Review of Mary Randolph Keith Ancestors

Source – Entry #16 in Paxton’s Marshall Family (written circa. 1885)

The wife of Thomas Marshall was Mary Randolph Keith, daughter of’ Parson James Keith, and Mary Isham Randolph.• The Keiths are descended from Robert Keith, Mareachal of’ the Scottish army under Bruce. George Keith, born at Kincardine, Scotland, in·1685-died near Potsdam, Prussia, May 25, 1778, was the tenth and last Earl that bore the name.· His race had been long Mareachala of Scotland, and were possessed of’ large estates. The family were adherents of’ the Stuarts, and took an active part in the Rebellion of’ 1715, in favor of the Pretender. Alexander, and James afterward Field Marshal of Russia and Prussia, were younger brothers of the Earl. James Keith, afterward known as Parson Keith, a cousin· of the Earl, was a son of a professor in the Mareachal College of Aberdeen. ·The professor was Bishop of the Episcopal church, and the uncle and guardian of the Earl and bis brothers. His son ,Tames (the Parson) had been educated with his cousins, and in 1715 was a youth of nineteen. The Earl and his brothers took part in the rebellion, and had to leave for the continent. Here, through their cousin James, they still fomented discontent, and in 1719 entered Scotland, and were repulsed. Their secret correspondence with their friends had been conducted through their cousin, James, and he when discovered took refuge in the Colony of Virginia. The Keith estates were confiscated, and their names attainted for treason but afterward, through the solicitations of Frederick of Prussia, a portion of the property,was restored. The titles’ descended in the female line, and are now merged in the united house of Keith­ Elphilltone.

(f) James (Parson) Keith, had been educated for the Church. Coming to Virginia, he settled in Fauquier County, and married Mary lsham Randolph, daughter:of Thomas Randolph, of Tuckahoe, the second son of ‘William Randolph, of Turkey island. She was therefore, closely related to John Randolph, of Roanoke, to Thomas Jefferson, and to Richard Henry Lee. Stories are told of this lady that need confirmation. Shelia said to have tint secretly married a subaltern in the British army, and when her marriage’ and hiding place were discovered, her husband and child were murdered by her brothers. It is charged that her marriage to Parson Keith was con­cealed from her brother, and that she stole away to accompany her husband, when he returned to Scotland for orders. Even the name of Parson Keith is blackened by tradition with the charge of licen­tiousness. But there is better reason to believe that he was a good and holy man. He continued to preach throughout hie life, and hie’ name is handed down with veneration. ‘Bishop Meade, voL 2, p. 216, thus speaks of him:

· Of Rev. Mr. Keith and his descendants I have not been able to’ obtain all the information I desire, or hope for. From all that I can learn, he was a worthy man.
Of Rev. Mr. Keith and his descendants I have not been able to’ obtain all the information I desire, or hope for. From all that I can learn, he was a worthy man. He was a native of &otland. Being in­volved in the Rebellion in favor of the Pretender, he was forced to fly his country, and to come to Virginia. Returning to England for ordel’I!, he was settled in Hamilton parish,and performed the duties of his office there .for a lo long time probably until 1757 or 1758. A: daughter married, Col. Thomas Marshal of” Oakhill” Fauquier County, the seat of the Marshalls to this day 1857). ·

(n) Mrs. Keith long survived her husband, and her weird form and the wild expression of her eyes, gave color to the ghostly stories told of her. But in her old age she was doubt1ess deranged.


The story is told that when Mary Isham Randolph was blooming into womanhood, she was induced by the bailiff upon the estate of Tuckahoe to elope with him. There was great excitement among the family and neighbors, and threats were freely made by the brothers. Some years a.go, the Diary of Col. Byrd, who lived at about the period referred to, was published in the Southern Literary Messenger, and he records the excitement in the family of the Randolphs, on the occasion of the elopement of one of the daughters. The search for the fugitives for a time was fruitless. At length their retreat was discovered on Elk Island, in James river. The angry brothers came upon them by night, murdered the bailiff and the child, and brought their sister home. The deed of blood and cruelty so affected the wife and mother that she be­ came deranged. But care was taken that no allusion should be made to the harrowing scenes she had witnessed, and her reason was at length restored.

(o) Years passed. Mary Randolph married Parson James Keith. A family of children had grown up around them. The tragedy at Elk Island had been forgotten. The bailiff’ was supposed to be dead. But, one day Mrs. Keith received a letter, and on opening it found that it purported to be from the bailiff’. It states that he still lived; that he that was left as dead, bad revived, had changed his name, and had fled to foreign countries; after of wandering had returned to look upon his lawful wife; had found her married and happy; that he would not afflict her by claiming her as his own, but advised her to be happy and forget him, who had more than died for her love; for she should hear no more of him. This letter was perhaps written by some evil­ disposed person, or may have been only a practical joke. However that may be it unhinged the mind of Mrs. Keith. She vainly sought for him and throughout the remnant of her days her insanity mani­fested itself by a quiet melancholy, varied by some sudden freak of folly. Mrs. Colston lived with her for many years and she, and all who met her in her widowhood, testify that she was a lunatic. ,.

The Randolph Family

(p) William Randolph is the first of the name who came to Virginia. He possessed Turkey Island, a large estate on the James river. He married Mary Isham, daughter of Henry and Catharine Isham, of Bermuda Hundred, on the· opposite side of the James. His children, as far as I have been able to learn, were as follows:

  1. William, of Turkey Island, = a Miss Beverly, of Gloucester. He member of the Council and Treasurer of the Colony.
  2. Thomas Randolph, of Tuckahoe, = a Miss Fleming.
    1. Their daughter, 1, Mary Isham Randolph,= Parson James Keith.
  3. Isham Randolph, of Dungeness, = Miss Rogers, of England ; · member of the House of Burgesses, 1740, from Goochland, and Adjutant General of the Colony of Virginia.
  4. (q) Richard Randolph, of Curls, = Miss Bolling, a descendant of Pocahontas; member of the House of Burgesses, 1740, from Henrico Co., and succeeded his brother as Treasurer. He was grandfather to John Randolph, of Roanoke, b. June 2, 1773. -d. May 24, 1833; several times member of Congress, minis­ter to Russia, etc.
  5. Henry Randolph died without issue.
  6. Sir John Randolph, of Williamsburg,= Miss Beverly, sister of his brother William’s wife.
    1. His son, John, was father of Edmund Randolph, b. August 10, 1758,-d.,September 12, 1813,
    2. Another eon of Sir John was Peyton Randolph, b. 1723, •·· d. October 22, 1775.
  7. Edward Randolph, = Miss Graves, au heireBB of England.
  8. A Daughter,= Rev. William Yates, of Gloucester.
  9. A Daughter, = Rev. Robert Yates.
  10. A Daughter, = William Stith, and was mother of the historian of Virginia.


Their children were:

  1. James;
  2. John;
  3. Thomas;
  4. Alex­ander;
  5. Isham;
  6. Mary;
  7. Elizabeth;
  8. Judith.


  1. JAMES KEITH lived and died in Alexandria, Va. Dr. Anderson Keith, of Augusta, married his youngest daughter. John and James were two of his s ons. . 2. JOHN KEITH,=a sister of old Dr. Doniphan.
  2. Their children were:
    1. Thomas,=Judith Key, and left children;
    2. Alex­ ander;
    3. Peyton ;
    4. Anderson (above),= 1st, Doniphan; 2d, =George; 3d,= Catherine Keith;
    5. George Keith,= Mc­ Coy. John Keith also had three ·daughters.
  3. THOMAS, lived in Virginia.
  4. ALEXANDER, lived in Fauquier Co., Va.
  5. ISHAM, lived in Fauquier Co., Va.
  6. MARY RANDOLPH KEITH = Thomas Marshall (16).
  7. ELIZABETH KEITH= Edward Ford, and lived in Bour­bon Co., Ky. lssue:
    1. Jane Ford,= Thomas Clarke, father of Edward Clarke, of Platte Co., Mo. ;
    2. Priscilla Ford,= Sangster;
    3. Judith Ford,= Simpson;
    4. Mary Ford,= Thoe. ( r) Winn;
    5. Hettie Ford,= Ashmore;
    6. Elizabeth Ford,= Clifton Thompson;
    7. Susan Ford1 = Jas. Rogers;
    8. William Ford;
    9. James Ford;
    10. Thos. Ford;
    11. Edward Ford;
    12. Chas. Ford;
    13. John Ford. Eleven of .them lived to be over eighty.
  8. JUDITH KEITH, =James Key, and their children were as • follows:
    1. Jame B Key=Nancy Ireland. They lived in Westmore­land Co., Pa., until 1789, when they removed to Mason Co., Ky. Their children:
      1. Judith (now living in Wash­ington, Ky.);
      2. Peyton=Rankin,and had two children:
        1. James;
        2. William.
    2. Thomas Key,=Foley. They removed from Westmore­ land Co., Pa., to Mason Co., Ky. Issue:
      1. Isham;
      2. Louia., = a Thompson, and left two children, Thomas and Sally;
      3. Peyton Key,=a Miss Leonard, and has six children:
      4. Belle, Anna, Helen, Martha, Richard, Thomas;
      5. Thomas Key;
      6. Marshall Key, b. 1799, d. 1877,= Carter, and had two children: Martha and Louisa;
      7. John Key,= Bullock, and have six children : Lewis, Taliaferro, John, Richard, Mary and Sally. The 7th child of Thomas Key was Richard Key.
    3. Alexander Key,= Dawson. Issue: 1, Nancy, who mar­ried Shopestate.
    4. Judith Key,=Thomas Keith, son of John Keith. Issue:
      1. Mary,
      2. Susan,
      3. James,
      4. John,
      5. Eliza,
      6. Judith,
      7. Louisa,
      8. Peyton,
      9. Harriet. Of these, Mary = Ap­plegate, and after his death, Ginn ;
        1. Susan= James Clay- (,) broke, and her daughter married Bazil Owens;
        2. John= Cox; Eliza=Darius Berry;
        3. Louisa=Alex. Keith, son of Alex. Keith, of Virginia. Issue:
          1. Mary,
          2. Thomas,
          3. Harriet,
          4. Judith,
          5. Charlotte Keith.
    5. Peyton (Uncle Peyton) Key, b. in Fauquier Co., Va., January 19, 1776, d. in Washington, Ky., September 19, 1873, in his 98th year He came to Mason Co., Ky, in 1793; in 1803, went to New Orleans, on a flat-boat; was Deputy Sheriff of Fleming County, under William Ken­nan; served in Capt. Ben. Bayless’ company of Kentucky militia in the war of 1812 ; was at the Battle of the Thames: was a bookkeeper in the old Washington, Ky., Bank of Kentucky; farmed for his brother, Marshall Key, for a number of years. His memory was remarkable, and he was often. called upon to testify of early times in Ken­tucky.
    6. Marshall Key,= Harriet Selman. He died November 16, 1860, in Louisville, Ky. He was born in Fauquier Co., Va., September 8, 1783 ; removed with his father to Kentucky, 1795. He was for many years Clerk of Ma­son Co., Ky.; was highly regarded for his hospitality and public spirit. His children were:
      1. John James Key, now a distinguished lawyer of , Washington City,= Mary Reid, who died childless; . = 2d, Miss Rudd, by whom he has two daughters and one born. In 1884 I enjoyed their lavish hospitality.
      2. Thomas Key, who was an eminent jurist of Cincinnati, 0. Dead. 3. {t) Harriet Key,= Dr.Palmer, and died leaving,
        1. Harriet Palmer,
        2. Robert,
        3. Marshall.
        4. Lizzie Key, now dead,= Hon Thoe. Nelson, of Indi­ana, member of Congress, minister to Mexico etc. Their children are:
        5. Mary,
        6. Harriet,
        7. Marshall,
        8. Lizzie. Mary,= Hannigan; Harriet,= Edward Ashwin, and lives in Brooklyn.
        9. Marshall Key, an eminent lawyer of Council Bluffs, Iowa. Died 1884.

Several portraits of Mary R. Keith ( Marshall ), are preserved. Miss Mollie Marshall (658), of Washington, Ky., has the likeness preserved by the old lady herself. Mrs. Bullitt (2234), of Louis­ville, Ky., has the portrait possessed by-her grandfather, Dr. Louis Marshall; and Mrs. Alice Carroll, of Leeds, has the third heirloom, handed down from her grandfather, Judge John Marshall. I know of no likeness of Col. Thomas Marshall. The three likenesses of Mrs. Marshall are alike, and represent her dressed with a cap, in the style of an old lady of her generation. Doubtless, the portraits were ta­ken after the death of her husband, or his likeness would have ac­companied them.