Keep is the maiden name of one of our maternal great-great-great-great grandmothers, Susannah Keep. The sequence of surnames in the six generations between us goes Keep-Skeggs-Cain-Cain-Rogers-Rogers-Dwyer.

The name Keep is of early English medieval origin describing someone who lived in a castle, or keep. Alternatively it may have been an occupational name referring to a jailer.

Our Keep ancestors were from London.

Edward Keep (c.1685-?) and Elizabeth (c.1690-?)

Our great great great great great great great great grandparents

It is not known when or where Edward Keep or his wife Elizabeth, whose maiden name is unknown, were born. Most likely they were both born between 1685 and 1690.

Similarly, it is not known when Edward and Elizabeth married, but it was likely to have been around 1709. They had seven known children, all baptised at St. Faith Under St. Paul in the City of London:

  1. William (our ancestor - see below - b.1710)
  2. Benjamin (b.1711)
  3. Edward (b.1712)
  4. Mary (b.1713)
  5. George (b.1715)
  6. Elizabeth (1716-1717)
  7. John (b.1719)

It is not known when or where Edward and Elizabeth died.

William Keep (1710-?) and Martha Walton (1712-?)

Our great great great great great great great grandparents

William Keep was born on 8 August 1710, the son of Edward and Elizabeth Keep (see above). He was baptised at St. Faith Under St. Paul, City of London on 16 August 1710.

Martha Walton was born on 14 April 1712, the daughter of Matthew and Susanna Walton. She was baptised at St. Giles Cripplegate, City of London on 4 May 1712.

William and Martha married at Fleet Prison,1 London on 24 April 1738 and they had five children, all of whom were baptised at St. Mary Acton:

  1. William (b.1739)
  2. Mary (b.1741)
  3. Grace (b.1743) – married Thomas Adcock at St. Mary Acton on 11 September 1764.
  4. Edward (b.1745) – presumably died in infancy before 1748.
  5. Edward (b.1748)
  6. John (our ancestor - see below - b.1750)
  7. Love (1754-1754) – died in infancy.
  8. Prudence (1754-1761) – died in childhood.

It is not known where or when William and Martha died.

John Keep (1750-?) and Mary Ann Lightwood (1752-?)

Our great great great great great great grandparents

John Keep was born in London on 4 November 1750, the son of William and Martha Keep (see above), and was baptised at St. Mary Acton on 18 November 1750.

Mary Ann Lightwood was born in Holborn, London, on 23 November 1752 the daughter of John Lightwood and Elizabeth Brown. She was baptised on 26 November 1752.

John and Mary Ann married at St. Mary Acton on 26 October 1773. They are only known to have two children:

  1. John William (our ancestor - see below - c.1774-before 1841)
  2. Edward (b.1780)

It is not known where or when John and Mary Ann died.

John William Keep (1774-?) and Susannah Chapman (1770-?)

Our great great great great great grandparents

John William Keep was born in London, the son of John Keep and Mary Anne Lightwood (see above). He was baptized on 28 October 1774 St. Mary Acton.

Susannah Chapman was most likely born in the Shoreditch area of London on 8 December 1770, the daughter of John Chapman and Elisabeth Merredy. She was baptised at St. Leonard Shoreditch on 23 December 1770.

John and Susannah married at St. George of the East Church of England in Shadwell, London on 18 September 1798. Their known children, all baptised at St. Dunstan and All Saints Stepney, East London, were:

  1. Elizabeth (1796-1796) – died in infancy.
  2. Mary Ann (1799-1803) – died in infancy.
  3. Edward (b.1801) – baptised on 15 February 1801.
  4. William (b.1805) – married Sarah Billings at St. Dunstan and All Saints Stepney on 27 August 1827.
  5. Kitty Sarah (b.1809) – baptised on 26 November 1809.
  6. Susannah (our ancestor - 1812-1874)
  7. Elizabeth (b.1818) – baptised on 22 March 1818. She married George Wilson on 5 May 1844 at St. George the Martyr Southwark.
  8. Sarah (b.1820) – baptised on 4 June 1820.

The baptism record for the younger Susannah indicates that the family lived at Poplar, about 2 kilometers from St. Dunstan and All Saints Stepney.

There is no definitive record of John William Keep’s occupation. One possibility, however, is that he was the John Keep recorded in 1811 as a straw hat manufacturer at 113 Ratcliff Highway (now known as just “The Highway”), which is about 3 kilometers west of Poplar in Shadwell.  Ratcliff Highway was “…a dangerous and run-down area, full of seedy businesses, dark alleys, and dilapidated tenements”, and the scene of notorious multiple murders in December 1811.2

It is not known when John William Keep died, but he does not appear in the 1841 census and is presumed to have died before then.

Other researchers have suggested that Susannah Chapman died in 1857, but they have cited no evidence for this. If Susannah in fact died in 1857, there is no record of her as Susannah Keep in either the 1841 or the 1851 censuses. She could have remarried after John’s death, but the only possible records for a post-1830 marriage of “Susannah Keep” in or around London seem unlikely, as in both cases, the couple was producing children well into the 1840’s when Susannah Chapman would have been 60 years of age or more. I suspect that Susannah too died before the 1841 census.


1 This just means that, for whatever reason, they chose not to be married within the restrictions imposed by the Church of England.


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