Sunday, June 19, 2016

See What Will Come of It

Researching participation of a paternal Haradon clan, in the Civil War Battle of Stones River, I unearthed a first-hand account of hospitalization and burial. The Union Army of the Cumberland and Army of Tennessee, C.S.A., had suffered nearly 25,000 casualties in a clash which heralded the new year of 1863. About 1700 Union & 1300 Confederate soldiers had died in several days of fighting, just west of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on 1 January 1863, in the midst of this days-long battle. It declared "all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "are, and henceforward shall be, free." Tennessee, by popular vote, seceded from the Union in June 1861: slaves therein had been declared freed ... by a government their masters had withdrawn from.

The author of the news account, 'J.S.P.,' in the 20th Independent Battery, Ohio Volunteer Light Artillery, is most likely Tennessee-born John S. Patterson. Forty years old, and just having been promoted Corporal after two month's service, he uses the military term 'contraband' for freed slaves: “I rode out to the cemetery to see where our soldiers are buried. There are many persons constantly engaged burying the dead,” he wrote from Nashville, where Haradons lay wounded in one of dozens of makeshift facilities. “The graves, in rows and close together, cover nearly two acres of ground. – There are about 700 Confederates and nearly as many “contrabands,” buried here – eight or ten of the latter daily. They are put in the ground as close together as they can be set.” (Quotes in the original may indicate the term was being introduced.)

By an Act of March 1862, the U.S. Congress prohibited Union officers from returning "fugitives" from Confederate service, or returning those who escaped from persons to whom "labor is claimed to be due." The term contraband referenced the first case: that of captured enemy property.

'Contrabands,' 'fugitives,' or self-emancipated; they were used by the U.S. Army in very much the same way Yankee armed services employed forced, slave labor. Many are the incidences where commanders sought to shun responsibility, ejecting refugees incapable of this drudgery from finding haven among their troops. Responses to emancipation among the 100th Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry - in which the Haradons served - ranged from disgruntlement to outright threats to abrogate three-year commitments.

While many social signals were given during recruiting ... when war-boosters back in Illinois telegraphed their belief that this fight was to eliminate slavery ... the primary motivating factor, for many who did enlist in the 100th Illinois, was to preserve union formed of revolutionary resistance to colonial exploitation. Not all had signed on to free slaves. Many Yankees were certainly uncomfortable in a new social order. Not a few were discomforted to find themselves in proximity to free Negroes.

Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, issued September 22, 1862.
It should be noted that Lincoln had advanced a Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation (left) on 22 September. Three months had passed, to psychologically adjust to the idea that subjugation would end ... for some. Yet it's obvious that the Corporal does not yet fully comprehend emancipation. In the Quartermaster's Unit, he sets the value of wartime butter, flour and potatoes in dollars. "Salt is so scarce as not to sell at all … at any rate a barrel of it is worth more than a negro at these times.” Patterson perceives a marketplace where oppressed human lives still have pecuniary value.

Even though partial emancipation has been fully proclaimed, Patterson is curious as to the lived condition of slaves. He does not inject 'former' when discussing a woman's master.* It's interesting that he thinks readers will find it notable that a runaway slave he interviews "has a decided preference to be free." As if that aspiration is challenging to consider. "They all testify to this," says Patterson, of his informer's contention: "We never had such easy times." Dislocated, freed slaves "fare better now than when the seccesh army was here." Patterson is quartered in a barn; food and even firewood are scarce, even for those with cash.

The correspondent, reporting to the Sandusky, Ohio Daily Commercial Register on 22 January (excerpted in the image, below), is particularly curious about relationships. Some masters "treated their slaves as well as their children," relates Patterson. His interviewee was reluctant to marry when enslaved, however: the man, now a father, avers it would have been far too challenging to invest emotionally, and then "stand by," as a loved one was humiliated and physically abused.

Patterson's unnamed source seems willing to correct misconceptions. The Ohio soldier asserts Confederate military policy, summary execution for Negroes in Union service, "will turn the colored people against them."

"No, it won't," contends his counterpart. "[We are] against them now," says he ... of those who advocate such policy.

"Do you belong to the man of this house?" asks Patterson. In the current tense, as if emancipation has not occurred.

One glimpses a sense of humor as the freedman explains he never has. In his accounting, he asserts his master (likely former Tennessee Bank President, Granville Physic Smith) entered service as Colonel in a Confederate Army. "He run away from me," the subject explains.

Sandusky Daily Commercial Register (Sandusky, Ohio), 31 January, 1863. Pg. 2, cols 2 & 3.

The day following, on 1 February, reporting by the Daily Ohio Statesman in Columbus questioned the Proclamation's effect. "It is now just one month since the President's second and great Proclamation of Freedom, as the Abolitionists call it, was issued. By this time, according to radical prophecies uttered before the issuing of the proclamation, the backbone and sinews of the rebellion, which the radicals assure us are the slaves, should have been so broken and weakened that the Confeds would be about giving up the contest in utter despair.” Partisan, Democratic editors employed the term 'black bondman' when referencing an anticipated spike in recruiting: Lincoln's Proclamation “has called neither white not black soldiers into the field; it has not promoted slave insurrections, or excited a single black bondman to strike for freedom.”

“Abolitionists and their followers hang back from the service as much as before, and are trying to force the negroes to do all the fighting for them,” contend 'Copperheads' who are willing that the Union be restored, even if slavery remains intact. "Well, arm the negroes, as many as you can get, and do it quickly, and see what will come of it.” Editors no doubt hope readers will shudder at the thought of Blacks, so recently scarred by whips, finding rank while bearing lethal weapons.

*It's unclear, in the Sandusky reporting, which words are Patterson's and which result from editors. The interviewee, "almost a full-blooded negro," is to have used the term "they" when speaking of colored people. We might conclude the subject would have identified with this group ... and that an author or editor's voice has imposed itself on whatever the informer sought to convey.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Threads Make Up the Weave

Hard Honesty, as a blog, was initially created as a digital beacon: I'm signalling to other researchers that I want to know as much as possible about 'Uncle' Monk (died 1835), slave-named Estill. (See the tab above.) He saved the life of my 4x great-grand-father, and became the first slave freed in what is now Kentucky.

Over time, another character in my family tree, Squire Turner (1793-1871) became a subject of deep research. Think of him as a protégé of Kentucky Senator Henry Clay (1777-1852): a fellow Whig jurist with superior legislative talent. Ardently pro-slavery, Turner fades from history to waver, mainly, as a foil in one of the manic excesses perpetuated by Clay's pro-emancipation cousin, Cassius Marcellus Clay (1810-1903). 'Cash' Clay interrupted an 1849 campaign speech to disembowel Turner's son, Cyrus.

Another cousin, Antonia Ford (1838-1871) has my attention as well. She was implicated in the 1863 capture of a sleeping Union General by Confederate partisan raider, Lt. John S. Mosby. Ford was deemed a spy and imprisoned. The story pivots when a Union captor fell in love with Ford, left the army, and married her. (Antonia and I descend from Randolphs and Fords, occasionally depicted here.) Ford and her husband, Major Joseph Clapp Willard (Ret.), adjourned to his civilian role; as a wealthy proprietor of the Willard Hotel, premises of such profound influence in the nation's capital, it's as if the term 'lobbyist' would have originated there.

I'm currently unpacking the military exploits of Jeremiah Turner (1840-1917). Slave to Squire Turner, Jeremiah gained his freedom by enlisting in the United States Colored Troops in 1864. One of his descendants makes a compelling case that Jeremiah and I are related: Jeremiah is to have been the product of a slave rape by Squire or his father (my 3x great-grandfather, 'Ol' Marsh' Thomas Turner (1764-1847). In September, re-creators will gather at Camp Nelson, Kentucky - where Jeremiah enlisted - 150 years to the day of that enlistment. I want Jeremiah's great-great-grandsons to know of their ancestor's sacrifices for a re-configured Union.

I've been documenting the tortuous path the Lincoln administration took, in giving legal cover to drafting/ recruiting/ impressing slaves in the loyal state of Kentucky during the Civil War.

It's really just a small observation ... amidst huge reams of data that seem to clamor for my attention.

"After the fall of Fort Sumter and before Lincoln's call for troops could be met, Washington appeared to be defenseless." A "semblance of order" was created by Cassius M. Clay of Kentucky who, while negotiating with Lincoln for appointment as his Minister to Russia, "hastily organized" a small command: the 'Clay Battalion.'

"With three pistols strapped to his waist and carrying both a sword and his favorite knife, [Clay] was an inspiring sight at his headquarters in Willard's Hotel."
- pp. 131-132,  Lincoln of Kentucky by Lowell Harrison (2000)

Long enamored by Jungian synchronicity, I was momentarily stupefied as the tangled weave of three story lines manifest itself as a trio of overlapping threads.

Setting the stage for Jeremiah's eventual call to arms, I had uncovered a word portrait of not only the man ... but perhaps the very Bowie knife ... that had taken Cyrus Turner's life a dozen years earlier. (Jeremiah - and Cyrus' orphaned son, Charles - were nearly the same age & stayed in life-long relationship.) It takes but little imagination to see Antonia Ford's future husband in the background: as proprietor of the Willard Hotel, he was undoubtedly seeing to the flamboyant Clay's every need. It would be the following April before Joseph Willard would secure a position as Aide-de-camp on Brigadier General Irvin McDowell's staff.

I'm willing to give Google some of the credit. Algorithms have long been tracking my search predilections; they know of my hunt for Squire Turner and Cassius Clay, and may well have ranked results so that I'd come across Harrison's work.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Written Words For You All to Read

Running family lines feels, at times, like fishing. Occasionally, I land a catch that haunts me. A long-concluded life demands I consider our present circumstances.

I spend hours trolling databases, message boards and digitized documents. Sometimes I'll net evidence of further relationships. It’s usually gratifying. Given a seeming plethora of available data, and my low threshold of interest, I've disciplined myself – generally – to confine research to first cousins, and forgo crawling out far distant limbs in my family tree.

I was diverted from entering Turner family deed records from 19th century Madison County, Kentucky … based on a probate sale involving the estate of one Creed Turner.

One of my skill sets seems to be name retention. Immediately the name ‘Creed’ evoked ‘Curd’ Turner: a first cousin, 4-times removed, of whom I’d learned very little. My heart raced when I discovered Turner’s executors had distributed Missouri lands to Curd’s siblings. I'd cracked a nut! ‘Curd’ and Creed Turner were one and the same.

This, however, was only the first of several excitements.

We both descend from Turner's grandfather (my 4-times great-grandfather), John Turner, Jr. (c1738-1813). Technically, Creed and I are ‘half-cousins.’ John had perhaps 19 children by two wives. I am from John's union with Rebeckah Smith (1743-1774), Creed from second wife Jane Barnett Cooper (c1755-1816).

In 1814, Creed’s father, Barnett ‘Barney’ Turner (1790-1836), posted bond in Madison County, Kentucky, for his half-brother, Thomas ‘Trading Tom’ Turner (1764-1847). This enabled widower Thomas, my 3-times great grandfather, to also marry a second time … to my 3-times great grandmother, Annah Berry (c1785-1833). Ten months later, Methodist Deacon John Pace would also unite Barnett to Nancy Durret Taylor (1795-1836). Nephew Squire Turner (1793-1871) posted bond for this pair. Squire and his uncle Barnett had seen battle together, both serving as Privates in Capt. Robert Sturges' company of Kentucky Mounted Volunteer Militia in the War of 1812.

Nancy was a teen when her Revolutionary-era father died. Peter Taylor (c1750-1812) succumbed to a ‘stroke of apoplexy’ while overseeing some of his two dozen slaves in a garden. His estate, arising out of a land grant of 1,000 acres when Kentucky was yet an extension of Virginia, was considerable. It included fine pewter, a library and a chaise carriage. Taylor's 1807 will provided for children “yet to be reared.”

Barnett, with Annah’s father, James Berry (1752-1822, whose life Monk had saved in 1782), were among executors of John Turner’s will when Barnett’s father died the following year. Barnett’s inheritance was considerably smaller: John Turner left him perhaps a sixth of his 200-acre tract. John had in 1811 been exempted from paying the county levy on half of his slaves, to wit “two old negroes Karon and Pender.”

On 30 December 1822, Creed Turner became the third son and fourth child born to Barnett and Nancy. He was likely named for his maternal uncle, Creed Haskins Taylor (1808-1832). The Turners could be considered clannish. They kept in touch. "Barnett Turner and his family is in common health," wrote Barnett's uncle Philip to son Talton, in Missouri by 1825. More importantly, these Turners could be migratory. Philip Turner (1762-1852), born with his brother John (above) in North Carolina, had westward momentum. Settled in Madison County, Kentucky, his name is found on an 1819 petition from the Louisiana-Missouri territory. Philip joins others in asking the President to appoint someone whereby they can register land titles. At the penning of the 1825 letter, in which he writes, "Our children is much annimated with the prospects of coming to your cuntry," Philip is poised to leapfrog his siblings. Like Daniel and his brother Squire Boone, he'll move from North Carolina, to Kentucky, and on to Missouri. Unlike the Boones, Philip will bring eight slaves.

The 1830 census shows Barnett and Nancy’s Madison County household to contain 8 children and 17 slaves. Neither Barnett nor Nancy would be reflected in the 1840 census. Nancy died in March 1831. Creed was several weeks beyond the age of 14 when his father died ... in February 1836.

In ten years, Creed was to mimic the western migration of his grandfathers. He had sufficient resources to purchase 160 acres in Atchison County, Missouri in May 1846. Surprisingly, a year later – on 27 May 1847 – the Oregon Spectator published Creed Turner’s name beneath a resolution of pioneers vowing to “not give their vote to any man for A public office who is in any manner, shape or form connected with claim jumping." Turner was in Oregon City, the administrative hub of a self-organized, provisional government that had proclaimed authority in the Pacific Northwest. The following year, part of this amorphous area would be partitioned and called The Oregon Territory.

I had to pause. Within an hour of discovering Creed Turner is kin to me, I must reckon with the idea that – a few weeks shy of 167 years ago – my subject was fifteen miles from where I sat, pecking away at a computer.

You see, I cast my net from Portland, Oregon.

It may have been the U.S. Senate’s June 1846 ratification of a treaty with Great Britain, finally delineating a northern border of the United States of America, that spurred Creed Turner to navigate the Oregon Trail.

Map of the administrative districts of the Provisional Government of Oregon, as of 1843.
State archives indicate Turner had been busy. He filed two land claims in September 1846: the first in Champoeg District, a second in Yamhill. In November of the same year, Turner filed yet another Champoeg claim. [See image.] Turner may have been speculating a pioneer settlement in Champoeg would, with territorial recognition, supplant Oregon City as the seat of government.

Creed Turner was certainly not without resources.

Goeres-Gardner, in her 2005 book, Necktie Parties, locates Creed Turner in Clackamas District. On 24 May 1847, only days before publicly committing to the set of resolutions on claim jumping, Turner had “signed ownership of fifty head of American cattle over to Thomas [McCutcheon] Chambers while Turner was traveling back to the eastern states.”* It's more likely Turner had driven stock before him in the trek from Missouri - animals that subsequently required fattening up - than it is he paid inflated, frontier prices for them.

Irish and a Presbyterian minister, Chambers and his sons left Oregon City in the fall of 1847 to lay claim to land owned by the Hudson Bay Company. I don't know what happened to Turner's cattle. If the men stayed in relationship, Turner would have known of Chamber's response to those sent to evict the (perhaps former) cleric, soon after his arrival in the environs of present-day Olympia, Washington. According to Perez in the Steilacoom Historical Museum Quarterly, "After no reply from Chambers, officials of the Company visited him on [Steilacoom Creek] and made their demands. Chambers replied by resting a rifle on his fence and made it quite clear he was going to stay. The Hudson's Bay Company never bothered him again."

Creed Turner ‘sold up.’ He was likely in Kentucky at the death of half-uncle Thomas Turner (above), on 17 November 1847. Madison County deeds, dated 29 November 1847,  reveal Cyrus and Thomas Turner – 'Trading Tom's' grandsons by Squire Turner – took possession of 420 acres Creed held on Tates Creek in the Bluegrass Country. Not only that, the sale included Creed's personalty; all goods, chattels, articles and movable property located thereon. It may be interesting to note that Cyrus Turner would be dead in 18 months, publicly disemboweled by an unstable political aspirant, Cassius Marcellus Clay.

A John Bonser and his party of immigrants arrived in Linnton, Oregon in December 1847. According to Thompson, in Oregon Pioneer Biographies, Ohioan Bonsers “were not shy in their hospitality.”
Image of John Bonser (right) and his Sauvie Island home/boarding house in Oregon.
John Bonser & home, c1880 or later.

The following year the Bonsers settled a piece of land on the south bank of the Columbia River, at Sauvie Island. “In the spring of 1850 a large cabin was built on a knoll to avoid the annual floods, and added to for the next several years. It was to become a rambling structure capable of housing both a large family and guests,” says Thompson. The Bonser home was “a popular gathering place on the river.”

Thompson continues, “The Bonsers had taken in several young women of the Lee family who had been orphaned, and with John's own marriageable daughters, the Sauvies Island homestead drew a swarm of men from throughout the area.” The U.S. Congress had prompted a marriage market in far-off Oregon with the passage of the Oregon Donation Land Act: the legislation provided 320 acres to wives of white male citizens. (American, half-breed Indians with at least intent to obtain citizenship could file claims: the law explicitly excluded African Americans and Hawaiians.) “No young girl over the age of twelve was safe from the stampede of young farmers wanting to add another half section to their land,” declares Thompson.

The 29 year-old Creed Turner was boarding with the Bonsers by 19 October 1851. Newspaper accounts have him romantically invested in the Bonsers’ daughter Martha Jane. Attractive by many accounts, Martha had just turned 14 in September.

Following Turner, another, younger boarder had taken up residency in the Bonser’s ‘popular gathering place.’ Edward Augustus Bradbury (1827-1851) had arrived from Cincinnati. Son of Cornelius Saunders Bradbury (1799-1871), operator of Cincinnati’s most productive seed oil and gristmills, Edward was likely scouting frontier opportunities.

“Turner had been attracted to Martha for some time but when Bradbury arrived they seemed to have eyes only for each other. Turner became jealous and was determined to see an end to their attraction for one another, so on October 19, 1851, as the family gathered for a quiet [Sunday morning], Turner entered the room and walked up beside Bradbury. Without comment or provocation he pulled a dirk, a dagger-like knife usually used for stabbing, and slashed at the young man,” reports Wilson, in Legal Executions in the Western Territories 1847-1911. “He gutted Bradbury with five deep gashes to his stomach, and then inflicted more deep cuts to his left side, chest, and arms.” Like the above Cyrus Turner, “the stomach wound … resulted in a terrible infection.” Like Cyrus, “Bradbury lingered for a day in excruciating pain and fever before he died.”

News clipping of Creed Turner's crime in Gallipolis Journal
Horrid Murder, 1851
Turner did not flee the scene, nor did he deny his involvement.

Newly appointed Portland Marshal William L. Higgins investigated, even though the crime occurred outside his jurisdiction. “Higgins’s arrest of the killer, Creed Turner, was the first extension of the city’s authority,” declares the Portland Police Museum. Having no deputies, Higgins alone is to have conducted Turner to the county seat at Hillsboro. It’s not known where Turner was secured: Washington County built their first jail two years later.

The following day, when Bradbury was interred, a grand jury was convened. In short order, Turner was indicted for first degree murder. Witnesses testified the homicide “was unjustified and the jealous survivor a cowardly criminal.” Goeres-Gardner also states, “Turner was neither repentant nor dismayed at his action. He told the authorities that his only regret was that he was unable to kill himself.”

It was an unfortunate time to commit murder in the Territory. Attention was sharply focused on such transgression. Weeks before, on 9 September, the Oregon Spectator carried a story about a vigilance committee battering jail doors down in Alta, California. “The excitement was intense,” it was reported. “Only 17 minutes were occupied in rescuing [an incarcerated pair] and arranging the preliminaries for the execution of the culprits.” Nothing short of an immediate execution could have appeased the excited crowd. No crime was identified. “The bodies, after hanging for 40 minutes, were cut down.” Whittaker, a ‘hardened villain,’ “evinced some signs of life. He was swung up a second time, and was suspended for 20 minutes longer.” 'Hanging,' in this sense, was likely to be 'strung up' and strangled.

Justice was makeshift on the frontier. William Kendall, convicted of homicide, had been hung in Marion County, Oregon in April. Shortly thereafter, gambler William Keene was convicted of manslaughter in the death of a sailor named Cook – arising from a game of ten-pins – and sentenced to six years in the penitentiary. “As the jury had decided that he ought not to hang, and he could not be confined in an imaginary penitentiary, he was pardoned by the governor,” relay Bancroft and Victor in their 1888 History of Oregon.

In addition to the absence of a penitentiary or courthouse of any kind, a territorial judiciary had yet to stabilize. Justices elected and appointed by the provisional government had resigned, declined their appointment, or simply never shown up for trial. With the creation of an Oregon Territory, President James Knox Polk obtained the power of appointment. His nominee as Chief Justice to the Territory's Supreme Court, William P. Bryant, had resigned in 1850 ... but not before ordering U.S. Marshal Joseph Lafayette Meek to hang Kussus and Quallalwowt. The pair had been surrendered by Snoqualmie and Skewahamish people for a tribute of 80 blankets. They'd been executed following trial for the 1849 death of Leander Wallace in an 'affray' at Fort Nisqually ... in which a Native man had also been killed. Polk’s appointment for Associate Supreme Court Justice, Orville Charles Pratt, was busying himself in San Francisco, far beyond his jurisdiction.

Bancroft and Victor report, “At a meeting held in Portland April 1st [1851], it was resolved that the president of the United States should be informed of the neglect of the judges of the first and second districts, no court having been held in Washington county since the previous spring …” Obviously en route, Polk’s appointment, Chief Justice Thomas Nelson, arrived by sea at the end of the month. “The arrival of the new chief justice, and [return of] Pratt, brought a temporary quiet.”

Three days after his indictment, Turner was brought to trial. Attorney of the Territorial Supreme Court, Alexander Campbell, was responsible for prosecuting him. According to Scott, in his 1890 History of Portland, Oregon, Campbell “was particularly well drilled in the principles of common law. He placed great dependence upon his books, carefully preparing his cases, and appearing in Court with an armful of authorities on every occasion.”

Turner came before Campbell’s future millionaire, San Francisco law partner - Judge Pratt - on 24 October. Pratt had begun a law practice ten years earlier. In May of the previous year, he had presided in an Oregon City tavern, conducting a partisan trial for murders that occurred outside his jurisdiction. Tiloukaikt, Tomahas, Kiamsumpkin, Iaiachalakis, Endoklamin, and Klokomas were hung for the murders of missionary Dr. Marcus Whitman, his wife Narcissa, and eleven others. In addition to a dozen troubling rulings, Pratt had quashed an acting governor’s pardon of the Cayuse nationals. Clatsop County Court historians reflect on Pratt: “During his term, Judge Pratt was embroiled in controversy. He frequently traveled out of the territory to further his political and business interests, and he took advantage of opportunities to increase his personal fortune.” Likely a fellow speculator, Pratt had thrown his political weight into having Congress declare Salem the capital of Oregon Territory.

Turner was represented by Matthew Paul Deady, who had been admitted to the Ohio bar four years earlier. At age 27, he’d just been elected to represent Yamhill County in the territorial legislature. In two years he too would become an Associate Supreme Court Justice in Oregon. After President James Buchanan appointed him to the bench, the Oregon Encyclopedia reports Deady “showed an inclination toward ‘natural justice.’”

The rule of law was as fluid as territorial boundaries and vacancies in administration. A provisional government had self-organized as an association, primarily as a means of assuring valid land titles. Perhaps not even a majority of white men in these western hinterlands acquiesced to the formation of this government. Justice Peter Hardeman Burnett recalled veiled threats which showed the pernicious role of claim jumping in his memoirs, Recollections And Opinions Of An Old Pioneer: "The friends of the organization were active, kind, and wise in their course toward those opposed. When one opposed to the government would state that fact, some friend would kindly remind him that his claim was liable to be 'jumped,' and that he could not alone defend his rights against the violent and unprincipled; and that it was a desolate and painful condition for a citizen, in a civilized community, to be an outlaw." It was perhaps to organized, politically motivated coercion that Creed Turner had stood opposed in 1847.

The question of what laws were in effect "arose and vexed the country," declared Evans in his 1889 History of the Pacific Northwest Oregon and Washington. Oregon's Organic Law of 1845, nominally in effect at Turner's trial, drew largely from British common law and the coincidence that someone had brought a copy of Iowa statutes to the frontier. "In the spring of 1850, the newly arrived United States District Attorney had pronounced the act making the selections from the Iowa statutes void," says Evans. No codified, written law was in effect at the time of Turner's 1851 trial. Technically, the death penalty for first degree murder would not become law until passed by statute thirteen years later. The Oregon Constitution, adopted in 1857, would make no provision for it.

Image of Martha Jane (Bonser) Armstrong.
Congregational Church Deacon Thomas George Naylor, who’d come overland with Burnett, was foreman to a 12-man jury. Campbell subpoenaed eleven witnesses. Turner apparently watched his coveted Martha (right), her father, and two Bonser brothers take the stand. Two neighbors Johnson (also Johnston) were called. It is not known how long the jury deliberated, but Turner was found ‘guilty as charged in the indictment’ at the conclusion of a one-day trial. On 4 November 1851, Pratt sentenced him to hang one month following. Turner’s death sentence was reported in San FranciscoDaily Union eleven days later. [See note, below.]

My heart raced, with my next discovery. Creed Turner began his autobiography! “As the days passed he became more frantic and dedicated to penning the story of his life,” relates Wilson. Goeres-Gardner has him ‘writing madly’ during the last week of his life: “Visitors to the jail heard him mumbling, “I’m coming to myself now, and life is getting sweeter and sweeter to me. Some have taken me for a grand scoundrel of the first water, and that I aimed to get a big name. I wasn’t smart enough to act insane.”

Goeres-Gardner reports Turner “savoring the last few hours of his remaining days.” He ate a large meal on the evening of 3 December. The following morning he had a shave. “He requested to be baptized, but it was too late to make arrangements.” The Oregon Statesman would report Turner “was equipped in his shroud” before being taken to his place of execution. Goeres-Gardner observes: “Perhaps the word is simply used to mean the garments he wore were the ones he was to be buried in.”

Smith tells us, “He was marched to the gallows, climbed the steps with a firm gait, and took his place upon the trapdoor.”

Although they’d been unable to baptize him, Reverend John Smith Griffin and political aspirant / circuit-riding Church Elder, Dr. James McBride both sermonized from the scaffold. Says Smith, “The sun broke through the clouds shortly before the execution and the reporter from the Statesman felt it was an omen of God’s pleasure” at the impending killing.

Several accounts note the absence of any blindfold, in Washington County’s first and last hanging. Turner was allowed to ‘scrutinize’ a crowd of perhaps 250 as he awaited the drop. (One contemporary account has numbers representing half the state's population in attendance.) Occurring well beyond harvest, remote farmers could behold the proceeding without substantial cost to themselves.

Creed Turner's final moments have been memorialized in several texts.

Much notice was given County Sheriff William Hardin Bennett, a 25-year-old Kentuckian, executing Turner at precisely 11am, as ordered by Judge Pratt’s death warrant.

“Turner broke his neck in the fall and after he was pronounced dead the body was allowed to hang a sufficient time to ensure that he could not be revived,” relates Wilson. With Deady now likely in charge of his estate, Creed Turner’s body was placed in a pine coffin provided by the county. He was that afternoon one of the first interred, likely in what is now called the Hillsboro Pioneer Cemetery, then on the western edge of town. No marker exists for either Turner or Bradbury.

Creed Turner was not yet thirty. Death Penalty USA lists him, behind Kendal, as the second white executed in Oregon.

Seeking to separate state executions from public spectacle, the Oregon legislature later ordered they be screened by fences.

Perhaps you can imagine my excitement, at the discovery that Creed Turner and I - in proximity and separated only by time - have both committed to publishing family histories. Testimony regarding the Revolutionary-era exploits of John Turner is disappointingly scant. I crave to learn more about Thomas Turner (whom son Squire referred to as 'Old Marse' in correspondence). Thomas, if not Squire, is likely to have fathered Jeremiah 'Jery' Turner (1840-1917), by one their enslaved women.

Sadly, Goeres-Gardner reports in a footnote to her well-researched Necktie Parties that, while such texts were common in that era, "Turner's manuscript has been lost over time." When one considers crude, log structures were then contending with natives' cedar-plank longhouses as the ultimate in shelter, it would be extraordinary for Turner's work to have survived. I blame Deady, however. Judges Campbell, Pratt and Deady all left their papers. The latter can be found among collections housed in the Oregon Historical Society Research Library. Deady is said to have acknowledged his role in Turner's defense. 

There are no references to Oregon land among Creed Turner’s deeds settled in Madison County. It’s quite likely his attorney relied on the same strategy of collecting payment that he employed the following year. Judge Nelson appointed Deady to represent Adam E. Wimple, for killing his 13-year-old bride, Mary. Lansing, in Nimrod: Courts, Claims, and Killing On The Oregon Frontier, has the ‘capable’ Deady receiving as payment Wimple’s land claim … via his will. ‘Crazy Wimple,’ who’d harvested $10,000 from California gold fields, was hung on 8 October 1852.

Marcus, William and Mary Jane; siblings, "heirs and legatees of Creed Turner, deceased," sold 3/4 of the Missouri lands for $375. They went to one Littleton West Turner. Of this Turner's father, one researcher speculates, “This John is probably a grandson of John and Rebeckah Turner (above), but it is not known for sure through which son." Such speculation places Littleton beyond my 'first cousin prohibition,' and the story settles.

It transpires Creed Turner's estate was estimable. He had bright prospects. In March 1752, his heirs sold another 352 acres along Tates Creek to a Samuel Phelps, likely first cousin Samuel Brockman Phelps (1828-1909), another of Peter Taylor's grandsons. Turner's siblings sold another 95 acres on Tates Creek to Samuel Clifton Stone (1822-1901). Nephew to Squire Turner (above), it's difficult to justify having Stone, the nephew of the wife of my half-2nd great grand uncle, already in my tree ... but there you are.

*‘Back to the United States’ was a phrase employed in the era of Creed Turner's grandfather John. After joining into what had begun as Judge Henderson’s speculative colonization of uncharted territory ... under fellow North Carolinian Daniel Boone’s leadership ... 'the States' were both geographically distant and politically distinct. Land we now know of as Kentucky was at this time being organized as Transylvania Colony.
Bold face indicates the author's probable direct ancestor.

Elder, in Last Words of the Executed, indicates Turner’s death was reported in the New York Times. It’s unlikely folks in Madison County heard of their kinsman’s plight prior to his execution. The New York Daily Tribune only reported the “wanton murder” on 2 December. The story of the crime broke in the Indiana State Sentinel a week after Turner’s execution. It was part of a cautionary tale: “Emigration this year has been large, but too many of them have gone to sow their "wild oats" among the mines instead of the fertile plains, where it would certainly yield an hundred fold.” [sic]

News clipping of Creed Turner's crime in Gallipolis Journal
Family members may have learned Creed Turner would “doubtless be executed” nearer Christmas, when the murder was reported in an Ohio newspaper, the Gallipolis Journal (right).

Monday, March 31, 2014

Lat Thame Say

It was for partisan reasons that Patrick Gordon, alive in 1649, depicted George Keith, Scotland's 5th Earl Marischal (1553-1622), as "a learned, wyse, and upright good man." In his Short Abridgement of Britane's Distemper (published 1844) Gordon - like Keith - took the side of his sovereign, James VI and I, under whom the Scots and English Crowns had been united in 1603. To do so has religious implications. Gordon, like Keith and King James (of the King James Bible), opposed the agendas of both Scottish Coventars and English Puritans. Protestants, they feared machinations by expatriate Scots, in foreign, Catholic courts.

Gordon tells of Lady Keith's presentient dream (described in While She Was Laughing) which followed James' transfer of Abbey of Deer holdings to the Keith family). Perhaps as a precursor to being stripped of title to those lands, Gordon cites a clause in what appears to be the Abbey's 13th-century charter:
Cursed be those that taketh this away from the holy use whereunto it is now dedicat.
It is apparent that the 5th Earl Marischal did not confine his scorn to wifely premonitions ... that upsetting Monks would lead to dire consequences. In 1593 George Keith founded Marischal College. He did so on the site of a former monastery. 

Marischal College was created as a Protestant alternative to the Earl's nearby alma mater, the extant King's College (purged of its Catholic staff in 1560). “This resulted in Aberdeen having two Universities … at a time when there were only two such institutions (Oxford and Cambridge) in the whole of England.” [See Eddie Fowler’s post in Doric Columns.]

"There would seem to be no particular reason for two academies so near together," relates Hutton, in his Literary Landmarks of the Scottish Universities (1904). "Perhaps, the New Town, then more important and more populous than the Old, was a little jealous that a poor village, consisting of a single street, should be the municipal seat of learning. But, more probably, there was a feeling that King's College leaned too much towards the old order of things religious; that particular Earl Marischal, the founder, being a zealous member of the Reformed Church. The earliest home of Marischal College was in the old monastery of the Grey Friars." Simmons, in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biographydetails an endowment that further converted monastic land as Keith founded the college, "... for the maintenance of which he granted the properties formerly belonging to the Grey, the Black, and the White friars of Aberdeen, and to the chaplainries of Bervie and Cowie."

There is, in the literature, much scorn for the Keith family aggregating Abbey lands, as kingly reward after Earl stood as proxy groom in James' 1589 Cophenhagen marriage to 14-year-old Anne of Denmark. Eight years prior George Keith had inherited an annual income of 270,000 merks, "regarded as ‘the revenue greatest of any earl of Scotland,’" reports Simmons. "It was commonly said," relates Taylor, in his Great Historic Families of Scotland (1889), that this Earl Marischal "could enter Scotland at Berwick, and travel through the country to its northern extremity without requiring ever to take a meal or a night’s rest off his own lands." A trek of 300 miles, George Keith was exceedingly wealthy before the noble reward. Says Gordon of the transfer, " it hath bein observed by sundrie that the earles of that house befor wer the richest in the kingdom, having treasure and store besyde them."

"When it was about a century old," imparts Hutton, of the college, "somewhat better quarters, on the same site, were built for it. But neither its first nor its second shell was considered worthy of the spirit and the soul within it, and in 1841, the central block of the still existing buildings was finished and occupied. On a carefully preserved stone from the older structure is cut, in relief, and in very ancient style of lettering, the family motto of the Keiths, Earls Marischal:"
Thay Haif Said: Quhat Say Thay? Lat Thame Say.
I must interject that the Keith Clan motto has been 'Veritas Vincit,' for "Truth Shews It" or   - formally - 'Truth Conquers,' since at least the 1513 Battle of Flodden Field.

The Marischal's shield was to have born the phrase, "Thay say: quhat they say: thay haif sayed: let thame say."

To me, the second variation ... sans question mark ... seems more in character with what I've learned of George Keith. It's unlikely Hutton ever saw the inscription. Ferguson, in his Great North of Scotland Railway Guide (1881), reports "the inscription in large letters remained on the buildings till 1836, when they were taken down."

I most appreciate the declarative expression advanced in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (1859):

I'd like to imagine the 5th Marischal sufficiently staunch that he made no inquiry of others' positions. Taylor relies on the interestingly named Dr. Pratt to tie the expression to Lady Keith's dream: "It is thought to have been in reference to this legend or to some reproaches of a similar nature, which were heaped on the Marischal family at the time, in consequence of their sacrilegious appropriation of the Abbey and its possessions, that they inscribed the unavailing defiance." Clark, who, in his Spell of Scotland (1916),  reported seeing a question mark, felt the phrase described "a certain ancestral right of hauteur."

Image: Cast Stone Sculpture of ThoughtThe question mark survives

Ferguson’s Guide relates a similar motto was affixed to a home in Peterhead, the burgh about Inverugie Castle: "It ran thus:
They saye–they saye. What saye they? Do you well, and lat them saye, saye.”
The sans-query messaging also spread. Hutton avers, "There still exists in the town of St. Andrews, near the Old Abbey wall, an aged stone lintel upon which, according to tradition, the subject of a good deal of malicious gossip carved with his own hand, and in rude letters, the sentences:
They Have Said. And They Will Say. Let Them Be Saying."

Bulloch, in Vol. III of Scottish Notes and Queries (1890) employs the query, but says cryptically his phrasing differs from that in the Marischal College gateway. "Almost the same words as above are still in common use in Buchan:
Lat them say, say, as thae like, I carena what thae say." 
But Bulloch seems to give the motto the most thought. "The common use of this phrase shows there is little respect paid to conventionalism, or it may be the outcome of true independence of character."

"Such inscriptions must have had some effect in moulding the character of past generations, when books were scarce, and the rudimental part of education confined to a few. By the prominence given to selected adages, and popular sayings, they became impressed upon the minds of those able to read them, and by this means became a source of knowledge to the community, by being often repeated and referred to as good authority or wise sayings on many subjects. The originality of some of them, and the intelligent selection of others, is evidence an advancing spirit of enquiry among the more intelligent classes. Many of them show evidence of individuality of character more common and characteristic than now to be met with."

Henderson, in a volume of the Dictionary of National Biography, describes George Keith as "one of the few thoroughly cultured Scottish noblemen of his time." A sympathetic biographer claims "at eighteen he was an adept in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, "and in the studies of antiquities, history, and literature when, discontented with the scope allowed in his own country, he resolved to study in France." Simmons, in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biographyreports Keith was educated with his younger brother William in Paris "and at the academy in Geneva, where he studied under the Calvinist theologian Theodore Beza, who held his pupil in high regard." After his younger brother was killed in a brawl, Keith "abandoned his studies to tour the courts of Italy and Germany." Continues Simmons: "It has been argued that the earl's decision to establish the college as a firmly protestant institution, teaching along humanist lines and using a professorial system, arose from his dissatisfaction at the failure of King's College in Old Aberdeen to reform itself thus."

It is interesting to observe that the brilliant Irish wit George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) had "They say. What do they say? Let them say." carved into his own livingroom mantelpiece.

H. L. Menken, whom I hold priestly in American letters, employed the phrasing “They haif said. Quhat say they? Lat thame say.” as the motto in the masthead of a journal on language he inspired in 1925. Author John Alego explains its use: "The form American Speech adopted is from an inscription over a doorway at Aberdeen's Marischal College, founded in 1593. It is likely that the motto's original import was a disregard for the opinions of the world. I have suspected, however, that the founders of American Speech took it instead as a statement of their editorial policy, which was to inquire into the actual usage of [language by] Americans and report it, but not to attempt to 'improve' or 'correct' it (and perhaps also not to worry about those who thought they should)." [Parentheses in the original.]

We have no evidence that George Keith coined the phrase, but it is demonstrable that - by inscribing this motto on the wall of an institution of learning - his sentiments have inspired intellectuals passionate about language and thought. It may be that such 'cavalier' reasoning influenced the House of Keith in succeeding generations ... and could lead to controversial mating choices made by Parson James Keith (1696-c1752) and depicted in the post Clishmaclaver.

Friday, January 31, 2014

While She Was Laughing Them To Scorn

In a previous post, I noted the potential for Scotland’s Earls Marischal to have influenced my ancestors. Here are some tales, relating to my Keith 'kith and kin'
... phrasing my family employs to depict 'native land and people.’ 

Beginning with the earliest: 

Thomas the Rhymer (also Thomas of Erceldoune, c1220 – 1298) was to have made two 13th century predictions, concerning Inverugie property that entered the Keith family after Thomas’ death.
“Ugie, Ugie, by the sea,
Lordless shall thy lands be,
And beneath thy ha’ hearth stane
The Tod shall bring her bairns hame.”
[See Collections for a History of the Shires of Aberdeen and Banff, Volume 1, by Joseph Robertson; pp. 420-421.]
My translation: “Where River Ugie approaches the North (then 'German') Sea, there will be no lord over these lands, and beneath the high stone above a fireplace, the fox shall bring home her pups.”

The name of Keith was not likely associated with Inverugie until about 1369, when Mariot le Cheyne (c1335-c1391) took John de Keith (1336-1420) as her second husband. Cheyne’s Tower (below, right) was most likely integrated into Keith’s subsequent Inverugie Castle c1380 during John de Keith’s lifetime … and generations after The Rhymer’s death. [See Andrew Spratt watercolor of Inverugie, here.]
Image of Inverugie Castle, c1961
Inverugie Castle, c1961

Although England, under King George I, deprived Scotland's 10th Marischal of all his titles and confiscated his lands c1716, it is a "mistake" to suppose that the above stanzas were composed with the Inverugie Castle of the Earls Marischal in mind, cautions one author.

Another of the Rhymer's mystical pronouncements does make Clan Keith its subject, however. Popular culture reinforces the inevitability of the family's demise by venerating the site where Thomas revealed his foretelling.
“As lang’s this stane stands on this craft.
The name o’ Keith shall be alaft,
But when this stane begins to fa’
The name o’ Keith shall wear awa’.”
[See Annals of Peterhead, by Peter Buchan; pg 64.]
My translation: “As long as this stone remains upright on this croft, the name of Keith shall be aloft. But when the stone begins to fall, the Keith name shall wear away.”

William Ferguson, in his 1881 guide, The Great North of Scotland Railway, cites a field named ‘Thamas’ Stane’ (Thomas’ Stone) at his depiction of Inverugie village. It is from this spot, with “many curiously sculptured stones still to be seen,” that Thomas the Rhymer was to have shared his prophetic vision. [See pg. 115.] 

Perhaps Thomas evidenced incredible foresight, to link the Keith family with this place. If this is the case, subsequent chroniclers showed great skill … retaining a name association whose relevance would not become apparent for a hundred years or so. I've found no evidence the 18th century Keith family was aware of Thomas’ foreboding. The fall of the house of Keith (described here) made a deep, psychic impression on those who remained in the area (on lands which did not become immediately ‘Lordless,’ but were merely assigned to new, Royal favorites). If Thomas did make any pronouncement in these environs, it was likely amended in retrospect.

“During the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries,’ says Chambers, ‘to fabricate a prophecy in the name of Thomas the Rhymer appears to have been found a good stroke of policy on many occasions.” Scots’ aspirations were intended to be dampened, by attributing false assertions to the mystical poet and seer. Hence the alternate appellation, ‘Thomas the Lyar.’   [See Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 17, entry for Thomas Erceldoune, Henry Richard Tedder, ed.; citing Popular Rhymes of Scotland, by R. Chambers; pg. 212; here]
Note: Robertson reports ‘Thamas’ Stane’ was incorporated into the nearby parish church in 1763. This would have immediately preceded repurchase of ancestral lands by George Keith (c1693-1778), the by-then restored 10th Earl Marischal.
The following portent, by an Earl Marishcal’s wife, arrives from the 17th century:
“Hereupon, it is said, she dreamed a dream, which was thought to portend the downfall of the House of Keith. She saw the monks of Deer set themselves to work to hew down the crag of Dunnottar with their penknives and, while she was laughing them to scorn, Behold! the whole crag, with all its strong and stately buildings, was undermined and fallen in the sea.” [From Chambers's Encyclopaedia, Volume 4, pg 750. See also note, below.]
Cistercian monks founded the Abbey of Deer in 1219. In the course of three centuries the monastery had come into possession of considerable income, based on great landholdings in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. "In 1543 the charge of the abbey [of Deer] came into the hands of the great Keith family." [See Makers of the Scottish Church, by William Beveridge, pg. 69.] 

The Keiths were already doing quite well. The 4th Earl Marischal ('William who Kept the Tower' at Dunnottar Castle, 1506-1581) had married his cousin and "nearly doubled the family domains, which now included lands in seven shires: Haddington, Linlithgow, Kincardine, Aberdeen, Banff, Elgin, and Caithness." [See Chambers’s, Volume 5, pg 778.] In 1552 William got his 2nd son, Robert Keith (1533- bef 1592), then a youth, appointed Abbot 'in conimendam,' or in trust, on behalf of the Abbey.

"The flourishing monastery soon fell prey to the Scottish [Calvinist] Reformers." [See The Catholic Encyclopedia.] The Abbey’s annual income was valued at £2300 in 1561. Revenue was - in part - to fund a glebe, several churches, and their ministers. Robert Keith was “by no means liberal or regular in his payments.”  Eight years later, Scotland’s General Assembly refused Keith’s petition to be relieved of paying stipends to clergy from these revenues. In 1587 King James VI and I erected Abbey lands into a lordship, under a peerage styled Altrie. The petition begins with a declaration “that the monastical superstition for which the said abbey of Deer was of auld erectit and foundit is now, by the laws of this realme, utterly abolished … so that na memories thereof shall be heirafter.” Robert Keith, as Lord Altrie, pensioned the monks off … and drew the income to himself.  [See Beveridge, pp 69-70.]

These former monastic properties passed to George Keith, the 5th Earl Marischal (1553-1622). Adherents of the old faith begrudged seeing this Church property remaining in the Keith family’s “already overgrown estates.” Public animosity passed as well … as land and income accrued to George Keith. The dreaming wife above is not specified. The 5th Marischal married twice, both times to a ‘Margaret:’ c1581 to a daughter of Alexander, 5th Lord Home; and c1599 to a daughter of James, 6th Lord Ogilvy of Airlie. “The story ran that his wife earnestly entreated him to forego the spoil [of the lands of Deer]. But ‘fourteen score chalders of meal and bear was a sore temptation,' says Patrick Gordon of Cluny,” reports Chambers, describing crop yields and - I suppose - hunting. [EDIT - See note below.] Chambers informs us, “The earl was deaf to her entreaties.”
Aerial image of Dunnottar Castle, attributed to Roger Wollstadt, use by Creative Commons licensing.
Dunnottar Castle

Dunnottar (Dùn Fhoithear) was reduced by Cromwell’s forces in May 1652. Chambers alleges Lady Keith's account was to have been written down before 1660, when the Keiths re-seated themselves at Inverugie Castle in Peterhead.
[More at post 'Clishmaclaver'.]

Other mid-17th century apparitions follow, in the wake of the Marischal’s decision to set up operations at Inverugie. Phantasms apparently visited the place over time. 
“About the 5th of November, in ane seamanis house of Peterheid there was hard, upone the night, beating of drums, uther tymes sounding of trumpetis, playing on pifferis, and ringing of bellis, to the astoneishment of the heireris. Trubles follouit.” [See The Gazetteer for Scotland.]
My translation: “Drums were heard in a mariner's house at the port at Peterhead on 5 November 1642. At other times, trumpets, pifferis [see image, below] and bells astonished listeners.”

“Troubles followed.”

The account evokes an apprehensive, populist foreboding ... to choices made by William Keith (1610-1670/71, Scotland's 7th Earl Marischal), to whom local, able-bodied men owed their fealty. The 'First Bishop's War' had broken out in 1639. This conflict may have seemed a prelude to a series of civil wars which embroiled Scotland and Ireland ... and then blazed into an English Civil War.

‘Troublous times’ ensued after the general population dutifully followed the Earl Marischal's decision to draw from his clan levies an army to support Covenanters, a Presbyterian movement who opposed the established Episcopal Church … particularly changes to religious practice (including introduction of a Book of Common Prayer) that King Charles I was attempting to impose. Troubles likely did not recede when the Earl later made a pact with Charles … supporting him militarily ... until the King was executed in 1649.

Image of piffero, shared under the Creative Commons license at Wikipedia.
The piffero or piffaro is a double reed musical instrument of the oboe family.

Having discovered the original phrasing employed by Gordon to be "fourtein scoir chalderes of meill and beir," I'm no closer to understanding the term 'beir.' The World Sense Dictionary allows for a translation which depicts the mammal. The Scottish Archive Network includes it in terms of dry measurement. I conclude from Cullen's glossary that 'bier' makes reference to barley, also styled 'bere' and a precursor to beer.

More importantly, Gordon, in his Short Abridgement of Britane's Distemper (written mid 17th century, published 1844), makes the case that the Lady Keith in question was the 5th Marischals' first wife, daughter of Home, and that accounts of her dream were very likely in circulation before the destruction of Dunnottar.

Reports Gordon: "A woman both of a high spirit and of a tender conscience," Lady Margaret Keith forbid her husband to "leave such a consuming moth in his house as was the sacrilegious meddling with the Abbacie of Deir."
"Upon his absolute refusal of her demand, she had this vision the night following.
In her sleepe she saw a great number of religious men, in ther habit, come forth of that Abbey to the stronge craige of Dunnottar, which is the principal residence of that familie. She saw them also set themselves round about the rock, to get it down and demolishe it, having no instruments nor tools wherewith to perform this work, but only pen-knyves, wherewith they foolishly (as it seemed to her) began to pick at the craig. She smiled to see them intend so fruitless an enterpryse, and went to call her husband, to scoff and jeer them out of it. When she had found him, and brought him to see these sillie religious monckes at ther foolish work, behold the whole craige, with all its stronge and stately buildings, was by ther pen-knyves undermined and fallen in the sea, so as there remained nothing but the wracke of ther rich furniture and stuff floating on the waves of a raging and tempestuous sea."

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Another Tongue o' Clishmaclaver

In 1947, Annie Keith Somerville wrote “the parentage of James Keith is still veiled in obscurity.” But her hand-drawn Family Tree of the Descendants of Rev. James Keith of Virginia provided a sketch of a Spanish coin, purportedly sent Keith by his cousin, a Scottish Earl. The medallion (below), with one face replaced by the Keith family coat of arms, is offered as James Keith's touchstone to an illustrious past.

Another historian had claimed, in 1911, that Keiths of Fauquier County, Virginia, “descended from an ancient and honorable Scotch Clan; they trace their descent from Lord Keith, Earl Marischal, of Scotland, and from Edward III, King of England.”
[See Colonial Families of the Southern States of America, by Stella Pickett Hardy; pg. 311.] Hardy places our subject, James Keith (1696-c1752), as son of Robert, grandson of Alexander Keith. Several cadet branches of the Earls Marischal do begin with an Alexander.

In 1889, Thomas Marshall Green offered a sage observation of James Keith’s ancestry: “The statement that he was descended from the particular family of Keiths who were ennobled as Earls Marischal and of Kintore may be true; but - if true at all - his relationship to those of his own generation who held those titles was so exceedingly remote that it is not now, by any human ingenuity, in any way traceable. Fortunately, to his descendants, the truth or falsity of the statement is as little important as it is to the world at large …” [See Historic Families of Kentucky, by Thomas Marshall Green; pg. 104.]

Most biographers agree that James Keith was born in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire. "The town of Peterhead was erected by the Earl Marischal in a burgh of barony, with large priviledges and immunities, for the advantage of trade ..." reports a 1730 account. "It being an important station, as well for the protecting as advancing that valuable branch of trade, the fisherrie." Peterhead had a window open to the world. With year-round harvests of herring, cod and salmon, "cargoes of fish may be had fitt for the consumpt of any port in Europe." [See Collections for a History of the Shires of Aberdeen and Banff, Vol. 1, by Joseph Robertson; pg 419.]

Tradition has it that James spent his youth at
Inverugie Castle (right), some two miles from Peterhead, on the northeast coast of Scotland. Family ties, perhaps in conjunction with the loss of his mother or parents, were sufficient to gain James a place in an Earl's household.

"Innerugie [sic], at the mouth of the Ugie, a famous castle of the Earls Marischal presents itself," described a geographer in 1907. "This barony, with many estates ... passed by right of marriage to the ancient and noble house of the Keiths" who "derive their origin from the Picts ... driven many centuries ago from their ancestral seats ..." [See Geographical Collections Relating to Scotland Made by Walter MacFarlane, Volume 52; pg. 279.] A family history declared the following legend 'possibly fable:' "The Keiths of Scotland claim descent from the German tribe of Chattie or Catti, who defied the Senate, foiled the second Caesar and, disdaining to submit to the overpowering force of Germanicus, escaped first to Holland, and, later, by chance and tempest, were driven to Scotland." [See The Keiths, in the Register of Kentucky State Historical Society, Vol. 1, No. 3, by Annie H. Miles; pp. 71-72.]

MacFarlane's sources tell us that, at the time of James Keith's residency, "This house of Keith has, beyond all the rest, the largest properties in the whole of [Aberdeen-shire]; even in Mar and the Mearns it holds considerable estates ..." The Earl may have sailed his own vessels. He had manors at Newburgh, Fetteresso and a 'hotel' or private townhouse in Aberdeen and likely another in London.  More important to the following account, Scots Earls could still rely on 'Clan levies' to raise private armies at the dawn of the 18th century.

Clan Keith had left their coastal fortress of Dunnottar Castle, near Stonehaven (pictured at bottom of post), when William Keith (c1614-1671, Scotland's 7th Earl Marischal*) made Cheyne's fortified tower hospitable as Inverugie Castle, c1660. During the English Civil War, Oliver Cromwell's forces had ruined Dunnottar, "the only place in Scotland where the royal flag still flew," by cannonading a small garrison at the culmination of an 8-month siege in 1652. [See Dunnottar Castle, David Ross, ed.]

Image of sword, scepter and crown of Scotland.
The Honours of Scotland
The senior member of Clan Keith had held the office of Marischal of Scotland since the 12th-century reign of Scots’ King Malcolm IV. In addition to safeguarding royal regalia (left), the Earls Marischal had been responsible for protecting the king's person whenever he attended Parliament. As such, these peers of the realm were firm royalists. The 7th Earl Marischal had been captured prior to the destruction of Dunnottar. For nearly ten years - until the Restoration - he was held captive in the Tower of London. Dunottar had been reduced, in part, because regalia necessary for crowning Scots kings had been secured there. On their own initiative, women - both noble and common - organized their secret removal. 'The Honours' also re-surfaced at the Restoration. 

James Keith was in his second year when Inverugie descended to the 9th Earl Marischal, another William Keith (c1665-1712). Wikipedia, citing Cokayne’s Complete Peerage of England, offers this observation of William, of the ‘flashy wit:’
“… all Courts endeavour to have him at their side for he gives himself liberty of talking when he is not pleased with the Government. He is a thorough Libertine, yet sets up mightily for Episcopy; a hard drinker; a thin body; a middle stature; ambitious of popularity.”
James was but a couple years younger than William's eldest son George Keith (c1693-1778, of the Spanish coin). James was nearly the same age as the second son, James Francis Edward Keith (1696-1758, named for James Francis Edward Stuart, whose titles then included England's Prince of Wales and Chevalier de St. George). Also in the household were William's daughters, Lady Mary (1695-1721) and Lady Anne, also born to wife Lady Mary Drummond, daughter of James, the 4th Earl of Perth. (Perth Amboy, New Jersey was named for her father. As William Penn's partner, the Earl had sponsored a 1684 expedition to settle his new lands there.)

From Ecclesiastical Chronicle for Scotland, Volume 2, by James Frederick Skinner Gordon; pg. 187.
Robert Keith (1681-1757)
For his Preceptor, William chose Robert Keith (1681-1757). As such, Robert (left) was responsible - from 1703 - for educating and acculturating the Earl's sons. Miles asserts James and Robert Keith shared William's ancestry, through Alexander, the fourth son of William Keith (c1543-c1527, the 3rd Earl Marischal). [See Miles, pg 72.] An eminent, 18th century historian does link Robert (without citation) to Alexander Keith, 3rd son of William, the 3rd Marischal, and Lady Elizabeth Gordon (grand-daughter of Scotland's King James I and his wife, Queen Jane Beaufort). [See A Genealogical History of the Dormant: Abeyant, Forfeited, and Extinct Peerages of the British Empire, by Sir John Bernard Burke; pg 303.]

I find claims that James Keith was educated with the Marischal's sons entirely plausible. If so, this young college graduate, Robert, may have been particularly sensitive to James' needs. Robert's own father had died when he was not yet two: he may have had an affinity for a cousin in like circumstances.

The Keith's tutor, William Meston, was known for his burlesque poetry. Meston "seems to have been a good scholar and a wit and pleasant companion: but he was too fond of the bottle," says a biographer.

William, the 9th Earl Marischal and seated at Inverugie, was by 1701 a member of Scotland's Privy Council. From a position of power he openly opposed union between Scotland and England. William's king was Scots. After the 'Glorious Revolution' of 1688 deposed Scotland's King James VII (in England, styled James II), Earls Marischal continued to support the house of Stuart, even though their court had gone into foreign exile. [See Jacobism note, below.]

Of William's generation of the house of Keith, one biographer observes: "Here we have the father [William Keith], an Episcopalian; his wife [Lady Mary], a Catholic; and their son [James], a Protestant; all of them desperate to have a Catholic Stuart King on the throne." [See Clan Keith, citing Nothing But My Sword, by Sam Coull; pg. 28.] To this we might add the observation that William's first-born George was a deist ... if not an outright non-believer ... despite Robert Keith's undoubtedly fervent religious instruction.

George shared his father's political beliefs from the outset. By 1707, a clandestine Jacobite agent was styling George as 'Chevalier Keith' in correspondence. It was a play on one of James Stuart's titles, the 'Chevalier de St. George.' [See The Jacobites and The Union, Charles Sanford Terry, ed; pg 260.] (George's cipher names would, in the future, include 'Charpentier,' and '9/m.')

William likely went to France, who - as with Pope Clement XI - acknowledged the Stuart succession. James VII and II's male heir, James Francis Edward Stuart (above), added 'Knight of the Thistle' to William's other titles ... in February 1708. For his overt militancy, William was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle later that year. James Keith would have been twelve years old when the head of his household was abducted.

The results, in terms of family stability, grew disastrous.

Robert Keith, responsible for inculcating William’s sons into their hereditary roles, entered the ministry in 1710. George Keith became the 10th Earl Marischal upon William's death in 1712. Robert is to have guided George's brother, James Francis Edward Keith – contemporary of James Keith – into the study of law at Marischal College (founded 1593 in Aberdeen, by George Keith, the 5th Earl Marischal). Cousin (now Rev.) Robert Keith likely arranged for our James to study divinity - as he had - at Marischal College. (Some speculate James' father was, or had been, professor there.) Tumultuous conflict would prevent either James from taking a degree.

From Anne, the reigning Queen of England, George Keith "received the command of a troop of horse." He was promptly made Captain of Her Majesty's Guards, in February 1714. Anne was dead by July. Despite signing her successor's (German-speaking Georg Ludwig, a prince in the house of Hanover) proclamation in August, the Earl Marischal was deprived of his royal command. "On his way back to Scotland, he met his brother James at York, [who was] hastening to London to apply for promotion in the army. They returned home together and, instigated by their mother, who was a Jacobite and a Roman Catholic, they at once engaged in the rebellion of 1715." [See The Scottish Nation, Volume 3, by William Anderson; pg 107.] Brother James, in his memoirs, seemed to be racing to London for another reason: he may have been called to join a coup d'etat. The Irish and very popular James Butler, 2nd Duke of Ormonde - in his role as Captain General of the British army - contemplated seizing the Tower of London, and using regular troops to enthrone James Stuart following Anne's death. [See The King Over the Water, by Shield and Lang; pg 25; and A Fragment of a Memoir of Field-Marshal James Keith, by James Keith; pp. 4-5.]

In October 1714, Prince Georg and England's ruling Council declared a change in long-held protocol regarding coronation. Scotland's Earl Marischal, now also a peer of the English realm, would process 'on the left hand' of England's Earl Marshal ... one place removed from the sword of state. "It may be noticed, however, that the Earl Marischal of Scotland has never appeared in any ceremonial since the Union," reads a footnote. [See Sketch of the History of the High Constables of Edinburgh, by Sir James David Marwick; pg. 42.] The author observes that, by the time protocol had been established, it was too late to notify anyone in Scotland. The Earl Marischal may have been thinking of his own sword, when England crowned King George I a few days later.

Aligned with his cousin, the Earl of Mar, the Marischal sought to put the Scottish crown on the head of James Stuart. One would like to think James Keith was one of the Marischal's party in this account of 20 September 1715: George "accompanied by a number of noblemen, entered Aberdeen and proceeded to the Cross and there proclaimed the accession of James VIII to the throne of his ancestors. The depute-sheriff read the proclamation; at night the city was illuminated, and the bells of St. Nicholas Tower were rung in honour of the new king. On the succeeding day, Earl Marischal and his party were hospitably entertained by the members of the Incorporated Trades; and in the afternoon they accompanied him to his mansion of Inverugie." [See Historic Earls and Earldoms of Scotland, by John Mackintosh; pg 295.] While modern writers often provide the appellation 'Old Pretender,' George and his brother almost invariably style James Francis Edward Stuart as 'King,' henceforth in their correspondence.

Image of Market Cross, Aberdeen, Scotland

Whether provided by Rev. Robert Keith or another, it is apparent that the young scholars had also received training in arms and martial tactics. All three of their generation - George, James Francis Edward, and James Keith - participated in militant 'uprisings' in late 1715. Not yet twenty, James was wounded in the Battle of Sheriffmuir on 13 November, undoubtedly following the Marischal. (Alexander Chalmer's Biographical Dictionary has the more renown James Francis Edward Keith wounded "in this unhappy contest." [See Vol. 19, pg. 286.]) Under the Earl of Mar and commanding a pair of cavalry squads, George led an advance force of Scottish highlanders up the boggy ground of Stone Hill near Dunblane (also Dumblain). “At the breaking out of the Rebellion of 1715, with his relatives George and James Keith, under the banner of the Pretender, [James Keith] wielded a claymore at the battle of Sheriff-Muir, where he was wounded ...” [See A History of Kentucky and Kentuckians, by Johnson E. Polk; pg. 1380.] Ashby McGowan, in the August 1996 issue of Military History magazine, acknowledges the claymore sword in that encounter: "They liked pistols, but did most of their fighting with basket-hilted broadswords, dirks (daggers) and targs (shields)." [See Robert Burns note, below.]

Woodcut from The Lion in the North: a Personal View of Scotland's History, by John Prebble, 1981.
Peterhead, 1715
James Francis Edward Stuart, now the attainted Prince of Wales, arrived at Peterhead on 22 December 1715. Having been passed over to succeed his father as King of Scotland, England and Ireland, Stuart had inspired 'The Fifteen,' a general uprising from northern Scots' strongholds. Some say by the fluke of a storm, Stuart used the Keith’s Port Henry as a means of landing and departing. Contrary to the 18th-century image (left), James Francis Edward Keith recalled: "The King indeed arrived safely in the end of December 1715, after a great many dangers, but came in a very small fishing barck with only two servants, and without any of those things which we had so much depended on ..." [See Keith, pg. 24.]

Stuart would have relied on the regalia in the Marischal's responsibility, if he'd gone through with plans to be crowned at Scone. George and the would-be king moved for days among the Earl's various manors. When Stuart made his public procession into Dundee, the Earl Marischal rode at his left hand ... the Earl of Mar (James Francis Edward Keith styles him 'Duke') on his right.

The enterprise failed. Sherrifmuir had not been a decisive victory against the English government's forces. Scottish clans divided - and then sparred - among themselves. None claim the sickly Stuart was a charismatic leader. When the Catholic aspirant, expatriate since he was six months old, did not get popular support from sought-after subjects, Stuart retreated to French protection.

For leading troops against his lawful King, George and his family were stripped of their titles and also attainted for treason. As the young Earl Marischal slipped into French exile, the English crown seized his lands. "George Earl Marischal was forfeited by the Duke of Brunswick, and his estate reckoned at one thousand six hundred and seventy-six pounds sterling, yearly; partly in Aberdeen and partly in Kincardin shires; and consisting of ... cash, six hundred and twenty-two pounds; barley, one thousand and seventy-two bolls; oatmeal, one thousand six hundred and ninety-nine bolls ..." and 640 eggs accruing to more than a thousand fowl. [See Robertson, pp. 420-21.]

Rev. Robert Keith and other Edinburgh clergy were prosecuted for not praying for the Hanoverian King George I, in 1716. A Commission of the Judiciary fined him; Robert "was prohibited from ministry."

Lady Mary, George and James' mother, is credited [by Shield and Lang, pg. 131] with this reflection, after her sons were deprived of nearly all:

"A curse on dull and drawling Whig,
The whining, ranting, low deceiver,
Wi' heart sae black and look sae big,
And canting tongue o' clishmaclaver.
My father was a good lord's son,
My mother an earl's daughter,
And I'll be Lady Keith again,
That day our king comes o'er the water."

Like his cousins, James Keith embraced the Stuart cause. A trained Protestant, defending a Catholic aspirant to power, he risked death in the service of his cousin George, an 'avowed religious skeptic.' Green wrote that young James, “remained for several years among the highland fastnesses; but again proved his fidelity to the Stuarts, by aiding in the abortive attempt of Seaforth and Marischal to raise the highlands in 1719.” [See Green, pg. 104.]

James Francis Edward Kieth, also in exile, went from studying military tactics at the Paris Academy to join his brother in Spain, which also recognized Stuart as King of England. Spanish authorities entrusted the Marischal's brother with about 18,000 crowns for a "fiery cross mission," to equip two frigates and "raise the Jacobites in France." [See Shield and Lang, pg. 318.]

Image of Spanish coin, defaced by Keith Coat of Arms
Spanish coin defaced by Keith Coat of Arms
George helped lead an invasion force of perhaps 6,000 men, many Irish, in a fleet that included ten ships of war under the Spanish flag, in March 1719. A storm dissipated the ships and "only a small force effected a landing in the Western Highlands, [where] a few [Marquess of] Seaforth Highlanders joined them." Too weak for the Marischal's planned assault on Inverness, "the small army took up a position in the pass of Glenshiel, and attempted to make a stand. They were soon attacked by Government troops, driven from height to height, and defeated. Earl Marischal and other officers retired to the Western Isles, and after lying concealed for some time, he escaped to Spain." [See Mackintosh, pg. 296.] It was George Keith - the last Earl Marischal - who provided the Spanish coin (above, right) as a memento of his affection for his kinsman James Keith. Perhaps it was one of the 18,000 crowns.

William McClung Paxton, in his 1885 book, has James engaged in intrigue with his cousins. Together, they "fomented discontent." After being repulsed in 1719, the Marischal and his brother engaged in "secret correspondence with their friends." It was "conducted through their cousin James, and he, when discovered, took refuge in the Colony of Virginia." [See The Marshall Family, by William McClung Paxton; pg. 24.] Miles claims James Keith had been "compromised by the intrigues." [See Miles, pg 72.] One correspondent says he had a 'price on his head.' Amid the continental exodus of Clan Keith, James Keith may have also fled to France. [See The Keith Diaspora (below).]

© The Trustees of the British Museum
Bishop Edmund Gibson, 1728
German-born George II was crowned England's King in June 1727. James Keith is known to have been in Scotland - and ordained an Episcopal Deacon - in December 1728. The Right Reverend Edmund Gibson, Bishop of London (right), is to have given license for Keith to preach for the Anglican Church the following month. In March, Rev. James Keith obtained a King’s Bounty of £20 and secured passage to the New World. [See A list of Emigrant Ministers to America, 1690-1811, by Gerald Fothergill; pg. 38 & footnote 25 in Virginia Council Journals 1726-1753, in The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography; pg. 327.]

Raised at most on the fringes and perhaps near the center of the sumptuous and courtly lifestyle an Earl could provide, Keith had also known the deprivations and lawlessness of war. "The great scarcity of good books in this country is a very considerable discouragement ... to the minister," observed one Virginia correspondent, prior to Keith's arrival. [See Historical Collections Relating to the American Colonial Church, by William Stevens Perry; pg 335.] Educated by wordsmiths among libraries in one of his native land’s two top-tier, post-medieval, 'civic universities,' Keith would have been one of the more learned among his colonial peers. He would have been nearly thirty-three years old as he took up a new start.

Rev. Keith’s first ministry was centered at Curle’s Church (also Four Mile, for a nearby tributary), located on Richard Randolph’s James River plantation in Henrico Parish. Sometimes spelled 'Curls,' and thought originally to describe the river's flow around Curle's Neck; the main, parish church stood (on the northern bank) about twenty miles downriver from a trading fort that would be laid out as Richmond, Virginia in 1737. Keith became responsible for ministry in 450 square-miles of sparsely inhabited wilderness.

By law, colonial Virginians were members of the Church of England. County courts had it in their power to prosecute and perhaps 'give the lash' those who failed to attend services. Buonomi and Eisenstadt indicate that while "Catholics and Protestant dissenters represented a significant element in Maryland;" before 1743, "Virginia was the most uniformly Anglican colony." This is to overlook Fort Germanna, where German Protestants, brought in to mine iron for Alexander Spotswood had - c1714 - formed the first German Reformed Church in America. James Keith had brought himself to an environment of decreased religious tolerance. Candidates for colonial office had to meet 'the test' ... which required an oath refuting belief in transubstantiation in the sacraments. "To profess Catholicism" in Henrico Parish, "was to court social and political oblivion." [See Fauquier County in the Revolution, by Thomas Triplett Russell and John Kenneth Gott; pg. 15.]

To Keith's advantage, Anglican priests were a relatively rare commodity in Virginia. Before being licensed, native-born colonials were required to "take holy orders" in the mother country. Aspiring, New World clerics had to then twice cross the Atlantic. Survival rates were surprisingly low among those attempting it.

Government and religion played mutually reinforcing roles in colonial life. Legislators in colonial Virginia made it the legal responsibility of ministers to "preach at least one sermon on Sundays, visit the sick, avoid social excesses, and catechize children and non-Christians." [See Virginians Reborn: Anglican Monopoly, Evangelical Dissent, and the Rise of the Baptists in the Late Eighteenth Century, by Jewel L. Spangler; pg 13.]

There were four hundred families in the district when - in 1724 - an unknown Henrico Parish pastor reported to London: "The masters do nothing for their servants [styled 'Infidels, bond or free' in the original; meaning 'slaves'], but let some of them now and then go to church. One or two hundred persons are at church [Good Friday and Christmas]. The families are so distant that it is difficult to have the children brought to catechism, and when they grow to any bigness they do not like to be publicly catechized. The teachers and parents do whatever is done in that way. There was no public school for youth. There were only about twenty communicants at a time, when the sacrament was administered." [See Old Churches, Ministers and Families of Virginia, Vol. 1, by William Meade (1878); pg. 137.] The respondent described his Henrico Parish flock as "not so observant of Devout postures as could be wished." He begged for the means to fund a school and parochial library. Fearing the vestry are "generally too backward" to effect repairs on the parsonage, he may be indicating true power in church administration lay among vestrymen. [See Perry, pp. 304-05.]

John Rolfe developed a modified strain of tobacco that became the first commercially successful tobacco export for the Virginia colony.
Also in the parish, previously called Varina (for tobacco John Rolfe had introduced nearby, finally producing credible profit for the London-based Virginia Company that financed the Colony of Virginia), was 'falls Chapel,' at a cataract that proved the uppermost navigable part of the James River at the time. More substantial was 'Jefferson's Church' at Rock Hall. Future President Thomas Jefferson's grandfather (of the same name) had contracted to build the structure in 1723, six years before Keith preached there, as part of his rounds.

Keith's home would have been a parsonage, between Curle's Church and the falls. "Next to the Varina plantation was the glebe of the parish, consisting of between 195 and 200 acres, which at an early date had taken the place of the one at Rock Hall, on the southern side of the James." [See Annals of Henrico Parish, by Lewis William Burton; pg 13.] From these farmlands, set aside by colonial officials, Keith was to supplement his income and assure himself of fodder, sustenance and firewood. It is unclear whether Keith actually farmed; as it was also the custom for ministers to rent glebe lands - and any slaves also provided - to others.

“The oldest extant record book of the vestry of [Henrico] parish begins on October 28th 1730. When this book was begun, the principal church of the Parish was Curie's [sic] …” [See Goodwin’s article in Colonial Churches in the Original Colony of Virginia, pg. 52.] In a written record that coincides with his initial participation, the Rector styles himself ‘The Reverend Mr. James Keith.’ His annual compensation was 16,000 pounds of tobacco; a medium of exchange permissible even unto taxation. Since tobacco fluctuated in market prices, there were periods when such salaries were also depressed. A state-run church, Keith's work was financed by mandatory 'tithes,' a head tax on every male Virginian - and every female slave - over the age of sixteen, required regardless of a subject's religious inclination. In 1730, Henrico Parish assessed 1,680 'tithables' 25½ pounds of tobacco each. [See Burton, pp. 13 & Appendix 12.]

On Rev. Keith's ministerial staff were three lay readers, with salaries of 2,000 pounds of tobacco. "Many colonists only saw the rector of the parish once every three or four weeks," as they rotated through regional pulpits. Readers provided church services in the minister's absence. [See 'Church of England in Virginia, contributed by Edward L. Bond to the Encyclo-pedia of Virginia.] Turnover among Keith's readers may indicate a certain lack of cohesion.

The minister was responsible to twelve vestrymen, who generally held positions in civil government as well as their parish office. "They considered themselves, to use their own language, as 'masters of the parson,' agreeing with him only from year to year, with authority to turn him off from their service whenever they would." [See The History of the Church of England in the Colonies and Foreign Dependencies of the British Empire, Volume 3, by James Stuart Murray Anderson; pg. 123.]

Leading names of vestrymen recorded as present and dealing with Keith in these financial matters is Richard Randolph (1686-1748), then a member of Virginia's House of Burgesses, but not yet having succeeded his brother William as the colony's treasurer. About three years senior to Rev. Keith, Randolph was firmly a member of the 'upper echelons of the colony’s elite.' Upstream from Williamsburg, the seat of colonial power, Keith was fortunate in his assignment, unless one takes into account that even superior colonial service almost never led to advancement in the greater Anglican Church. "Vestrymen tended to belong to the economic and political leadership and might be understood to express the interests and views of the planting elite far more than the plain folk of the parish," admonishes one historian.
[See Spangler, pg 16.]

The position could be tenuous. Local vestrymen had dismissal authority and were not required to make any case of wrongdoing. Perry's Collections tell us vestry were known to summarily expel their ministers, and lower expenses by 16,000 pounds of tobacco. [See Perry, pp. 334-35.] "Vestries could use their ministers and lay-readers how they pleased, pay them what they listed and discard them whensoever they had a mind to it." In 1734, in nearby St. George's Parish, "Mr. Smith's preaching was so generally disliked," the vestry refused to receive him as their Minister." On one hand, the Bishop's deep respect for tradition bound ministers to strict, formal practices. Vagaries among vestries often led to 'irregular' practices. Among them, Ministers were asked "to alter the Liturgy ... at the the dictation of those among whom he officiated; to discard the use of the surplice; to sit during the celebration of the Holy Communion; to administer Baptism, and solemnize marriage in private houses, without any regard to the time of day, or the season of the year; and to bury the dead in gardens or orchards, within temporary enclosures ..." [See Anderson, pp. 123-24.]

Not only did Keith walk a tightrope with his vestry: his ties to community were subject to friction as well. Neighboring Curle's Church were the Henrico courthouse and jail. "Abuses that are frequently put upon [ministers] by sheriffs and other Collectors of the Parish Levies," created animosity between ministers - responsible for tax assessment and revenue collection - and those they served. It had previously been practice to station the Sheriff at the church door. Given that attendance was mandatory, it eased his task of serving warrants and apprehending those he sought.

Keith was a long way from home, and likely without any financial resiliency. To risk vestrymen "shutting the church doors against the Clergyman, and stopping his supplies at any moment," made his position precarious.

The rector's role was clerical ... in both ecclesiastic and secular senses. Vestry records delve deep into resolution of land boundaries, for example. Parishes compiled vital statistics for births, deaths and marriages. Assessment, accounting and preliminary enforcement of property rights and revenue collection were all roles required in church administration. In addition to 'reading prayers and preaching;' performing marriages, funerals and baptisms; the itinerant minister and vestrymen were responsible for adjudicating the needs of the feeble, foundlings, insolvents, idiots and bastard children. Vestry records indicate Keith was an able administrator, circulating through various pulpits and undoubtedly into the nearby courthouse.

Col. Thomas Randolph (1683-1729, of Tuckahoe Plantation, brother of Richard, above), having died two years earlier; his heir, young William Randolph (1713-1745) became a Henrico Parish Church Warden in October, 1731. In addition to parish administration, "Church wardens acted as censors for the church in reporting all swearing, sabbath-breaking, drunkenness and other 'abominable sins,' to the court held in December and April." [See Life of Commissary James Blair, by Daniel Esten Motley; pg. 16.]

It was a vigorous time for Henrico Parish: 2,200 pounds of tobacco were spent on a floor, and glass was installed in the 'Church Winder' at Curle's. A thousand pounds of tobacco were spent repairing the chapel. As the area grew increasingly settled, tithable units rose; individual tithes were assessed at 29 pounds of tobacco. At some point given the moniker 'Parson Keith,' the Scots immigrant faced pleasing prospects.

That is not to say James Keith had moved beyond all civil strife. In 1732, "some wicked and evil Disposed persons" burned Germanna Church to the ground. Spotsylvania countians complained this seat of administration was convenient to no one but former Colonial Governor Alexander Spotswood and his tenants. Parishioners then petitioned a courthouse and church be built "in their neighborhood." [See Holy Things and Profane: Anglican Parish Churches in Colonial Virginia, by Dell Upton; pg 14.] 

The roving parson engaged in deep, personal ministry as well. He no doubt offered solace to William Randolph’s sister, Mary Isham Randolph (c1718-c1772), who - traumatized when her family is to have slain her child and the slave overseer she’d eloped with in 1732 - had likely returned to Tuckahoe, in the part of Henrico that became Goochland County in 1728.  [See earlier post Young Fellows upon Wrong Pursuits.] One account painted Mary as "scorned and derided for her mesalliance." [Italics in the original, see Virginia Council Journals 1726-1753, pg. 395.]

Parson Keith was more than twenty years older than the teen-aged widow. Church historian, Gail Raney Fleischaker, has Keith “romancing Mary Isham Randolph.” [Here.] One source alleges the pair were caught ‘in flagrante delicto.’ Despite his education and collateral lineage, Rev. Mr. Keith – very likely without land of his own – was deemed as poor a match for Mary as had been the overseer Enoch Arden. From the heights of hierarchical, Virginia society, the cleric was simply a 'clerk.' 

The Randolphs did not murder Keith, but they did apply their considerable stature to have the parson ejected from Virginia. Mary’s father was dead, but Fleischaker reports, “Two other Randolphs were active in the administration of Henrico Parish: Richard Randolph, Mary’s uncle was a vestryman, and William Randolph, her brother, was Church Warden.” Rev. Dr. James Blair, as his Commissary, was the Bishop of London’s man in Virginia. He reported to the Right Reverend Edmund Gibson (above) - who had ordained Rev. Keith - that the parson was “guilty of fornication with a young Gentlewoman.” Family and friends “did so dislike his character that they would not let her marry him,” wrote Blair. [See John Marshall: Definer of a Nation, by Jean Edward Smith; pg 24.] The Randolphs forced Keith's resignation, which he supplied on 12 October 1733. Brother of the injured party, it is William Randolph’s signature appearing beneath this curt entry in the church record:
That the refignation of Mr. James Keith as Minister of this Parifh be received.
That the Church Wardens of this parifh in behalf of the Veftry do make a reprefentation hereof to the Governor." 
 [See Burton, Appendix, pg. 16.]
Keith “departed for Maryland immediately thereafter.” [See Smith, pg. 24.]

On 14 Jan 1734 Sir William Gooch, Royal Lieutenant Governor of Virginia (the actual Governor lived in England) and corresponding with Bishop Gibson, was describing mutual political favors. When he referenced a Maryland appointment, Gooch noted: “to which province Keith saw fit to retire with his guilt." [See The Fulham Papers, item 215-16.] As all ministers and missionaries from the Church of England had to be presented to the governor before assuming their position in a parish, it is likely Gooch knew of whom he spoke.

On 24 March 1734 Rev. Dr. Blair counters the governor's report in his own letter to the Bishop, saying Gooch had actually recommended Keith to Maryland's Governor. [See The Fulham Papers, item 231-14.] (Nearly two years later, Gooch wrote of a ministerial replacement, finally provided Henrico, "the parish Mr. Keith has left, a very good one, where, I make no doubt, his Conduct will make amends to the People for the failings of that unhappy Gentleman.") [See The Virginia Clergy, G. McLaren Brydon, ed., in The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 32, No. 4; pp. 333-34.]

Image of Anglican minister, James Blair, from Encyclopedia of Virginia
Rev. James Blair (1656-1743)
Commissary Blair had been dealing with errant clergy since he pulled a minister's concubine from her pew soon after his arrival in Virginia. In 1724 he reported to the then newly-installed Bishop Gibson on a pair of ministers, "very scandalous for drunkenness & fighting & quarreling publicly, in their drink." "For want of clergymen we are obliged to bear with those we have," wrote Blair, before circumstances made Keith available. [See Perry, pp. 252-3.]

Perhaps to improve the quality of their ministry, or to take leadership from a minister forged with a colonial perspective, parishioners had recently (and clandestinely, according to Blair) sent a Virginia schoolmaster to take holy orders in England. He "took their money and has never returned." [See Perry, pp. 358.]

Scandals had been so prevalent, Virginia's House of Burgesses had legislated relief after receiving (likely Blair's) 'Proposition for supplying the country of Virginia with a sufficient number of much better Clergymen than have usually come into it.' The proponent cited "fornication, adultery, Blasphemy, ridiculing of the Holy Scriptures," in a category before "cursing, swearing, Drunkeness, [and] fighting," as "unbecoming the Gravity of a minister." Drunkenness being "most common," the author went to great lengths proposing proofs of such conduct, "such as sitting an hour or longer in the Company where they were a drinking strong drink and in the meantime drinking of healths or otherwise taking his cups as they came round like the rest of the company; striking, challenging, threatening to fight, or laying aside any of his Garments for that purpose; staggering, reeling, vomiting, incoherent, impertinent, obscene or rude talking." [See Perry, pg. 342.] For his role in the community, James Keith navigated a social environment bearing strict moral expectations. It's hard to fathom the depth of transgression Parson Keith had engaged in.

Blair is also aware that the Bishop has received an anonymous letter maintaining, “If you sent a dozen clergymen hither every man would have a parish.” Says Blair, “I believe he did not mean that there were there so many vacant parishes but, in disparagement of the present Clergy, he meant that if they had better men to substitute in their places they would turn out some that they have & take in others.” Blair tells the Bishop "there may be some truth in what [the writer] objects to [amid] the Clergy; in the point of drinking, it is neither so general nor to such a degree as he represents it." [See Perry, pp. 357.] 

Blair openly equivocates as to the disgraced Rev. Keith: "I gave your Lordship an account of the misfortune which occasioned [Keith's resignation] tho' I did not then know what I have learned since … from some of the circumstances in his case …” As church administrator, the growing need for pastors plagues him. “We have now the most vacancies I have known in the Country,” he declares, after specifically noting Keith’s removal. [See Perry, pp. 357-8.] 

Says Smith: “The circumstances are not mentioned by Blair, but presumably pertained to the fact that James Keith and Mary Randolph were deeply in love.”

It is likely that the couple had legally married. One online database gives the wedding date as 1733; more commonly accepted is 2 March 1734. All are vague on citations, but generally indicate a Virginia license, and infer capitulation by the Randolphs. Birth dates for first-born son, James Keith (c1734-1824), are also vague, and generally approximate the wedding dates. [See Virginia Council Journals 1726-1753, pg. 395.]

A popular author has Mary Isham Randolph accompanying James Keith to Maryland. The excitable Paxton wrote of Mary: “It is charged that her marriage to Parson Keith was concealed from her brothers, and that she stole away to accompany her husband, when he returned to Scotland for orders.” [See Paxton, pg. 25.]

Keith may have sought the intervention of his cousin and mentor. The Right Reverend Robert Keith had by then been appointed Bishop of Caithness, Orkney and The Isles, and was soon to add the diocese of Fife. While it is feasible for James Keith to have twice again crossed the Atlantic, the known timeline makes it unlikely.

Rev. Dr. James Blair is portrayed as one of the few persons in Virginia who could have openly defied the Randolphs. The Bishop's Commissary had long held a secure position on the Governor’s Council; he’d been the principal founder of the College of William and Mary. “Blair was regarded as the éminence grise of Virginia politics,” declares Smith. A native Scot, he'd become a missionary after being deprived of his Edinburgh parish for taking the losing side in a split of the Episcopal state church, rejecting Roman Catholic influence. Blair had placed Keith in his own former pastorate of Henrico Parish, a plum position, rife with social opportunity. “Circumstances suggest that Keith may have been Blair’s protégé or that Blair at least had a special interest in his well-being.” [See Smith footnote, pg. 25.] Blair had graduated from the College of Edinburgh: Smith reports he had been a classmate of James Keith’s father. Paxton posits James’ father was, in fact, Bishop Robert Keith (who was - by 18 years - James Keith's senior).

Virginians had - only two years prior - gone to great lengths following another scandal with an Anglican cleric. After Blair had "taxed him with rumours of 'scandalous conversations' with a gentlewoman," a minister named Wright had gone to Maryland in 1732. Blair had "forewarned Commissary Henderson, so [Wright] went on to Pennsylvania, where he was exposed by Colonel Spotswood, who happened to be there." [See The Fulham Papers, item 178-9.]

Instead of hounding him, Blair rescinded Keith's exile to Maryland.

Parson Keith's new appointment was further removed from the center of civil society. Given that trade and intercourse largely followed navigable waterways, the distance between the Randolphs, on James River, and Keith's new assignment, along the northern Potomac, was more substantial than the eighty miles separating them. “Hamilton Parish contained in Prince William and [later] Fauquier [Counties] a … large area to be served by a church, situated on the Quantico …”

The date given in the following account is troubling. “It was at the church on the Quantico that Mr. Keith assumed his duties in 1733, and he preached there ...” [See The Journal of the 135th Annual Council of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia; pg. 76.] Either the date is a year premature, or Parson Keith - discharged in October - had been recalled from Maryland (if he ever went) by the end of the year.

Virginia's General Assembly had ordered - after 1 January 1730 - Overwharton Parish be divided. Land south of a line drawn from the head of the north branch of Chopawansick Creek, southwest to Hanover Parish, "shall thereafter be called, and known by the name of Hamilton." Freeholders and 'housekeepers' of the new parish met at the "church above Occoquan ferry" to elect vestrymen and hear their oaths of office. As seeming vindication of Blair's contention about the scarcity of available ministers, those in the new parish may have waited years for an inaugural appointment.  [See An Act for making a new parish, on the head of Overwharton Parish, in Stafford County, here.]

Overwharton Parish had centered on Potomac Church, which remained in their keeping. When the legislature ruled "Whereas, the inhabitants of the new parish have born a great part of the charge and expence of the building and repairing of the glebe of the parish of Overwharton, and other houses belonging thereto; and now, by the division thereof, must be at the charge of purchasing land for a glebe and building convenient houses on the same," Overwharton parishioners were ordered to raise 10,000 pounds of tobacco ... for Hamilton Parish vestrymen to use in providing their own glebe. [See Overwharton Parish Act, here.]

Map depicting expansion of civil authority in Virginia, 1731-1740
Virginia Counties 1731-1740
By the time of Keith's arrival, the legislature had 'erected' Prince William as a distinct Virginia county in nether, northwest environs. Their 1731 boundary description referenced headwaters of Chopawansick Creek, and indicated an area between the "Potomack river, and Deep run, on Rappahannock river." [See An Act for erecting a new County on the Heads of Stafford and King George Counties, here.]

The description of upland boundaries is vague and does not even refer to the natural boundaries of mountains just beyond. Given that, and that this legislation also accounted for re-distribution of expenses associated with the eradication of wolves, one gets a sense of the area's primitive environment.

Originally called 'Occoquan Church,' for it's location on the River of that name (from an Algonquian Doeg depiction of "the end of the water"), it was soon referred to as 'Pohick Church' because of its proximity to Pohick Creek. Organized in 1724, Pohick is referred to as "the Mother Church of Northern Virginia." Falls Church historians (in the town of that name) report: "Until 1734, this area was served by clergyman who lived near present-day Quantico, and the nearest church was Occoquan Church near Lorton." [Here.]

In 1732 the Assembly divided Hamilton Parish "by the river of Ockoquan and Bull Run (a branch thereof), and a course from there to the Indian Thoroughfare of the Blue Ridge of Mountains." Hamilton would retain lands south of this line; the new Truro Parish became responsible for the rest of Prince William County. [See here.] Diocesan historians describe settlement patterns: "In the 'back country' of what remained of Hamilton after its separation from Truro ... settlements had already covered the lands of the upper Rappahannock drainage and had passed beyond the Pignut Ridge, while the movement from the Potomac below the Pignut had followed the Occoquan and its tributaries to meet the earlier spread from the western waterway (perhaps the Rapidan River)." Truro Parish and its inaugural appointment had not been a long-lived partnership. After a year, vestrymen began agitating for a replacement. [See Episcopal Journal, pg. 77.]

Image of sunken grave marker, Dumfries, Virginia.
Extant Cemetery, site of Quantico Church.
By the time of the Keith's arrival in the spring of 1734, vestrymen had likely sited their new Hamilton Parish Church at Quantico. Graves at the site (left) on Quantico Creek, near The Town of Dumfries, date from 1667. An undated silver plate remains, an inscribed gift to the congregation. Quantico Creek presented a harbor and landing to the Potomac River. A customs-house and warehouse had been sited there in 1731: more and more water-powered mills were cropping up along this estuary among tidewaters. Settled by Scots, "It was for a while the centre of a considerable trade." [See Potomac Landings, by Paul Wilstach; pg. 143.] Shipping huge quantities of upland tobacco, Wikipedia reports Dumfries at some point became the second leading port in Colonial America. This augured well for Pastor Keith and his bride. Says Wilstach: "A parish which raised poor tobacco seldom got a good preacher. It was reported, "some parishes are long vacant upon Account of the Badness of the Tobacco."" [See Wilstach, pg. 245.]

Map depicting location of Pohick Church.
Occoquan (later) Pohick Church became part of Truro Parish in 1732.
When researching The History of Truro Parish in Virginia, Rev. Philip Slaughter discovered “James Keith, of Hamilton Parish ... also officiated in this Parish, when it was without a minister." On 23 Sep 1734 "an order was entered to pay the Rev. Mr. James Keith 10,544 pounds of tobacco for services rendered.” [See pg. 12.] George Washington's father, Augustine, was then a vestrymen. Apparently, Parson Keith was not in contention for permanent assignment among the powerful Mason, Lee and Fairfax families. The following week, vestrymen authorized a representative to approach Bishop Gibson in London for a "discreet and Godly minister." [See Truro Vestry Records, pg 8.] Keith was not shunned. He returned to baptize a child in 1736. [See Births from Truro Parish Vestry Book, in The William and Mary Quarterly, Second Series, Vol. 10, No. 2; pg. 190.]

Slaughter also informs us James Keith was on a 1744 list of voters in an election of the House of Burgesses. In order to qualify, Keith would have been a land-holder. "An elector could vote in every country in which he owned a freehold of 25 acres of improved land, or 100 acres if unimproved." [See Slaughter, pg. 128.]

Authorities again divided Hamilton Parish in 1744 or '45. "Mr. Keith was a worthy man," declares a modern author, "utterly frustrated by the immense size of his parish." "Partly as a result of his urgent pleas, Hamilton Parish was split." Strangely, it was often the case that parish realignment, approved by the legislature, predated lawmakers' subsequent creation of new counties. [See Russell and Gott, pp. 15-16.]

Quantico, and a chapel at the confluence of Broad and Cedar Runs (variously called Slaty and Slater's Run) were removed from Keith's responsibility and assigned to a new parish of Dettingen. At the division, Keith 'was retained' by Hamilton parishioners. This might be an indication of preference for the 48-year-old Parson ... or a known quantity, or simply that vestrymen did not want to wait for a new minister to be appointed. Freeholders were beginning to anticipate how the division of parish boundaries preceded new opportunities in the formation of new posts in local government. As new civil centers were erected, land values increased thereabouts.

"It was necessary also to provide a new parish church, as Quantico church was situated in Dettingen and had been taken over by that parish. The site selected was at Elk run about eight and a half miles south of the parsonage where an Overwharton chapel probably stood ..." [See Fauquier During the Proprietorship, by Harry Connelly Groome; pg. 138.]

In 1745, Parson Keith settled his family near what may have been a simple, frontier chapel. A wooden structure certainly existed by 1744 when a Prince William County Minute Book describes road repairs carried out in front of the Elk Run Chapel, which lay on the on the primitive Falmouth-Winchester Road.

That organization under Keith, his wardens and vestrymen was able, is evidenced by the expansion of their endeavor. “The Church served respectively as a governing and administrative body under British colonial rule, and the bustling village of the 1750s boasted a tavern, a blacksmith shop, an ordinary, and was a stopover point for travelers going north or west in the constant expansion into what later became Fauquier County,” say church historians. [Here.]

The diocesan journal relates, “Church wardens of Hamilton [Parish] purchased new glebe for that parish consisting of three parcels of land on Licking Run, being part of the original Germantown tract. The purchase was made in 1746 and the parsonage, when completed, was occupied by the Rev. Mr. Keith, whose services had been retained by Hamilton.” [See Episcopal Journal, pg. 78.]

Fleischaker disagrees. “Keith had purchased adjoining parcels of land south of Pignut Ridge in the summer of 1747, and he could well have moved his family there in anticipation of the old glebe’s sale before a new parsonage could be constructed. The new parsonage, 'about eight and a half miles' north of Elk Run Church, was not finished until the 1750s, and it is unlikely that the Keith family ever took residence there.” [Here.]

Map depicting Hamilton Parish responsibilities of Rev. James Keith.
Portion of Fry-Jefferson Map, charted 1750-1752. (1755 edition)
Preaching responsibilities may have increased. The parsonage, three miles from Germantown, is visible on the Fry and Jefferson map (left). It was "conveniently situated between the two churches of [Hamilton] parish, Elk Run ... and St Mary's, better known as the Turkey Run Church." The wood-framed structure, "... stood on the then Rappahannock-Dumfries road, about a mile and a quarter below the present site of Warrenton." [See Bulletin No. 1, Fauquier Historical Society, pg. 68.] Cartographer Peter Jefferson; son of Thomas, contractor for the Rock Creek Church (above); would have been familiar with the area.

Family researchers muse that these were pleasant times for the couple, and that their love had endured its rocky beginning. Alexander, James and Mary’s last of eight surviving children, was born following their 1747 relocation. Mary Isham (Randolph) Keith’s mother, Judith (Fleming) Randolph (1688-bef 1743) had provided for Mary in her will. Mary may have inherited something upon Fleming's death, but her mother had remarried a man only 8 years older than Mary. 

In the 1750s Parson Keith supervised the construction of a 'substantial,' brick church at Elk Run. "An examination of building materials of parish churches shows that framed buildings were most common throughout the colonial era, and that few brick buildings were built before the 18th century." [See Upton, pg 11.] Vestry in Pohick, Quantico, Broad Run and Falls Church also rebuilt - in brick - during this era. [See Groome, footnote pg. 185.] 

Image of the cruciform foundation to Elk Run Church.
Foundation, Elk Run Church
More, the form of the building, built in the shape of a Greek cross - sections thirty-four feet on each side and fifty-four feet at their full length - was architecturally distinguished for it's time and location. Keith and his vestrymen showed leadership, later emulated by Aquia Church. Says Upton: "The decision to build a church was a momentous one for any parish. It involved a commitment of supervisory time ... and parish money far beyond that demanded under ordinary circumstances." In the period of Elk Run's re-construction, Upton rules out a boom in economic cycles as instigation. Overwharton parishioners protested the cost of their proposed church to the House of Burgesses in 1745. We might assume Parson Keith and his vestry helped inspire parishioners to go to sufficient trouble and expense.

On 28 July 1752 a 'John Neavill, Junr.' (also seen as Neville) was given permission to bring a suit of trespass against 'James Keith, clerk.' A Price William County court record of 31 May 1753 declares "the suit abates the defendant being dead." [See Miscellaneous Prince William Minute Books, pp. 38 & 146.] James Keith would have been perhaps 56 years old at his death.

James Keith's will is missing. Probate records first appear 25 Jun 1753. They indicate some prosperity. Inventory records show Keith willed his land be divided evenly between three sons. Four lots - Roslin, Stony Wood, Soldiers Retreat and South Run, all beginning at the foot of Pignut Ridge - spanned more than 1100 acres. He was also holding Huntly, 543 acres on Battle Branch. Keith may have acquired slaves.

None of James and Mary's surviving children (between the ages of 4 and 18) had married by the time of their father's death. As executrix of her husband's will, Mary continued appearing in court as late as 1762. "Mary Isham lived into old age, residing in Leeds Parish under the guardianship of her son Thomas who, with his wife Judith, was then residing on a portion of the Pignut Ridge land inherited from his father," says Fleischaker. [Here.] Financial difficulties caught up with Mary in 1772. On 22 August the "widow and Relict of the late James Keith, Clerk" entered into a covenant with her son, Thomas Randolph Keith (c1736-1805). Thomas covered her debts of £150 and agreed "to support and maintain the said Mary Isham Keith in a decent and genteel Manner." In return, Mary signed over five slaves (including Beck, Finder and Amos), and any inheritance from her mother, due upon her step-father's death. [See Fauquier County Minute Book, Part 2; pg. 762.] Though her precise death date is unknown to me, Mary would be gone about twenty years before whatever property was to pass through Nicholas Davis/Davies could be inherited.

Family historians often relay that James and Mary Isham (Randolph) Keith were laid to rest beneath the chancel of Elk Run Church. Excavation, begun in 2009, revealed a cavity in that location ... but no remains. Ground-penetrating sensors did locate a few burial sites, but it may be the Keith's bodies were exhumed from the building after it fell into disrepair in the 19th century.**

There will be a final, disturbing chapter to Mary and James Keith’s saga.

Boldface indicates subject is thought to be the author's direct ancestor.
Go here for a map of churches Rev. James Keith is known to have served.
*There is some disagreement regarding the Keith succession as Earls Marischal. Some accounts, such as the seminal text A System of Heraldry by Alexander Nisbet (1722), record only nine Earls Marischal before the title was taken away. Other accounts, such as Burke's Peerage and The Scottish Peerage, record ten Earls. In accordance with the Countess of Kintore's The Keiths, this post follows the more inclusive list of ten Earls Marischal.
**An Elk Run Church Site Preservation Fund has been established. A panel depicting the life of Rev. James Keith was installed in October 2013, in a mini-museum recently erected at the site.
Elizabeth Keith (1745-1821) was the youngest daughter born to Rev. James and Mary Isham (Randolph) Keith. In 1776 she would marry Edward Ford, Sr. (1738-1814). Ford was the son of Thomas Ford and Jane Milstead, mentioned in my earlier post: Good Luck if it Hits.
On the Jacobites:
James Francis Edward Stuart, Prince of Wales (1688-1766), was born to the second marriage made by King James VII of Scotland, who ruled England as James II. King James, the final English monarch of Catholic faith, had been quickly deposed in the ‘Glorious Revolution of 1688.’ On his father’s death in 1701, the Stuart prince declared himself King and sought the English, Scottish and Irish thrones. By the 1701 Act of Settlement, an English parliament - insuring a Protestant succession - de-legitimized over fifty Roman Catholics who bore closer blood relationships to the existing monarchy: they assured James Stuart’s half-sister, Anne, would become Queen of England in 1702. Adherents to the Stuart’s cause - arguing parliamentary interference with monarchical succession was illegal – resulted in a political movement termed ‘Jacobitism.’ The term derives from Latin inferences regarding the name 'James.'

England's throne passed from the house of Stuart. An Hanoverian dynasty was initiated with the ascension of German-speaking King George I in 1714. James Stuart sought revolt. Attainted for treason in 1702, the ‘Pretender’ - or ‘King Over the Water,’ depending - grew militant. Some Highland chieftains viewed Jacobitism as a means of resisting hostile government intrusion into their territories. "The significance of their support for the Stuarts was that the Highlands was [sic] the only part of Britain which still maintained private armies, in the form of clan levies." [See Wikipedia.]
The Keith Diaspora:
Both Robert and James Francis Edward Keith authored books. Robert would – by 1743 – be appointed Most Reverend the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church (presiding Bishop of the entire Scottish sect). "Deeply versed in archaeology, numismatics and Scottish antiquities," Bishop Keith's pre-eminent, scholarly treatise was 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. The text was published in Edinburgh in 1734 ... near the time of Rev. James Keith's reinstatement as a parish minister. [See Wikipedia.]

James Francis Edward Keith worked his way through Spanish and Russian royal armies until Frederick the Great made him Prussia's Field Marshal in 1747. Marshal Keith was killed in battle in 1758. He wrote A Fragment of a Memoir, published post-mortem in 1843. Covering colorful events in his life up to 1734, I felt certain he would document his childhood relationship to James Keith, subject of this post. Instead, he opens his account with intrigues following the death of Queen Ann ... but not before beginning thus:
“Memoires are commonly so tedious in the beginning, by the recital of genealogies, trifling accidents which happen’d in the childhood, and relatione of minucies (hardly fit to be imparted to the most intimate friend), that it renders them not only uninstructive to the reader, but often loathsome to those who wish to employ their time in any usefull way.”
George Keith, the final Earl Marischal, went on to serve as Ambassador in a Stuart government in exile, and then as Frederick’s Ambassador. According to Lord Macaulay, George was “the only man Frederick the Great ever really loved.” His defense of the Stuart claim was forgiven by England's George II: the Earl had informed on the Spanish when they sided with France against England in 1759. George Keith once more visited Scotland, having been restored to his titles and some of his lands. Compensated £3,618, he bought Dunnottar and lands at auction for £31,320 in 1764. George died abroad, without legitimate heir.

Though he never published; George associated with the literati, and – like his father – wielded superior wit. A relationship with Voltaire lasted many years, and spanned George's posts in both France and Prussia. James Boswell and Jean-Jacques Rousseau sought his company in France c1765. Rousseau, in his Confessions, offers amusing examples of Keith’s eccentricities and observes: “When first I beheld this venerable man, my first feeling was to grieve over his sunken and wasted frame; but when I raised my eyes on his noble features, so full of fire, and so expressive of truth, I was struck with admiration.”

The brothers Keith transcended being stripped of their titles and all rights to their property. “Most exiled Jacobite gentlemen hoped for regular financial help from family or friends in Britain. The range of jobs which an exiled aristocrat could accept without demeaning himself in the eyes of contemporaries was very limited; encompassing, at a suitable level, the Church, diplomacy, and the profession of arms. When a great cycle of wars came to an end in 1714, active military commissions became difficult to obtain. Diplomacy was not an easy field to enter, and as the vast majority of Scottish Jacobites were Protestant Episcopalians, a career in the established Church in the Catholic monarchies was closed to them by definition. Some exiles did carve out distinguished careers for themselves. George Keith, Earl Marischal of Scotland, escaped to France after 'The Fifteen,' but then entered the service of Frederick the Great of Prussia. He rose to great heights in the Prussian diplomatic service, acting as Ambassador Extraordinary to the courts of both France and Spain. Decorated with the Order of the Black Eagle, he ended his career as Governor of the Prussian enclave of Neuchâtel. His younger brother entered the Prussian army, rose to be a Field Marshal, and met a hero's death at the Battle of Hochkirchen in 1758. The Keith brothers were exceptional." [From The Jacobite Diaspora 1688-1746: From Despair to Integration, by Bruce Lenman.]

Though the brothers were able to trade on Masonic connections, Marshal Keith is remarkable for his refusal to shift his religious affiliation in the pursuit of higher office. After eight years in Spain’s Royal Army, in 1727 he solicited the king for authority to lead a regiment of his Irish soldiers. “… to which I received the answer I expected: that His Majesty assured me that how soon he knew I was Roman Catholick, I shou’d not only have what I asked, but that he would take care of my fortune.” In his memoirs, Keith continues: since he found being Episcopalian "an invincible obstacle to my continuing …” he offered his services (and amours) to the Empress of Russia.
Robert Burns on the noble Keiths:
Ramsay of Ochtertyre described the renowned Scots poet Robert Burns (1759-1796) thus: "That poor man's principles were abundantly motley, he being a Jacobite, an Arminian, and a Socinian. The first, he said, was owing to his grandfather having been plundered and driven out in the year 1715, when gardener to Earl Marischal at Inverury [sic] ..."

"My forefathers," says Burns in his autobiography, "rented land of the famous, noble Keiths of Marshal [sic], and had the honor to share their fate.' Of the name, Stuart, the poet wrote,
"My fathers that name have rever'd on a throne:
My fathers have fallen to right it."
"Though my fathers had not illustrious honors and vast properties to hazard in the contest,'" wrote Burns, "though they left their humble cottages only to add so many units more to the unnoted crowd that followed their leaders - yet what they could they did, and what they had they lost." [From The Life and Works of Robert Burns, Volume 1, by Robert Burns; pg. 23.] Even if Rev. James Keith was raised as a commoner, and had no intersection with the Earls Marischal, Burns lends an essence of what life investment Keith would have made, before migration from Scotland.

Not as popular today as Auld Lang Syne, The Battle of Sherramuir - lamenting the fighting in which James Keith was wounded - became one of Burns' more famous compositions. 
Montage images of Dunnottar Castle.
Dunnottar Castle, near Stonehaven, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.