William Keswick (15 April 1834 – 9 March 1912) was a British Conservative politician and businessman, founder of the Keswick family, an influential shipping family in Hong Kong associated with Jardine Matheson Holdings.
Keswick was born in 1834 in the Scottish Lowlands. His grandmother, Jean Jardine Johnstone was an older sister of Dr. William Jardine, co-founder of Jardine Matheson. His father Thomas Keswick, from Dumfriesshire had married Jardine's niece and daughter of Jean, Margaret Johnstone, and entered the Jardine business. The company operated as merchant traders and had a major influence in the Opium Wars although the company stopped this trading in 1870 to pursue a broad range of trades including shipping, railways, textiles and property development.
William arrived in China and Hong Kong in 1855, the first of six generations of the Keswick family to be associated with Jardines. He established a Jardine Matheson office in Yokohama, Japan in 1859. He returned to Hong Kong to become a partner of the firm in 1862. He became managing partner or Tai-pan of the firm in 1874 until his departure in 1886. He left Hong Kong in 1886 to take control of Matheson & Co. in London responsible only to the firm's senior partner Sir Robert Jardine (1825–1905). He remained the firm's managing director until his death in 1912. Keswick also served as a director in the Hudson Bay Company.
He spent three spells on the Legislative and Executive Councils of Hong Kong between 1868 and 1887.
He was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Epsom at a by-election in 1899, and held the seat until his resignation on 8 March 1912 by the procedural device of accepting the post of Steward of the Manor of Northstead.
- "Keswick". Webster's Online Dictionary. Retrieved June 11, 2011.
- "W.H. Auden, Family Ghosts - Sir William Johnston Keswick". Stanford University. Retrieved June 11, 2011.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by William Keswick
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Thomas Townsend Bucknill
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