Keightley, Thomas (1650?-1719) (DNB00)

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KEIGHTLEY, THOMAS (1650?–1719), Irish official, was son of William Keightley (b. 1621) of Hertingfordbury, Hertfordshire, by his wife Anne, daughter of John Williams of London, whom he married in 1648 (Chester, Marriage Licenses, ed. Foster, p. 783). His paternal grandfather, Thomas Keightley, born at Kinver, Staffordshire, 28 March 1580, purchased the estate of Hertingfordbury before 1643, when Evelyn the diarist visited him there (Diary, i. 39), and he was sheriff of Hertfordshire in 1651. He may be the Thomas Keightley, merchant, of London, who sat as M.P. for Beeralston in the parliament of 1620–1. He died in London on 22 Feb. 1662–3, and was buried in Hertingfordbury Church. He married Rose (1596–1683), daughter of Thomas Evelyn of Ditton, Surrey. This lady was a first cousin of John Evelyn the diarist, and is described by him as possessing unusual sprightliness and comeliness when 86 years old (ib. ii. 380–1).

Thomas Keightley, the grandson, was appointed gentleman-usher to James, duke of York, on 2 June 1672 (Hist. MSS. Comm. 8th Rep. App. i. 280b), and on 9 July 1675 married Frances, youngest daughter of Edward Hyde, the first earl of Clarendon, and sister of the Duke of York's first wife. Keightley appears to have temporarily adopted Roman catholicism, the religion of his master. Soon after his marriage he sold his property at Hertingfordbury, and migrated to Ireland. On the appointment of his brother-in-law, Henry Hyde, second earl of Clarendon [q. v.], to the lord-lieutenancy in the autumn of 1685, Keightley was admitted into the most intimate relations with the Irish government. He was appointed vice-treasurer of Ireland early in 1686 (Clarendon, Diary and Correspondence, i. 229, 259, 275, 277), and in July following was sent to London by Clarendon, nominally to attend to his private affairs, but really to keep Clarendon's brother, Rochester, posted up in Irish matters, and to maintain Clarendon's influence at court. ‘His integrity and great concern for you and me,’ Clarendon wrote to his brother, ‘is not to be questioned in the least. … He is a man of very good sense, and of an excellent understanding.’ Keightley seems to have stayed in London throughout James II's reign, but Clarendon's efforts to induce the king to give his brother-in-law a high place in the Irish government failed. When James II fled from Whitehall at the approach of William of Orange (December 1688), Keightley was sent by Clarendon to the fugitive king at Rochester to entreat him to stay in England. James II saw Keightley on the night of 22 Dec., but left for France early the next morning. After the revolution Keightley returned to Ireland. In 1692 he was appointed a commissioner of the Irish revenue, a post which he had long sought (Luttrell, Brief Relation, ii. 378, 454). Many of his letters to John Ellis (1643?–1738) [q. v.], dated between 1698 and 1705, are in the British Museum (Addit. MSS. 28882–3–4–5–7–9, 28890–1–2–3). He welcomed his younger brother-in-law, the Earl of Rochester, who came to Ireland as lord-lieutenant in 1701, and was a lord justice on the retirement of Rochester in 1702. He was commissioner for the lord chancellor of Ireland in 1710. On 19 Jan. 1712–13 he met his wife, after an absence of more than twenty years, at Somerset House, London. The long quarrel was due in the opinion of the lady's relatives to the uncertainties of her temper, and to no fault in her husband (ib. i. 495–6). She appears to have had religious difficulties, and was in 1686 living in retreat at Glaslough, where she made the acquaintance of the great controversialist Charles Leslie [q. v.] It seems probable that Leslie wrote his 'Short and Easie Method with the Deists,' 1698, in order to remove her doubts. Keightley died on 19 Jan. 1718–19. His seven sons, all born in Ireland, between 1678 and 1688, died young. His wife and a daughter Catherine, wife of Lucius O'Brien, survived him (cf. Cal. Treasury Papers, 1720–8, p. 511). Two brothers—apparently Keightley's near kinsmen—Charles and George Keightley, were with the English army in Spain during Queen Anne's reign (Hist. MSS. Comm. 12th Rep. App. iii. pp. 73, 101; cf. ib. p. 159).

[Authorities cited; Ellis Correspondence, 1829, i. 50, 97, 159; Cussans's Hertfordshire; Chauncey's Hertfordshire; Gent. Mag. 1829, pt. i. pp. 322–3; Corresp. and Diary of Rochester and Clarendon, ed. Singer, 2 vols. 1828, 4to.]

S. L.