Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Robert KEYES 1606-1647, Immigrant to Massachusetts

Robert KEYES is the 8th great-grandfather to my ex-husband and his brother, 9th to their children, 10th to the grandchildren. He is an early immigrant from the south of England to Massachusetts in New England. Information for this post came from the book The Great Migration Begins by Robert C Anderson, NEHGS, as well as a book "Genealogy Robert Keyes of Watertown Mass, Solomon Keyes of Newbury and Chelmsford Mass, 1653. And their descendants." by Asa Keyes, 1850. Vital records of early Massachusetts were also consulted.

In the description of Robert KEYES from the Great Migration Begins [1620-1635] pp1128-1131, the editor states that Robert Keyes' history in New England is somewhat anomalous to other immigrants. Amongst some apparently missing birth registrations, and no town grant of land, he does appear to be:
  "...a solid married man with a family in progress, who is in a record made just before his death called "Mr." [high respect]. But in othe ways he does not fit the mold; he did not become a town proprietor, he did not become a freeman, and he does not appear to have left any estate at his death."

It is assumed that Robert and his wife came from the south of England, possibly Kent. However, there is not yet consensus of Robert's English ancestry, nor of his wife. Note the spelling of KEYES is quite variable: Keies, Case, Key[s], Kaye[s], and so on.

Robert was born, possibly in Kent, about 1606 to [possibly] John & Susan KEYES. Nothing is known of occupations of his father, nor of Robert as an adult in England. About 1630, he married Sarah [unknown maiden name]. Their known/accepted children follow, all but the first and last born in Watertown, MA. I have not completed research on all the children of these children:
   1.  Solomon, b. est 1631 England; m. Oct 2, 1653 Newbury MA to Frances Grant, children.
   2.  Sarah, b. May 26 1633 [MA reg.] Watertown MA, d. 1707; m. Jul 8, 1656 in Salisbury MA to Samuel Buswell, children.
   3.   Peter, b. est 1635 Watertown MA, m. Elizabeth est 1660 Watertown MA; children
   4.   Rebecca, b. Mar 17, 1637/38 [MA reg.] Watertown MA, m. est 1660 to William Smith, children
   5.   Phebe, b. Jun 17 1639 [MA reg,] Watertown MA, m. est 1663 to John French, children
   6.   Mary, b. Feb 1641/42 [MA reg.] Watertown MA, buried July 20, 1642 Watertown.
   7.   Elias [ancestor], b. May 20 1643 Watertown MA, d bef 1679 Sudbury MA; m. Sep 11, 1665 in Sudbury MA to Sarah BLANDFORD, 5 children; Sarah m. 2nd John Gage 1679, 3 more children.
   8.   Mary, b. Jun 16 1645 [MA reg] Sudbury MA, d. Dec 20 1668 in Newbury MA to Benjamin Gage; died in childbirth with infant.

Robert purchased a 3 acre homestall of land in Watertown from Wm. Wilcocks. This land was bounded E. and N. by Thomas Brigham, and S. and W. by Sir Richard Saltonstall. Sir Richard Saltonstall  came with the Winthrop Fleet of 11 ships in 1630; he was the nephew of Sir Richard Saltonstall, Lord Mayor of London during the time of Queen Elizabeth I.

It is not clear if the Keyes had a close relationship with Sir Saltonstall, although the senior Sir Saltonstall married a Grace Kaye who has been speculated to be a relation of Robert Keyes. Without knowing Robert KEYES' English heritage nor his birthplace, it is difficult to be certain of relationships between these early immigrants. Note that Robert's name "Robert Keies" can be found at the base of the monument to Sir Richard Saltonstall at Watertown MA. This might imply a specific relationship. Much more research is needed to be certain of this speculation.

Robert's life in this early Massachusetts colony came to an untimely end with his death July 16, 1647, aged 41 years.  His eldest child, Solomon, would be about 16 yrs, the youngest, Mary, only 2 years of age. No details of his death is given, nor any mentioned in genealogies/records of the times that I have found, to date.

Although there does not appear to be a will for Robert, nor any records of his estate, it seems that his wife Sarah managed well enough with her 7 children. On Nov 7, 1658, Sarah married another widow from Ipswich MA, John Gage, who also had 7 children of roughly similar ages. Sarah was widowed for a second time, when John Gage died in 1673. Her estate and inventory showed a total of £28 2s, and the particulars were divided between the three living [married] daughters, Sarah, Rebecca, and Phebe.

As you can see there needs more research to see if any more details might be teased out about Robert and his life in England as well as in Massachusetts. Research is never done...
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If you have more to offer about Robert and his family, including any corrections, I would be very pleased to hear about it. My email contact is at the very bottom of the blog page.

Blooger has a glitch which is stopping me from replying to your comments, but please do know that I appreciate your comments very much. You make my day! Thanks so much for stopping by to read my family blog. 

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Family, friends, and others - I hope you enjoy these pages about our ancestors and their lives. Genealogy has become somewhat of an obsession, more than a hobby, and definitely a wonderful mystery to dig into and discover. Enjoy my writing, and contact me at celia.winky at gmail dot com if you have anything to add to the stories. ... Celia Lewis