This family research like that of so many others before it seemed to take on a life of its own and just mushroomed. However I can pinpoint the beginning to a phone call from my first cousin Hazel Barnett nee Keech (who at that point I had never met). Hazel had just began the family research and phoned me to see if I had any detail. I didn’t, however from that point on I was bitten by the family history bug. The Keech family research presented here is undoubtedly a collaborative effort between myself and Hazel and also owes a great deal to our distant cousin Bert Clayton in New Zealand.

It appears probable that the Keech family have lived in Dorset for over 700 years but in truth it is not yet possible to trace the ancestors back that far. Over the years the name has suffered many variants including KEETCH, KEA(T)CH, KEITCH, KITCH as well as the occasional KETCH, KY(T)CHE and KEYCHE. The “Oxford Names Companion” suggests that the origin of the name is English; “unflattering nickname for a fat, lumpish man, from the Middle English Keech, lump of fat (of unknown origin)”. It certainly was a joy to discover this as you can imagine. However it does seem that not all name variants have this common root which might explain why the current generation have escaped the curse of lumpishness !

One of the earliest references to the name found in Dorset is amongst the manor records of Moorbath now held at Cornwall Record Office due to marriages of the past. Moorbath Manor I have not fully researched but it seems was in the area of Symondsbury. There is a lease agreement which references “Thomas, son and heir of Richard Keyche de Morbathe”, it is dated Saturday 10th April 1350. There are records of Keeches in the Lay Susidies for Dorset in 1525, 1545 and 1594. Keeches also appear in the Tudor Muster Rolls (1539-1569). The earliest reference to Keech in surviving Dorset parish registers is in 1559 when Thomas Keech married Margerye Morriche. In the same parish John Keech married Elinor Williams in 1569. I would certainly speculate that John and Thomas were descendants of the earlier Thomas and Richard of Moorbath. The earliest reference to which it is possible to make a reasonable connection is that of the family (born between 1627 and 1637) of Francis Keech. Clearly at this time with invariably only parish registers to rely upon such connections can be almost impossible to prove. At least here the rarity of the name helps give confidence to these associations. You can believe that Francis who was probably born at the end of the 1500s was named in honour of Sir Francis Drake and his success against the Spanish Armada. Francis may well have been the son of George Keech who is mentioned as one of the bailiffs of Bridport (1608/9 and 1615/16) in “The History and Antiquities of the county of Dorset” by John Hutchins. However there appears to be no surviving record of baptism. George Keech is moderately interesting in that he introduces the alias Frank/Fronk to the Keech family which endures in part of the family for almost 200 years. Needless to say the tree is still evolving and only an extract is displayed here.

c1600-c1650

Francis KEECH married unknown

1637-1697

John KEECH married Alice SASSER

1675-1733

John KEECH married Ann DARBY

c1699-1784

Benjamin KEECH married Hannah NURSE

1737-1812

John KEECH married Elizabeth HOUNSEL

1768-1856

John(Thomas) KEECH married Ann ACKERMAN

1811-1883

John KEECH married Jane BARTLETT

1839-1902

George KEECH married Ann MOORE

1872-1955

Thomas KEECH married Sarah WILKINS

1909-1994

Ernest KEECH married Vera Constance PRINCE

1951-

Barrie KEECH married Teresa Gay Bashford

1983-

Daniel KEECH

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First Generation

Francis Keech I would guess was born c1600 and married c1626. He had the following children all baptised at Bridport.

  1. Luce Keech baptised 12 12 1627
  2. Thomas Keech baptised 17 1 1629. Thomas married unknown and had two children John and Elizabeth
  3. Felia Keech baptised 3 2 1632 and was buried 16 3 1632
  4. John Keech baptised 15 10 1637

 

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Second Generation

The family of Francis Keech

  1. Thomas Keech baptised 17 1 1629 married unknown. They had the following children (notes)
    • John who married Joane HIDE on 7 5 1674, Bridport
    • Elizabeth who married James KENWAY on 16 12 1677, Bridport.
  2. John Keech (notes)baptised 15 10 1637 married Alice SASSER on 4 7 1657 at Bridport, st Mary’s. He occupation was a weaver/twinespinner and there are early records of him taking apprentices. He was buried at Bridport, St Mary’s on 21 12 1697. He left a will and was known as John the elder. John and Alice had the following children
    • Elizabeth Keech baptised 27 3 1664. She married Simon STONE on 12 9 1689, Bridport
    • Mary Keech baptised 10 1 1665. She married Richard STONE on 4 5 1686, Bridport
    • Frances Keech baptised 10 1 1669. Buried 8 5 1671, Bridport
    • Thomas Keech baptised 24 12 1671, Bridport
    • Alice Keech baptised 11 2 1673. Buried 16 11 1683, Bridport
    • John Keech baptised 22 8 1675, Bridport
    • Joseph Keech baptised 7 3 1676. Joseph first married Elizabeth BOUDIGE/BUDDITCH on 24 10 1704. Elizabeth died and Joseph married Hannah PUGSLY on 16 11 1715, Bridport. They had three children.(note)

 

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Third Generation

The family of John Keech and Alice Sasser

  1. John Keech baptised 22 8 1675, Bridport married Ann DARBY, the daughter of George DARBY and Elizabeth (probably CHURCHILL) on 12 12 1698 at St Mary’s, Bridport. John died in 1733 without leaving a will. Ann his wife lived until 1749 and she did leave a will. John and Ann had the following children:-
    • Benjamin Keech (c1699-1784). Possibly baptised as Thomas
    • Elizabeth Keech (c1700-1768). On the 28 9 1726 Elizabeth married Elias PUNFIELD
    • Joseph Keech baptised 8 7 1702, Bridport
    • Samuel Keech (c1710-1757). On 20 2 1735 Samuel married Sarah SOMERTON but she died in 1741. Samuel married a second time on 11 4 1748 to Jemima BUDITCH.
    • Ann Keech (c1714-1756)
    • Jacob Keech (c1716-1791).
    • Mary Keech (c1718-). On 26 4 1737 Mary married John HURDEN
    • John Keech (c1720-1768). On 4 8 1747 John married Hannah LOCK who outlived him. He left a will leaving everything to Hannah
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Fourth Generation

The family of John Keech and Ann Darby

  1. Benjamin Keech married Hannah NURSE on 20 5 1727, Bridport. They had the following children:-
    • Ann Keech baptised 25 12 1727, Bridport. On 27 6 1748 Ann married Cornelius PERRY
    • Elizabeth Keech baptised 9 7 1732, Bridport. On 12 6 1753 Elizabeth Keech married Joseph KENWAY
    • John Keech born and died 1734
    • John Keech (1737-1812)
  2. Jacob Keech married Mary WARREN on 28 10 1749. They had the following children:-
    • Ann Keech married David GALE on 13 10 1773(note)
    • Sarah Keech (1752-1753)
    • Stephen Keech (1755-1827).
    • Mary Keech (1759-)
    • John Keech(note)

 

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Fifth Generation

The family of Benjamin Keech and Hannah Nurse

  1. John Keech baptised 3 4 1737, Bridport. On 10 10 1760 John married Elizabeth HOUNSEL (daughter of Robert HOUNSEL and Susannah WADDON) by licence at Bradpole. John and Elizabeth had the following children:-
    • Susanna Keech baptised 3 10 1762, Bridport. On 18 2 1787 Susanna married Robert CRABB. Susanna died in Bradpole Union Workhouse aged 80 and was buried 14 4 1843.
    • Elizabeth Keech baptised 2 9 1764 and died aged 10. Buried 9 10 1774, Bridport
    • Thomas(John) Keech (1767-1856). (notes)
    • Ann Keech baptised 21 1 1774, Bridport. On 22 11 1791 Ann married John MORRISH
    • Elizabeth Keech baptised 7 8 1776, Bridport. On 26 3 1799 Elizabeth married Uriah GRIFFEN. Elizabeth died in Bradpole Union Workhouse aged 81. She was buried 23 7 1857.
    • Sarah Keech baptised 24 8 1779 . On 27 7 1808 Sarah married Samuel PHILLIPS.
    • Joseph Keech baptised 20 3 1782

The family of Jacob Keech and Mary Warren

  1. Stephen Keech baptised 13 1 1755, Bridport. On 30 8 1781 Stephen married Ann LEE. Stephen was buried at Bridport on 26 7 1827. Stephen and Ann had the following children:-
    • Ann Keech baptised 28 3 1788, Bridport. Buried 21 4 1790
    • Jacob Keech baptised 12 4 1790, Bridport
    • Nathanael Keech baptised 15 6 1792, Bridport
    • Ann Keech baptised 3 2 1794, Bridport
  2. John Keech no baptism found. On 4 Apr 1778 John married Mary LEA. John and Mary had the following children:-
    • Joseph Keech baptised 6 4 1779, Bridport. On 20 7 1806 Joseph married Susanna HARVEY.
    • Richard Keech baptised 18 2 1781, Bridport
    • Richard Keech baptised 6 6 1786, Bridport. On 24 12 1809 Richard married Elizabeth GALE.
    • Phoebe Keech baptised 14 5 1789, Bridport
    • Abraham Keech baptised 8 6 1794, Bridport. On 27 12 1819 Abraham married Susanna HUSSEY
    • Isaac Keech baptised 6 1 1800, Bridport. On 8 6 1824 Isaac married Alice HAYMAN
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Sixth Generation

The family of John Keech and Elizabeth Hounsel

  1. John(Thomas) Keech baptised 7 9 1767, Bridport. John joined the Royal Navy and actually participated in the Battle of Trafalgar on board the Ajax. On 22 5 1792 John married Ann ACKERMAN (daughter of John ACKERMAN and Ann BOWRING) in Bridport. He died as a naval veteran in Greenwich Hospital and was buried 30 9 1856 aged 88. John and Ann had the following children:-
    • Ann Keech baptised 12 1 1793.
    • Ann Keech baptised 29 8 1794, Bridport. On 16 7 1820 Ann married John HALSON.
    • Sarah Keech baptised 20 12 1797. On 23 3 1819 Sarah married William ALLEN
    • Joseph Keech born 27 Dec 1800 and baptised 15 Jan 1801 at Bridport. Died as an infant and buried 24 Jan 1802, Bridport.
    • Joseph and Thomas Keech baptised 5 May 1803. Both died as infants Joseph buried 27 Jul 1804 and Thomas buried 23 Dec 1804
    • Elizabeth Keech baptised 22 4 1805, Bridport. On 22 6 1835 Elizabeth married John Bishop TAYLOR.
    • John Keech (1811-1883)
    • Benjamin Keech baptised 27 10 1813. He died as an infant and was buried on 11 4 1814, Bradpole
    • Gaius Keech baptised 29 11 1815, Bridport.
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Seventh Generation

The family of John Keech and Ann Ackerman

  1. John Keech baptised 17 7 1811, Bridport. John became by occupation a tailor. John married twice, his first marriage was to Jane BARTLETT (daughter of John BARTLETT and Mary MACEY) on 24 5 1836 at Bridport. John and Jane had the following children:-
    • Rosalie Keech baptised 5 3 1837, Abbotsbury. On 20 6 1861 Rosalie married Henry BRYER. Rosalie died in 1904.
    • George Keech (1839-1902)
    • Frank Keech (1841-?)
    • Thomas Keech (1844-1906)
    • Reuben Keech baptised 18 10 1846, Abbotsbury. He died at only 21 of natural causes in Springbourne, Christchurch.
  2. John Keech after the death of Jane in 1859 remarried on 6 11 1866 at Abbotsbury to Elizabeth PULLMAN (daughter of Richard PULLMAN and Mary CRABB). John died aged 72 and was buried at Abbotsbury on 2 12 1883. John and Elizabeth had the following children:-
    • Elizabeth Ann (Bessie) Keech born 1868, Abbotsbury
    • Herbert Keech born 1869, Abbotsbury
    • Sydney Keech born 23 8 1871, Abbotsbury. On 31 1 1907 Sydney married Clara ROPER
    • Kate Keech born 1875
    • Mary Ann Keech born 1877
    • Albert Richard Keech born 1878. On 18 12 1899 Albert married Emily BAGG at Weymouth. He died in 1961.
    • Clara Emily Keech was born in 1880 but sadly died in 1883
    • Eva Elizabeth Keech born 1883, Abbotsbury. On 13 6 1912 Eva Elizabeth married William Charles ROPER
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Eighth Generation

The family of John Keech and Jane Bartlett

  1. George Keech born 17 2 1839, Abbotsbury. George became an agricultural labourer. On 24 4 1862 George married Ann MOORE (daughter of George MOORE and Hannah GUDGE) at Puncknowle. George and Ann uprooted most of their family and moved to Sussex. At the time around the turn of the 19th century farming especially dairy farming was growing rapidly as towns such as Brighton and Worthing began to really grow. George died in Sussex at Coombes on 14 3 1902, aged 63. George and Ann had the following children:-
    • George Keech baptised 16 8 1863, Abbotsbury. On 26 2 1896 George married Phillipa Phillips at Pontypridd. George died 9 3 1919, Mountain Ash aged 56.
    • John Keech born 1865
    • Walter Keech baptised 30 9 1866. By 1901 and probably earlier Walter became a patient in The Dorset County Lunatic Asylum. He was in the description of the time an imbecile.
    • Reuben Keech baptised 28 2 1869, Abbotsbury
    • Elizabeth Ann Keech born 1870. On 23 12 1890 Ann married James VINCENT at Abbotsbury
    • Thomas Keech (1872-1955)
    • Alice Keech baptised 7 6 1874, Abbotsbury. On 22 9 1896 Alice married William HAMER at Pontypridd
    • Rhoda Keech 1876. In 1898 Rhoda married William GREENING
    • Arthur Lewis Keech baptised 7 6 1878, Abbotsbury. He died an infant and was buried 5 4 1876, Abbotsbury
    • Arthur Keech born 1881. Arthur died on 24 4 1939 at the Royal Infirmary, Cardiff of throat cancer
    • Frank Keech (1882-1950)
  2. Frank Keech born 15 2 1841, Abbotsbury. On 1 11 1860 Frank married Emily SYMES at Swyre. Frank was a fisherman/agricultural labourer and he and Emily had the following children:-
    • Mary Jane Keech born 1861
    • Sarah Ann Keech born 1863. On 27 3 1884 Sarah married George DAVID at Newport, Monmouthshire
    • Eleanor Keech born 1865. In 1885 Eleanor married Robert John CARTER.
    • Frances Ann Keech baptised 28 10 1866, Abbotsbury.
    • Henry Keech baptised 29 3 1869, Abbotsbury. In 1890 Henry married Selina TREVETT.
  3. Thomas Keech born 1844, Abbotsbury. Thomas became a carpenter and joined the Navy. On 26 11 1866 Thomas married Eliza MITCHELL at Southampton Register Office.Thomas died in 1906. Thomas and Eliza had the following children:-
    • Eliza Jane Keech born 1867. On 9 8 1891 Eliza Jane married William Lawson Edwards at Portsea Church.
    • Laura Louisa Keech baptised 3 9 1871, Holdenhurst
    • Ann Alice Keech baptised 3 9 1871, Holdenhurst
    • Clara Maria Keech born 1875
    • Thomas Charles Keech born 1875. On 27 10 1900 Thomas Charles married Amelia Eliza ROBBINS at the Register Office, Portsmouth
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Ninth Generation

The family of George Keech and Ann Moore

  1. Thomas Keech born on 23 8 1872, Abbotsbury. Thomas moved to Sussex with his parents and by 1901 they were all living at Coombes. On 31 3 1903 Thomas married Sarah WILKINS (daughter of Thomas Lang WILKINS and Betsey GREENSLADE). Sarah was born in Twitchen, Devon on 7 8 1877. Thomas and Sarah both died in Steyning on 21 10 1955 and 16 6 1965 respectively. Thomas and Sarah had the following children:-
    • Thomas Harold Keech (1904-1989)
    • Maurice George Keech born 20 7 1905 at Redhill, Sussex died of Ricketts on 14 5 1907 and was buried at Coombes, Sussex
    • Kathleen Helen Keech born 6 9 1906 Enfield, Middlesex. In December 1924 Kathleen married Frank HOLDEN. Kathleen died in 1993 at Alton, Hampshire
    • Margaret Ethel Keech born on 26 10 1907 at Coombes, Sussex. On 6 8 1938 Margaret Ethel married Frederick Johnson at Hailsham. Margaret Ethel died in 1972, Steyning
    • Ernest William Keech (1909-1994)
    • Arthur Bernard Keech born 1 1 1913 Twineham, Sussex. Arthur Bernard died on 10 2 1924 in Mountain Ash, Glamorgan
  2. Frank Keech born 1882, Abbotsbury, Dorset. Frank also moved to Sussex with his parents and initially lived at Coombes, On 23 8 1902 Frank married Emily Kate LEE (daughter of Eli LEE and Maria Jane BECKINGHAM) in Coombes, Sussex. Frank died in Worthing in 1950, aged 68 and is buried at Durrington Cemetery. Frank and Emily Kate had the following children:-
    • Arthur Albert Keech (1903-1953)
    • Frank Leslie Keech (1906-)
    • Maurice George Keech born and died 1913
    • Valentine Norman Keech (1920-)
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Tenth Generation

The family of Thomas Keech & Sarah Wilkins

  1. Thomas Harold Keech was born 26 5 1904, Ringmer. On 12 9 1931 Thomas Harold married Alice Ellen Louisa UPTON. Thomas Harold died aged 85 on 19 12 1989 at Welwyn Garden City, Herts. Thomas and Alice had the following children:-
    • Harold Bernard Keech born 1931, Berwick, Eastbourne. In 1958 Harold Bernard married Lorna SKELTON
    • Beryl Daisy Keech born 1934, Storrington, Sussex. In 1954 Beryl married Peter GIBLIN.
    • Roy Allen Keech born 7 9 1935, Storrington, Sussex. In 1959 Roy married Margaret WREN. Roy died 14 7 1981.
    • Majorie Alice Keech born 16 1 1940, Storrington, Sussex. In 1961 Majorie married Peter CHAMPION. Majorie died in 2002
    • Hazel Joan Keech born 1942, Welwyn Garden City. In 1967 Hazel Joan married John Owen BARNETT.
  2. Ernest William Keech was born 9 4 1909, Coombes, Sussex. On 6 2 1932 Ernest William married Vera Constance PRINCE (daughter of Harry PRINCE and Esther Clara (Hetty) PITT) at St Pauls, Worthing. Ernest William died on 30 12 1994 aged 84. Ernest and Vera had the following children:-
    • Donald Ernest Keech (1933-)
    • Brenda Margaret Keech born 17 11 1935, Worthing, Sussex. In 1959 Brenda Margaret married Brian MORRIS. Brenda Margaret married a second time in 1968 to Aurther George Ian LOWDEN. Brenda Margaret died in 2005
    • Joyce Kathleen Keech born 1939. In 1958 Joyce Kathleen married Michael ANSELL.
    • Barrie Keech (1951-)

The family of Frank Keech & Emily Kate Lee

  1. Arthur Albert Keech born 7 6 1903. In 1923 Arthur Albert married Emma Walters. Arthur and Emma had the following child:-
    • Janet M. A. Keech born 1939
  2. Arthur Albert married a second time in ?? to Harriet Martha Ann PHILPOTT. Arthur and Harriet had the following child:-
    • Michael Arthur Keech born 1944
  3. Frank Leslie Keech born 25 11 1906, Coombes, Sussex. In 1938 Frank Leslie married Wilhamena BARBOUR. Frank and Wilhelmena had the following children:-
    • Anthony Keech (1940-1997)
    • Gladys M. Keech (1939-)
  4. Valentine Norman Keech born 1920. In 1946 Valentine Norman married Evelyn Dorothy SHEFFIELD. Valentine and Evelyn had the following children:-
    • David Clifford Keech
    • Christine A. Keech

 

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Eleventh Generation

The family of Ernest William Keech and Vera Constance Prince

  1. Donald Ernest Keech married Freda RUSSELL in 1957. Donald and Freda had the following children:-
    • Stephen Frederick Keech
    • Richard Keech
  2. On 10 8 1994 Donald Ernest married a second time to Monica BAKER.
  3. Barrie Keech married Teresa Gay Bashford in 1974. Barrie and Teresa have the following children:-
    • Daniel Barrie Keech
    • Warren Samuel Keech
    • Tamsin Erica Keech and Nicola Sarah Keech twins

The family of Frank Leslie Keech and Wilhalmena Barbour

  1. Anthony Keech born 17 6 1940. In 1969 Anthony married Christine PEACOCK. Anthony died in 1997. Anthony and Christine had the following children:-
    • Kevin Anthony Keech
    • Marilyn Christine Keech
    • Karen Anne Keech
    • Rebecca May Keech
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