Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Keppel, Frederick

KEPPEL, FREDERICK (1729–1777), bishop of Exeter, fourth son of William Anne Keppel, second earl of Albemarle [q. v.], was born on 19 Jan. 1728–9. He was admitted at Westminster School in 1743, and matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, on 26 June 1747, graduating B.A. in 1752, M.A. in 1754, and D.D., by diploma, on 19 Oct. 1762. Having been ordained in the English church, he soon obtained ample preferment. He acted as chaplain in ordinary to George II and III, and from 19 April 1754 to 1762 enjoyed a canonry at Windsor. His father-in-law, Sir Edward Walpole, wrote to Pitt in August 1761, asking whether it was ‘agreeable to him to make Mr. Keppel a bishop at this juncture,’ and although this application was unsuccessful he was consecrated bishop of Exeter on 7 Nov. 1762, when it was rumoured that the preferment was bestowed upon him on account of the capture of Havana by his brother; but Horace Walpole says that the mitre was promised to him the day before the news came. With this see he held in commendam the archdeaconry of Exeter and a prebendal stall in that cathedral, and he also obtained the promise of translation to the more lucrative bishopric of Salisbury on the next vacancy. He refused the deanery of Exeter in 1763, but relinquished this promise of the see of Salisbury for the deanery of Windsor, which became vacant first, and to it he was appointed, with the registrarship of the order of the Garter, in 1765, the general comment being that ‘all things are crowded into three or four people's pockets.’ He spent large sums of money in improving the episcopal palace at Exeter and in relieving the needs of the poorer clergy in his diocese. Keppel enjoyed good living, and his portrait, a half-length, in the palace at Exeter shows him as a jovial man with homely features. Polwhele says that he conferred favours in the most handsome manner, and it is to his credit that Jonathan Toup the philologist [q. v.] was among those whom he promoted. After a long illness he died at the deanery, Windsor, on 27 Dec. 1777, and was buried in St. George's Chapel, Windsor. A post-mortem examination showed that he died from dropsy in the stomach. He married, on 13 Sept. 1758, Laura, eldest natural daughter of Sir Edward Walpole, who left her in 1784 Lacy House, Isleworth, and most of his fortune. The issue was Frederick Keppel of Lexham Hall, Norfolk, who died in 1830, and three daughters.

Keppel contributed a set of verses to his university's collection of poems on the death of the Prince of Wales in 1751, and published two sermons. He was a whig, of sufficient courage in preaching before the king in March 1776 to recommend a peace with the American colonies, and on his deathbed he ‘thanked God that he had not given one vote for shedding American blood.’

[Walpole's Letters (Cunningham), iii. 155, iv. 38, 40, vii. 18, viii. 372, 450, 487; Walpole's Journal, 1771–83, ii. 27–8, 175; Chatham Corresp. ii. 134–5; Corresp. of George III and Lord North, ii. 61; Admiral Keppel's Life, i. 424, ii. 7; Grenville Papers, iii. 91; Oliver's Bishops of Exeter, pp. 163, 273; Gent. Mag. 1758 p. 452, 1778 p. 43; Trans. Devon. Assoc. xvi. 130; Polwhele's Devon, i. 314; Carthew's Launditch, pt. iii. p. 251; Aungier's Isleworth, p. 232; Welch's Alumni Westmon. ed. Phillimore, pp. 327, 340, 341; Le Neve's Fasti; Foster's Alumni Oxon.]

W. P. C.