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        The name Keith comes from a warrior whom Malcolm II dubbed "Marbhachair Chamuis" or Camus Slayer after the warrior slew the Danish General Camus at the Battle of Barrie in 1010.  "Marbhachair Chamuis" later held the lands of Keth in Lothian for Malcolm II. This is the origin of the modern name Keith.

        A Norman named Hervey later married the heiress of Marbhachair and received charter for the lands of Keth from King David I in 1150. Hervey's son was made Marischal of the King of Scots in 1176. The Marischal, was custodian of the Royal regalia and was to protect the King at Parliament.

        Robert the Bruce bestowed Halforest in Aberdeenshire to Robert de Keth in 1308. Here the Keiths built their castle. Sir Robert's nephew was the one to return the Bruce's heart to Melrose abbey after the Douglas's death at the hands of the Moors in Spain. The Bruce also made the office of Marischall herediatry to the Keiths in 1324 in recognition of Sir Robert de Keth, calvalry commander at the Battle of Bannockburn. 

        Sir William the Marischall added estates in Buchan, Kincardine and Lothian to the family by marrying the daughter of Sir Alexander Fraser, the High Chamberlain. Sir William's brother married the Cheyne heiress bringing the massive estate of Inverugie into the familly. The chief's seat was later to be a castle on the Inverugie lands.

        The 3rd Lord Keith was raised to Earl Marischal in 1458. During the reformation the 7th Earl was captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London until the restoration. The King then appointed him Privy Councillor and later Lord Privy Seal as reward for his services in the Royal cause. The Earl Marischal had hidden the Honours of Scotland (Scottish crown jewels) on Keith lands for safekeeping.

        The Keith family supported the Jacobite cause during the 1715 and '45 uprisings and for their part forfeited their lands.

        The 9th Earl of Kintore, Governor General of South Australia from 1889 to 1895, decimated the Kintore estates. The 12th Earl was instrumental in promoting the Clan internationally and appointed a hereditary sennachie to preserve the Keith genealogy. The 13th Earl resides on the Keith Hall estate in Aberdeenshire.

Note: Some genealogies claim that Sir John Keith, below, was son of Hervey de Keith, son of Phillip de Keith and Eda Lorens.  Others claim he was son of Sir Robert Keith and Jean Ogilvie.  The following account deals only with generally accepted lines.

(1)  Sir John Keith married, Marischal of Scotland, born about 1212, died before 1270; married Margaret Comyn/Cumming, born about 1217, daughter of the Earl of Buchan.

  1. William, mentioned below
  2. Robert, father of:
    1. William Keith of Galstown.  Father of:
      1. Janet Keith, born about 1334 in Galston, Scotland, died after 1406; married David Hamilton II of Cadzow, born in Cadzow, Scotland, died before 1392.  Parents of:
        1. John Hamilton of Cadzow, born about 1361 in Cadzow, Scotland, died 14 September 1402 in the Battle of Homildon Hill.  He married 8 March 1381/1382 Jean (Jacoba) Douglas, daughter of James Douglas of Dalkeith and Agnes Dunbar.  Parents of:
          1. James Hamilton of Cadzow, born about 1384 in Cadzow, Scotland, died before May 1441, and his wife Janet Livingston, born in Calendar, Perthshire, Scotland.  Parents of:
            1. Mary/Marjory Hamilton; married William Keith, 1st Earl of Marishal, born about 1397 in Dunnotar, Kincaid, Perthshire, Scotland, died before 16 March 1463/1464.


(2)  Sir William Keith, born about 1236 in Humbie, Scotland, died before 1293, he accompanied King Robert's heart to the Holy Land.  About 1261, he married Barbara de Seton, born about 1216.  Parents of:

  1. daughter; married William "the Hardy" Douglas, 1st Lord of Douglas
  2. Edward, mentioned below


(3) Edward Keith of Synton, Marischal of Scotland, born about 1280 in Scotland, died 17 October 1346 in Neville, England.  He married before July 1305 Isabella Synton.  He married second Christian Menteith.

  1. Child of Edward and Christian:
    1. Janet
  2. Children of Edward and Isabella:
    1. Katherine; married Alexander de Berkeley/Barclay, 1st of Mathers
    2. John, born about 1308

(4) William Keith, Grand Marischal, born in Dunottar, Kincaid, Perthshire, Scotland, died about 1407; married Margaret Fraser, born about 1340, died about 1407.  Parents of:

(5) Robert Keith, born about 1363 in Dunnotar, Kincaid, Perthshire, Scotland; married a woman of the Urquhart clan.  Parents of:

  1. William, mentioned below

  2. Elizabeth; married first Robert Irvine, 4th Laird Drum; married secondly his brother Alexander Irvine, second 4th Laird Drum.

Dunnotar Castle, near Stonehaven, in the Grampian region, was the ancestral home of Clan Keith for three centuries, and served as the setting for Franco Zeffirelli's film "Hamlet" starring Mel Gibson.


(6) William Keith, 1st Earl of Marishal, born about 1397 in Dunnotar, Kincaid, Perthshire, Scotland, died before 16 March 1463/1464; married Mary/Marjory Hamilton.  Parents of:

  1. Egidia, born about 1429 in Kincaid, Perthshire, Scotland, died after 14 August 1473; married James Forbes, 2nd Lord of Forbes, born about 1426

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