John McKeand

Born: circa 1742 The date is uncertain and is based on the 1790 Census taken in Virginia during 1782.

Died: 6-11-1792 Richmond, Henrico County, VA, USA. Burial in St. Johns Episcopal Church Yard

Marriage: Elizabeth Carter Willis (McKeand) M-circa 1771 in Gloucester County (B-1/1/1751 D-9/12/1789)

Children: With Elizabeth he is know to have had five children.

    Elizabeth Carter McKeand (West) (B-1773 D-1807) Husband: Robert West Col. (B-1765 D-1827)

    Priscilla Churchill McKeand (Thornton) (B-1775 D-1825) Husband: William Meaux Thornton II (B-1740 D-1808)

    Jeanette McKeand (West) (B-1777 D-1850) Husband: George West (B-1756 D-1850)

    John W. McKeand (B-1780 D-10-27-1848) Wife: Mary Parish (Gilliam)(McKeand) (B-12-22-1776 D-3-27-1846)

    Willis McKeand (B-5-30-1782 D-1-4-1860) Wife: Sarah Marsh Taylor Gilliam (B-4-15-1793 D-7-10-1859)

John McKeand was born in Scotland, believed to be in or near what is now Castle Douglas. There is nothing know for sure about his parents his upbringing or when he came to America.  It is believed he came to the Colonies in about 1750 possibly with a Rev. Douglas*. There is no verifiable information on John McKeand’s life before he appears at Shockoe (circa1762), later a part of Richmond, Virginia. He purchased some land from a Byrd family auction in 1768. 

John went to Richmond in 1762-circa where he was a cabinet maker (furniture maker) and merchant.  His business partner was James Buchanan (B-1737 D-10-10-1787)**.  He served for a period of time during the American Revolution. In 1779 the state capital was moved to Richmond and the city took on new importance and began to grow.  He along with James Buchanan were members of the first Richmond City Council elected July 2, 1782. John was active in public service during those years. His business is mentioned in newspaper ads contract records and other public records. His business continued to grow and was quite successful. John apprenticed as a cabinet maker in Virginia for a period of up to 7 years. It is doubtful that there is going to be much information found on his personal life.

The children of John McKeand

Nothing is know about what happened to the children of John and Elizabeth after the death of Elizabeth in 1789 other than John W. apprenticed as a Saddler starting in 1793 until they reappear as adults. One clue is in a landmark lawsuit between Southall vs. McKeand that was argued all the way to the Virginia Supreme Court. John McKeand died during the process of the original suit through the courts. In the suit arguments it was mentioned that John had lived in the property in question for a period of time alone. The property was not a part of the original McKeand property and this indicates the children were not with John after Elizabeths death. The will indicates that John held his children as important since he wanted his property evenly divided. Who cared for the children, a family member, Rev. Douglas, a close friend is not known. We don’t even know if the children stayed together.

*Douglas ties to The McKeand Family

The Reverend William Douglas was born in Shire of Galloway, Parish of Penningham, Scotland B-8/3/1708 D-2/12/1798. His mother was Grishild McKeand (Douglas) B-circa 1672 D-10-1741. Although we can not be sure it appears her father was Andrew McKeand B-1650 D-1672 and her mother was Marion Shaw (Douglas) B-1650 D-1700. She appears to have had at least two siblings, one of which was John McKeand. This McKeand might have been the father or grandfather of John McKeand (1742). The second sibling appears to have been Janet that married Andrew McCarmick. Revered Douglas came to Virginia in October 12, 1750. He arrived in Goochland December 12, 1750. He continued as Minister of Goochland until November of 1777. He tutored children of plantation owners such as Thomas Jefferson (tutored 1752-1757). Jefferson was about a year younger than John McKeand so he probably came into contact with the wealthy and their children. This could help explain John’s ability to establish himself as a merchant to the many plantations at the early age of 19 or 20. It could also explain his ability to partner with Buchanan and expand their business. Cabinet makers were the furniture makers of the time and this was usually learned as an apprentice or possibly by being an indentured servant. Since there is no record of John and the Rev. Douglas being together over the years there may have been a break while John was young. Based on this John may have learned cabinet making in Williamsburg, just 50 miles from Schockoe.

**Buchanan and McKeand

John partnered with James Buchanan(1737-1787) in the 1760’s. There is no information on how or why the partnership occurred but there are a few clues.  First a little on James Buchanan. He was born in Scotland and had ties to a merchant company James Buchanan & Company London, England. He came to the Colonies in 1757. He had two younger half-brothers Rev. John Buchanan(1748-1822) rector of Henrico Parish and Alexander Buchanan(1752-1803). Alexander may have lived with James for a period of time. Alexandria appears in the 1790 (1782) census living with James. The name is probably a misspelling or mis interpretation since there is no record of James being married. James was half owner of a ship (Polly – a schooner) and appears to have needed a partner to help run his business as he transported or had goods transported. Their primary trade appears to be buying tobacco and selling it in England then returning with cargo that could be sold to plantations or traded for tobacco. There is a 1770 document that shows a partnership to acquire slaves and bring them to Virginia for sale. There are also letters where slave buyers wanted to have financing or money assistance for their purchases. It appears successful merchants provided loans to buyers of about 15% during this time. In England the Buchanan’s moved to banking in later years. The partnership appeared to be very profitable as Rev. John Buchanan was the primary heir to James estate in 1787 and later inherited the estate of his full brother Alexander in 1802 which provided him a comfortable life.

There are deed books for early Henrico county, Virginia which include James Buchanan and John McKeand. The books may be available at the University of Virginia and are available for purchase online but cost $25 to $45 each and at least four would be required to cover the time span needed.

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