1. I have not found any record of marriage for Thomas Keech or any baptisms for his children. However in deeds of 1669 it is recorded that Thomas Keech has a daughter called Elizabeth and a son called John. Further in deeds of 1690 it is recorded that Thomas has a grand-daughter Elizabeth KENWAY.
  1. At this time disentangling the John Keeches can be difficult. However there is a deed dated 1688 which seems to reveal all. The deed is for John Keech who has a wife Joane. There is a marriage recorded in 1674 between John Keech and Joane HIDE. The deed also makes clear that the John Keech who has married Joane has an uncle called John Keech. I conclude this must be the brother of his father Thomas. Also stated is that uncle John Keech has a son called John Keech. Thus it is not only in the parish registers of Bridport that John and Thomas are linked as brothers.
  1. SASSER is the name recorded in the Bridport Parish Register. On the IGI for this marriage in 1657 the name recorded is TYLER. The name variant for Keech recorded is Kiche
  1. The will of John Keech the elder 1697 confirms he has sons John and Joseph. It confirms Mary and Elizabeth Keech had married Richard and Simon STONE respectively. No other children are mentioned. John’s wife is mentioned so we know she is alive but her name is not recorded. Joseph Keech is sole executor.
  1. I have never found any baptisms for the children of Joseph and Hannah. I certainly do believe there are missing baptisms for Bridport. Joseph Keech obviously did well for himself as he to became a bailiff of Bridport in 1731, 1736 & 1740 (The History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset by John Hutchins) and you would surely expect him to have children baptised. I believe Joseph was an early user of the Bridport Independent Church and records before 1720 have not survived. However later evidence would strongly suggest that he had a sons Joseph and Gaius.
  1. The Will of Ann Keech nee Darby 1749
  2. It is thanks to the will of Ann Keech that we know all her children. I think the information in it leads one to conclude that baptisms are missing from Bridport in the period 1710-1719.At this time the Keech family may well have been using the Bridport Independent Church. The surviving records of this church only begin in 1720. I am assured by Dorset Record Office that no records are missing from the Bridport Parish Register. In this will however we have a number of children for which there appears to be NO baptism. This is the same for Joseph and Hannah Keech and their three children. I guess the only other possibility is that the Keech family fell out with the incumbent of Bridport and either did not have their children baptised in that period or had them baptised in another parish.

  1. Ann Keech married David Gale
  2. Although there is no apparent baptism at Bridport for Ann Keech daughter of Jacob the wills of both Elizabeth DARBY and Samuel DARBY clearly identify Ann as the daughter of Jacob Keech. Elizabeth and Samuel DARBY are the sister and brother of Ann DARBY who married John Keech in 1698. Thus Jacob’s daughter Ann is the most likely wife of David GALE married 13 10 1773, Bridport.


  1. John Keech a son of Jacob and Mary
  2. There definitely is another John Keech in Bridport who is old enough to marry Mary LEA in 1778. Logically the only place for him appears as a son of Jacob and Mary. Sadly there appears to be no baptism however it is clear that Jacob and Mary did NOT have all their children baptised. There are some other links to suggest that this John Keech is the son of Jacob and Mary, for example at the marriage of John Keech and Mary Lea, Stephen Keech is a witness. The only Stephen Keech is the son of Jacob and Mary. Thus Stephen and John would be brothers and quite likely to be a witness at marriage. Also as we roll on another generation we find the Richard Keech marries Elizabeth GALE on 24 Dec 1809. Richard and Elizabeth would be first cousins. That is Richard is the grandson of Jacob and Mary and Elizabeth Gale is the grand-daughter.

  1. John Keech baptised as Thomas 7 9 1767

Firstly I must admit I cannot prove that John Keech was baptised as Thomas on 7 9 1767, but there is considerable circumstantial evidence. The other possibility is that John Keech was a son whose baptism was not recorded. Anyway:-

  1. Thomas is never mentioned again, not as a burial, marriage or anything.
  2. Dorset Record Office confirm it was fairly common to baptise with one name and yet use another.
  3. At the marriages of Susannah Keech to Robert Crabb in 1787 and at the marriage of Ann Keech to John Morrish in 1791 there is a witness who signs himself John Keech jnr. Now using junior means somewhere there is a John Keech senior. Given that Susannah and Ann are daughters of John Keech senior it is likely that John Keech junior is his son and the brother of Susannah and Ann
  4. The signature of John Keech junior is identical to the John Keech that subsequently marries Ann Ackerman in 1792.


  1. Naval Career of John Keech
    • John volunteered for a sign-up bounty of 5 in 1795. He served on the following ships:-
    • GIBRALTER 1795-1804
    • AJAX 1804-1807 (where he participated) in the Battle of Trafalgar. The Ajax log shows 2 killed and 10 wounded during the battle.
    • REPULSE 1807-1809
    • DANNEMARK 1809-1815
    • He began as a landsman and ended his career as ship’s corporal.
    • John arranged for his pay to be sent home to his wife in Bridport and this information including his wife’s name Ann appears in the Allotment Registers(ADM 27)
    • John applied for and was granted a Greenwich Out-Pension in 1815.
    • John applied to enter Greenwich Hospital and was admitted on 4th May 1837. Usually this application is backed up by a full service record, however I observe the official comments on this document only say “Trafalgar Man”. John remained in Greenwich Hospital until his death in 1856. The 1851 census records him as blind. He died on 24th Sep 1856 and was buried at Greenwich. A very sad fact is that John had to abandon his wife Ann to enter Greenwich Hospital and she was to die a pauper on 28 8 1838 in Bradpole.