Select Keats Genealogy

Keats is an old English surname found mainly in the west country.   Its origins are uncertain.  There have been two suggestions: 
  • that it was derived from the Old English cyte meaning a hut, shed or outhouse for cattle or sheep.  Thus the name might describe someone who worked as a cattleman or sheep-herder.   
  • that it was derived from the Old English cyta meaning kite or bird.  Here the surname would have developed as a nickname for someone who is greedy.
Cornwall has the similar-sounding Keast surname which may have derived from kest, meaning a straw basket.

Select Keats Resources on The Internet

Select Keats Ancestry

EnglandThe Keates or Keats name appeared in Oxfordshire, at Sulham House, in the 1530’s and, in the next century, at Childrey nearby in Berkshire.  But Keats is mainly a name of SW England.

SW England
.  Dorset has had the largest numbers of Keats:  
  • the main line here has been at Corfe Castle, starting with Robert Keate in 1633 and John and Sarah Keats who were married there in 1701.  
  • a Keates family has been quarrying limestone at Purbeck since the late 1600’s.  Keates Quarries are still in operation today.
  • Ann Keats, a heroine at the Battle of Waterloo, was born at Fordington in 1795.  
  • and there were Keats living at Bockhampton since the 1760's and were there at the time of the writer Thomas Hardy.  
“William Keates or Keats, the original of Tranter Dewy in Under the Greenwood Tree, lived on one half of the cottage next door to the Hardy family; and his brother Charles lived just along from them.”

Somerset had the Keats family of Wiveliscombe. starting in the late 1700’s with the Rev. Richard Keats, headmaster at Blundells School at Tiverton.  His son Admiral Sir Richard Keats was a distinguished British naval officer. 

Dr. William Keate was an apothecary in Wells and its mayor in 1757.  His sons Thomas and Robert had distinguished careers as surgeons; while John was the Head Master at Eton College. 

Meanwhile the Cornish Keast sometimes became Keate or Keats.

John Keats
.  The poet John Keats was born in London, the son of Thomas Keats who worked there as an ostler at stables attached to the Swan and Hoop inn.  Thomas died in 1804 when John Keats was just nine years old.  His origins are uncertain and various linkages have been suggested: 
  • one connects him to the Keats of Corfe Castle or to the Keats at Bockhampton 
  • another theory has him hailing from Cornwall (Sennen near Lands End)  
  • or his origins might in fact have been in London.
Thomas Mower Keats, a hat manufacturer in London, did have some contact with the Keats family, although he himself went bankrupt in 1818.  But his son Frederick Keats did well as the part-owner of the Fortnum & Mason emporium and was Sheriff of London in 1856.  Two years later he was involved in divorce proceedings.

America.  George Keats, younger brother of the poet, left England for America in 1818 and settled in Louisville, Kentucky.  George invested there in a steamboat and a sawmill and later in property, culminating with the Louisville Hotel in 1836.  Louisville honored his accomplishments by naming a residential street Keats Avenue.

Canada.  Admiral Sir Richard Keats was the Governor of Newfoundland from 1813 to 1816.  But the Keats name, probably brought by Dorset seamen, existed in Newfoundland long before that time.  

John Cats or Cates, variant names of Keats, was an early settler with his family at Bonavista in 1677. 
Among later Keats in Newfoundland were:
  • John Keates a Justice at the fishing port of Ferryland in 1730
  • William Keate recorded at Trinity Bay in 1765
  • Robert Keats recorded at Bonavista in 1794
  • and Samuel Keates at Castle Cove in Bonavista Bay in 1856.
Keats tended to be pronounced “Cates” in Newfoundland. 

One line in Newfoundland was apparently related to the poet John Keats.  His nephew, also named John, came to Newfoundland, married, but returned to England after his wife died.  John’s son Thomas, however, started a fishery supply business in Argentia which his grandson Thomas later recommenced. 

The main Keats settlement has been at Bonavista.  Keats Island in Bonavista Bay commemorates these Keats.  In more recent times Ted Keats grew up in the Bonavista Bay area and became a mineral prospector

Select Keats Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Keats Names

Sir Richard Keats was a British naval officer who fought through the American Revolution, the French Revolutionary War, and the Napoleonic Wars.
John Keats
was a much-loved English Romantic poet who died in 1821 at the young age of twenty five.
Ezra Jack Keats
(originally Katz), born in New York to Jewish immigrant parents, was a popular writer and illustrator of children's books.

Select Keats Today
  • 1,000 in the UK (most numerous in Dorset)
  • 2,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

Click here for reader feedback
Click here for return to front page