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Keith


The Keiths were one of the most ancient and powerful of the Celtic families of which the earliest record is one Hervey Keith who was Marischal in the reign of Malcolm IV in the 12th century. At Bannockburn in 1314, Sir Robert Keith the Marischal led the Scots cavalry of ponies successfully against the great shire horses of the English. His great-grandson, Sir William founded Dunnottar Castle on the headland precipice south of Stonehaven. The family continued to grow in wealth and importance and in 1458 the hereditary office of Marischal was made into an Earldom, the 2nd Lord then became Earl Marischal. By the 16th century the Keiths were so powerful that it was said that the Earl could travel from Berwick to John O' Groats stopping each night on his own property. The 4th Earl entertained Mary Queen of Scots at the castle and her son James VI held a Privy Council there and appointed the 5th Earl to stand as proxy for him at his marriage to Anne of Denmark, he also founded Marischal College, Aberdeen in 1593. The 9th and last Earl Marischal and his brother were ardent Jacobites and fought with the Stewarts in 1715. They had to escape after defeat to the continent where James became a Field Marshall for Fredrick the Great. The Keiths were also involved in feuds especially after they took possession of the lands in Caithness, with their neighbours there, the Gunns. In the 15th century in an attempt at reconciliation, the two clans planned to meet with twelve clansmen each. However the Keiths arrived with two men on each horse and attacked the Gunns while they were at prayer. The Gunns retaliated when they slaughtered Keith of Ackergill and his ten of his men at Drummoy. (In 1978, the Chief of Clan Keith and the Commander of Clan Gunn signed a peace treaty at the site of the Chapel of St. Tayrs, ending the feud between the two clans which began in 1478). Upon the death of George, 9th Earl in 1778 the forfeited estates passed to Lord Falconer. In 1919 Dunnottar was purchased by Viscountess Cowdray who repaired the ruins which are now open to the public.

See also our account on James Keith


Hello, my name is James Arthur Keith Jones, my father was born Arthur Lee Keith in 1923, in rural Wake county, North Carolina on lands near the Neuse river near Durham, Granville and Wake county. This land I have always been told, was a grant to the Keiths from the King of England back when George Keith came over from Scotland. I know there are many, many Keiths both above and below the ground in this area. There are about 6 or so grave yards within a mile or so from my home here, dating back to the beginning. My father was raised by his uncle James Richard Jones after my fathers parents death when he was only about a year old, that was why Jones was added to the end of the name. His birth mother (Lizzie Beck Keith) and his aunt (Eva Beck Jones) were sisters. My father's older sisters and brothers all were raised at Oxford Orphanage, in Oxford NC. They visited the farm here often and all kept in touch. Anyone wishing to visit these graves or the area for research on the Keiths may contact me for assistance.  Thank you, ....James

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