14. George Keir, 2nd son of John Keir (Sr.) (~1739-1818).

Welcome to the 14th Blog entry in this current series of articles – now researching specifically the Keir family from Horsforth, Yorkshire. As promised at the end of the previous Blog #13 we will now look at the three sons of John Keir & Sarah Smith (1732-1786).

The previous Blog #13 concluded with the words of John Keir Sr. (~1739-1818) from his will. These were his instructions to his executors:

“After my death, make payment to my son George Keir, Attorney at Law in Barnsley, Yorkshire, the sum of £100 sterling and the remainder of my estate to be divided between my son Hugh Keir of Lackwood and the children of my deceased son John Keir.”

George Keir (or Kear) was a noted Barnsley lawyer and the 2nd eldest son (and eventual heir) of John Keir (Sr.) & Sarah Keir (nee Smith). George was born in Horsforth, Yorkshire in 1771 and baptised at St. Margaret’s Chapel, Horsforth on the 27th of November of that year. The Parish records state that George was the son of John Kear, Gardiner [sic].

Of George’s youth we know nothing, however, according to the UK, Register of Duties Paid for Apprentices’ Indentures, 1710-1811, on Wednesday, 12 Dec., 1787 (just over a year after his mother’s death – see note ‘a’), George, then 16 years old, entered into an apprenticeship with Barnsley attorney, John Field. We are indeed fortunate that the original Articles of Clerkship are still extant and available on-line (at Ancestry.com). The indenture reads in part:

“In the King’s Bench. Thomas Hellis clerk to John Field of Barnsley in the County of York, Gentleman and William Harrison, Clerk to John Hardy of Bradford in the said county of York, Gentleman severally make Oath and say…” [the two then swear that they witnessed]… John Field of Barnsley, aforesaid, one of the attornies of his Majesty’s court of the King’s Bench and George Keir, son of John Keir, of Horsforth, in the County of York, Gentleman, severally sign, seal and as their several Acts and Deeds in due Form of Saw deliver certain articles of Agreement indented bearing Date the first Day of November, instant and made between the said John Field of one Part and the said John Keir and George Keir of the other Part.”

The rest of the two page indenture specifies that John Field “for a [financial] consideration” will “take and retain George Keir as his clerk in the course and practice of an Attorney” for 5 years (from the aforementioned date).

John Field must have been good to his word as the John Goodchild Collection at the City of Wakefield, West Yorkshire Archive Service (WYAS) holds an early Certificate for George Keir to practice as an Attorney, which is dated the 12th of December, 1793. This same collection holds the business documents, correspondence and accounts for George’s practice and attests to the fact that he worked diligently as a leading Barnsley Lawyer until his death in 1845.

George Marries well:

The existing records do indeed show that George Keir (as per the words of John Goodchild) “married well”. Twice in fact. His first marriage took place on the 4th of February, 1799, at St. Mary’s chapel,  Barnsley, when he married Margaret (or Mary) Mallinson (1778-1807) (see note ‘b’). George & Margaret had five (5) children (that we know of): Sarah Keir (1799-?); Margaret (Mary) Mallison Keir (1801-1876); John Mallison Keir (1802-1881); George Keir (1804-1864) and Thomas Keir (1807-?).

Margaret Keir nee Mallinson died in 1807 and George Keir married a widow Hannah Hellis nee Wilson (1768 – 1840); and subsequently had just one child, a daughter, Eliza Keir (1813-1888).

Aside: Hannah Wilson & Thomas Hellis (1765-1802).

Hannah Wilson was born in Barnsley on the 19th of February, 1768, the eldest child (and daughter) of prominent businessman (ironmonger) and Quaker, John Wilson (1733-1811) and Hannah Burleigh (1735-1797). She married Thomas Hellis in 1796 (see note ‘c’). Thomas, whom we have met previously – he was the clerk to Barnsley lawyer, John Fields who drew up and witnessed George Keir’s apprenticeship papers (see above) –  was himself an apprentice to John Fields in 1784. Thomas Heelis (by then a Barnsley attorney himself) died on the 28th of April, 1802 in Barnsley but was interred in the [Quaker] Friends Burial-Grounds at near-by Burton on the 1st day of the fifth month, 1802. Hannah and Thomas had no children.

Hannah Wilson (and her sister Elizabeth)’s on-again, off-again relationship with the Society of Friends [Quakers] is chronicled in the forth (4th) volume of the five (5) volume, “The Large and Small Notebooks of Joseph Wood – a Yorkshire Quaker (1750-1821)”. Wood writes in an entry entitled:

An Account of my Journey to a Meeting at Barnsley in the 2nd. Mo. 1802

Elizabeth Wilson daughter of John Wilson [of Barnsley] who had her education amongst Friends but was sometime ago disowned for neglect of attending meetings, but after going some time amongst the Methodists became dissatisfied, and being convinced of the Truth of friends Principles, again attended their meetings to her satisfaction. (see note ‘d’)

[©Transcription by Pamela Cooksey.]

Hannah Hellis (nee Wilson) & George Keir were married by License as per the Bond supplied by  George Keir in 1812:

The  twenty second day of February in the year of our lord 1812.

On which day appeared personally  George  Keir  of Barnsley in the diocese of York , Gentleman, being sworn on the Holy Evangelists, alledges and made oath as follows, that he is of the age  of 21 years and upwards and a widower and intends to marry  Hannah Heelis of Barnsley aforesaid aged 21 years and upwards and a spinster. Not knowing or believing any lawful let or impediment by reason of consanguinity, affinity or any other cause whatsoever to hinder the said marriage. And he prayed a licence to solemnise the said marriage in the Parochial chapel of  Barnsley aforesaid, in which said parish he the said George Keir further made oath that he  the said George Keir hath  had his usual abode for the space of four weeks last past.

On the same day the said George Keir, Was sworn before me, John Pickles, Surrogate.

Given George Keir’s standing in the community, it is not surprising that he owned property and was therefore able to vote in the local and national elections. The “ancestry.com” on-line database of the UK, Poll Books and Electoral Registers, 1538-1893. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. London, England, UK and London Poll Books. © London Metropolitan Archives and Guildhall Library, London, England record entries for George Keir in 1807, 1816, 1835, 1840, ‘41, ‘42, ‘43, ‘44 & 1845. George it would appear from this owned at last two properties – his ‘office’ in Shambles Street, Barnsley and a ‘Croft’ at Howden (see note ‘e’) (occupied by Ann Brown, late by William Crow) in 1836. [George had probably owned this Howden land for around 30 years.]

The 1841 UK Census [Class: HO107; Piece 1325; Book: 5; Civil Parish: Barnsley; County: Yorkshire; Enumeration District: 11; Folio: 31; Page: 4; Line: 24; GSU roll: 464275] confirms that George Keir (a solicitor and widower – Hannah having died on the 24th of January the year before) and daughter Eliza were living in Shambles Street, Barnsley.


George Keir himself passed away on the 4th of January, 1845 and was buried with his wife and son in St. George’s Church, Barnsley on the 9th. His tombstone states:

Here lie the remains of Hannah, wife of George Keir, Solicitor, Barnsley died 24th Jan 1840, (aged 70) oldest daughter of the late Mr John Wilson. And George Keir died 4th of Jan 1845 (aged 73). And his son George, died 20th Aug 1864 (aged 59).


‘a’ – According to an informational booklet in the Horsforth Museum, the passing of Sarah Keir (nee Smith) is noted by stone #39 in garden of rest, Horsforth, The memorial reads:

“To the memory of Sarah, the wife of John Keir [Sr.] and daughter of John and Sarah Smith late of this town who departed this life after a long illness the 5th day of September 1786 in the 94th [a mistake? more likely to be 54th] year of her age.

Also Margaret Keir relict of the late John Keir [Jr.] and daughter-in-law of the above who died October 10th, 1862 in the 84th year of her age.”

‘b’ – While by no means proven, it is entirely possible that Magaret’s father was John Mallinson of Birdsedge (of the parish of Penistone), a noted Quaker. The witnesses to George & Margaret’s marriage are said to be a Hugh Keir (George’s brother?) and an as yet to be identified, William Keir. As their were no Keirs of this forename in Yorkshire at this time, it is pure speculation to suggest that William may have traveled down from Scotland for this wedding and actually be the 53 year old, William Keir (Sr.) Esq. (of Whithaugh & Milnholm) (Thomas Keir of Fintalich’s brother) and presumably a second-cousin of George’s. It would be interesting to compare the signature of these ‘William Keir’ if they can be obtained. [We shall return to the children (grandchildren, etc.) of George Keir and Catharine Hinscliff at a later date.]

‘c’ – The marriage between Thomas Heelis & Hannah Wilson took place on the 23rd of May, 1796 at St. Mary’s church, Barnsley.

‘d’ – Elizabeth [Wilson] was again to leave the Quakers [for good] when she married the Anglican Clerk, Rev. Christopher Atkinson of Elland, a month later on the 6th of March, 1802, in St. Peter’s Cathedral, Leeds. (Atkinson’s probated will of the 24 Jan 1844 (he died 15 May 1843) records him to be the Minister of the Parochial Church or Chapel of Elland in Halifax and also of the Church or Chapel of Saint Paul in Leeds in York both in the Diocese of Ripon of Halifax , Yorkshire. As for Elizabeth, she died on the 25th of December 1842 and was buried 3 days later in St. George’s churchyard, Barnsley.)


‘e’ – Howden in the 1809 “Topographical Dictionary of Yorkshire” by Thomas Langdale (page 112 East-Riding) is listed as being:

HOWDEN, in the parish of Howden, wapentake and liberty of Howdenshire; 10 miles from Selby, 10 [miles] from Snaith, 12 [miles] from South-Cave, 12 [miles] from Market-Weighton, 13 and one quarter [miles] from Thorne, 16 and a half [miles] from Pocklington, 30 [miles] from Beverley, 20 [miles] from York, 25 [miles] from Hull. From London by Thorne 181 [miles], by Lincoln 199 [miles]. Market, Saturday. – Fairs, second Tuesday in January, second Tuesday after July 11, for Horned Cattle and Line; October 2, and the six preceding Days, for Horses. – Principle Inn, Half-Moon. – Population 1,552.




3 thoughts on “14. George Keir, 2nd son of John Keir (Sr.) (~1739-1818).

  1. Fantastic site! Many thanks for finding my grandparents x 9.
    My ancestor search led me to John Keir sn. when trying to find out where my father’s middle name (Keir) came from.
    I have some info. on John Keir jn. (which you probably have) in that he died in New York (Leeds Intelligencer Feb.1807) Possible reason for leaving Horsforth was that he was rubbish where money was concerned. (Numerous references in L.I. Feb. 1798 to Jan 1799) being declared bankrupt and L.I. April 1797 losing £8.
    Interestingly according to Yorkshire Addingham parish register July1803 (birth of son William Marshall Keir) he is described as a Surveyor of taxes.
    L.I Oct.8th.1798 gives a good description of his former house in Horsforth.
    There is some evidence that his son William Marshall Keir settled in New York State eventually moving to Canada. Margaret Marshall Keir remained in Leeds living with her daughter, Elizabeth Slater (my grandmother x 4) – Ev. 1841 and 1851 census.
    PS I used the services of John Goodchild for teaching resources Great bloke.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s