Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Keppel, William Anne

KEPPEL, WILLIAM ANNE, second Earl of Albemarle (1702–1754), lieutenant-general, colonel Coldstream guards, son of Arnold Joost van Keppel, first earl [q. v.], and his wife Geertruid Johanna Quirina van der Duyn, was born at Whitehall on 5 June 1702; was baptised at the Chapel Royal, Queen Anne being his godmother; was educated in Holland; and on his return to England (as Viscount Bury) was appointed, 25 Aug. 1717, captain and lieutenant-colonel of the grenadier company of the Coldstream guards. In 1718 he succeeded to his father's title and estates, and in 1722, at his family seat in Guelderland, entertained the Bishop of Münster. In 1725 he was made K.B., in 1727 aide-de-camp to the king; and on 22 Nov. 1731 was appointed to the colonelcy of the 29th foot, then at Gibraltar, which he held until 7 May 1733, when he was appointed colonel of the third troop of horse-guards. He was made governor of Virginia in 1737, a brigadier-general July 1739, major-general February 1742, and was transferred to the colonelcy of the Coldstream guards in October 1744. He went to Flanders with Lord Stair in 1742, and was a general on the staff at Dettingen, where he had a horse shot under him, and at Fontenoy, where he was wounded. He commanded the first line of Cumberland's army at Culloden, and was again on the staff in Flanders, and present at the battle of Val. At the peace of 1748 he was sent as ambassador extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to Paris, and was appointed commander-in-chief in North Britain, and in 1749 was made K.G. The year after he was made groom of the stole and a privy councillor, and in 1752 was one of the lords justices during the king's absence in Hanover. In 1754 he was sent back to Paris to demand the liberation of some British subjects detained by the French in America, and died in Paris suddenly on 22 Dec. 1754. His remains were brought over and buried in the chapel in South Audley Street, London.

Albemarle married in 1723 Lady Anne Lennox, daughter of Charles, first duke of Richmond, and by her had eight sons and seven daughters. His sons George, the third earl, Augustus, viscount Keppel, the admiral, and Frederick, bishop of Exeter, are separately noticed.

Horace Walpole calls Albemarle ‘the spendthrift earl,’ and says that the British embassy in Paris was kept up for his benefit (Letters, ii. 331). Walpole adds that Albemarle had 90,000l. in the funds when he was married, and his wife brought him 25,000l. more, all of which, with the exception of about 14,000l., he squandered, without leaving a penny for his debts or for his children, legitimate and illegitimate, who were many (ib. ii. 420–1). George II conferred a pension of 1,200l. a year on his widow. His correspondence in 1732–54 is in Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 32687–33066.

[Collins's Peerage, 1812 ed. iii. 728 et seq.; Foster's Peerage, under ‘Albemarle;’ Doyle's Official Baronage; Mackinnon's Origin and History of the Coldstream Guards, London, 1832, vol. ii.; Campbell-Maclachlan's Order Book of William, duke of Cumberland, London, 1875; Georgian Era, ii. 49; Horace Walpole's Letters, vols. i. and ii.]

H. M. C.