Keats Genealogy

Keats is an old English surname found mainly in the
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

Keats Ancestry

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
numbers of

  • 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
    , a heroine at the Battle of Waterloo, was born at
    Fordington in
  • 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
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

  • 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
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
  • 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.

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

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 Names

Sir Richard
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.

Jack Keats

(originally Katz), born in New York to Jewish immigrant parents, was a
popular writer
and illustrator of children’s

Select Keats Today

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



Click here for return to front page

Leave a Reply