Person:John Key (27)

John Key, Jr.
m. 1712
  1. John Key, Jr.Abt 1712 - 1780
  2. Martin Key1715 - 1791
  3. Mary KeyAbt 1720 - 1779
  4. Henry Key1730 - 1776
  5. George Key1733 - 1799
  • HJohn Key, Jr.Abt 1712 - 1780
  • WUnknown WallerBef 1714 - Est 1735 to 1748
m. Abt 1731
  1. Capt. John Waller Key1731 - 1789
  • HJohn Key, Jr.Abt 1712 - 1780
  • WSusanna WattsAbt 1717 - Bef 1810
m. Est. 1735-1749
  1. Elizabeth KeyAbt 1750 -
  2. Judith KeyAbt 1755 -
  3. Barbara Ann KeyAbt 1760 - Bef 1842
  4. Dabney KeyAbt 1767 -
  5. Omey KeyAbt 1767 -
  6. Martin KeyAbt 1770 -
  7. Mildred KeyAbt 1775 -
  8. Effy KeyAbt 1781 -
Facts and Events
Name[1][2] John Key, Jr.
Gender Male
Birth? Abt 1712 Albemarle County, Virginia
Marriage Abt 1731 Prob. Virginiato Unknown Waller
Marriage Est. 1735-1749 Prob. Virginiato Susanna Watts
Death? 1780 Albemarle County, Virginia


Advisory on John Key

Warning! There are several inconsistencies between sources on the Key family! Primary records should be researched to make any conclusions regarding this family.

Early Records of John Key

Early records of John Key (From "The Virginia Genealogist", Vol. 8, pgs. 118-121:

The only early Albemarle County Order Book which has been preserved contains several references to John Key, among which in 1745 are his appointment as surveyor of a road from his mill on Key's Mill Swamp (now Red Bud Creek) to Secretary's Ford and his commission as ensign in the county militia.(21) In his deeds John Key was usually referred to as a planter(22) and in his later deeds (1758) he signed his name as "Senior".

Little is known of the last years of John Key. By 1758 he had disposed of most of his patented land in the Southwest Mountain region, including his "Mansion House and Plantation," which he gave to his son Martin.(24) In 1759 John Key bought 400 acres in Albemarle County (now Fluvanna County), in the fork of the James (juncture of the Rivanna with the James),(25) and in 1764 he processioned his boundary lines in the Southwest Mountain region of Albemarle County.(

The children of John Keys were listed by the Rev. Edgar Woods in 1901 as Martin, John and Mary;(27) and by Mrs. Julian C. Lane in 1932 as Martin born about 1715, Mary, Henry, born about 1730, John Jr., and probably others.(28) No will of John Key is extant but names of his children Martin, John and Mary can be proved from deeds in which the relationship is stated.(29) From an 1802 report on a British mercantile claim, it is known that Martin Key was a relation of Henry Key,(30) and from Amherst County Deeds it is known that Henry Key had a brother John Key, Jr., whose wife was Agnes.(31)

Discussion of John Key's Birthdate and Two Probable Marriages

John Key's birthdate has been listed by several sources as "abt. 1715", but it appears that since his son, John Waller Key, was born no later than abt. 1731, that this John Key's birthdate was most likely closer to 1712. His is said to have married a Miss Waller (which certainly helps to explain the naming of his son, John Waller Key, sometime about or prior to 1730-1731 (the approximate birthdate of John Waller Key). It is thought that his first wife MAY have been related to a Waller family located nearby the Keys, most likey in Albemarle County, Virginia. It is unknown if there were any other children from John's first marriage. According to some sources, John Key's first wife may have died prior to about 1735 (not proven), but she certainly had died prior to when John Key started having children with his second wife, estimated as between 1737-1750.

It is clear from later records that John's 2nd wife as named Susanna, said to be Susanna Watts, possible daughter of Daniel Watts. Some sources claim that John Key had married Susanna as early as 1735. After the death of John Key abt. 1780, his wife Susanna shows the following records:

Susannah Key paid taxes on 100 acres in Amherst County, Virginia in 1783 and 1787. She is listed in the enumerations of Amherst County for 1783 and 1785 as the head of a family of nine and in the personal property tax lists for the Amherst District. The personal property tax lists for 1788 and 1794 show that she was the mother of Dabney and Thomas Key. Dabney was probably born about 1767, based on his first Talley in the "over 21" column of the tax lists.

From "The Virginia Genealogist", Vol. 8:

John Key, Jr., is said to have married Susannah Watts and had John Key III (who married Agnes Witt), George, Price, Judith, Joseph, Barbara Ann, Mildred, William Waller, Martin and Elizabeth Key.(32) This seems to be partially supported by an Amherst County deed poll of 1768 in which a John Key, Sr., deeded all his personal estate to his "present wife Susannah" and her children(33) and by the fact that the John Key who married Agnes Witt also lived in Amherst County and signed his name as junior as late as 1777.(34) Dropping the junior after 1777 would ordinarily indicate that the elder Key (as then used, senior could have applied to father, uncle, or older cousin) was either dead or out of the county. However, there was hardly enough time for the John and Susannah (Watts) Key generation between John Key, Sr., of Albemarle County (born ca. 1696) and the John Key who married Agnes Witt in 1750, so some other relationship would seem to be more appropriate to explain the various John Keys. Perhaps John Key, Sr., of Amherst County was an older cousin of John Key, Jr., of Amherst County, or perhaps John Key, Sr., of Albemarle County and John Key, Sr., of Amherst County, were the same and Susannah was his second wife (Note: this second scenario appears to be more plausible). Susannah is listed in the enumerations of Amherst County for 1783 and 1785 as the head of a family of nine(35) and in the personal property tax lists of Amherst County from 1787 to 1802 for between none and two tithes.(36) The tax lists for 1787 and 1794 indicate that she was the mother of Dabney and Thomas, names not found on Mrs. Lane's list of the children of John and Susannah (Watts) Key. One of the children can be identified as the William Waller Key who married Elizabeth Alford in Amherst County in 1795.(37) Another of Susannah's may have been George Key who enlisted in the army from Amherst County in 1776. He was born in 1753 and married Susannah Craighead in Bedford Co., VA., 12 Oct 1785. In 1831 he moved to Missouri where he died in Callaway County in 1836.

Will of Susanna (Watts) Key, Probable 2nd Wife of John Key

Susanna (Watts) Key left the following will, which was proven in Nelson County, Virginia on 26 July 1810:


The widow of John Key, Sr., of Amherst County, Virginia. This will is recorded in Nelson County, Virginia Will Book A, Pg. 93. The following copy is made from the original will, preserved in the Nelson County Clerk's office. (It should be noted that Nelson County was created in 1808 from the eastern part of Amherst County, Virginia). Susanna was born about 1717.

Item - To my son Dabney Key, I give and bequeath one of my colts which he may make choice of.

Item - To my daughters, Elizabeth Key, Barbara Key, Effy Key, and Omy Key, I give and bequeath my tract of land that I purchased of Elisha Peters, share and share alike.

Item - To my said daughters, Elizabeth, Barbara, Effy, and Omy, I give and bequeath all my house hold and kitchen furniture.

Item - It is my will and desire that my executors hereafter named may sell my stock of horses, cattle, hogs, plantation utensils, and the crop of all kinds that may be on the plantation at my decease and the money arising therefrom be equally divided between my said daughters, Elizabeth, Barbara, Effy, Omy, and my grandson Tandy Key.

In witness of all and each of these things herein contained, I have set my hand and seal this 26th day of July 1810. Source: The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 24, July - Sep. 1980, Pg. 199-200.

Probable and Possible Children of John Key

The birthdates of the children of John Key's second marriage to Susanna are approximated, but presented as follows:

Abt. 1750 - Elizabeth (named in her mother's will)
Abt. 1755 - Judith (no records, unproven, may have predecesed her mother)
Abt. 1760 - Barbara Ann (named in her mother's will)
Abt. 1767 - Dabney (named in his mother's will) - may have married Nancy Hensley abt. 1794.
Abt. 1767 - Omey (named in her mother's will) - may have married a Mr. Profitt
Abt. 1775 - Mildred (no records, unproven, may have predeceased her mother)
Abt. 1781 - Effy (named in her mother's will)

Note: the "grandson Tandy Key", named in Susanna's will appears to be Tandy Key, born abt. 1797, son of Dabney Key, Susanna's son.

Note: The following possible, but unproven children of John Key have been listed on several internet trees, but since they were not named in Susanna's will, it is difficult to place them with either of his wives (some of the children listed may be the result of family tradition):

Abt. 1737 - George Key
Abt. 1738 - Judith Key
Abt. 1740 - Joseph Key
Abt. 1745 - Mildred Key
Abt. 1750 - Martin Key
Abt. 1755 - William Waller Key

Other Key Families in Virginia (From "The Virginia Genealogist", Vol. 8)

Price Key of Fauquier Co., VA., and Clark and Barren Cos., KY., has apparently been mistaken for a son of John and Susannah (Watts) Key and also for the father of Elijah Key, born 10 July 1773.(39) Price Key was born in 1754, probably in Mattapony, VA., but did not marry until 1787 when he married Sarah McQueen.(40) He was the brother of the Rev. James Key who married Judith Keith.(41)

George Key may have been another son of John Key, Sr., of Albemarle County. In 1758 John Key, Sr., gave 430 acres to George Key, a planter of Fredericksville Parish, Louisa Couty,(42) whose name also appears as witness on two deeds from John Key, Sr., to Martin Key.(43) In 1769, while living in Bedford County, George Key sold the 430 acre tract.(44) An apparently younger George Key lived in Bedford and Henry counties somewhat later. There is reason to believe that his father was Crass Key,(45) but the name of Tandy among his children and descendants is indicative of kinship to John and Martha (Tandy) Key. George Key married first NANCY EDWARDS, second Mary Senter in 1782, and third Isabella Kennedy in 1785, and had issue: Thomas, Crassey, Dabney, Stephen, Reuben Carr, Tandy Center or Senter, born 1776, Milly, Martha, Susannah, Elizabeth, Sallie, Onah, Mary Ann, Lucinda and Rebecca Key. George Key died in Henry County in 1799.(46)

No kinship has been established between the Key family of Albemarle County and certain Keys in Louisa and Amherst Counties. There is good reason to believe that the following Keys who lived in Amherst County were related to each other: Martin Rice Key, born ca.1760, married Rebecca ---;(47) John Key, born ca.1765, married Belinda Milstred;(48) Jane Mills Key, married John Clements;(49) William Key;(50) and Rice Key, married Sarah ---.(51) The father of John and Jane Mills Key was Martin Key,(52) Perhaps the Martin Key who removed to Amherst County from the eastern part of Louisa County between 1765 and 1768.(53) Martin's wife was named Ann,(54) and he was probably related to Mrs. Elizabeth Key who made a nuncupative will to Philip Burford in Louisa County, 1742, mentioning three sons, a daughter Thomason and a grandson Solomon Trower.(55) Later Philip Burford deeded land to Thomas,(56) Martin,(57) and Charles Key.(58)

  1. Brøderbund Software, Inc. World Family Tree Vol. 10, Ed. 1. (Release date: May 6, 1997)
    Tree #0012.

    Date of Import: Nov 15, 1998

  2. Wft10-12.FTW.

    Date of Import: Nov 15, 1998