8. George Keir Senior (1705-1788) (Part I)

Welcome to the 8th Blog entry in this current series of articles looking at the Keir family from Aberdalgie (and Kirkliston, and as recently discovered from Balhousie, Perth as well). Following on from blog #2 we were tracing the issue of Rodger Keir and Isabel Armour. Today we start to track Rodger & Isabel’s 3rd child and 3rd son, George Keir (Sr.). [Our final post series for this generation.]

George Detail As we have previously noted George Keir was born at Kirkliston to parents Rodger Keir and Isobel Armour on the 23rd of April, 1705 (and christened there six days later according to the parish records published by various organizations on different websites (including Ancestry.com and FamilySearch)). Of George’s early childhood we can say little, but with at least 7 siblings underfoot, the household would have been a busy one. Given that Rodger Keir was later a gardener (agent/factor?) at Aberdalgie, we also imagine that George was encouraged in his scholarly studies – perhaps at a local Kirkliston or Aberdalgie parish school? We need to use our imagination here as we can find nothing documented about George until 1736 [Source: The FamilySearch website] when on the 1st of December of that year a George Kite (or Keir) and a Catherine Hinscliff were married at Headingley, Leeds in (what was then) the West Riding of Yorkshire. Can we be sure that this is indeed ‘our’ George Keir? Not from this evidence alone (but as you will see below, here is ‘our’ man). The burning questions now become; “How did George Keir come to be in Yorkshire?”, “Who was Catherine Hinscliff?” and “What was George doing here (other than being married)?”

It is the last of these questions which can be most easily answered. We now know that George Keir was employed at this time as a ‘gardener’ by John (“lawyer”) Stanhope at New Hall in Horsforth. (The term ‘gardener’ -as we have said before – being a misnomer; George was closer to being what we might now term, the Estate Manager.) We might speculate that by his mid to late twenties, George’s obvious talents had come to the notice of the Laird of Aberdalgie, Lord Kinnoull who at that time was George Henry Hay (FRS), the Eighth Earl to bear that title, and incidentally (or not) the owner of Brodsworth House in Yorkshire. We know that the Hay family knew the Stanhope’s and also recall from blog #3 that an Alexander Keir (George’s nephew?) was working at Brodsworth House later in this century. It is not too large a ‘stretch’ to assume that the Hay ‘connection’ obtained for George Keir, his introduction and entry into the Stanhope household.

[Aside] George wasn’t the only Keir to be employed by the Stanhopes at New Hall around this time. The records (there are copies of the account books of the Stanhopes at the West Yorkshire Archives) show that a John Keir was also there. We will return to this John Keir (Sr.) of Horsforth in another blog, at a later date, as he is especially important to at least two of the members of the ‘Keir Collaboration’, being our ancestor.

George Keir settled down in Horsforth with his wife Catherine and soon to be established large family. We can assume that he was both competent and successful in his appointed job, as he fulfilled the role of ‘factor’ for over thirty years, before returning to his native Scotland (the story of which will appear in subsequent parts of this blog). George was a trusted employee as this transcription of a 1738 letter proves:

The copy of a letter I recd [received] from my master is as follows.

I desire you would go to Mr. Powell and let him know that I expect he should meet me at Horsforth befor(e) I go to York and pay his money according to the notice he gave me or that otherwise I will not receive [it] at all. Be sure to take his answer exactly that I may know it as soon as I get down.

Signed, stamped and sealed,

    George Keir, Horsforth, March 9, 1738

Memorandum written by George Keir (to himself?) re: a payment of money due from Mr. Powell, 1738. [Reference: SpSt/5/2/28 – held in the Spencer-Stanhope collection, National Archives, London, UK]

[Aside] Mr. Powell in all likelihood was Horsforth & London businessman, William Powell Esq., father of Forster “Pedestrian” Powell, the famed Yorkshire walker, whose feats afoot amazed many a crowd on the route from York to London (and back again) in the later part of the 18th century.

Hinchcliffe’s of Headingley

At this point we should say more about Catherine Hinscliff. The Hinscliffs (or Hinchcliffe as it is more widely spelt today) were a well-respected and well-established family in the Headingley area. Studies and dissertations on the history of the Headingley branch have been widely distributed and published, both formally and informally, especially in relation to Abraham Hinchcliffe and the Kirkstall Abbey ‘long leases’.

Whilst we cannot be absolutely sure of who Catherine’s parents were, from other evidence (her reported age at death for example), the most likely candidate as father is one Thomas Hinscliff. The ‘Tenth Book: A Register Booke for ye Town and parrish [sic] of Leeds beginning 25th of March 1713.’ published by the Thorsesby Society records for year 1713-14, the  baptism entry:

3 Mar; Catherine, child of Thomas Hinshliff, of Headingley ; born 5 Feb [1714]

(Note 1: At this time the 25th of March was the ‘start of the new year’, so the 3rd of March was in the following year, 1714. Note 2:From the same source it is also likely that Catherine had a younger brother, John, and a sister Mary.)

The Issue of George Keir (Sr.) & Catherine Hinscliff

From the available research sources (see end note*), between the years 1737 and 1757 George & Catherine had no less than 13 children (see family tree diagram below) of which less than half survived into adulthood. (Child burial records show that none of the others lived into their 4th years. Subsequent posts on this blog site will feature the surviving children of George & Catherine.)


Descendant tree diagram of George Keir (Sr.) and Catherine Hinscliff

George Keir in Yorkshire

Stay tuned – this post (part II) will continue shortly with a brief review of other documentary evidence of George Keir (Sr.)’s exploits in Yorkshire (up to the year 1762).


*It should be pointed out that the Horsforth Chapelry was within the oversight of St. Oswald’s church (rectory-in-charge) in the Parish of Guiseley (upper division of the Skyrack wapentake). Thus the chapelry records were duplicated into the Guiseley register and also consolidated into the yearly Bishop’s Transcripts (BTs). Different registers hold slightly different information. The following sources have been used to determine the children of George Keir (Sr) and Catherine Hinscliff:  Horsforth Chapel (in St. Margaret’s Parish Church Register; Ancestry.com/WYAS); St. Oswald, Parish of Guiseley, OPR (Ancestry.com/WYAS); Genuki.com.uk transcription of the Guiseley Parish Records, Horsforth Chapelry {http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/YKS/WRY/Guiseley/: accessed 2009-2015; {Guiseley Baptisms: 1700-1841, Guiseley Marriages: 1700-1837  Guiseley Burials: 1820-1846; Horsforth Baptisms: 1700-1812, Horsforth Burials: 1721-1772 & 1786-1812}; original transcriptions by Jack Parry ©2008; checked by David Simpson.}; FamilySearch.com online database {“England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JS1D-W4Y: accessed 2009-2015)}; Bishop’s Transcripts (FindMyPast.com.uk/Borthwick Institute of Historical Research)


5 thoughts on “8. George Keir Senior (1705-1788) (Part I)

  1. Please note: Henry Herbert Hett (1843-1935) who was the grandson of William Hett & Elizabeth H Keir married a Matilda Maynard Powell (1857-1950) in St. Pancras, London in 1880. However, it is not totally clear at present if Matilda M. Powell was connected to the Horsforth Powell (Forster Powell) line.


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