Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sentimental Surname Sunday - Keys of Delmarva

In preparation for my Carrow and allied families compilation, I wrote this and decided it was both a surname and sentimental. I decided to post it here as my week-end endeavor.

I first became aware of the Keys family when I became acquainted with Mary Keys Carrow as an ancestor. I had hoped in 2005 to establish John Carrow as a Revolutionary War ancestor but his geographic location during that time was in question. Vernon Skinner who has researched large parts of my Delmarva lines for me presented me with William Keys as a Revolutionary War Patriot and I was very happy to have found him.He (William not Vern) and I were easily established into the Daughters of the American Revolution database.

William Keys may have served in the French and Indian Wars as a young man We do know he is born in Queen County Maryland March 23, 1738 and is baptized at St.Luke’s Parish there. His parents were John Keys (Key, Kees) and Anne Sewell daughter of Rev. Richard Sewell of Cecil County. He first appears in our sights in Kent County Delaware when he returns from his Revolutionary War service. He is not found in Kent Co. prior to 1782.

William serves in the Continental Army as a Private 1st Company, 2nd Battalion under, Col. Otho Holland Williams Regiment, Southern Army of the United States. He served in the Delaware Regiment until very late in 1782. He was at or near Yorktown at the surrender surely as his unit served under Gen. Nathaniel Greene.

They then marched to near Charleston SC where at Camp Ashley River they kept the British under surveillance with nightly skirmishes for 2 more years. Records show they (Delaware and Maryland regiments) were extremely poorly clothed and underfed.

Did William return to Queen Anne Maryland and marry? This is a possibility as although he had property in Murderkill Hundred Delaware in 1782 we find him not living there and either unfound or delinquent until 1786. In 1786 he is head of household and we find him there until 1794 occasionally as William Kus and Kees. He marries Mary who may be a connection of Nathaniel Wilds wife Mary so is possibly an Ebtharp, Numbers, Tilton or Alleband from Queen Anne Maryland.

Did William have a prior wife or children? This is unknown although there are two William Keys’ mentioned in Maryland in prior years in Dorchester. It is surely possible although we do know there is at least one other William Keys living in Maryland.

We do know that our William with his growing family is in Dover Hundred in 1793. In 1792 a Bounty Land grant was applied for by William although it is not obvious whether it was used for this or sold for cash. Did William sicken at this time due to his years in the swamps near Camp Ashley River SC? He is not found in tax lists until his Probate accounts in 1796.

Children born to William and Mary during those years are Mary, Elizabeth, Ann ,Priscilla and lastly his only son William in 1795. Timothy Lister who marries Mary Keys present accounts in 1796. He is stepfather to the children and Mary Keys Carrow names her first son Timothy surely in his honor. Elizabeth Keys who marries John Cook names her first son William Keys Cook after her departed father.

John Keye is the first man bearing the name that I can link with a paper trial through the generations. In 1665 he is listed as a Headright and by 1669 he is a servant on the plantation of William Parrott on the Choptank River Talbot County at “Seventh Heaven”.
He must have been successful during this time as he next comes into view in 1696 as John Keye, witness to the will of John Pennington. He has two sons John and Richard born between 1688 and 1696.

He is a member of St. Stephen’s Parish, Cecil Co where in 1696, a John Keye he witnessed the will of John Pennington. He is widowed at some point and makes the acquaintance of Henry Pennington who dies 1702 Sassafrass Neck MD.It is possible that his first wife could have been a relative of John Pennington but what we know for sure is that Elizabeth as wife of John Keys, filed administration accounts as widow of Henry Pennington in 1702. Another witness to Henry’s will is Thomas Ebtharp and this family that will follow us into Kent County.

Elizabeth Boyer Pennington Keys as widow of Cecil Co., deposed her age as 57 in 1721. She dies 25 April,1738 and is buried at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, in Cecil County. Elizabeth and John Keys have a son Thomas who is born about 1706 who signed inventory of Richard Keys as next of kin in 1748 and with wife Esther, filed administration accounts on estate of John Irons the same year.
Many of the Keys family either precede William into Kent County Delaware and Dorchester County Maryland around the pre- and post Revolutionary years.
Reverend Richard Sewell grandfather of William Keyes is a player in all of this as he was sent by the Bishop of London, and appointed by Governor Nicholson to serve as the rector of both North and South Sassafrass parishes of St.Stephens' Church in Cecil County Maryland.He married Jane Ellis there in 1699 and was the father-in-law of John Keys the younger.

1 comment:

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