Keppel, Augustus, 1st Viscount Keppel (1725 -1786)

Augustus Keppel was an officer of the Royal Navy during the Seven Years' War and the War of American Independence. During the final years of the latter conflict he served as First Lord of the Admiralty. He was the second son of Willem van Keppel, 2nd Earl of Albemarle, and Anne van Keppel, daughter of the 1st Duke of Richmond. He went to sea at the age of ten, and had already five years of service when he was appointed to HMS.Centurion, and sent with Lord Anson round the world in 1740-1744. In 1744, he was promoted to Commander and Post-captain of the sloop Wolf. He was actively employed throughout the War of the Austrian Succession, until peace was signed in 1748. During the Seven Years' War he saw constant service, acting as Commander-in-Chief, North American Station from 1751 to 1755. When Spain joined France in 1762 he was sent as second in command with Sir George Pocock in the British Expedition against Cuba, which took Havana. During this campaign his health suffered from the fever, which carried off an immense proportion of his forces. Promoted to Rear Admiral in October 1762, he became Commander-in-Chief Jamaica Station later in the year. He was a member of the Admiralty Board from July 1765 to November 1766 and was promoted to Vice Admiral on 24 October 1770. In the opening years of the American War of Independence, Keppel was a strong supporter of the Whigs, led by the Marquess of Rockingham and the Duke of Richmond. The Whigs were then excluded from power by George III. Keppel was appointed to command the Channel Fleet, the main fleet prepared against France in 1778. One of Keppel's subordinate admirals was Sir Hugh Palliser (1723–1796), a member of the Admiralty Board, a Member of Parliament, and in Keppel's opinion, responsible with his colleagues for the deplorable state of the Royal Navy. The First Battle of Ushant which Keppel fought against the French on 27 July 1778, ended badly. Reasons for the defeat included Keppel's own mis-management, but also the failure of Palliser to obey orders. Keppel became convinced that he had been deliberately betrayed. Though Keppel praised Palliser in his public despatches, he attacked him in private. Each side accused the other of deliberate treason. Both men were tried separately and were both acquitted in 1779. Until the fall of Lord North's ministry, Keppel was an opposition Member of Parliament: for Chichester from 1755 to 1761; for Windsor from 1761 to 1780; and finally for Surrey from 1780 to 1782. When North's government fell in 1782, Keppel was appointed as First Sea Lord, and was raised to the peerage as Viscount Keppel, of Elveden in the County of Suffolk. He was also sworn to the Privy Council. Keppel broke with his old political associates by resigning in protest against the Peace of Paris. He finally discredited himself by joining the Coalition Ministry formed by North and Fox, and with its fall, he disappeared from public life. Lord Keppel died unmarried on 2 October 1786. The peerage died with him.
Stamp(s) Stamp Information
Motto: Ne cede malis
Arms: Gules three escallops a crescent for difference
Coronet: Viscount
Heraldic Charges: escallops (3)