuity granted to him by the
Pretender. Having, before leaving home, made considerable progress in
classical and general literature under his kinsman, Bishop Keith, he
now applied himself with great diligence to the study of mathematics
and military tactics. In 1718 he and his brother, the earl Marischal,
with several other expatriated adherents of the Stuarts, made an
unsuccessful descent, with some Spanish troops, on the Highlands. He
afterwards entered the Spanish service, but finding no prospect of
promotion unless he became a Roman Catholic, in 1728 he went to
Russia, with a letter of recommendation from the king of Spain to the
Czarina, the widow of Peter the Great. He was promoted to the rank of
major-general, received the command of a regiment of guards, and was
invested with the order of the Black Eagle.
In the revolution which elevated to the throne the princess
Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, he acted a prominent part. The
empress fell in love with him and offered to marry him, a fact unknown
to all his biographers. He prudently declined the dangerous honour,
and accepted an invitation from the king of Prussia to enter his
service. Frederick created him field-marshal of the Prussian forces,
and governor of Berlin. The empress earnestly solicited his
correspondence. “Your letters,” she says, “are health and happiness to
me.” His MS. Correspondence with Lords G. and E. Drummond, concerning
the Russian empire, 1748-1755, and 1756, was sold at the sale of the
library of the Duke of Sussex in 1844. His personal qualities won the
confidence of the king, who admitted him to the most familiar
intercourse, and travelled with him through a great part of Germany,
Poland, and Hungary. He became, in fact, his majesty’s principal
adviser and confidential companion. In the subsequent wars of that
illustrious monarch, Marshal Keith displayed his usual genius,
intrepidity, and zeal; but his career was finally closed by a cannon
shot, in the unfortunate and sanguinary battle of Hochkirchen, October
13, 1758, in the 63d year of his age. His body was stripped by the
Austrians, but, being recognised, was interred in the neighbouring
churchyard. By the special orders of the king, his remains were
afterwards removed to Berlin, where there is a noble statue of him,
erected by the king of Prussia. Some years after his death a monument
was erected to his memory in the churchyard of Hochkirchen by Sir
Robert Murray Keith, with an inscription by Metastasio.
Subjoined is Marshal Keith’s portrait, from an original in the
possession of William Douglas, Esq., Liverpool, to whom it descended
from his relative, Col. Robert Keith, the last direct male
representative of the noble family of Keith Marischal:
[portrait of Marshal Keith]
(Bishop Keith,) an eminent scholar and historian, a lineal descendant
of Alexander, 4th and youngest son of William 3d Earl
Marischal, was born at Uras, parish of Dunnottar, Kincardineshire,
Feb. 7, 1681. His father, Alexander Keith, of the family of Pittendrum,
was taken prisoner at the battle of Worcester, on the side of Charles
II., in 1651, but by the help of two ladies, escaped from prison, and
from the losses he sustained by his adherence to the royal cause, he
was obliged in 1672 to sell his estate of Cowton in the Mearns, and
purchase the smaller one of Uras in the same county. He died when his
son Robert, the future bishop, was only two years old, and at the age
of seven, his mother, who was the daughter of Robert Arbuthnott of
Little Fiddes, also in Kincardineshire, removed with him into
Aberdeen, where he obtained an excellent education both at school and
at Marischal college. In July 1703, he was appointed tutor to his
noble relatives, the young Lord Keith and his brother, afterwards the
celebrated Marshal Keith, with whom he continued for seven years. In
August 1710, he was admitted to the order of deacon, in the Scots
Episcopal church, by Bishop Haliburton of Aberdeen, and in November
following he became domestic chaplain to the young earl of Errol,
whom, in July 1712, he accompanied on a tour to the continent.
On his return to Scotland, in the beginning of 1713, he was
invited by an Episcopalian congregation in Edinburgh, to become their
minister, and was, accordingly, ordained to the priesthood by Bishop
Haliburton, May 26 of that year. His talents and learning gave him
great influence among the clergy of his own communion, and his known
liberal and enlightened principles, at all times rendered his advice
of much value in the then depressed state of the Scots Episcopal
church. In June 1727, he was chosen to be coadjutor to Bishop Millar
of Edinburgh, and with Mr. William Dunbar, elected bishop of Moray,
was consecrated on the 18th of that month. In manuscript
memoirs of the (Episcopal) church of Scotland, quoted in Stephen’s
History of that church (vol. iv. p. 250_, it is stated that “upon the
18th of June, the bishops of Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and
Brechin, having seen and considered the unanimous election of Mr.
William Dunbar, parson of Cruden, to be bishop of Moray and Ross by
the presbytery thereof, did consecrate the said elect; at the
same time consecrating Mr. R. Keith, a presbyter in Edinburgh, who was
not elected to any particular charge; yet in his diploma he was
consecrated as coadjutor to the bishop of Edinburgh, because of his
old age and infirmities. This was a woful scene. The Episcopal church
in Scotland was miserably rent, it being in the power of those
opponents to consecrate an equal or greater number of bishops at
large, in order to overwhelm the other; by which means there should be
no end of consecrating, nor of that dismal schism of bishops at large,
each party being in capacity to consecrate as many bishops as they
shall think fit.” Soon after, Bishop Keith was intrusted with the
superintendence of Caithness, Orkney, and the Isles. In 1733, on a
vacancy occurring, the clergy of the Episcopal church in Fife elected
him to be their diocesan, and he assumed the administration of that
district. In 1738 he got into a dispute with Fairbairn, bishop of
Edinburgh, relative to the ordination of a Mr. Spens belonging to his
diocese, who, after having first applied to Bishop Keith, his own
immediate superior, in consequence of some delay, was on his
application to the bishop of Edinburgh, admitted by him into deacon’s
orders. Bishop Keith, in consequence, refused to institute Mr. Spens
to the chapel of Wemyss, in the diocese of Fife, till he had made a
proper acknowledgment of his irregularity. He also sent an energetic
protest to the bishop and clergy of Edinburgh. At an Episcopal synod,
held on the 11th July, he acted as clerk, and was directed
by them to make a register of the consecrations of all the bishops of
the Scottish church since the year 1688, “lest the documents of the
Episcopal succession might perish;” which resolution of the synod may
perhaps have suggested his well-known ‘Historical Catalogue of the
Scottish bishops down to the year 1688,’ first published in 1755.
In August 1743 Bishop Keith resigned the superintendence of the
diocese of Fife, continuing still to perform the functions of bishop
in Caithness and Orkney. On the death of Bishop Fairbairn in 1739, it
was supposed that the clergy of Edinburgh intended to have elected him
his successor, but in a letter to Mr. Auchinleck, one of their number,
referred to in Bishop Russell’s Life of Bishop Keith, the latter
formally declared that he never solicited the clergy in any shape to
elect him, but on the contrary had declined the appointment when it
was actually offered to him. At an Episcopal synod held on the 20th
August 1743, he was elected primus, as successor to Bishop Rattray of
Dunkeld. There had not been a bishop of Edinburgh since 1739, and the
clergy of that diocese presented several addresses to the bishops on
this and other subjects in dispute between them, relative to the
limits of Episcopal jurisdiction and the privileges of the presbyters.
To these no answer was returned till Bishop Keith, as primus, on
January 25th, 1745, sent them a letter of remonstrance
calculated to allay the discontented spirit that had arisen amongst
them. They had even entered into a correspondence with Mr. George
Smith, one of the non-juring bishops of England, to consecrate one of
the Edinburgh clergy as bishop of that diocese, which gave rise to a
letter of expostulation from Bishop Keith to him, dated May 22d, 1744.
He also drew up a declaration against the insidious conduct of Smith,
which was signed by himself and four other of the Scots bishops.
Justly proud of his descent from the Marischal family, he was,
in the year 1750, led into a dispute with Mr. Keith, younger, of
Ravelstone, relative to the propinquity of his family to that noble
house, and in consequence drew up and published a short genealogical
statement, under the title of a ‘Vindication of Mr. Robert Keith, and
of his young grand-nephew Alexander Keith, from the unfriendly
representation of Mr. Alexander Keith, jun., of Ravelston,’ clearly
proving the correctness of his claim to that honourable position.
Bishop Russell states, on the authority of Sir Alexander Keith of
Revelstone, knight marischal, who died in 1832, that the superior
claims of the bishop in behalf of his nephew were unquestionably well
founded, and that so long as the Uras branch of the Pittendrum Keiths
existed in the male line, the Keiths of Ravelstone were not entitled
to the honour which they so groundlessly claimed of being the
representatives of the family of the Earls Marischal. In the
‘Vindication’ referred to, the bishop also showed that he was related
by marriage to the ducal houses of Douglas and Hamilton, as well as to
the Burnets and Arbuthnotts.
About 1752, he removed from the Canongate of Edinburgh, his
usual place of residence, to the villa of Bonnyhaugh, on the Water of
Leith, which belonged to himself, and afterwards descended to his
daughter and granddaughter, by inheritance. He died there on 20th
January, 1757, in the 76th year of his age, having been
confined to bed only one day. In the month of March previous to his
death, writing to Marshal Keith, he says: “I am just now drinking in a
glass of claret all health and happiness to your excellency, and all
your connections, whom may God long preserve. I am entered upon the
seventy-sixth year of my age, and am obliged to use the hand of
another in writing; but I thank God I keep health surprisingly well
for my age, though I am much failed in my feet.” He was buried in the
Canongate churchyard, where a plain, upright, square headstone,
surmounted by an urn, was afterwards erected, with the simple
inscription of Bishop Keith.”
In 1719 the bishop married Isobel Cameron, daughter of the Rev.
John Cameron, and had a son, who died young, and a daughter,
Katherine, married in 1752 to Mr. Stewart Carmichael, merchant in
Edinburgh. With a son, who died in early life, Mrs. Carmichael had a
daughter, named Stewartina Catherina, who in 1775 married William
Douglas, Esq., merchant, Leith, and left three sons, William (who died
at Buenos Yres in 1842, unmarried), Stewart, and Archibald, and four
daughters. The direct representation of the bishop’s family,
therefore, rests with the descendants of the late Stewart Douglas,
Esq., merchant, Glasgow, who left five sons; William, John, Stewart,
Archibald, and Charles; the eldest of whom, William Douglas, Esq. of
Liverpool (having an only son, Stewart), is the great-great-grandson
of the bishop, and likewise nearest of kin, through his grandmother,
to Col. Robert Keith, 3d regiment Foot Guards, up to his death in
1780, acknowledged as the nearest male representative of George, 10th
Earl Marischal, who died in 1778.
Bishop Keith’s works are:
The History of the Affairs of the Church and State of Scotland,
from the beginning of the Reformation in the Reign of King James V. to
the Retreat of Queen Mary into England, anno 1568. Edin. 1734, fol. A
few sheets of a second volume were left in MS.
Catalogue of the Bishops of the several Sees within the Kingdom
of Scotland down to the year 1688; together with other things
necessary to the better knowledge of the Ecclesiastical State of the
Kingdom in former times. Also, an Account of the first Planting of
Christianity in Scotland, and the State of that Church in the earlier
ages. Edin. 1755, 4to. This, the most popular and useful of Bishop
Keith’s works, was dedicated to his illustrious kinsman, Marshal
Keith. The account of the Culdees was written by Walter Goodall of the
Advocates’ Library. New edition, under the title of Historical
Catalogue of the Scottish Bishops down to the year 1688. By Robert
Keith. Also, an Account of all the Religious Houses that were in
Scotland at the time of the Reformation. By John Spottiswoode, Esq.
Corrected, and continued to the present time, with a Life of the
author. By the Rev. M. Russell, LL.D. Edin. 1824.
Vindication of Mr. Robert Keith, and of his young Grand-nephew,
Alexander Keith, to the honour of a lineal descent from the noble
house of the Earls Marischal; in answer to The unfriendly
Representation of Mr. Alexander Keith, jun. of Ravelston. Edin. 1750,
Dr. Russell says: There is reason to believe that Bishop Keith
published, about 1743, some ‘Select Pieces of Thomas a Kempis.’
translated into English. In his Preface to the second volume of these
Pieces, he introduced some addresses to the Virgin Mary; for which he
thought it necessary to enter into some explanation with his more
Among his posthumous MSS. there was found a Treatise on Mystical
Divinity, in the form of letters addressed to a lady; also, a Scheme
of Religion derived solely from the Scriptures, intended, it was
thought, for the use of his own family.