1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Keppel, Sir Henry

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KEPPEL, SIR HENRY (1809–1904), British admiral, son of the 4th earl of Albemarle and of his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Lord de Clifford, was born on the 14th of June 1809, and entered the navy from the old naval academy of Portsmouth in 1822. His family connexions secured him rapid promotion, at a time when the rise of less fortunate officers was very slow. He became lieutenant in 1829 and commander in 1833. His first command in the “Childers” brig (16) was largely passed on the coast of Spain, which was then in the midst of the convulsions of the Carlist war. Captain Keppel had already made himself known as a good seaman. He was engaged with the squadron stationed on the west coast of Africa to suppress the slave trade. In 1837 he was promoted post captain, and appointed in 1841 to the “Dido” for service in China and against the Malay pirates, a service which he repeated in 1847, when in command of H.M.S. “Maeander.” The story of his two commands was told by himself in two publications, The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S.Didofor the Suppression of Piracy (1846), and in A Visit to the Indian Archipelago in H. M. S.Maeander ” (1853). The substance of these books was afterwards incorporated into his autobiography, which was published in 1899 under the title A Sailor’s Life under four Sovereigns. In 1853 he was appointed to the command of the “St Jean d’Acre” of 101 guns for service in the Crimean War. But he had no opportunity to distinguish himself at sea in that struggle. As commander of the naval brigade landed to co-operate in the siege of Sevastopol, he was more fortunate, and he had an honourable share in the latter days of the siege and reduction of the fortress. After the Crimean War he was again sent out to China, this time in command of the “Raleigh,” as commodore to serve under Sir M. Seymour. The “Raleigh” was lost on an uncharted rock near Hong-Kong, but three small vessels were named to act as her tenders, and Commodore Keppel commanded in them, and with the crew of the “Raleigh,” in the action with the Chinese at Fatshan Creek (June 1, 1857). He was honourably acquitted for the loss of the “Raleigh,” and was named to the command of the “Alligator,” which he held till his promotion to rear-admiral. For his share in the action at Fatshan Creek he was made K.C.B. The prevalence of peace gave Sir Henry Keppel no further chance of active service, but he held successive commands till his retirement from the active list in 1879, two years after he attained the rank of Admiral of the Fleet. He died at the age of 95 on the 17th of January 1904.