Keel History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the name Keel date back to the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. The name is derived from when the Keel family lived in Keele, a village and civil parish in northern Staffordshire, or in East Keal or West Keal in Lincolnshire. [1] The surname Keel belongs to the large category of Anglo-Saxon habitation names, which are derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads.

"Keel and Keirl are Somersetshire names, the Keirls being at home in the Bridgewater district. Amongst those who took up the cause of their religion in the Monmouth rebellion of 1685 were John and George Keele of Chilton, who were transported to Barbados, the first named not surviving the voyage." [2]

Early Origins of the Keel family

The surname Keel was first found in Lincolnshire where early records reveal that Robert de Kele was listed there in the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273. [3] The same rolls list William de Kele in the same shire. [3]

As far as the origin of the place name Keele is concerned, we must look to the village and parish in Staffordshire where the name was derived from the Old English words "cy" + "hyll," and literally meant "hill where cows graze." The first listing of the place name was found in 1169 when is was listed as Kiel. [4]

Richard Kele was listed in the Feet of Fines for Yorkshire in 1246; John de Keel in the Subsidy Rolls for Staffordshire in 1332 and Robert Keell was in Nottinghamshire in 1481. [5]

More often than not, in Scotland, the family spelt their name Keill and or Kyill. "John Keill, chirurgian in Dundee, 1615, Thomas Kyill, burgess of Dundee, 1624, and David Keill in record in Haughmuer, 1774," [6] are but a few examples.

Keele Hall is a 19th-century mansion house at Keele, Staffordshire and the eponym of Keele University, officially known as the University of Keele, a public research university near Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire.

Early History of the Keel family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Keel research. Another 47 words (3 lines of text) covering the years 1562, 1671, 1721, 1671, 1673, 1719, 1703 and 1719 are included under the topic Early Keel History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Keel Spelling Variations

It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, early Anglo-Saxon surnames like Keel are characterized by many spelling variations. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages, even literate people changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Keel include: Keele, Keel, Keal, Keale and others.

Early Notables of the Keel family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include Thomas Keele, a Member of Parliament for Wycombe in 1562 John Keill (1671-1721), was a Scottish mathematician and important disciple of Isaac Newton, born at Edinburgh on 1 Dec. 1671. His younger brother, James Keill (1673-1719), was a Scottish physician, philosopher, medical writer and translator. " He was educated partly at home, partly on the continent. He applied himself especially to anatomy, and coming to England acquired much reputation by lecturing on that subject at Oxford...
Another 80 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Keel Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Keel Ranking

In the United States, the name Keel is the 3,630th most popular surname with an estimated 7,461 people with that name. [7] However, in Newfoundland, Canada, the name Keel is ranked the 668th most popular surname with an estimated 66 people with that name. [8]


United States Keel migration to the United States +

Many English families tired of political and religious strife left Britain for the new colonies in North America. Although the trip itself offered no relief - conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and many travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute - these immigrants believed the opportunities that awaited them were worth the risks. Once in the colonies, many of the families did indeed prosper and, in turn, made significant contributions to the culture and economies of the growing colonies. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families has revealed a number of immigrants bearing the name Keel or a variant listed above:

Keel Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Isabell Keel, who landed in Maryland in 1675 [9]
Keel Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • David and Peter Keel, who settled in Philadelphia in 1724
  • Daved Keel, aged 26, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1742 [9]
Keel Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Joel Keel, who arrived in New York in 1834 [9]
  • George Keel, who arrived in New York in 1844 [9]
  • Barbara Keel, aged 42, who landed in America, in 1892
  • Emily Keel, aged 30, who settled in America, in 1894
  • Annie Keel, aged 3, who immigrated to America, in 1894
Keel Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Frank Keel, aged 38, who immigrated to the United States from London, in 1901
  • George W. Keel, aged 67, who immigrated to the United States, in 1909
  • G. W. Keel, aged 47, who settled in America, in 1910
  • Charles H. Keel, aged 36, who immigrated to the United States, in 1920
  • Doris R. Keel, aged 8, who landed in America from Cobham, England, in 1922
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Keel migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [10]
Keel Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • George Keel, who settled in Barbados in 1685

Contemporary Notables of the name Keel (post 1700) +

  • Leslie Grace Keel (b. 1974), American production designer
  • Terrence McCauley "Terry" Keel (b. 1958), American founding partner of the Keel & Nassour law firm in Austin, Texas State Representative (1997-2007)
  • Stephen Keel (b. 1983), American soccer player
  • Larry Keel (b. 1968), American bluegrass-singer and songwriter
  • Harry Clifford "Howard" Keel (1919-2004), American actor and singer who starred in many film musicals of the 1950s, known for his starring roles in Annie Get Your Gun (1950), Show Boat (1951), Kiss Me Kate (1953), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), and Kismet (1955)
  • John Alva Keel (1930-2009), American journalist and author
  • James Frederick Keel (1871-1954), English composer of art songs, baritone singer and academic
  • Adam Dario Keel (1924-2018), Swiss artist
  • Carl Eugen Keel (1885-1961), Swiss visual artist Expressionism
  • Othmar Keel, Swiss scientist
  • ... (Another 2 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Royal Oak
  • William Keel (1912-1939), British Engine Room Artificer 4th Class with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak (1939) when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [11]
  • Jack Keel (1920-1939), British Marine with the Royal Marine aboard the HMS Royal Oak (1939) when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [11]
SS Newfoundland
  • Mr. John Keel (1889-1914), Newfoundlander from Bonavista, who on the 30th March 1914 he was part of the Seal Crew of the "SS Newfoundland" leaving the ship to intercept the Stephano which took him to the hunting grounds, he disembarked to begin sealing, but was caught in a thickening storm, attempting to return to the Newfoundland he and the 132 crew made camp for two days the sealers were stranded on the ice in a blizzard attempting to return to the ship, he died after reaching medical care


  1. ^ Barber, Henry, British Family Names London: Elliot Stock, 62 Paternoster Row, 1894. Print.
  2. ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  3. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  5. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  6. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  7. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  8. ^ The order of Common Surnames in 1955 in Newfoundland retrieved on 20th October 2021 (retrieved from Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland by E.R. Seary corrected edition ISBN 0-7735-1782-0)
  9. ^ 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)
  10. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  11. ^ Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship68.html


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