Alexander Keith

When he was thirteen, Keith's father, a successful accountant, built the house which is now Edinburgh Zoo as his family estate. Alexander inherited the main Keith estate of Corstorphine from his uncle and was one of the leading figures in Edinburgh society. He was at the centre of a wide network of connections amongst the Charlotte Chapel Congregation, and, as a reward for his political loyalty, one of the chief officials at the visit of George IV to Scotland in 1822.

1780 - 4 November 1832
Corstorphine Hill
William Keith of Corstorphine Hill, accountant. He bought the estate in 1791 and built Corstorphine Hill House in 1793, now Edinburgh Zoo and d.1803.
Mary Anne Rae of Coldsheaf (7)
43 Queen Street
Political views
A waverer, whose Tory loyalty was maintained by a gift of titles as advised by Walter Scott:
Mr Keith Senior is no more... This day his Nephew who succeeds to his large estate call'd on me excessively anxious about this same honorary appointment [of Knight Marischal] & full of protestatioons of the most faithful attachment & so forth if it were granted. Of course he departs from any idea of a hereditary grant or of any remainder & limits his wishes to being Knight Marshal with the rank of a knight bachelor. He pre'sd me so much to mention the matter to your Lordship that I cannot decline doing so without giving him offence which improved as it would doubtless be by some of the Mid Lothian Whigs who have been long nibbling at him might be prejudicial.' (4)
Keith inherited the estate of Ravelston on the death of his uncle. He became Knight Marischal in 1819.
He was Knight Marischal on the occasion of the visit of George IV to Edinburgh in 1822. Scott described him,
In the day when he went in state from the Abbey to the Castle with the Regalia born[e] before him the street was lined with the trades and professions all arranged under their own deacons and office bearers with white wands in their hands and with their banners and so forth... The whole went off excellently well. Nobody was so gallant as the knight Marischal who came out with a full retinue of Esquires and yeomen. (5)
Chapel connection
baptism (1814)
Married on
16 September 1813, in Charlotte Square by Mr Oliver, Presbyterian minister of Ancrum.
Georgina Lamont
Helen Margaret Oliphant (1814), William Campbell
Related to
John Keith, brother. Joan Keir was his first cousin once removed. Walter Scott was his second cousin: In 1813 they were both office bearers in the physical class of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (3).


  1. Registers of Charlotte Chapel (NAS CH12/3)
  2. Edinburgh Post Office Directory 1818
  3. Caledonian Mercury, 25 November 1813
  4. Walter Scott to Lord Melville, 4 March 1819, in H.J.C. Grierson, Letters of Sir Walter Scott (London, Constable and Co. 1932) vol.5 p.311-2
  5. Walter Scott to his son, 28 August 1822 in H.J.C. Grierson, Letters of Sir Walter Scott (London, Constable and Co. 1932) vol.7 p.226
  6. Inventory and Will of Alexander Keith
  7. Charles Rogers, Genealogical Memoirs of the Family of Sir Walter Scott (London, Houlston and Sons, 1877) p.liv

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