Keane, John (DNB00)

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KEANE, JOHN, first Lord Keane (1781–1844), lieutenant-general, born 6 Feb. 1781, was second of the three sons of John Keane (1757–1829) of Belmont, co. Waterford (who was made a baronet in 1801 and was M.P. for Bangor and Youghal until 1806), by his first wife, Sarah, daughter of Richard Kelly of Lismore in the same county. On 12 Nov. 1794 he was appointed captain in a new regiment just raised on the Beresford estates (124th foot?), which was broken up immediately afterwards, when Keane was put on half-pay. In November 1799 he was brought on full pay in the 44th foot, which he joined at Gibraltar and accompanied to Egypt, where he served as aide-de-camp to Lord Cavan [see Lambart, Richard Ford William, seventh Earl of Cavan]. Keane obtained a majority in the 60th royal Americans in May 1802, but continued on the staff in Egypt and Malta until 1803. On 20 Aug. 1803 he became lieutenant-colonel 13th foot, joined the regiment at Gibraltar early in 1804, returned home with it in 1805, and, after serving several years in Ireland, accompanied the regiment to Bermuda as junior lieutenant-colonel, and commanded it at the reduction of Martinique in 1809. He became a brevet-colonel 1 Jan. 1812, and the same year was transferred to the 5th or jäger battalion 60th foot. In April 1813 he joined Wellington's army, and was at the head of a brigade of the third division at Vittoria, the Pyrenees, Nivelle, the Nive, Vic Bigorre, and Toulouse. He became a major-general 4 June 1814, was made K.C.B. 2 Jan. 1815, and received a gold cross with two clasps for Martinique, Vittoria, the Pyrenees, Nivelle, the Nive, and Toulouse. Keane, whom Gleig notices as ‘a young and dashing officer,’ was one of those selected for the expeditionary force proceeding from the Garonne to America, but remained unemployed (Wellington's Supplementary Desp. ix. 136). Later he was sent out to Jamaica with some reinforcements. In command of these and the troops which had been employed under General Ross at Bladensburg and Washington he embarked on board the fleet under command of Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane [see Cochrane, Alexander Forrester Inglis] for an attack on New Orleans. Keane's force effected a landing about nine miles from New Orleans in December 1814, and repulsed an American attack on his position. On 25 Dec. he was superseded by the arrival of Generals Sir Edward Pakenham and Samuel Gibbs with additional troops. Keane commanded a brigade in the subsequent operations, and was severely wounded in two places while leading the left column in the unsuccessful attempt on New Orleans on 8 Jan. 1815. Keane's private journal of the operations, which he forwarded to the Duke of Wellington, together with a letter from General Andrew Jackson to the American secretary at war, are published in ‘Wellington's Supplementary Despatches’ (x. 394–400). At the peace Keane returned home with the troops which had been employed under Sir John Lambert at Fort Bowyer (or Boya), Louisiana, and in July 1815 joined the Duke of Wellington in Paris. In November 1815 he was appointed to command the 9th British infantry brigade of the army of occupation in France (ib. xi. 250), from which Wellington was obliged to remove him early in 1817 (ib. xi. 663). Keane commanded the troops in Jamaica from 1823 to 1830, and during that time administered the civil government as well for the space of a year and a half. He became a lieutenant-general on 22 July 1830, and was made colonel of the 68th light infantry in 1831.

In 1833 Keane was appointed commander-in-chief at Bombay in succession to Sir Colin Halkett. He took up the command on 2 July 1834, and held it till October 1839. In 1838, in view of the Persian siege of Herat, a large force of European and native troops had been collected on the north-west frontier, designated the ‘Army of the Indus,’ with Sir Henry Fane [q. v.], then commander-in-chief in India, at its head. In October 1838 the Bombay government was ordered to send a division under Keane into Scinde to coerce the ameers and to co-operate with Fane. The division landed at Vikkur, on the coast of Scinde, where it was delayed until the end of December owing to want of camels and boats. Encountering many difficulties, it advanced to Hyderabad and thence towards Roree, near Shikarpore, to meet the Bengal column, arriving at Lukkee on 16 Feb. 1839. The views of the government respecting Herat having then changed, the army of the Indus was reduced, and, to the regret of the whole force, Fane was replaced by Keane, who assumed command of the Bengal and Bombay columns advancing into Afghanistan, at Quetta, on 6 April 1839. At Candahar, on 8 May, in the presence of Macnaghten, the British envoy, Keane, and the British force, the Shah Soojah was placed on the throne with extraordinary pomp and state. From Candahar the army advanced towards Cabul, arriving on 20 July before Ghuznee. Keane, whose operations had been marked by a reckless expenditure of transport animals (Sir Charles Napier, Life and Opinions, ii. 359), had left his battering-train behind, and when it became necessary to take the place at all risks, recourse was had to the expedient of blowing open one of the gates. The famous fortress was carried on 23 July 1839. The operations concluded with the occupation of Cabul on 7 Aug. following. In October 1839 the army of the Indus was broken up, and, a force being left in Afghanistan, the columns marched for their respective presidencies, Keane leading back the Bengal column by way of Lahore. On 12 Aug. 1839 he was made G.C.B., and on 19 Dec. the same year was raised to the peerage by the title of Baron Keane of Ghuznee and of Cappoquin, co. Waterford, with a pension of 2,000l. a year for his own and two succeeding lives, and was granted an honourable augmentation to his family arms. He also received the thanks of parliament and of the court of directors of the East India Company.

As an Indian commander Keane was the subject of much adverse criticism, and possibly of some misrepresentation. He has been censured for his high-handed treatment of the ameers of Scinde, and was called ‘the fortunate youth,’ as having owed more to good luck than to ability: he was accused of undervaluing the company's troops, and of having failed to do justice to distinguished subordinates. Keane, who was a lieutenant-general, G.C.H., colonel of 43rd light infantry, died at Burton Lodge, Hampshire, of dropsy on 26 Aug. 1844, aged 63. He married: first, 10 Aug. 1806, Grace, second daughter of General Sir John Smith, royal artillery, by whom he had four sons and two daughters; she died 14 Jan. 1838. Secondly, in August 1840, Charlotte Maria, youngest daughter of Colonel Boland; she remarried in 1847 William Pigott, J.P., D.L., of Dullingham, Cambridgeshire.

[Foster's Peerage, under ‘Keane;’ Foster's Baronetage, 1882, under ‘Keane of Derriheen House, Cappoquin,’ and ‘Pigott, Sir Robert;’ Philippart's Royal Military Calendar, 1820, iii. 376; Carter's Hist. Rec. 13th Light Infantry; Wellington's Supplementary Despatches, viii. 369, which is the only Peninsular notice of Keane in any of Wellington's despatches; ib. vols. ix. x. xi. ut supra; Gleig's British Army at Washington and New Orleans (London, 1847); Kaye's Hist. of the First Afghan War (London, 3rd ed. 1884), vols. i. ii., and the narratives referred to therein; W. H. Dennie's Narrative of Campaigns in Scinde, Beloochistan, and Afghanistan (Dublin, 1843); Goldsmid's Life of Outram (London, 1887), which contains nothing of interest, although Outram was Keane's aide-de-camp; obituary notice in Times, 1844; Gent. Mag. new ser. xxii. 426, (will) 658.]

H. M. C.