Keppel, Arnold Joost van (DNB00)


KEPPEL, ARNOLD JOOST van, first Earl of Albemarle (1669–1718), stated to be descended from Walter van Keppel (1179–1223), lord of Keppel in the Low Countries, was born in Holland in 1669. He was son of Oswald van Keppel and his wife Anna Geertruid van Lintelo. Nothing is known of his early history (Van der Aa, vol. x.) He came to England in 1688 with William of Orange as a page of honour, and after the accession of William and Mary was made a groom of the bedchamber and master of the robes. By letters patent of 10 Feb. 1696 he was created Baron Ashford of Ashford in the county of Kent, Viscount Bury of Bury in the county palatine of Lancaster, and Earl of Albemarle, the latter being a town and territory in the dukedom of Normandy (cf. Notes and Queries, 1st ser. ii. 466). He was a major-general 16 June 1697, when he was employed in the camp at Promelles. In 1698 he was made colonel of the first troop of British horse-guards, which he resigned to the Earl (Duke) of Portland ‘for a valuable consideration’ in 1710. He introduced the Polish envoy to King William at Loo, which seat William is doubtfully said to have presented to him. On 14 May 1700 he was made K.G. In 1701 he was appointed colonel of the first regiment of Swiss in the Dutch service, and some years later deputy-forester of Holland, colonel of the Dutch carabineers, and governor of Bois-le-Duc. He was William's constant companion, and shared the royal favour with Portland. During William's last illness Albemarle was sent to communicate his future plans to the deputy Heinsius at the Hague. On his deathbed William handed to Albemarle the keys of his cabinet and private drawers. ‘You know what to do with them,’ he said (Macaulay, v. 81–3; cf. Hist. MSS. Comm. 10th Rep. v. 193). After William's death (8 March 1702) Albemarle returned to his own country, took his seat as a member of the nobility in the States-general, and was made a general of horse in the Dutch army. William bequeathed him a sum of two hundred thousand guilders and the lordship of Breevorst. A Dutch manuscript in the British Museum shows that he instituted a suit against the Princess-dowager of Nassau in respect of the legacy (Egerton MS. 1708, f. 104). In 1705 he paid a visit to England, and, attending Queen Anne on a visit to Cambridge, is said to have received the honorary degree of doctor of laws. His name does not appear in ‘Graduati Cantabrigienses.’ Soon after his return home he left the Hague to join the army under Auverquerque. Marlborough, who appears to have been on the best terms with Albemarle, courteously expressed pleasure at his rejoining the army (Marlb. Desp. ii. 437). Albemarle was present at the forcing of the French lines at Tirlemont, at Ramillies in 1706, and at Oudenarde in 1708. During the siege of Lisle, Marlborough detached him with thirty squadrons to cover a convoy of guns and ammunition which the enemy were trying to intercept, a service he successfully accomplished. He was made governor of Tournay in 1709. He was employed at the siege of Bouchain, and commanded at the siege of Aire. In 1712 he commanded and was made prisoner at the battle of Denain, but was released, and entertained the Prince Eugène during the winter season in his house at the Hague. On the death of Queen Anne, Albemarle was sent to Hanover by the States-general to congratulate George I on his accession to the British throne, and afterwards received the new king and the Prince of Wales (George II) on the Dutch frontier. A resolution in favour of Albemarle's claim to a seat in the Dutch assembly in 1715 is in the British Museum Addit. MS. 15886, f. 242. He died 30 May 1718.

Bishop Burnet describes him as a cheerful young man, who had the art to please, but was so much taken up with his own pleasures that he could scarcely submit to the restraints of a court. He shared in all the recreations of William III, which brought him under the lash of Swift; but he was equally esteemed by Queen Anne and George I; and his handsome person and openhandedness, his obliging temper and winning manners, in marked contrast with the cold reserve of his rival Portland, rendered him a general favourite with the English people.

Albemarle married, in 1701, Geertruid Johanna Quirina van der Duyn, daughter of Adama van der Duyn, lord of St. Gravemoer, governor of Bergen-op-Zoom, and master of the buckhounds to William III. By her he had a son, William Anne [q. v.], who succeeded to the title, and a daughter.

[Van der Aa's Biog. Wordenboek der Nederlanden, Haarlem, 1862, vol. x. and Dutch authorities there given; Foster's Peerage, under ‘Albemarle;’ Doyle's Official Baronage; Macaulay's Hist. of England, particularly vol. v.; Marlborough Despatches, vols. ii–v.; Georgian Era, ii. 462. Collections of Albemarle's letters, &c., are noticed in Hist. MSS. Comm. Reps. ii. 188–9, iii. 193, viii. (i. ii.) x. (v.) 193.]

H. M. C.