Clan Keith

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: 3 Aug 2018 [unknown]
Location: Worldwidemap
Surnames/tags: Keith Scottish_Clans
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Scotland Project > Scottish Clans > Clan Keith


Welcome to Clan Keith

Clan Keith Team
Team Leader
Team MembersMargaret Cook, Arthur Jones, Michael Thomas, Harriet Burns

Clan Chief: James William Falconer Keith of Urie, 14th Earl of Kintore, 14th Lord Keith of Inverurie and Keith Hall, 4th Viscount Stonehaven, 4th Baron Stonehaven, 5th Baronet, 6th of Urie. Chief of Clan Keith. Succeeded his father in 2004.


Motto: Dexter: Quae amissa salva (What has been lost is safe), Sinister: Veritas vincit (Truth conquers), On compartment: Thay say: quhat they say: thay haif sayed: let thame say

Slogan: A Keith, Veritas Vincit (also Truth Prevails)

Region: Lowlands and Highlands

District: Aberdeenshire (lowlands) and Caithness (highlands)

Plant badge: White Rose

Pipe music:

Gaelic name: Ceiteach

Clan Team

Team Goals

The focus of this team's work is to identify, improve and maintain profiles associated with the Lairds and Chiefs of Clan Keith together with members bearing the name Keith, the related families and those recognised as septs of Clan Keith.

Team To Do List

This list will be developed by the Team. If you are working on a specific task, please list it here:

  • promoting the entries of those bearing the name Keith on Wikitree.
  • ensuring entries appearing on Wikitree are as accurate as possible, correcting mistakes once spotted.
  • encouraging interest in and study of Clan Keith.


Achindachy, Astine, Aston, Austen, Austie, Austin, Cate, Dick, Dickson, Dickison, Dicson, Dixon, Dixson, Falconer, Falconor, Faulkner, Harvie, Harvey, Harvie, Hervey, Haxton, Hurrie, Hurry, Keath, Keech, Keeth, Kite, Lumgain, Lumgaine, Lumgair, MacDick, MacDicken(s), MacDickin(s), MacDickie, MacDicky, MacDickson, MacGeath, MacKeetch, MacKeeth, MacKeith, MacKeithan, MacKeth, Mackett, MacNeithan, Marshall, Urrie, Urry

Clan History

Clan Branches

Other Names Associated with the Clan

Austein, Austin, Austine, Austeane, Austyn, Austene, Ousteane, Oistiane, Ostian, Ostaine, Oustian, Oustene, Oustiane, Oisteane, Odstien, Owstiane, Oustine, Owstine, Caidh Ceiteach, Cate Dixon, Dikyson, Dicsoun, Diksonne, Dickeson, Dikson, Dickson, Dickason, Dick, Dikison, Dikiesoun, Dickie, Dikkyson, Keht, Keythe, Kethe, Keith, Keytht, Ket, Keth, Kayt, Kite, Keathe, Merchell, Chesne, Chaney, Chyine, Chayne, Cheen, Chein, Chene, Cheine, Chisnie, Cheney, Cheyney, Cheyne, Chiene, Chyne, Marchell, Marchall, Marchall, Marchael, Marshall, Merschale, Marschal, Merchel, Merschaell, Marschel, Merschell,, Mershael, Mershell, Marschale, Marschell

Allied Clans

Rival Clans

Clan Research and Free Space Pages

Source Material

Image Credits and Acknowledgements

Information below this line should be summarized and incorporated into the Clan Team Page. Detailed information should be moved to additional Clan pages.


Adapted from Keith article -

Origins of the clan

A warrior of the Chatti tribe is said to have killed the Danish General, Camus, at the Battle of Barrie in 1010. For this valour Malcolm II of Scotland dipped three fingers into the blood of the dead and drew them down the warrior's shield The warrior was thereafter named Marbhachair Chamuis, which meant the Camus Slayer. The chief of the Clan Keith has borne the same three lines on his shield ever since. It can be found as early as 1316 on the seal of Sir Robert de Keith.

King Malcolm's victory at the Battle of Carham in 1018 brought him into possession of Lothian and the lands of Keith in Lothian were subsequently held by the Camus Slayer. It is from these lands that his progeny took their name.

A Norman adventurer named Hervey married the native heiress of Marbhachair and, in about 1150, David I of Scotland granted her a charter for the lands of Keith. In a charter of 1176 their son was styled as Marischal of the King of Scots. The Marischal was charged with the safety of the king's person within Parliament and was also custodian of the royal regalia.

Wars of Scottish Independence

In 1308, Robert the Bruce granted the royal Halforest of Aberdeenshire to his friend, Robert de Keith. Here the Marischal built his castle. His nephew was William Keith of Galston, who returned Bruce's heart to Melrose Abbey after the death of the Sir James Douglas at the Battle of Teba in Andalucia. Bruce confirmed to the family the hereditary office of marischal by a charter of 1324 and Sir Robert de Keith had commanded the Scottish cavalry at the Battle of Bannockburn. The office was held upon the condition that they bore the ancient arms that they had inherited from Marbhachair Chamuis.

Sir Robert Keith, the Marishchal, escorted the young David II of Scotland when he fled to France to escape the usurpation Edward Balliol.

15th century and clan conflicts

Clan Keith were often at feud with neighboring Clan Irvine and, in 1402, Clan Irvine are said to have attacked and defeated an invading war party of Clan Keith in what was known as the Battle of Drumoak.

Sir William Keith, the Marischal who died in 1407, married the heiress of Sir Alexander Fraser and in doing so added great estates in Buchan, Kincardine and Lothian to his existing patrimony. William's brother, John Keith, married the Cheyne heiress, which brought the Keiths massive estates in Inverugie as well as Inverugie Castle, which later became the seat of the clan chiefs. Three of Sir William Keith's children married children of Robert II of Scotland, while another daughter married Sir Adam Gordon, ancestor of the Earls of Huntly.

In 1458 the third Lord Keith was made Earl Marischal and was the only peer to be styled by his office of state.

A branch of Clan Keith who inhabited Caithness fought at the Battle of Tannach (probably 1464), where they assisted Clan Mackay against Clan Gunn. They later fought another battle against the Gunns, known as the Battle of Champions (probably 1478). This battle was fought between 12 men of Clan Gunn and 24 men of the Clan Keith. All the Gunns, including the chief of the clan, were killed. However, the chief of Clan Keith was soon after killed by the Gunns in a revenge attack.

16th and 17th centuries

William Keith, 3rd Earl of Marischal, along with the Earl of Glencairn, invited John Knox the religious reformer back to Scotland in 1559. William Keith, 4th Earl Marischal, founded the Marischal College in Aberdeen. George Keith, 5th Earl Marischal, undertook the embassy to Denmark which resulted in the marriage of James VI of Scotland to Anne of Denmark.

After Charles II of England was crowned in 1651, William Keith, 7th Earl Marischal, was captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London. He remained there until the Restoration, when the king appointed him a Privy Councillor and later Lord Privy Seal as recompense for what he and his family had suffered in the royal cause. After Charles's coronation, the Scottish crown jewels had been hidden on the Keith lands and, as a result, Marishcal's brother, John Keith, was created Knight Marischal and Earl of Kintore.

18th century and Jacobite risings

George Keith, 8th Earl Marischal, was appointed a Knight of the Thistle by James Francis Edward Stuart (the Old Pretender). During the Jacobite rising of 1745, Clan Keith supported the Jacobite cause. As a result, George Keith, 10th Earl Marischal, along with his brother, James, forfeited their lands, castles and titles. However, the two Keith brothers played a part in Continental affairs during the 18th century with the earl being one of the very few Jacobite Knights of the Garter. He also received the highest order in Prussia, the Black Eagle, while his brother, James, was given Russia's Imperial Order of St Andrew.

Modern history

In 1801, the Lord Lyon King of Arms recognised Keith of Ravelston and Dunnotter as representer of the Marischal Keiths, and his nephew was dubbed Knight Marischal in 1822 for George IV's visit to Edinburgh that year.

The 9th Earl of Kintore was flamboyant and decimated the Kintore estates. However, Ian Keith, 12th Earl of Kintore, promoted the clan internationally and appointed a Seanchaí to preserve their history and traditions.

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Images: 1
Keith tartan
Keith tartan

Comments: 6

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Hi, my family is part of the Keith Clan too and we go back to Scottish royals. My late grandfather’s name was Vernon and my dad’s is Charles. I can find family trees going back way before the 1900’s. But anything after that linking it to our family has been troublesome. if someone can help me find the family tree from today and in back linking to our history that would be great!
posted by [deleted]
Hi Josh,

With genealogy it's always best to start with yourself and work backwards, proving each generation's connection to the one preceding it. That way you have your own proof that your "tree" is valid and well-proven. Using someone else's family tree is fraught with problems as you never know if it's really true.

posted by Bobbie (Madison) Hall
Hi I have been doing some extensive research and have discovered that William Keith 1st Earl Marischals is my 16th great grandfather. The lineage down is quite spectacular but he is as early as I have gotten. Looking for connections and new information.
posted by Teresa (Watson) Garcia
My grandmother who lived in Scotland had the maiden name of Dickson, which is listed in names for the Keith clan. I found a certificate in my mother’s possessions that gave membership in the Keith clan.
posted by Margaret (Moyer) Cook

Welcome to Clan Keith.

Be sure to include the certificate in your mother's profile. We don't see them very often. Feel free to add people to the list using the clan tag.

If I can help in any way, please let me know.

Mike Michael Thomas, FSA Scot U.S. Genealogist Murray Clan Society of North America Team Leader - Clan Keith, Wikitree

posted by Michael Thomas
I have to look more into this, my grandmother maiden name was "KEITH" and in Greenville, SC there is a street named KEITH and also my brother is named Keith Green first born of Raven And Dorothy Green.

Asa Green and Lula Keith Green was my grandparents who had 6 children ,my dad Raven, Allender, Roy, Lloyd (4 brothers) and Marie, Etonia 2 sisters.

posted by Debbie Green