William Keppel, 7th Earl of Albemarle

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The Right Honourable
The Earl of Albemarle
William Keppel, 7th Earl of Albemarle.png
Viscount Bury, by Carlo Pellegrini, 1875.
Under-Secretary of State for War
In office
4 March 1878 – 21 April 1880
Monarch Victoria
Prime Minister The Earl of Beaconsfield
Preceded by The Earl Cadogan
Succeeded by The Earl of Morley
In office
26 June 1885 – 28 June 1886
Monarch Victoria
Prime Minister The Marquess of Salisbury
Preceded by The Earl of Morley
Succeeded by The Lord Sandhurst
Personal details
Born William Coutts Keppel
15 April 1832
London, England
Died 28 August 1894(1894-08-28) (aged 62)
Nationality British
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) Sophia MacNab
Children Arnold Keppel, 8th Earl of Albemarle
Hon. Gertrude Keppel
Lady Theodora Davidson
Hon. Sir Derek Keppel
Lady Hilda Keppel
Hon. George Keppel
Lady Leopoldina Keppel
Lady Susan Townley
Lady Mary Tagart
Florence Boyle, Countess of Cork
Parents George Keppel, 6th Earl of Albemarle
Susan Coutts Trotter

William Coutts Keppel, 7th Earl of Albemarle, KCMG, PC (15 April 1832 – 28 August 1894), styled Viscount Bury between 1851 and 1891, was a British soldier and politician. He served in the British Army before entering parliament in 1857. Initially a Liberal, he served as Treasurer of the Household between 1859 and 1866 in the Liberal administrations headed by Lord Palmerston and Lord Russell. He later switched to the Conservatives and held office as Under-Secretary of State for War under Lord Beaconsfield between 1878 and 1880 and under Lord Salisbury between 1885 and 1886.

Background and education[edit]

Keppel was born in London, England, the only son of General George Keppel, 6th Earl of Albemarle, by his wife Susan Coutts Trotter, daughter of Sir Coutts Trotter, 1st Baronet. He was educated at Eton. He became known by the courtesy title Viscount Bury when his father succeeded in the earldom of Albemarle in 1851.[1]

Military career[edit]

Keppel became an ensign and lieutenant in the 43rd (Regiment of) Foot in 1843, a lieutenant in the Scots Guards in 1848 and an aide-de-camp to Lord Frederick FitzClarence in India in 1853. From 1854 until 1856, he was Superintendent of Indian Affairs in Canada.[1]

He raised the 21st Middlesex Rifles Volunteer Corps (Civil Service Rifles) in 1860.

Political career[edit]

Initially a Liberal, Lord Bury was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Norwich in 1857,[2] and later represented Wick Burghs from 1860 to 1865[3] and Berwick-upon-Tweed from 1868 to 1874.[4] In 1859 he was sworn of the Privy Council[5] and appointed Treasurer of the Household under Lord Palmerston,[6] a post he held until 1866, the last year under the premiership of Lord Russell.[7] In 1870 he was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George.[8] On 6 September 1876 he was summoned to the House of Lords through a writ of acceleration in his father's barony of Ashford.[9]

Two years later Lord Bury was appointed Under-Secretary of State for War in Lord Beaconsfield's Conservative administration, which he remained until the government fell in 1880. In 1881, he became a Volunteer Aide-de-Camp to the Queen. He was once again Under-Secretary of State for War from 1885 to 1886 under Lord Salisbury. He wrote a history of the American colonization called Exodus of the Western Nations (1865), A Report on the Condition of the Indians of British North America, and was the principal author, with George Lacy Hillier, of the Cycling volume of the Badminton Library (1887). In 1891 he succeeded his father in the earldom.[1]


The Right Honourable Sophia Countess of Albemarle

Lord Albemarle married Sophia Mary MacNab, a descendant of Loyalist Ephraim Jones and daughter of Sir Allan Napier MacNab, a Joint Premier of the Province of Canada, at Dundurn Castle, Hamilton, Canada, on 15 November 1855. [10] They had ten children:

  • Arnold Keppel, 8th Earl of Albemarle (1858–1942).
  • Hon. Gertrude Mary Keppel (9 November 1859 – 7 April 1860).
  • Lady Theodora Keppel (c. 1861 – 30 October 1945), married Colonel Leslie Davidson and had issue.
  • Hon. Sir Derek William George Keppel (1863–1944).
  • Lady Hilda Mary Keppel (29 August 1864 – 7 October 1955), unmarried.
  • Lieutenant-Colonel Hon. George Keppel (1865–1947), husband of the royal mistress Alice Keppel.
  • Lady Leopoldina Olivia Keppel (14 November 1866 – 9 August 1948), a nun.
  • Lady Susan Mary Keppel (5 May 1868 – 26 June 1953), married Sir Walter Townley in 1896.
  • Lady Mary Stuart Keppel (15 May 1869 – 21 September 1906), married Sir Harold Tagart in 1900.
  • Lady Florence Cecilia Keppel (24 February 1871 – 30 June 1963), married William Boyle, 12th Earl of Cork in 1902.

Lord Albemarle was received into the Roman Catholic Church on Easter Sunday, 13 April 1879. He died in August 1894, aged 62, of paralysis, and was buried at Quidenham in Norfolk. His eldest son Arnold succeeded in the earldom.

Lord Albemarle's third son George was the husband of Alice Keppel, a long-time mistress of King Edward VII. He is also the great-great-grandfather of the current Earl, Rufus Keppel, 10th Earl of Albemarle, and of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and the modern-day television celebrity and Who Wants to be a Millionaire? champion Judith Keppel. The Countess of Albemarle died in April 1917, aged 84.[1]


External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Edward Warner
Sir Samuel Bignold
Member of Parliament for Norwich
With: Henry William Schneider
Succeeded by
Edward Warner
Sir William Russell, Bt
Preceded by
Samuel Laing
Member of Parliament for Wick Burghs
Succeeded by
Samuel Laing
Preceded by
Dudley Marjoribanks
Alexander Mitchell
Member of Parliament for Berwick-upon-Tweed
With: John Stapleton
Succeeded by
Dudley Marjoribanks
David Milne Home
Political offices
Preceded by
Lord Claud Hamilton
Treasurer of the Household
Succeeded by
Lord Otho FitzGerald
Preceded by
The Earl Cadogan
Under-Secretary of State for War
Succeeded by
The Earl of Morley
Preceded by
The Earl of Morley
Under-Secretary of State for War
Succeeded by
The Lord Sandhurst
Peerage of England
Preceded by
George Keppel
Earl of Albemarle
Succeeded by
Arnold Keppel
Baron Ashford
(writ of acceleration)