Craven, Keppel Richard (DNB00)

CRAVEN, KEPPEL RICHARD (1779–1851), traveller, third and youngest son of William Craven, sixth baron Craven, by Elizabeth Berkeley, younger daughter of Augustus Berkeley, fourth earl of Berkeley, was born on 1 June 1779. When he was about three years old, his father permanently separated from his wife, and Lady Craven shortly afterwards going to France was allowed to take Keppel with her, but it was under a promise to return him to his father when he was eight years of age. This condition was not fulfilled, but his mother placed him at Harrow School under a feigned name, where, however, he was soon recognised by his likeness to her, and henceforth was called by his family name. His father dying 27 Sept. 1791, his mother in the following month married Christian Frederick Charles Alexander, margrave of Brandenburg, Anspach, and Baireuth [see Anspach, Elizabeth]. Craven was not by these events permanently estranged from his mother; on the contrary, after the margrave's decease in 1805 he went to reside with her at Naples. In 1814 he accepted the post of one of the chamberlains to the Princess of Wales, without receiving any emolument; but this occupation lasted for a short time only, until the princess departed for Geneva. Six years afterwards he was called on to give evidence at the trial of the unfortunate princess, when he stated that he was in her service for six months, during which time he never saw any impropriety in her conduct either at Milan or Naples, or improper familiarity on the part of Bergamo (Dolby, Parliamentary Register, 1820, pp. 1269–76).

He published in 1821 ‘A Tour through the Southern Provinces of the Kingdom of Naples,’ and in 1838 ‘Excursions in the Abruzzi and Northern Provinces of Naples,’ in 2 vols. The former of these two works is embellished with views from his own sketches, and the latter with a smaller number from drawings by W. Westall, A.R.A. Having received a considerable addition to his fortune, he in 1834 purchased a large convent in the mountains near Salerno, which he fitted up as a residence, and there received his visitors with much hospitality. He was for many years the intimate friend and inseparable companion of Sir William Gell; he shared his own prosperity with his less fortunate comrade, cheered him when in sickness, and attended him with unwearying kindness, until Gell's death in 1836. Another of his highly esteemed acquaintances was Lady Blessington, who arrived in Naples in July 1823; with her he afterwards kept up a correspondence, and some of the letters which he addressed to that lady are given in her ‘Life’ by Madden. He died at Naples 24 June 1851, aged 72, being the last of a triumvirate of English literati, scholars, and gentlemen who resided there for many years in the closest bonds of friendship, namely, Sir William Drummond, Sir William Gell, and the Hon. K. R. Craven. Besides the two works already mentioned, there was published in London in 1825 a book entitled ‘Italian Scenes: a Series of interesting Delineations of Remarkable Views and of Celebrated Remains of Antiquity. Chiefly sketched by the Hon. K. Craven.’

[Gent. Mag. October 1851, pp. 428–9; Madden's Life of Countess of Blessington (1855), i. 113, ii. 124–39; Memoirs of the Margravine of Anspach (1826), i. 72, 85, 364, ii. 74, 84, 95, 173, with portrait as a boy.]

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