Browse the Robert Keayne sermon notes
Robert Keayne was born in Windsor, England, to John Keayne in 1595. Robert married Anne Mansfield in 1617 and they had a son, Benjamin Keayne, in 1619. Robert Keayne became a successful merchant in London where he also became a Puritan. He and his family moved to Boston in 1635. Once in Boston, he opened a tailoring shop on State Street and became a member of the First Church.
Robert Keayne was found guilty by Boston’s Puritan court of overcharging customers in 1637. He was fined for his transgression and at the time publicly confessed and asked forgiveness. At the time of his death, though, Keayne was defending himself and justifying his business practices through his will.
Robert Keayne became a successful merchant in Boston and took part in Boston’s, and Massachusetts’s, civic life. He helped to establish the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts, served as a Boston selectman, and became a representative to the Massachusetts General Court, where he was appointed as the House Speaker in 1646.
Robert Keayne died in 1658 and is buried in the King’s Chapel Burying Ground. His voluminous will, beyond justifying his business practices, also included a bequest of £2,500 to Boston to be used to help relieve the city’s poor, upgrade city infrastructure with an aqueduct, and build the city’s first meeting place, called the First Town-House. A condition of the bequest was that the bequest would become void if there were any legal actions taken against his estate. No legal actions were ever taken against the estate.