NCGRANVI-L ArchivesArchiver > NCGRANVI > 2010-11 > 1291151665
From: EVELYN WALLACE <>
Subject: [NCGRANVI] Keeling Family of North Carolina - Some Notes of Long Ago
Date: Tue, 30 Nov 2010 13:14:25 -0800 (PST)
One subscriber is interested in the name Keeling and the association with the
Henderson family of colonial Granville Co. NC. If you want to know who the
Keeling daughters married, drop me an e-mail.
Because the George Keeling family is linked to the family of Richard Henderson
who was Granville co. NC, also of Boonesborough, of Henderson Co., KY and who
was a substantial citizen of North Carolina, I am sharing my notes. The notes
are old, but there has been controversey over the years about the Keeling
There are a number of myths about the Keeling family, which I have been unable
to confirm. One, I think, is pure bunk!!! That George Keeling of North
Carolina was or was related to Irish nobility!!! Admittedly, there were a few
Cavaliers who migrated to Virginia and to other colonies, but they were few and
far between. My study of a Williams family of early Hanover Co., VA but prior
to that of Henrico Co., VA finds that a land patent mentions Keeling, but does
not give a forename. The history of Ireland is quite confusing, and if nobility
were given land in Ireland, they frequently were absentee landlords.
According to a publication of North Carolina wills, George Keeling, the father
of Col. Richard Henderson's wife, died testate in Halifax Co., NC. His origins
are probably in Virginia, but I have not spent a good deal of time trying to
verify that. Perhaps he or his predecessors came from the Eastern Shore or from
Maryland or even Delaware.
I am sharing this information so that you can try to trace George Keeling back
in time, if you wish to spend your time that way. These are notes. His
daughters, for the most part, married substantial citizens, but according to
Granville Co., NC records, poor John Keeling was declared an idiot. An
experienced genealogist told me some years ago that the term *idiot* frequently
was applied to blind persons--or perhaps persons handicapped in some way. (What
is your take on this label in those days?)
Preparer: Evelyn W. Wallace
GEORGE KEELING. (ca 1720-bef. 1759) WIR01015. We know very little of
George Keeling prior to his death which is reported (but not confirmed) to have
occurred prior to 1759 in Halifax Co. NC (will as reported by Fred A. Olds in AN
ABSTRACT OF NORTH CAROLINA WILLS [Baltimore: Southern Book Company, 1954].
He and his wife, the former Agnes Bullock, had four daughters and a son.
The children named in his will are: George [error---should be John],
Elizabeth, Ann, Agatha, Francis [sic], (1)
Executors were Thos. B. Smith and Jas Smyth. Relationship to the deceased
Wills of Granville Co., NC provide George Keeling's name in this manner:
His father-in-law, Richard Bullock, had a bill of sale, 1760: "Richard Bullock
to granddaughter Frances Keeling daughter of George Keeling."
Records of colonial Granville Co. indicate Agnes (Bullock) Keeling, the
widow, later Mrs. John Williams [Esq], was the daughter of Richard Bullock..
She was named in Richard Bullock's will.
Shortly after Keeling's death, the widowed Agnes married John Williams,
Esq., of Granville Co., NC. in 1759.
Keeling probably was alive in 1731 and deceased by 1759. It is inferred,
but not proved, he was related to the Capt. Keeling who is mentioned in Hanover
land patent to John Williams ca. 1731. Information about the land patent is
found in Vol. III of Cavaliers and Pioneers. (Also Virginia land patents are
now found online at the Library of Virginia website. The URL has recently
changed. Suggest google.com)
Possiblly he is the same George Keeling whose name appears in the
merchant's account book of Francis Jerdone, Hanover Co. ca. 1743/44. The list
is headed: [Folio 98] Hanover County. Sundries Drs [debtors] to ballance being
a full list of the debts due to the Cargo belonging to the Executors of Neill
Buchanan Esqr. deceased this 10th day of Novr 1744."
One Richard Bullock appears in the account book among "Sundries Drs."
(Of interest: Also appearing in this account book are names of neighbors
of Nathaniel Williams]: William Harlow, Michael Holland, Senior and Michael
Holland, Junior. Also "Execrs. of Matthew Jouett," Jouett being father-in-law
of Joseph Williams. Nathaniel and Joseph Williams were paternal uncles of Judge
John Williams of Granville Co. Also the name of John Rodes, a son-in-law of
Robert Harris, later of Louisa and Albemarle Cos. Joseph Williams, a county
official at times in Lunenburg Co., VA, was married 1st to Henrietta Jouett,
dau. of said Matthew Jouett.)
(Edgar MacDonald, Ph.D., "A Merchant's Account Book: Hanover County, Virginia
1743-1744," MAGAZINE OF VIRGINIA GENEALOGY, V. 34, No. 3, pp. 185-202).
George Keeling may have been a neighbor of the Williams family in Hanover
Co., VA. However, according to notes found in Folder 9A of the Lewis Bullock
[M.D.] Collection, Thornton Library, Oxford, NC, George Keeling died in Halifax
Co., NC and not in Granville Co., NC. He made his will 9 June 1759, and it was
proved September court 1759. Witnesses were Abner Andrews, Absolom Rogers,
Jurat, John Rhodes. In his will, he named his son John Keeling, and his
daughters, Elizabeth, Ann, Francis [sic], Agatha. Executors were Thos. B. Smith
and Jas Smyth. (Document not verified by this writer.)
From the will, it is determined he was the father of the youngest child
Agatha, who seemingly was adopted by John Williams, Esq., of Granville Co.,
second husband of Agnes Bullock. The latter couple were married 1759, soon
after Keeling's death. At any rate, Agatha and her husband Robert Burton became
sole heirs of Judge John Williams of Granville Co. NC. Apparently Williams
considered her his daughter. Burton had long been associated with Williams as
records of Transylvania Colony reveal.
Evidence of Probable Presence in Hanover Co., New Kent Co. and Princess Anne
The following documents do not verify the actual presence of this younger
George Keeling in Hanover Co. but may indicate the presence of of a family by
that name in the general vicinity of the first John Williams family:
Hanover Co. Deed Bk 14, p. 198. John Williams of Hanover Co. 26 Jun 1731.
304 A, at Gilcrest's corner, Daniel's line, in Rather's line, in Captain
Keeling's line, Henry Davis's line, Mr. Harris's corner, in Saxon's Swamp.
(Note: No first name is given for Captain Keeling. Another neighbor, John
Gilchrist is found in the same Francis Jerdone's merchant's account book,
Hanover Co., as George Keeling, cited above. Also a Richard Bullock is listed.)
Hanover Co. DB 24-228. Stephen Terry, Jr. 5 Jun 1746. 149 A ... in the
Second Fork of the Pamunkey River ... at John Williams' corner pine in William
Winston's line ... to Major Blair's corner ... on Captain Keeling's line. ( Fry
& Jefferson map shows that at one time the Pamunkey River, a tributary of the
York River, formed the border between New Kent Co. on the south and King William
Co. on the north.)
[This citation is in error. It is not found in Hanover Co., and not in Louisa
Co.,VA. I must have made this note long ago when I was not very experienced in
citing sources. EWW Mar 2004]
There was a John Keeling, not George Keeling, in Hanover Co. ca. 1734. He
was named as godson in will of John Burridge. Records for Hanover Co. are
sparse, and we have no other indication of the whereabouts of this John Keeling
unless he is the son of George Keeling and who is found later in Granville Co.
The name of a George Keeling appears in VESTRYBOOK OF ST. PAUL'S PARISH,
HANOVER COUNTY, VIRGINIA 1706-1786. He seems to have been a contemporary of
John Williams I of Hanover Co. who received a 1716 patent in Henrico Co. The
reference in the vestrybook is on page 256:
At a Vestry held for St. Pauls Parish Sbr, ye 10th 1719:
Note these were Tenants, Hinson to West, Brian to Fox; note that Mr Geo.
Keeling, Chas Yancey, Wm Saxon, Jno Brian, Thos Preswood, Saml Saxon, are all
Freeholders in this Precinct, note that Colo Walker hath no land in this
In 1704-1705 Rent Rolls of Virginia, the name George Keeling appears in New
Kent Co. Rolls (Parish of St. Peter's and St. Pauls. Anno 1704.) He is taxed
1500 pounds. There are two Bullocks also in the rent rolls: Richard and Edward,
450 pds. each. There are also a number of Mitchells and two Sneads: Tho. and
It appears this person was an older George Keeling than the husband of
There was a George Keeling in New Kent Co. ca. 1699-1702, probably of an
older generation. He was one of the justices of the peace, as was one James
Moss [possibly Morse]. See biographies of Morse family members of Granville
Co., NC, close associates of the Williams family. (Also, a Capt. Geo. Keeling
was sheriff of New Kent Co., VA in 1709, according to C. G. Chamberlayne, THE
VESTRY BOOK AND REGISTER OF ST. PETER'S PARISH, NEW KENT AND JAMES CITY
COUNTIES, VIRGINIA, 1684-1786, "Appendices" [Richmond, 1937], p. 693.)
Another justice in New Kent Co. was Nicholas Meriwether, whose name is
found as one of the officials in later Hanover Co. records from 1733-1735.
There was a Nicholas Meriwether, Jr., also in Hanover Co.
New Kent Co. was the parent of Hanover Co., said to have been the original
home of the Williams and Henderson families of Nutbush Creek, Granville Co., NC.
Other Keelings, all in Princess Anne Co. in the 1704 quit rent rolls of
Virginia are as follows:
Adam - 500 [acres]
John - 2,000
Thomas - 700
It seems these Keelings, as a group, owned considerable land. Land patents
of Virginia have not been searched for Keelings.
We have no proof that George Keeling was an "Irish lord," a seeming myth
which has been repeated in many "family histories." This false pedigree may
have originated with Archibald Henderson, author of THE CONQUEST OF THE OLD
SOUTHWEST (New York, 1920), in writing of his ancestors and their associates.
Henderson writes, "This young attorney [Richard Henderson], wedded to the
daughter of an Irish lord, often visited Salisbury on his legal circuit; and
here he became well acquainted with Squire Boone, one of the 'Worshipfull
Justices,' and often appeared in suits before him." (p. 105)
It seems evident from the 1704 quit rent rolls of Virginia, however, that
the Keelings were "of the landed gentry," holding considerably more land than
It is somewhat difficult to trace the movements of the Bullock family in
Virginia prior to 1750. The name "Richard Bullock" is found in many counties.
Other Occurrences of Surname in Virginia
Index to Deeds, Cumberland Co., VA, a progeny county of Goochland Co.:
1755- DB2-180 - Lennard Keeling to John Burton.
A Burton family were later close associates of the Keeling-Williams family
of Nutbush Creek area, Granville Co. They seem earlier to have been in Hanover
Co., VA. See biography of Robert Burton who married Agatha, only daughter of
John Williams Esq. and Agnes (Bullock) Keeling.
The name George Keeling appears as a Virginia Tithable in James City 1768,
but this was after George Keeling of Granville Co., NC was deceased. As can be
seen, George is a popular first name for Keeling men.
(1) The inclusion of Agatha in the will of George Keeling is confusing in
that the daughter of John Williams and the widow Keeling was reportedly Agatha
Williams. Did Agatha Keeling die, and Agnes named a younger daughter for her, a
not uncommon practice among English people? Or, did John Williams, Esq., adopt
this last child and thus make her his sole heir? See biography of Agatha
Williams, wife of Robert Burton. (One researcher was of the opinion that
Williams had fathered this child, even as George Keeling was dying. I tend to
think Williams, who seemed to be childless--he had had small pox--adopted
Agatha, who was very young when Keeling died. There are rumors that smallpox
leads to infertility, but I have not been able to verify this statement.)
Agatha probably is the same child said to be daughter of John Williams,
Esq. The reason is that her birthdate, reported to be 1757, is two years prior
to the marriage of her widowed mother to John Williams, Esq. in 1759. Williams
may have adopted the child as she was so young when the couple married. At any
rate, she became his sole heir, and Robert Burton, her husband, came into
control of the estate. As such, he had several lawsuits brought against him.
His father-in-law, Judge John Williams, had been a land agent for Col. Richard
Henderson in the Transylvania Company [later called Henderson & Co.] according
to the Colonial Records of North Carolina.
Miscellaneous notes transferred Feb 2010
VA GENEALOGIST 22:274 & 23:122
From Keeling genforum - located with google Jan 2010
I found several records of the Keeling family in Granville Co., NC, and thought
I'd share as follows:
George Keeling who died c.1759 in Granville Co., NC and was married to Agnes
George Keeling. Bill of Sale., Aug. 2, 1760, Rich’d Bullock, of Gr. Co. to his
gr. Daut. Frances Keeling, daut. Of George Keeling, deceased, in consi. Of “the
good will & affection,” conveys negro boy named “Bob” in the care of grantor’s
son John Bullock, and grantor also places in the hands of John Williams Jr. “one
candle pan” for use of said grand daughter together with said negro. Wit:
Richard Henderson, Zac. Bullock. Id. P. 160. Bond, Sept. 19, 1759, “unto William
Person, William Hurst, Charles Johnson & Robert Hicks Esq’rs. Justices of the
County Court” of Gr. Co., pen. 600 pounds.; of Agnes Keeling, who is apptd
guardian of Elizabeth, orphan of George Keeling deceased. Sur: John Sims, Thomas
Lowe. Id. P. 122. Same; ward John, son of George Keeling. Id. P. 123. Source:
History and Genealogies of Old Granville County, North Carolina, 1746-1800 by
Thomas McAdory Owen, Southern Historical Press, Inc.
John Keeling, son of George Keeling & Agnes Bullock:
Page 101 – Feb. Court 1797 – John Keeling’s Land, he deceased, was divided to
the four heirs – contained 69 acres – divided to Mrs. Frances Ridley, Mrs. Agga
Burton, Mrs. Elizabeth Henderson, Mrs. Ann Satterwhite. Source: Abstracts of the
Wills and Estate Records of Granville County North Carolina 1746-1808 by Zae
Hargett Gwynn, Published by Joseph W. Watson, Rocky Mount, NC.
Agnes Bullock Keeling Williams Will:
Page 324-327, Mar. 29, 1802 – proved May court 1803 – Agnes Williams wills
to…Daughter Frances Ridley, granddaughter Sarah Ridley, granddaughter Elizabeth
Burton, great-granddaughter Frances Keeling Burton (daughter of James Minge
Burton & Elizabeth, his wife), grandson James Ridley, granddaughter Frances
Ridley, granddaughter Polly Ridley, grandson Robert Ridley, granddaughter Peggy
Satterwhite, granddaughter Nancy Satterwhite, grandson Edwin Satterwhite,
grandson Horace Satterwhite, grandson John Henderson, granddaughter Elizabeth
Alexander. Codicil: Grandson Leonard Henderson, granddaughter Fanny Henderson,
daughter Agatha Burton, grandson Frank N.W. Burton.
Source: Abstracts of the Wills and Estate Records of Granville County North
Carolina 1746-1808 by Zae Hargett Gwynn, Published by Joseph W. Watson, Rocky
The name George Keeling is found in Caroline Co. VA Orders in 1748. Is he the
From FHL film 30832 - Court Order Book 1740-1746
11 June 1748 Suit in chancery between George Holloway plt. and Charles Holloway
def., def allowed time to answer next court. George Keeling agst. Stephen Terry
9 July 1748 - Thomas Johnson agst. Samuel Poe debt dismised agreed. George
Keeling agst. Lazarus Yarborough cont.
From Rootsweb archiver [DAVENPORT] 1999-11 subject: Caroline Co. VA Orders
submitted by Ralph Royce