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Re: English Ancestors of American Keeps
Posted by: Philip Keep Date: March 20, 2002 at 22:24:54
In Reply to: Re: English Ancestors of American Keeps by Laurie Wise of 317

Dear Laurie
Some years ago, I published a paper in the Journal 'Anaesthesia' about Nathan Cooley Keep who was a major anaesthetic pioneer. I traced his descent from John Keep of Longmeadow, and included the story that John was an agent of the Parliamentarians who had fled to America in 1640 (i.e. just before the civil war) when his arrest was ordered by the Earl of Strafford. I had discovered the reference to the arrest warrant for a John Kep (sic), but, for the major part of the story I relied on information given by John Keep of Somerset. John had told some American visitors there was an oral tradition that a member of the Northants Keep family had emigrated to America and had been murdered by Indians. Part of this story relates that John was a non-Conformist who had been baptised at Rothwell Chapel in Norhtants, but I checked this out and found that the chapel did not exist at this date. I have never found any confirmatory evidence for this story, and I do not now believe it is true. John Keep is now dead, and I wonder whether he was just trying to please his American cousins by telling them what they wanted to hear. (I would be happy to be proved wrong on this point).
While non-Conformists were more likely to emigrate to America and more likely to fight on the side of Parliament, there were non-Conformists fighting on the Royalist side as well. The Ecton/Wellingborough Keep family (my own ancestors) never changed from attending the established (Anglican) church. Their near-relatives, the family from Stanwick/Wellingborough, had become non-Conformists by about 1712, but they were certainly attending the Anglican church at the period we are interested in. They are the only non-Conformist family I have discovered in the Beds/Northants area, and this perhaps makes them a slightly more probably source for John of Longmeadow. You can contact me directly at

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