west country. Its origins are
uncertain. There have been two
- 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.
Keats Resources on
The Keates or Keats name appeared in
Oxfordshire, at Sulham House, in the 1530’s and, in the next century,
Childrey nearby in Berkshire. But Keats
is mainly a name of SW England.
SW England. Dorset has had the largest
- the main line here has been at Corfe Castle,
starting with Robert Keate in 1633 and John and Sarah Keats who were
- a Keates family has been
quarrying limestone at Purbeck since the late 1600’s.
Keates Quarries are still in operation today.
Keats, a heroine at the Battle of Waterloo, was born at
- and there were Keats living at Bockhampton since the
1760’s and were there at
the time of the writer Thomas Hardy.
Under the Greenwood Tree, lived on one
half of the cottage next door to the Hardy family; and his brother
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
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
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
- one connects him to the Keats of Corfe
Castle or to the Keats at Bockhampton
- another theory has him hailing from
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
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
before that time.
John Cats or Cates,
variant names of Keats, was an early settler with his family at
1677. Among later Keats in Newfoundland were:
- John Keates a Justice at the fishing port of Ferryland in
- William Keate recorded at
Trinity Bay in 1765
- Robert Keats recorded at Bonavista in 1794
Samuel Keates at Castle Cove in Bonavista Bay
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
wife died. John’s son Thomas, however,
started a fishery supply business in Argentia which his grandson Thomas
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:
Keats was a British naval
officer who fought through the American Revolution, the French
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.
(originally Katz), born in New York to Jewish immigrant parents, was a
and illustrator of children’s
Select Keats Today
- 1,000 in the UK (most numerous
- 2,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)
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