a history of the north society of Middletown, Ct.
from 1650 to 1800
with genealogical and biographical chapters
on early families.

Charles Collard Adams
New York: Grafton Press, 1908.


[transcribed by Coralynn Brown ]

From Records of Old Aberdeen, Vol. 1, Munro

Page 24, Act of the Privy Council in favor of Old Aberdeen, 24 of March, 1690.
    Fit persons and well affected to the present government should be nominated and appointed by them to officiate as Magistrates this year until his Majesty signify his pleasure, etc. Among those so appointed were Mr. George Fraser, Mr. James Keith, and Mr. William Baxter, baillies of the said bugh of Old Aberdeen, Page 54, year 1614. Half the entry money of craftsmen was to go to "Sanct Mather" (St. Machar Cathedral).

    Page 183, year 1722, William Rainie was appointed drummer.

The Rev. James Keith, a presbyter of the Episcopal Church in Scotland, according to the history of the said church, was deprived in 1714 of his living in Ilion by the section of the Presbyterian presbytery, being a non-juror. He is buried in New Machar Cemetery. This ancient cathedral was partyly wrecked by Cromwell and his troops. The cathedral is now a parish church. His tomstone bears this inscription:

Hic jacet Magister
Jacobud Keith
Quondam Verbi Divini
Vir pietate insignis
Qui diem supremum
Obiit 3tio die Maii
A. D. 1730 mo
Aetatos 71 mo Anno
Omnes Eodem Cogimus

The Rev. Alexander Keith, Captain John Keith, Capt. James Keith, Mr. William Keith and another son came to this country, and all were prominent in the Episcopal church.

The Rev. Alexander Keith, b. 1708, Aberdeen, Scotland, was ordained deacon, Sept. 23, and priest Oct. 21, 1733, by Dr. Gibson, the Bishop of London. He had been educated at King's College, University of Aberdeen, and for ten years officiated in St. Paul's chapel, Aberdeen. In the spring of 1746 he was licensed by the Bishop of London to officiate in St. George's Parish, Georgetown (Winyard), South Carolina. He entered on his duties Sept. 29, 1746, "the parishioners having subscribed 230 sig. in addition to the salary allowed by the government." On Dec. 5, 1749, he was elected to succeed the Rev. Mr. Quincy in St. Philip's Parish, Charlestown. He may have returned to St. George's. He removed in 1771 to the home of his brother, Capt. James Keith, Newport, R.I., where he d. Jan. 8, 1772. He had succeeded 1746, in Georgetown, the Rev. Mr. Fayerweather, who in 1772 was rector in Narragansett, R.I., and in whose parish records he made this entry:

    "Jan. 9, 1772, received a letter from the Church Wardens of Newport to attend as pall-bearer to the Rev. Mr. Keith, my old friend and once my predecessor in Georgetown, South Carolina, and to preach a funeral sermon on the occasion, which I did the very day after the interment in Trinity church to a full auditory."

In his Literary Diary, the Rev. Dr. Stiles, at the time pastor of the Presbyterian or Congregational church at Newport, gives a list of the pall-bearers, of whom he was one, and a sketch of Mr. Keith and of the funeral. The tablet in Trinity church cemetery contains this inscription:

Crowned with the Grace of Faith
Here rests Alexander Keith
In assurance of a future State of perfect Bliss and Glory
He was born at Aberdeen Scotland and educated
In King's College of that University
Episcopally Ordained
He officiated in St. Paul's Chapel
of that City ten years
He afterwards Ministered
Twenty five years in the Church
of Prince George, and S. S.
In the Province of South Carolina
He died at Newport
In the Sixty fourth year of his Age
January 8th 1772.

The Rev. Mr. Keith, a bachelor, made a will which cannot be found on record in Newport. His brother, Capt. James, was his executor, as apprears by the latter's will. His snuff box, made of a ram's horn, like the proverbial pig's tail, had a silver top on which was inscribed:

The Revd Mr. Alexander Keith
May 27, A.D. 1770.

went into the prominent Lawrence family of Hartford, Conn., and was presented in 1832 to the Connecticut Historical Society. It contains additional inscription:

R. Lawrence 1808
W. R. Lawrence 1831

He had as a student kept a common-place cook in which he entered in Latin the titles of many text books used by him or needed by theological students. It contains the only clue giving to the compiler of this volume a knowledge of his ancestry, as follows:

"Mr. Jacobus Keith, pater meus Aberdonensis, Ecclae Scotae presbyter, vivre inter mortales desiit, 2 Maii, A. D. N. 1729 4to sepultus fiut in Coementerio Neumacarensi."

It will be seen that the inscription on the tombstone, kindly furnished by the Rev. Dr. W. R. Bruce, vicar of New Machar, does not altogether agree with the entry made by the son in his common-place book probably when he was a student in the University of Aberdeen. This tombstone has been cared of late by the compiler of this volume.

Capt. James Keith, "a mariner," as he describes himself in his will dated Aug. 8, 1778, a prosperous resident of Newport, R.I., was recorded among the list of "tories" by Dr. Stiles in his "Literary Diary." He was very prominent in the affairs of Trinity church, as the history of that church shows, and of which he was elected a vestryman, April 20, 1778. His voluminous will mentions many legatees, among them being his sister's son, the Rev. Alexander Finlay, of South Carolina, Dr. William Keith and his brother James in South Carolina. His executors were to apply for information "to Rev. Alex Finlay, nephew, minister in So. Carolina and Mr. James Keith, my relation, of same province." During the Revolutionary War a James Keith took the oath of allegiance in Middltown, Conn., and it was probably this one, as Capt. James of Newport, in his will, states that he was last in Hartford in May, 1775. He writes of "Rev. Mr. Bissett and Rev. Mr. Thurston, my honest good neighbors," who probably were not "churchmen." He gives freedom to his negro man "Lymus." He gave instructions "Body to be buried in the church yard of Newport, near my late brother's grave." This inscription reads:

Here rest the Remains
Mr. James Keith
Who was born at Aberdeen
In Scotland,
And died at Newport,
August 29th, 1781,
Aged 71 years.
Having resided in America
Upwards of 40 years,
Preserving through Life
That noblest of Characters
An honest Man.
As he lived much beloved
He died lamented.

Capt. John Keith, of Hartford, as early as 1740 commanded a vessel carrying troops to the West Indies. He was a merchant on the north side of State street, the gambrel-roofed wooden building, 178 State street, the only wooden one standing (1908), being the one in which he kept store. He was a member of the committee which purchased a lot for the Episcopal Socity and though he died before a church was erected, the present Christ Church stands on the lot originally purchased. He was owner in common with Capt. Phlip Mortimer of Middletown, a prominent Episcopalian, of various Middletown properties and in his will gave these interests to "Mr. William Keith of Middletown, whom I have adopted as my son," if he should live to become of age, but if he died while a minor these interests were to be given to the Episcopal Society for a glebe. Capt. John Keith died suddenly in a Congregational church in Hartford and was buried in Capt. Philip Mortimer's tomb. A stone on the outer wall contains this inscription:

Capt. John Keith
of Hartford
O B Febr 1st 1775
AE 73.

He had married the widow of Capt. John Lawrence, who was the mother of the wife of Mr. William Keith, merchant, of Hartford. Mrs. John Keith was the daughter of John Beauchamp and died in 1784, aged eighty-eight.

Mr. William Keith, merchant, of Hartford, married in 1738, Marianne, the dau of Capt. John Lawrence. There were two daughters born to them; Susanna, bapt. 1739; m. 1761, Mr. William Ellery; their daughter Marianna married Henry Seymout, and Gov. Thomas H. Seymour was the child of this marriage. The other daughter, Marianne, m. a Hewlet, and both daughters were remembered in the will of their uncle, Capt. John Keith. The widow of Mr. William Keith married the Rev. Mr. Marsh, the first pastor at New Hartford.

Mr. John Lawrence, the distinguished treasurer of the Colony of Connecticut, was a brother of Mrs. Keith and the father of Mr. William Lawrence who married the affianced of Nathan Hale, the Martyr Spy. To her came the powder horn and many other of Nathan Hale's possessions. In a later day the powder horn of Nathan Hale and the snuff box of Rev. Alexander Keith were presented to the Connecticut Historical Society and they are kept together in a glass-covered box, which is in the vault of the Society's rooms.

Mr. William Keith of Middletown, adopted son of Capt. John Keith of Hartford, was placed as a minor with the distinguished Capt. Philip Martimer, probably to learn the business of rope making, as he afterward owned a rope walk of his own, which is represented on the 1784 map of Main Street, Middletown. He was undoubtedly the son of the Keith who settled in South Carolina. Capt. Philip Mortimer, being childless, sent to Ireland for his neice, Martha, to become his adopted daughter. Mr. William Keith went to Boston with a coach and four to escort Miss Martha to Middletown.
It was understood that Capt. Mortimer had planned a marriage between Mr. William Keith and his adopted daughter, who had brought with her a maid, Polly Lions Callahan. But on Jan. 10, 1775, Mr. William Keith and Polly Lions Callahan of Cork were married.
They must have removed in after years to the Upper Houses for they are buried there and a fine monument, the first erected in the old cemetery, contains the records of their deaths. He d. July 6, 1811, aged sixty-two. She d. May 13, 1820, aged seventy-two.


  • John, b. Dec. 4, 1775; m. Margaret Ranney.
  • Polly, b. Mar. 28, 1777; m. Capt. Daniel Butler.
  • Kitty Lions, b. Jan. 20, 1779; m. Capt. Thomas White.
  • Elizabeth Collins, b. May 22, 1782; m. James Ranney.
  • William, b. Apr. 28, 1784; m. Harriet White.
  • Alexander, b. May 2, 1786; a rope maker, m. Martha ____. He d. 1846.

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