Keath History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The current generations of the Keath family have inherited a surname that was first used hundreds of years ago by descendants of the ancient Scottish tribe called the Picts. The Keath family lived in the lands of Keith in the county of East Lothian. Traditionally the Keiths were descended from Robert, an early Chieftain of the Catti tribe, and possibly one of the earliest settlers in Scotland. Robert joined King Malcolm II at the battle of Panbridge, in 1006, against Camus, leader of the Danes.

Robert slew Camus for which King Malcolm granted Robert the hereditary title of Marshall of Scotland, with a barony in Lothian and the island of Inskeith in the gulf of Edinburgh. It is for this title that the Keiths are sometimes known as the Marshalls, and many Clansmen adopted that name.

Early Origins of the Keath family

The surname Keath was first found in Haddingtonshire where Harvey Keith, successor of the aforementioned Robert Keith (d. 1346) inherited the office of Marshal late in the 13th century, but was imprisoned by the English until 1304. "Reported to [King] Edward as 'one of his worst enemies,' and 'of bad repute,' he was ordered to be removed to Nottingham Castle; but, on reaching York on his way thither, was sent to Bristol Castle. In 1302 he was admitted to the king's peace, and returning to Scotland, is mentioned as dining with the Prince of Wales at Perth in February 1304." [1]

He became one of four Deputy Wardens of Scotland. He joined the cause of King Robert the Bruce, and for their assistance to the Scottish crown, the Clan was granted the royal forest of Kintore. Harvey Keith commanded the Scots Cavalry at Bannockburn and was probably more instrumental in the annihilation of the English army than any other single person. He was again granted lands for his deeds, this time at the expense of the Clan Cumming (Comyn), whose estates at Buchan were acquired by the Keith Clan.

His great grandson, Sir William Keith, (d. 1336) founded the tower of Dunottar Castle. He brought the bones and heart of James Douglas, as well as King Robert I of Scotland's heart, back to Scotland after Douglas was killed on crusade in Spain. Through marriage with an heiress of the Cheynes of Axkergill, the Keiths acquired lands in Caithrless, and began a never-ending succession of feuds with their new neighbors, the Gunns and others.

Early History of the Keath family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Keath research. Another 359 words (26 lines of text) covering the years 1438, 1464, 1475, 1540, 1588, 1581, 1553, 1623, 1585, 1635, 1610, 1670, 1714, 1718, 1699, 1758, 1694, 1664, 1712, 1638, 1716 and are included under the topic Early Keath History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Keath Spelling Variations

Scribes in the Middle Ages did not have access to a set of spelling rules. They spelled according to sound, the result was a great number of spelling variations. In various documents, Keath has been spelled Keith, Keath, Ceiteach (Gaelic) and others.

Early Notables of the Keath family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan at this time was William Keith (d. 1475), 1st Earl Marischal of Scotland; Agnes Keith, Countess of Moray (c.1540-1588), a Scottish noblewoman; William Keith, 4th Earl Marischal (d. 1581), a Scottish nobleman and politician; George Keith, 5th Earl Marischal (c.1553-1623), a Scottish nobleman; William Keith, 6th Earl Marischal (c.1585-1635), a Scottish lord, Earl Marischal and naval official; William...
Another 61 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Keath Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Keath family to Ireland

Some of the Keath family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 59 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Keath migration to the United States +

The cruelties suffered under the new government forced many to leave their ancient homeland for the freedom of the North American colonies. Those who arrived safely found land, freedom, and opportunity for the taking. These hardy settlers gave their strength and perseverance to the young nations that would become the United States and Canada. Immigration and passenger lists have shown many early immigrants bearing the name Keath:

Keath Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Christ Keath, who landed in Virginia in 1643 [2]
  • John Keath, who landed in Maryland in 1652-1658 [2]
Keath Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • James Keath, who arrived in Baltimore, Maryland in 1720 [2]
Keath Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Joseph R Keath, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851 [2]
  • Richard H Keath, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851 [2]


The Keath Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Veritas vincit
Motto Translation: Truth Conquers.


  1. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  2. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)


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