Admiral of the Fleet Sir Henry Keppel, GCB, OM (14 June 1809 – 17 January 1904) was a British admiral and son of the 4th Earl of Albemarle. “A man might achieve great legislative results, do great deeds, and be a most useful member of society, but unless he possessed the gift of personality he would be to the general public as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.” Henry Keppel undoubtedly possessed that gift.
Below is the fourth installment in our series of a selection of his memoirs, others will follow over the coming weeks.
CHAPTER IV – Memoirs of Sir Henry Keppel – 1838
In June  Keppel, sound in health and spirits, had just returned to England from the West Coast of Africa, and was taking part in all the riotous proceedings of the jeunesse doree of those days: Epsom, Ascot, and Goodwood, dinners at Knightsbridge Barracks, suppers at Limmer’s, and rows with watchmen in the streets, as was then the fashion.
These last amusements made him acquainted with the cells of a police court, and drew from him fines which he could ill afford to pay. But this was the shady side of his life; on the other, he attended balls at Prince Esterhazy’s and at Buckingham Palace, and was present at the Coronation of Queen Victoria on June 28, when Mr. Coke, who had married his sister, was made Earl of Leicester.
Many were the people of note that Keppel came across during his stay in London. At Lady Lansdowne’s ball to the Foreign Ambassadors who had come over to take part in the Coronation ceremonies he saw Marshal Soult, who was now the idol of the public, and the Duke of Wellington talking together.
And on another night he was in attendance on the Duke of Sussex at a magnificent ball given by Marshal Soult. All this dissipation was brought to a happy conclusion at St. George’s, Hanover Square, where he was married, on February 25, , to Miss Kate Crosbie.
His elder brother Lord Albemarle was present at Buckingham Palace during the birth of the Princess Royal on November 21, , and shortly afterwards Harry accompanied him to Buckingham Palace, where he partook of cake and caudle, as was then the fashion.
Soon after this he went with his young wife to Baden-Baden, where he met an unknown man in the Kursaal, who insisted on shaking hands with him, saying he looked so like one of the family. This unknown man turned out to be his eldest brother, Lord Bury, whom he had not seen for twelve years.
Excerpt from Sir Henry Keppel – Admiral of the Fleet – by Sir Algernon Edward West – 1905
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