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Robert Keyes
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Birth: 1610, England
Death: Jul. 16, 1647
Essex County
Massachusetts, USA

{The following information has been gathered from Genealogy, Robert Keyes of Watertown, Mass., 1633, and Solomon Keyes of Newbury & Chelmsford, Mass., 1653, and their Descendants, by Asa Keyes, Brattleboro, VT, 1880, and updated with information gathered from public records and other sources. The middle English for quay and key was "key(e)", or "kay". Thus, a likely meaning for Keyes (and other variations; Kay, Kaye, Key, Keys, etc) is from residence near or employment at a wharf or quay; key-bearer is a possible meaning for all variations (A Dictionary of British Surnames, by P. H. Reaney , 1958).}

1. Robert (1) and Sarah:

a. (prob.) Solomon b. 1624?, m. Frances Grant of Newbury, MA, d. 3/28/1702

b. Sarah b. 5/26/1633, m. Samuel Buswell of Salisbury, MA

c. (prob.) Peter b. ca. 1635, m. Elizabeth _________

d. Rebecca b. 3/17/1637/8, m. William Smith of Topsfield, MA

e. Phebe b. 6/17/1639, m. John French of Topsfield

f. Mary b. 2/1641/2, d. young (buried 7/20/1642)

g. Elias b. 5/20/1643 at Watertown, MA, m. Sarah Blandford of Sudbury, MA 9/11/1665

h. Mary b. 6/16/1645 at Newbury, MA, m. Benjamin Gage (her stepbrother) of Andover, MA

Robert is believed to have arrived from England abt. 1630. The earliest record of Robert is with the birth of his first child, Sarah, in 1633. We do not know his wife's maiden name. It is believed that Robert was also the father of Solomon Keyes found at Newbury, MA in 1653. The will (dated 4/9/1704) of his daughter Sarah's husband, Samuel Buswell, mentions his "brother-in-law Solomon Keyes of Chelmsford".

According to one family genealogist (Paralee Keys-Simpson Hoot, The Family Keys), Robert was of County Kent and m. (1st) Elena Coke, the daughter of William Coke of Trusley and his wife Dorothy (Fitzherbert). As authority, Paralee cites Burke's A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland (Vol. 4, Pages 268-9). Therein it is stated that Elena Coke m. a Robert Key, Keyes, or Kays. Paralee believes that Elena probably died in England after giving birth to Solomon (and a second son, Joseph) and Robert and the two boys then emigrated to America (bef. 1632), where Robert married (2nd) Sarah. While this sounds appealing, 1. there is no evidence that Elena's Robert is our Robert and 2. Elena's father, William, was b. before 1518 and d. 1576. He and his wife had eleven children (five boys and six girls), Elena being the second daughter. It is safe, then, to assume that Elena was born ca. 1560 and was, therefore, unlikely to have borne children in the 1620's when she would have been over 60.

In a later work, More Keys, Paralee speculated that Robert may have been related (perhaps a cousin) to Grace Saltonstall, wife of Sir Richard Saltonstall, the founder of Watertown. Grace was the daughter of Robert and Anna (Flowers) Kaye of Woodsome (Almondbury), Yorkshire. She was aunt to Sir John Kaye, created Baronet by Charles I, 2/4/1642 (The Baronetage of England, by E. Kimber & R. Johnson, Vol. the First, 1771).

Walter Lee Sheppard, Jr. in his article William Godfrey and Robert Keyes of Watertown, Mass., and Elsewhere (The American Genealogist, Vol. 46, Pages 150-4) theorized that Robert may have been the the son of Peter and Susan (Nawe) Kaye of Woburn, Bedfordshire, bapt. 9/22/1617. As reflected above, Robert had a son named Peter. Sheppard opined (for no apparent reason) that it was more likely that Peter was the eldest child, born before Robert's arrival in Watertown. Sheppard has since withdrawn (Vol. 65, Page 12) this unfortunate conclusion. If our Robert was the Robert Kaye of Woburn and the father of Peter born in England before 1633, he would have been a very young husband and father, indeed!

The New England Historic Genealogical Register (Vol. 8, Page 135, et seq., 1854) carried an article entitled "New England", Orders in Council from 1630 to 1641, when the troubles of Charles I commenced with his Parliament, Transcribed from the Original Books of the Privy Council by Geo. Allard, Esq. Feb. 1852. Therein we find the following: "At Hampton Court 29th September, 1630": Samuel Aldersley, Matthew Cradock and others on behalf of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay petitioned, "by reason of the increase of the number of Planters lately come thether, who tooke no provision with them, And for that divers of their cattle perished .. they are in great danger to perish this winter .. the Board did upon their suite think fitt to transport the provisions ." (here is set forth a description of wheat, meal, beef, pork, cheese, etc) (Co. Regr. Chas. I, Vol. 6). Then we find "Sixth of March, 1630, An order for ye Licencing Capt. (Henry) Keyes to transport into New Englande to Pascatoway 30 quarters of meal and 20 quarters of pease for the relief of the planters there who, through want of supplies, are not able to proceed to a farther discovery of those partes" (Co. Regr. Chas. I, Vol. 6, 382). Henry Keyes was Captain of a boat called the "Pied Cow" which transported supplies to settlers at the mouth of the Piscataqua River, near present day Portsmouth, NH. Perhaps Robert (and his family) came on the "Pied Cow"?

It should be noted that a Robert Keyes was a participant in the "Gunpowder Plot" of 1605. He was the son of the Rector of Staveley, Derbyshire and 40 years old at the time. Might he have been our Robert's father?

We do know that Robert and Sarah settled on a three acre "homestall" at Watertown which adjoined the lands of Sir Richard Saltonstall (nephew of Sir Richard Saltonstall, Lord Mayor of London during the time of Queen Elizabeth), who came with The Winthrop Fleet in 1630. Robert's "homestall" is in the vicinity of what is now Brattle St. at Harvard Square, Cambridge (much of original Watertown was ceded to Cambridge in 1754). On June 26, 1638, Robert was sentenced by the court in Salem to sit in the stocks for "one hower" at both Lynn and Cambridge for "unseemly behaviors & actions" toward Goody Newell (Historical Collections of the Essex Institute, Vol. VII, No. 4, Page 186, Aug., 1865).

Robert and Sarah later removed to Newbury, MA, where Robert died 7/16/1647. Sarah m. (2nd) John Gage of Ipswich, MA on 11/7/1658. Sarah d. 7/7/1681 in Newbury, MA. Robert's name ("Robert Keies") is to be found at the base of the monument to Sir Richard Saltonstall at Watertown.
Family links: 
  Sarah Keyes Gage (____ - 1681)*
  Solomon Keyes (1628 - 1702)*
  Sarah Keyes Buswell (1633 - 1707)*
  Peter Keyes (1635 - ____)*
  Rebecca Keyes Smith (1637 - ____)*
  Phoebe Keyes French (1639 - 1701)*
  Mary Keyes (1641 - 1641)*
  Elias Keyes (1643 - ____)*
  Mary Keyes Gage (1645 - 1668)*
*Calculated relationship
Newbury Neck Cemetery
Essex County
Massachusetts, USA
Created by: Ronald Keyes
Record added: Sep 07, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 21421031
Robert Keyes
Cemetery Photo
Added by: John Glassford
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 Added: May. 29, 2016
In memory of my 9th great grandfather
- Jim Kimble
 Added: Oct. 14, 2015

 Added: Aug. 16, 2015
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