Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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KEITH, George, clergyman, born in Aberdeen, Scotland, about 1645; died in Sussex, England, in 1715. He was educated in the schools of the Church of Scotland and at the University of Aberdeen. Becoming a Quaker in 1664, he suffered confiscation and imprisonment, and in 1675 was engaged with Robert Barclay in a discussion before the students of Aberdeen university concerning Quaker doctrines. A continuance of persecutions induced Keith to emigrate to the United States in 1684. He became a surveyor in New , Jersey, and was engaged to determine the boundary-line between the eastern and western parts of the state. He removed to Philadelphia in 1689, and took charge of a Friends' school, but left it to travel in New England, where he engaged in controversy with John Cotton and Increase Mather. On his return to Philadelphia he became involved in disputes with his own sect. He then went to London and met William Penn in controversy, who pronounced him an apostate and dismissed him from the society. Keith responded in an able argument, and formed a society of his own known as the Christian or Baptist Quakers, or Keithians. Becoming again dissatisfied, he was ordained in the Church of England, and in 1702 was sent by the Society for propagating the gospel on a mission to Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He was signally successful in this work, 700 Quakers under his influence receiving baptism in the Episcopal church. He subsequently returned to England, and became rector of Edburton, Sussex. Bishop Burner, who was his fellow-student at Aberdeen, says of him in his "History of My Own Times": "Keith was the most learned man ever in the Quaker sect, well versed both in the Oriental tongues and in philosophy and mathematics." Besides theological works, he published "Journal of 'gravels from New Hampshire to Caratuck" (London, 1706); " Standard of the Quakers " (1702: republished in Janney's "History of Friends," Philadelphia, 1867); and "New Theory of Longitude " (1709).
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