Were William Keale the Immigrant and William Keel of Wiccacon the same person? I cannot say. If they were not the same man, they could easily have been father and son. An immigrant of the 1690s, who came unaccompanied, would, most likely, have been, at least 14. So, let’s say, he was born during the 1670s. To have entered a patent in his own right in 1713, a man would have been born no later than 1692.
In July 1720, Isaac Lewis sold John Keele some land on the west side of Cutawaske Swamp (Chowan County Deed Book F-1, p. 64). John paid only 20 shillings. It doesn’t say how many acres, only that it was part of a 400 acres patent taken up by Isaac. But, on 9 November 1726, John gave 100 acres on the west side of Cattawiskey Swamp to his brother, Nathaniel (Bertie County Deed Book B, p. 200). Witnessing this deed were Lazarus Thomas and John Winns.
John sold Jacob Lewis, for 20 pounds current money, 50 acres beginning at Raspberry’s corner tree “and running along a line of marked trees to Dawses Road” (Bertie County Deed Book A, p. 24) on 12 February 1722. Deborah Keele and Thomas Bird witnessed this deed. Then, on 14 May 1723, Jacob gave his “well beloved sister in law”, Deborah Keel, 200 acres “by or nigh” the Petty Shore. This tract began “at a pine a corner tree of Thos. Wiggan’s line” and ran “along William Keel’s line to Abraham Blewlett’s path…” (Bertie County Deed Book A, p. 74).
Was Jacob’s wife Mary Keel? Most likely. But, there are other possibilities. Today, your sister-in-law would be the sister of your spouse. But, in earlier times, it was a much more fluid term. It could also be your stepsister. Or the wife of your spouse’s brother. So, Deborah Keele could have been any of these to Jacob Lewis.
Let’s take a closer look:
- Jacob’s wife was Mary. On 23 January 1717, Jacob and Mary Lewis ceded to Isaac Lewis their claim to the southwestern part of 250 acres. Jacob and Isaac purchased this tract from George and Sarah Smith in 1714. They may have married earlier. Mary Lewis witnessed a power of attorney from Bridget Brown to her son, Isaac Lewis, on 18 Jul 1713 (Chowan County Deed Book W-1, p. 154). However, this may not be the same woman. Their marks are different.
- Note the deed does not say Deborah was a widow or that William Keel was deceased. This would seem to eliminate the possibility that Deborah was the widow of William Keel of Wiccacon.
- As the grantee, Deborah wasn’t, necessarily, 21. She has to have been at least 14 (minor majority, to use an Anne McCaffrey phrase) to witness a deed in 1722, so born no later than 1707/08. At that time, Jacob and Isaac’s mother, Bridget, was married to John Browne. On 9 August 1706, John Browne and his wife, Bridget Browne, sold Samuel Canidy 220 acres in the lower parish and on the south side of Kingsale Swamp. This was in Nansemond County, Virginia. Be sure to read this post on John Brown of Kingsale, Indian Trader. Excellent blog.
- Margaret, the wife of Issac Lewis, was the daughter of William Hooker. She and their son, William, are mentioned in William Hooker’s will. Other daughters mentioned are Ann Evans, Bridgett Mann, Jane Brown, and Elizabeth Sizemore. There is no daughter named Deborah listed.
So far, we have William Keel (born possibly as late as 1692), Mary Keel Lewis (born about 1695), John Keel (born about 1700), Deborah Keel (born between 1702 and 1708), and Nathaniel Keel (born about 1710). These dates are loose guestimates based on land records. They could all certainly be older, but not much younger.
On 13 February 1726/7, Jacob and Mary Lewis sell Samuel Keel 200 acres on Chinquapin Ridge for “sterling money” (Bertie County Deed Book B, p. 210). Lazarus Thomas and John Williams were the witnesses.
So, we can add Samuel to our list. Born, say, 1711. And, of course, we have Hardy, born circa 1709. Were they all siblings? John and Nathaniel definitely were. Mary and Deborah almost certainly. The others? Probably. I’d say even possibly. Were they children of William the Immigrant? I don’t know for certain, but maybe. Looking at these dates, I wonder if he married twice.