John Keep

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Rev. John Keep
Reverend Keep in 1859
Born 1781
Died 1870
Occupation Reverend
Known for Abolitionism

Rev. John Keep (20 April 1781 – 11 February 1870) was a trustee of Oberlin College from 1834 to 1870. Keep and William Dawes toured England in 1839 and 1840 gathering funds for Oberlin College in Ohio.[1] They both attended the 1840 anti-slavery convention in London.[2]

Early life and career[edit]

Keep was born, 20 April 1781, in Longmeadow, then a precinct of Springfield, Mass. Of a family of nine children he was the seventh. He graduated from Yale College in 1802. For a year after he was graduated he taught a school in Bethlehem, Conn., reading theology at the same time with the pastor, Rev. Dr. Azel Backus. He continued his theological course for another year with Rev. Asahel Hooker, of Goshen, Conn., and was licensed by Litchfield North Association, 11 June 1805. The next Sunday he preached in the Congregational Church in Blandford, Mass., and immediately received an invitation to settle, which he accepted. Here he remained for 16 years. In May, 1821, he removed to the Congregational Church in Homer, N. Y., and was installed November 7. In 1833 he resigned in consequence of disaffection caused by his sympathy with the "new measures" of revivalists. For the following year he preached in the Presbyterian Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and then organized the First Congregational Church in Ohio City, (now Cleveland, West Side,) and became its pastor.

Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from the Yale Obituary Record.

Oberlin College[edit]

In 1834, Keep was elected a Trustee of Oberlin College. Keep was renowned for championing the values that Oberlin College eventually became renowned for. He championed rights for women, black students and missionary zeal.[3] Keep was the person who cast the deciding vote in 1835 that allowed black students to enter Oberlin College in Ohio.[4]

Keep and William Dawes both undertook a fund raising mission in England in 1839 and 1840 to raise funds from sympathetic abolitionists. Oberlin College was one of the few multi-racial and co-educational colleges in America at that time.[4] The appeal was carefully written and supported by leading American abolitionist like William Lloyd Garrison, Henry Grew, Henry Brewster Stanton and Wendell Phillips.[5]

Isaac Crewdson (Beaconite) writer Samuel Jackman Prescod - Barbadian Journalist William Morgan from Birmingham William Forster - Quaker leader George Stacey - Quaker leader William Forster - Anti-Slavery ambassador John Burnet -Abolitionist Speaker William Knibb -Missionary to Jamaica Joseph Ketley from Guyana George Thompson - UK & US abolitionist J. Harfield Tredgold - British South African (secretary) Josiah Forster - Quaker leader Samuel Gurney - the Banker's Banker Sir John Eardley-Wilmot Dr Stephen Lushington - MP and Judge Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton James Gillespie Birney - American John Beaumont George Bradburn - Massachusetts politician George William Alexander - Banker and Treasurer Benjamin Godwin - Baptist activist Vice Admiral Moorson William Taylor William Taylor John Morrison GK Prince Josiah Conder Joseph Soul James Dean (abolitionist) John Keep - Ohio fund raiser Joseph Eaton Joseph Sturge - Organiser from Birmingham James Whitehorne Joseph Marriage George Bennett Richard Allen Stafford Allen William Leatham, banker William Beaumont Sir Edward Baines - Journalist Samuel Lucas Francis August Cox Abraham Beaumont Samuel Fox, Nottingham grocer Louis Celeste Lecesne Jonathan Backhouse Samuel Bowly William Dawes - Ohio fund raiser Robert Kaye Greville - Botanist Joseph Pease, railway pioneer W.T.Blair M.M. Isambert (sic) Mary Clarkson -Thomas Clarkson's daughter in law William Tatum Saxe Bannister - Pamphleteer Richard Davis Webb - Irish Nathaniel Colver - American not known John Cropper - Most generous Liverpudlian Thomas Scales William James William Wilson Thomas Swan Edward Steane from Camberwell William Brock Edward Baldwin Jonathon Miller Capt. Charles Stuart from Jamaica Sir John Jeremie - Judge Charles Stovel - Baptist Richard Peek, ex-Sheriff of London John Sturge Elon Galusha Cyrus Pitt Grosvenor Rev. Isaac Bass Henry Sterry Peter Clare -; sec. of Literary & Phil. Soc. Manchester J.H. Johnson Thomas Price Joseph Reynolds Samuel Wheeler William Boultbee Daniel O'Connell - "The Liberator" William Fairbank John Woodmark William Smeal from Glasgow James Carlile - Irish Minister and educationalist Rev. Dr. Thomas Binney Edward Barrett - Freed slave John Howard Hinton - Baptist minister John Angell James - clergyman Joseph Cooper Dr. Richard Robert Madden - Irish Thomas Bulley Isaac Hodgson Edward Smith Sir John Bowring - diplomat and linguist John Ellis C. Edwards Lester - American writer Tapper Cadbury - Businessman not known Thomas Pinches David Turnbull - Cuban link Edward Adey Richard Barrett John Steer Henry Tuckett James Mott - American on honeymoon Robert Forster (brother of William and Josiah) Richard Rathbone John Birt Wendell Phillips - American M. L'Instant from Haiti Henry Stanton - American Prof William Adam Mrs Elizabeth Tredgold - British South African T.M. McDonnell Mrs John Beaumont Anne Knight - Feminist Elizabeth Pease - Suffragist Jacob Post - Religious writer Anne Isabella, Lady Byron - mathematician and estranged wife Amelia Opie - Novelist and poet Mrs Rawson - Sheffield campaigner Thomas Clarkson's grandson Thomas Clarkson Thomas Morgan Thomas Clarkson - main speaker George Head Head - Banker from Carlisle William Allen John Scoble Henry Beckford - emancipated slave and abolitionist Use your cursor to explore (or Click "i" to enlarge)
Many of the abolitionists mentioned in this article can be found in this painting by Benjamin Robert Haydon. Keep is obscured but was at the Anti-Slavery Convention and is credited in the key to the painting.[2] Move your cursor to identify him or click icon to enlarge

Both Keep and Dawes are credited with helping to start the collection of African Americana at Oberlin College which inspired other writers.[6] Keep appears in the large painting by Benjamin Robert Haydon which is on permanent display at London's National portrait gallery although he is obscured by other convention attendees.[2] The people that Keep corresponded with, John Scoble, Joseph Sturge and George Thompson, and who welcomed them in London are clearly in the picture.

The Keep Cooperative, once the home of John Keep.

When Keep returned to Oberlin they had raised $30,000.[5] Keep became the "father" to the girls at the college who lived at his house. Keep died in 1870 and in 1889 the house was bought by the college. His house was used as a dormitory for female "indigent" students until it was rebuilt in 1912. The rebuilding was funded by Keep's granddaughter who commissioned Normand Patton to design Keep Cottage to sleep 80 women with room for 110 to dine. In 1966 the rules were changed to allow co-educational dormitories.[3]


  1. ^ The culture of English antislavery, 1780-1860, David Turley, p192, 1991, ISBN 0-415-02008-5, accessed April 2009
  2. ^ a b c The Anti-Slavery Society Convention, 1840, Benjamin Robert Haydon, accessed April 2009 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "npg" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  3. ^ a b Blodgett, Geoffrey (1985). Oberlin architecture, college and town: a guide to its social history p.22. p. 239. 
  4. ^ a b Oberlin Digital Collections, accessed April 2009
  5. ^ a b Weld, Theodore Dwight; et al. "An Appeal on Behalf of the Oberlin Institute In Aid of the Abolition of Slavery, In the United States of America by Theodore Dwight Weld". Oberlin College. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  6. ^ Bibliophiles and Collectors of African Americana, Charles L. Bronson, accessed April 2009

External links[edit]