Keith, William (d.1407?) (DNB00)

KEITH, Sir WILLIAM (d. 1407?), great marischal of Scotland, eldest son of Sir Edward Keith, great marischal, who was brother of Sir Robert Keith, great marischal [q. v.], and his first wife, Isobel de Keith, succeeded his father about 1350. He took an active part in the arrangements with the English government in 1357 for the ransom of David II (Bain, Calendar, iii. 302), with whom he is said to have been in much favour. He and Thomas, thirteenth earl of Mar, are reported to have fought a duel at Edinburgh, when the king showed such open partiality for Keith as to provoke Mar into making a public protest. Thereupon David laid siege to Mar's castle of Kildrummy (Scalacronica, p. 203). Keith went abroad in 1358 for a time to seek renown in foreign wars (Rotuli Scotiæ, i. 830). He was employed in 1369 to negotiate a truce with England at London (Rymer, Fœdera, iii. 878), and in March 1371 was present at the coronation at Scone of Robert II.

He married Margaret, only daughter and heiress of Sir John Fraser (son of the chamberlain) and Mary Bruce. Their principal residence was at Kintore until in 1392 Keith exchanged with William, Lord Lindsay of the Byres, who had married his daughter Christian, certain lands in the counties of Fife and Stirling for the Crag of Dunnottar in Kincardineshire. Here he built the celebrated castle of Dunnottar, and made it his chief fortress. Before the works began he had to remove the parish church to another part of the lands, and on the plea that he had invaded consecrated ground Keith was laid under a sentence of excommunication by the Bishop of St. Andrews. He appealed to Rome, and on 18 July 1394 Pope Benedict XIII granted his bull, removing the censure, and permitting the castle to remain on the old ecclesiastical site, on condition of an annual composition being paid to the church (Hist. MSS. Comm. 3rd Rep. Appendix, pp. 405, 409). Keith died between 1406 and 1408. He had three sons and four daughters; one of the latter married Robert, duke of Albany, governor of Scotland.

[Douglas's Peerage of Scotland (Wood), ii. 187.]

H. P.