Holy Trinity Church

was the eldest son of Sir William Keyt, the 3rd Baronet, and his wife Hon. Anne nee Tracy. He was christened at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon on 23rd November 1712. On 3rd July 1729 at the age of 16 he matriculated at University College, the first college to be built in Oxford.

University College

In 1740 Thomas Charles sold The College in Stratford-upon-Avon which he had been given by his father in 1734. Then on 4th September 1741 Thomas Charles became the 4th Keyt Baronet, inheriting the Baronetcy from his father. Presumably he also inherited debts from his father as shortly after becoming Baronet he sold the Burnt Norton estate in Gloucestershire to Nathaniel Ryder, the 1st Baron Harrowby and son of Sir Dudley Ryder, Lord Chief Justice of England, (the two farms comprising the Upper Norton Estate were subsequently leased out to Thomas Dutton, son of John Dutton and Elizabeth nee Keyt, by Sir Dudley Ryder at an annual rent of 220 on September 18, 1753)

Burnt Norton House and estate
With his mother Lady Anne Keyt he then secured a loan of 22,000 from Philip Lord Hardwicke by a mortgage on Halstead Hall at Stixwold in Lincolnshire. He later sold Halstead Hall to Admiral Lord Anson of Shugborough Hall in Staffordshire in a tri-partite sale with Lord Hardwicke.

Halstead Hall
Sir Thomas Charles Keyt, 4th Baronet, died on 24th July 1755 at Middle Hill Mansion House, the home of the Savage family near Broadway in Gloucestershire. He was buried in the vault at St. Eadburgha's Church in Ebrington. He had never married.

St. Eadburgha's Church
With Sir Thomas Charles having no heir the Keyt Baronetcy was inherited by his younger brother ROBERT KEYT. Robert had been born in Warwickshire on 18th December 1724, Warwickshire and then he too was christened at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon on 24th December.
When he became the 5th Keyt Baronet by inherited the Baronetcy from his brother, Robert was living at Spennithorne, 2 miles north-east of Middleham in Yorkshire and so was known as the baronet of Middleham. He probably lived at Spennithorne Hall although he could have lived at Spennithorne House.

Spennithorne Hall
Spennithorne House

Sir Robert Keyt, 5th Baronet, never married, though there are unproved reports of an illegitimate child at Middleham! He died at Spennithorpe on 6th July 1784 and having no heir the Baronetcy died with him. According to a letter from John Cockcroft, Curator of Middleham, dated 30th April 1813 to Rev. Edward Gibbs Walford of Banbury in Oxfordhire Sir Robert was buried at Middleham on 9th July 1784.

Middleham Church
In his Will, which was made on 29th June 1784 "I Sir Robert Keyt of Middleham in the County of York Baronet Do make this my last Will and Testament in manner and Form following, that is to say, to my Housekeeper Sarah Varley of Middleham aforesaid her Heirs, Executors, Administrators and Assigns respectfully I give, devise and bequeath all my Real Estate and also all my money, securities for Money, Books, Palte, Linnen, Household, Furniture and personal Estate whatsoever and of what nature or kind soever the same be, to and for her and their sole and only proper Use and Benefit Subject nevertheless to the Payment of all my just Debts and Funeral Expenses, and I constitute and appoint the said Sarah Varley sole Executrix of this my Will - and revoke all Wills by me at any Time heretofore made I publish and declare this to be my last Will and Testament this Twenty Ninth Day of June in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty four
---- Robert Keyt".

Sir Robert's Will was proved in October 1784. He had left everything he had to his housekeeper, a lady named Sarah Varley.

Robert's Will raises one or two questions. In it he leaves everything to "my Housekeeper Sarah Varley of Middleham aforesaid, her Heirs.......". So who exactly was Sarah, was she a spinster living in or a married lady, and why does Robert mention her "Heirs?
As Robert left everything to Sarah it suggests that she had been his housekeeper for a long time and so was most likely a spinster living in Spennithorne Hall/House. If this was so she may well have been a local lady who he employed after moving to Spennithorpe i.e. 'of Middleham', or she may have moved to Spennithorne from Gloucestershire with Robert. A search through the on-line I.G.I. found no Sarah Varleys of the right sort of age in either Yorkshire or Gloucestershire, though the following were found:-

----------------------------Sarah Fairly -- christened at Mickleton in Gloucestershire on 2nd September 1747
----------------------------Sarah Farley -- christened at Haworth in Yorkshire on 3rd November 1759
----------------------------Sarah Farley -- christened at Castlemorton in Worcestershire on 3rd March 1766
----------------------------Sarah Farley -- christened at Ripple in Worcestershire on 29th May 1768

It would seem that the last three Sarahs were probably too young to have been Robert's housekeeper. Even ignoring her age the Sarah Farley from Haworth is unlikely to have been employed by Robert as Haworth is more than 30 miles south of Spennithorne and not on a direct route. For the same reasons the two Sarah Fawleys who born in Worcestershire seem unlikely, perhaps even more so. This leaves Sarah Fairly who was christened in Mickleton by William Farley and his wife Ann Bishop, both of Mickleton, who were married at Aston-sub-Edge on 27th September 1743. Certainly she was old enough to have been Robert's housekeeper and the Keyt family had had contacts with Mickleton since the mid to late 1500's. Sarah Fairly from Mickleton therefore seems the most likely candidate. This theory may be supported by the fact that in his Will dated 4th June 1733 (proved in 1737) Hastings Keyt of Broadway made reference to a Sammuel ffarley, someone who was possibly related to Sarah Farley of Mickleton
There is another possibility, that Sarah was in fact a married lady living close to Spennithorne Hall/House and so the wedding of a lady named Sarah to a Mr. Varley or Farley was next looked for on the on-line I.G.I.. Although there were hundreds of such weddings in England no suitable candidates were found so, although not conclusive, once again we are left with Sarah Fairly, or maybe Varley from Mickleton. Until we know more she has to be the most likely person to have been Robert's housekeeper.
One other thing that comes out of Robert's Will is the fact that he mentions "Sarah Varley of Middleham aforesaid, her Heirs.........". Did Sarah perhaps have an 'Heir' and if so could this "Heir" have been an illegitimate child? Perhaps we will never know.

Produced by Roger Keight in December 2004 last updated in September 2006.

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