I have received some information from Robert Kee who graciously accepted the expense and time to provide copies of material on The Family of Kee. The Kee information by Douglass Thurston Kee Q.C. B.A. , Chatham Ontario, Canada is posted in a chapter in Book of McKee. I scanned through but did not really give the information its due until I received the package sent by Robert Kee. It is significant the similarities in McKee and Kee. Their travels, history, and story. It is for this reason that it now becomes part of the McKee Newsletter collection and I offer it to you for your consumption.It is from this package the following is taken.
This pretends to be no more than a summary of notes, traditions, and general data I have collected over the last forty years on various branches of the Kee family not merely in Canada andthe United States but in Ulster, where the family originated.
This information compiled on various branches of the Kee family and their connection with the family of McKee and with the Clan Mackay
Members of the Kee family have not always agreed as to the origin of their name, but after a careful study it seems quite clear that "Kee" was originally "McKee", and that the family in Northern Ireland with that name came there originally from Scotland.
It is unfortunate that the existing records in Ulster make it very difficult to prove the exact relationship in many cases. During the Easter Revolt of 1916 many of the public records were burned and in most cases the old wills are no longer available, only the indices giving the names, residence and date of probate. Similarly most of the early church registers have been lost or destroyed and unless the family was a land owning family there is little help in trying to locate deeds and leases and other documents affecting lands.
It is my hope that each reader may be able to add something to the information collected here.
Good Hunting, Douglas Thurston Kee, Q.C. Chatham, Ontario, Canada.
The Kee family to be found in Canada and in the Untied States came originally from the Northern part of Ireland, mainly it would appear from the Counties of Tyrone, Donegal, Down and Londonderry. The earliest branch to use the name "Kee" were those of County Tyrone, but in 1733 a branch moved into the adjoining County of Donegal, and probably about the same time a branch moved into the County of Down. The name was originally McKee, and the family came originally from Scotland to Ireland as settlers under the Hamilton Family. They came, it would seem likely, from Galloway, and probably Kirkcudbright, and it seems most probable that they were kinsmen to Sir Patrick MacKee of Larg. In Ulster they appear to have settled at Tirkernovan, in the parish of Donagheady, near Strabane, and they were probably settled there from about 1610. They were Protestants and were farmers and their descendants were members of the Presbyterian or (in some branches) the Anglican church. At the time of the Wesleyan revival in Ireland some members of the family joined that church. Branches of the Kees from County Tyrone emigrated to the Untited States about 1782, and settled originally in Virginia. Other and later branches of the County of Tyrone family emigrated to New Brunswick in 1820, and to Upper Canada in 1830 and in 1834-1835. Branches from the Kees of County Down came out to Lower Canada in 1840, and to Ontario in 1870. Their Descendants are today very wide spread throughout Canada and the United States.
There is some difference of opinion as to the origin of the McKee or McKie family of Galloway in Scotland. That it was to be found there in very ancient times very definite. Most of the older authorities consider this family was a sept of the Clan Mackay.
The Clan Mackays are a very old and very numerous clan, and there are a great many branches, not all can be connected together. There are various theories as to their origin but it is generally stated that the clan is of Gaelic origin originating many generations ago from Ireland. In the Twelfth Century a large body of the clan left Ireland and went to Scotland to King William the Lion in his fight against the Danish pirates. These settled in far north of Scotland and from them came the powerful and numerous Clan Mackay, and in particular the Mackays of Strathnaver. In even earlier times members of the clan are said to have left Ireland to fight mercenary soldiers, and some of them are said to have fought with William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings. It is said that branches of the clan became Protestants at the first dawn of the Reformation and that members were driven from place to place during the many religious persecutions. There is an extremely comprehensive and interesting book called "The Book of Mackay", which was compiled by one Robert Mackay and printed at Edinburgh in 1829.
The Kee Branch had a prominent family in County Tyrone which seemed to have been decended from Robert Kee, a farmer living at Gortaleck in Donagheady parish around 1800. Many branches of the County Tyrone Kees emigrated to the United States and Canada. Some mentioned are: Kees of West Virginia (1782 Census Returns for Virginia were Charles, James, Robert, William and Sarah Kee and a John in Sussex), Kees of Maryland and West Virginia, New Brunswick, Canada, County Peel, Ontario, New Hamburg, Ontario and the Kees of Ormestown, Quebec, Canada and The Kees of County Donegal. (There exists some detail in the Book of McKee, Raymond Walter McKee some through correspondence to its author, some from the papers mentioned above by Thurston Kee).
Here is a site on the Surname Kee (includes its variants and some info on Irish beginnings)