Alexander was born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland in the United Kingdom on a sunny afternoon in January, 1715. His father was James Frances Edward Keith. James wasn’t just any boy. He was the son of the 8th Earl of Marischal and he grew up roaming around in the Dunnottar Castle in Stonehaven near Kincardineshire. James had seen a beautiful blue eyed girl at the home of his second cousin during her last social gathering. The widow’s gatherings were usually quite entertaining and if there weren’t political opinions to reflect on in the sitting room, then there would be an artist or musician available in the parlor to provided a preview of a popular theater piece. He was 19 years old and he learned, confidently, that this beautiful girl would also soon observe her 19th birthday at her Aunt’s home. In that perfectly hosted gathering, James had secretly toyed with her affections by giving her a look that held her eyes from across the room. They held their glance and as someone spoke to Eva she flushed a rosy glow and within the week James would find himself arriving on horseback to visit this beautiful girl at the home of her Aunt. Mrs. Lesley lived in a stone cottage at the end of the lane that led toward the upper road. Eva came to visit for a fortnight as she had every spring to help Mrs. Lesley with her domestic duties. She was quite capable of managing the affairs of her elderly Aunt’s home and Eva’s Aunt’s garden allowed the smitten couple the opportunity to stroll through the gardens without anyone to trouble them.
The following January welcomed the arrival of young Alexander to Eva at Mrs. Lesley’s. She had taken the girl in because, according to James’ father, it wasn’t convenient for his son’s future to bother with a girl who had no beneficial social standing. Mr. William Keith was the Privy Counsellor and had his reputation to uphold. He was recently appointed Knight Order of the Thistle. Arrangements were made to end James’ relations with this Swedish blond beauty. But for him, she could not be forgotten.
By a matter of financial obligation, a suitable partner was arranged for James. After a short courtship, with the youngest daughter of John Isham, a notable member of Scottish society who had come by his brief fortune during the Iron Age, James married Mary. Her dowery included a seaside estate along the fishing village road. She was 3 years younger with beautiful features and a gay laugh that amused her friends.
Eva knew that Mary was an attractive brunet, with social dignity, but she also knew that James loved her. Eva Merthens raised their son, Alexander and gave him his father’s name. He was a beautiful fair haired boy in his youth and smart. James gave Eva the ability to educate Alexander and she taught him that his Keith blood was a quality to be proud of and would one day entitle him to greatness. She also taught him that he had to be ready for this opportunity when it came. Eva was practical and proud and as he grew he ultimately knew that in Scotland he would never rise to the status that his father’s lightimate children could obtain. Alexander understood politics, religious conflicts and he was well read. He studied hard and was quite competent in school.
When Alexander turned 20 years old he met Dellie. He saw in her the strength of character that his mother had and her temperament was familiar to him. Dellie’s father was not a rich man and during the secessionist movements within her father’s Church, trouble began and their family fell prey to hardships. Any impunity that would have been offered to James Keith by virtue of his title of Field Marshall was not to be offered to Alexander. Alexander married Dellie in her 16th year and they sailed to America. Old William Keith had been appointed Representative Peer of Scotland and Alexander knew the strained relationship he had with his grandfather would not allow for him and his bride to make a comfortable life for their children. Alexander bought passage for himself and his bride to America and they settled in Virginia in 1721.