2. Rodger Keir & Isobel Armour

Welcome to the 2nd post on the Keir Family Genealogy blog site.

Rodger (or Roger) Keir is presently our confirmed eldest relative. As such, we know very little about Rodger’s early life and would greatly welcome any input from our readers (especially documentary evidence).

We are guessing that Rodger Keir was born circa 1670 AD probably in Scotland (but even this is in doubt as we have a ‘theory’ that perhaps he was the child of one of the many Scottish military families who were displaced in the late 17th century and found their way to Holland). Rodger (or Roger) is a rare name in Scotland (but not in Holland where it is derived from the old Dutch name Rutger or Rogier) and is certainly unusual in the Keir family history that we have been able to uncover.

The first documented evidence for a Rodger Keir (in Scotland) is a marriage recorded for Rodger Keir and Agnes Gilchrist in Kirkliston on the 24th of May, 1695.

Name: Rodger Keir
Gender: Male
Marriage Date: 24 May 1695
Marriage Place: Kirkliston,West Lothian,Scotland
Spouse: Agnes Gilchrist
FHL Film Number: 1066629, 1066630

Original data: Scotland, Marriages, 1561-1910. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, (c) 2013.

It would appear that Rodger and Agnes had one child, named after her mother. Agnes Keir was born on the 11th of September, 1696 also in Kirkliston (to the aforementioned parents). It would appear that Agnes Gilchrist died before June 1698 as in that month Rodger Keir remarried to a lady named Isobel Armour (who we presume was living in the parish of Aberdalgie, Perthshire at that time).

Name: Rodger Keir
Gender: Male
Marriage Date: 19 Jun 1698
Marriage Place: Aberdalgie, Perthshire, Scotland
Spouse: Isobel Armour
FHL Film Number: 0993510, 0102679
Name: Rodger Kier
Gender: Male
Marriage Date (confirmation?): 2 Jul 1698
Marriage Place: Kirkliston,West Lothian,Scotland
Spouse: Isobell Armour
FHL Film Number: 1066629, 1066630

Original data: Scotland, Marriages, 1561-1910. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, (c) 2013.

As is usual in Scottish records of this period, the marriage appears twice – presumably the earlier parish record recording the actual marriage (in the bride’s home parish of Aberdalgie) and the second (by law) confirmed in the Groom’s parish of residence (if different, as was the case here). [Rodger was probably still living in Kirkliston at this time – which raises the question, sadly unanswered, as to how the two met and under what circumstances?]

Rodger and Isobel then gave birth to (at least) 8 children between 1699 and 1716 – all but the first, Alexander, being recorded in the parish records for Kirkliston (these are shown in the family tree diagram below). Alexander Keir, uniquely, was baptized in the city of Perth (the old capital of Perthshire) on the day of his birth, the 17th of July, 1699.

Name: Alexander Kier
Gender: Male
Birth Date: 17 Jul 1699
Baptism Date: 17 Jul 1699
Baptism Place: Perth, Perthshire, Scotland
Father: Rodgert Kier
Mother: Isobill Armor
FHL Film Number: 1040333

Original data: Scotland, Marriages, 1561-1910. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, (c) 2013.

[Note the imaginative spelling of Alexander’s parents names. It was quite usual in these early days for spelling to be loose and phonetic. There of course remains the slight possibility that we are looking at two different pairs of married couples with the same names.]

Figure 1.1 - Family tree Roger & IsobelBrief family tree of Rodger Keir derived from existing parish records.

We will discuss the family history (as we know it) surrounding the children of Rodger Keir and Isobel Armour in later posts, but here we continue our review of the extant data about this couple.

Aside: As noted on the always informative Scotland’s People website: How do the surnames of married women appear in the index?

In Scotland, married women generally retained their maiden surname in the records.
In census records, however, married women are usually recorded under their married name, although a widow might revert to her maiden name after the death of her husband.

As such Isobel retained her surname of Armour throughout her lifetime.

From their children’s baptismal records it would appear that Rodger and Isobel remained in the parish of Kirkliston (near Edinburgh) for most of their lives – at least until 1716, when Rodger would probably have been in his late 30’s or early 40’s. Unfortunately there is no indication of Rodger’s occupation during this time. In fact the next proven record that we have for Rodger is in the form of his Testament Dative which gives the date of his death as the 8th of November, 1734,’Orchard  in Aberdalgie, Perthshire, Scotland’.

Aside: Rather than the English Will and Probate system, the Scottish equivalent was a Testament and a Dative. Again from the Scotland’s People website, we have this explanation: What is a ‘testament dative’?

This was the document drawn up by the Commissary Court some time after the death to appoint and confirm executor(s) to administer the deceased’s estate. It includes an inventory of his or her possessions (or a list of debts if the executor was a creditor of the deceased and the testament had been confirmed for the sole purpose of authorising their discharge). It does not include a copy will, and therefore does not indicate how the deceased wished to dispose of his or her possessions.

It is highly unlikely that Rodger Keir made a will at all, so all we can rely upon is the data derived from this testament dative record.

Rodger’s testament is readily available (on payment of a small fee from the Scotland’s People website) and makes brief but interesting reading. In here we find that he names his wife (Isabell Armour) as sole executor and beneficiary and that he was employed as a ‘gardiner’ (gardener), probably for the Earl of Kinnoull at the nearby Dupplin Castle Estate. [The Earl being the overlord (Laird) for the Parish and the actual feudal proprietor of the sizable Orchard farmstead.]RK&IA T&D.jpgWhile “Orchard of Aberdalgie” no longer exists on current maps of the area, its location within the small village is shown on this later (1783) map of the Aberdalgie Parish. Perth is located just off the North-East corner of this map and the Dupplin Estate is about a mile down the (SW) road (past the Sauchie farmstead which will become significant in later posts). The river shown flowing through the parish is The Earn as previously stated.

1783 map showing Orchard in AberdalgiePartial 1783 map of Aberdalgie Parish showing the location of Orchard in Aberdalgie. Reproduced with the implicit permission of the National Library of Scotland

Unfortunately, Isobel did not survive her husband by more than a couple of months dying on the 8th of January, 1735. Her Testament Dative records only one name – that of her executor, heir and youngest son, William Keir. Speculation of why it should fall on 24 year old William to be executor (rather than his other surviving brothers) will be the detailed subject of future blogs, it suffices here to note that William was a Gardener like his father and the only son to be living in Aberdalgie at that time.


Historically, Kirkliston was both a small town and parish within the Scottish county of West Lothian – situated about 10 miles West of the capital, Edinburgh.

Aberdalgie is a village close by the River Earn, and located 2.5 miles South West of Perth. Historically in Perthshire it is now in the Scottish council area of Perth and Kinross.

Wikipedia states that Aberdalgie in Gaelic is Obar Dheilgidh, meaning the ‘Confluence of the Thorn-Stream’






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