KEITH, GEORGE: Scotch Quaker, afterward Anglican clergyman and missionary to America; b., probably in Aberdeenshire, 1639; d. at Edburton (20 m. e. of Chichester), Sussex, Mar. 27, 1716. After receiving the degree of M. A. from Marischal College, Aberdeen, he became tutor and chaplain in a noble family. He was designed for the Presbyterian ministry, but about 1664 adopted the tenets of the Quakers, and soon won a prominent position in the councils of the sect. He was intimately associated with Robert Barclay, George Fox, and William Penn. After having been frequently imprisoned for preaching in England, Keith emigrated to America about 1685, served for a time as surveyor-general in New Jersey, and settled in Philadelphia in 1689 as principal of a Friends' school. Subsequently he traveled in New England and defended the principles of the Quakers in controversy with Increase Mather and others. Having become involved in bitter disputes with other leaders of the sect, in 1692 Keith headed a faction called "Keithites," or "Christian Quakers." In 1694 he returned to England, where he was denounced by Penn as an apostate and dismissed from the society at the Annual Meeting of 1695. After preaching to his followers for five years at Turners' Hall, London, he united with the Established Church in 1700, and subsequently led several hundred Quakers to conform. From 1702 till 1704 he traveled in America as a missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. From 1706 till his death he was rector of Edburton, Sussex. He is said to have been one of the most scholarly and versatile men ever enrolled by the Quakers. The more important of his numerous writings are: The Deism of William Penn and his Brethren (London, 1699); The Standard of the Quakers Examined (1702); and A Journal of Travels (1706).
BIBLIOGRAPHY: DNB, xxx. 318-321, where references to scattered notices are given.
KEITH-FALCONER, HONORABLE ION GRANT NEVILLE: Church of Scotland layman; the third son of the ninth earl of Kintore; b. in Edinburgh July 5, 1856; d. at Aden, Arabia, May 11, 1887. He was educated at Harrow Public School, and at Cambridge University, at both of which he distinguished himself not only by scholarship but by his bicycle-riding. He was appointed Lord Almoner's professor of Arabic at Cambridge, 1886. He also taught himself Pitman's system of shorthand and attained uncommon speed for a non-professional. He became deeply interested in evangelistic work in Cambridge and in London, and so his thoughts turned to making his remarkable Oriental learning available on the foreign field. With this in view he paid a visit to Aden to see for himself the prospects of a mission to the Mohammedans and being convinced that his lifework lay in that direction he laid aside his ambition as an Oriental scholar in England, and in 1886 went to Aden as a lay missionary of the Church of Scotland. There, however, he quickly succumbed to an attack of fever. He was destined to be of much more consequence in inciting others to labor for the conversion of Mohammedans and other non-Christians than as a worker himself. It was one of the sources of this influence that he was a nobleman of wealth and therefore one who could not be accused of sordid motives. He died too soon to do much in literature. Still his article on shorthand in the ninth edition of the Encyclopędia Britannica, his edition (1885) of Kalilah and Dimnah, otherwise known as the Fables of Bidpai, and some of his papers attracted wide attention.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: R. Sinker, Memorials of . . . Keith-Falconer, Cambridge, 1888.
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