Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Key, John

KEY, Sir JOHN (1794–1858), lord mayor of London, eldest son of John Key of Denmark Hill, Surrey, was born on 16 Aug. 1794. He entered his father's business, that of a wholesale stationer, about 1818. The firm had been established in the last century, and then traded as Key Brothers & Son, at 30 Abchurch Lane. After several changes of abode the business was finally removed to 97 and 103 Newgate Street. Key was elected alderman for the ward of Langbourn on 8 April 1823, and served the office of sheriff of London and Middlesex in the ensuing year. He served the office of master of the Stationers' Company in 1830, and in the same year was elected lord mayor. He was one of the leading supporters of the Reform Bill in the city, and received the unusual honour of re-election to the mayoralty in the following year. During his second mayoralty, when William IV and Queen Adelaide had arranged to visit the city in order to open new London Bridge, Key suffered some loss of popularity by advising the king and his ministers not to come to the city on account of the supposed unpopularity of the Duke of Wellington. The visit passed off satisfactorily, and Key was created a baronet by William IV on 17 Aug. 1831. He was elected member of parliament for the city in 1833. He removed in 1851 from Langbourn to the ward of Bridge Without, which he represented until 1853. In that year he was elected chamberlain of London after a poll, his opponent being Benjamin Scott [q. v.], who afterwards succeeded him in that office.

Key died on 15 July 1858, leaving by his wife Charlotte, youngest daughter of Francis Green, esq., of Dorking, Surrey, a son, Sir Kingsmill Key, who succeeded him in the baronetcy, and three daughters.

[Records of the Corporation of London; City Press, 1858; Orridge's Citizens of London and their Rulers; Foster's Peerage and Baronetage; Kent's and Post Office London Directories.]

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