Kemp, Thomas Read (DNB00)

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KEMP, THOMAS READ (1781?–1844), founder of Kemp Town, was the only son of Thomas Kemp of Lewes Castle and Hurstmonceaux Park, M.P. for Lewes, by his wife Ann, daughter and heiress of Henry Read of Brookland. He was educated at St. John's College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. 1805, and M.A. 1810. At a by-election in May 1811 Kemp was returned to the House of Commons in the whig interest for the borough of Lewes. He was re-elected at the general election in October 1812, but in March 1816 retired from parliament. Having seceded from the church of England with his brother-in-law, the Rev. George Baring, and others, he became a preacher. Their sect, however, after attracting some notoriety, fell to pieces. In June 1826 Kemp was again elected for Lewes, and continued to represent that borough until his final retirement from parliament in April 1837. He very rarely took any part in the debates. Kemp sold the castles of Lewes and Hurstmonceaux, and bought Dale Park, near Arundel, which he afterwards resold. He had a passion for building. He built a large house in the Montpelier Road, Brighton, which he called ‘The Temple,’ and another at the south-west corner of Belgrave Square, London, which was afterwards the residence of General Lord Hill. His great-uncle, John Kemp, in 1770 purchased one moiety of the manor of Brighthelmstone for 300l. This became his property on his father's death in May 1811, and about 1820 he commenced the building speculation to the east of Brighton known as Kemp Town, by which the whole of his large fortune was completely absorbed. He died suddenly at Paris on 20 Dec. 1844, aged 63. Kemp married, first, on 12 July 1806, Frances, fourth daughter of Sir Francis Baring, bart., a sister of Alexander, first baron Ashburton, by whom he had nine children. He married, secondly, on 26 Nov. 1832, Frances Margaretta, only daughter of Charles Watkin John Shakerley of Somerford Park, Cheshire, and widow of Vigors Hervey of Killiane Castle, co. Wexford, by whom he had one son, Frederick Shakerley Kemp. His second wife died at Tunbridge Wells on 28 Aug. 1860. Two portraits of Kemp are referred to in Evans's ‘Catalogue.’

[Lower's Worthies of Sussex, 1865, p. 253; Ann. Reg. 1845 App. to Chron. p. 322, 1860 App. to Chron. p. 454; Gent. Mag. 1806 vol. lxxvi. pt. ii. p. 675, 1845 new ser. xxiii. 441–3; Grad. Cantabr. 1856, p. 220; Official Return of Lists of Members of Parl. pt. ii. pp. 250, 265, 307, 321, 324, 345, 357; Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 28614.]

G. F. R. B.