Keppel, William Coutts (DNB01)

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KEPPEL, WILLIAM COUTTS, seventh Earl of Albemarle and Viscount Bury (1832–1894), born in London on 15 April 1832, was eldest son of George Thomas Keppel, sixth earl of Albemarle [q. v.], by his wife Susan, third daughter of Sir Coutts Trotter, bart. Throughout the greater part of his life he was known as Viscount Bury, his father's second title. He was educated at Eton, and in 1843, when eleven years old, was gazetted ensign and lieutenant in the forty-third regiment. In 1849 he became lieutenant in the Scots guards, and during 1850-1 he was private secretary to Lord John Russell. In 1852 he went out to India as aide-de-camp to Lord Frederick Fitzclarence, commander-in-chief at Bombay. In the following year he came home on sick leave, retired from the army, and in December 1854 went out to Canada as superintendent of Indian affairs for Canada. He utilised the knowledge gained in Canada in his ‘Exodus of the Western Nations’ (London, 1865, 2 vols. 8vo). This is really a history of North America, with particular reference to Canada. Bury believed that the ultimate separation of England and Canada was inevitable, and was anxious that the separation, when it came, should be effected peaceably.

After his return to England he was, on 30 March 1857, elected to parliament for Norwich in the liberal interest. He was re-elected on 29 April 1859, and again on 28 June following on his appointment by Lord Palmerston to the post of treasurer of the household. His election was, however, declared void, and on 1 Dec. 1860 he was returned for Wick burghs. He stood for Dover at the general election of 1865, but was defeated, and he ceased to be treasurer of the household in 1866, when the conservatives came into power. On 17 Nov. 1868 he was returned for Berwick. In 1874 he was defeated for Berwick, and in 1875 for Stroud. He now became a conservative, and on 6 Sept. 1876 was raised to the peerage during his father's lifetime as Baron Ashford. From March 1878 to April 1880 he was under-secretary at war under Beaconsfield, and in 1885-6 he held the same office under Lord Salisbury. On Easter Sunday 1879 he was received into the Roman catholic church. He succeeded his father as seventh earl of Albemarle on 21 Feb. 1891, and died on 28 Aug. 1894, being buried on the 31st at the family seat, Quiddenham, Norfolk. He married on 15 Nov. 1855, at Dundrum, Canada, Sophia Mary, second daughter of Sir Allan Napier MacNab [q. v.], premier of Canada. By her he had issue three sons and seven daughters. The eldest son, Arnold Allan Cecil, is eighth and present earl of Albemarle.

Albemarle, who was created K.C.M.G. in 1870, was an enthusiastic volunteer. He was made lieutenant-colonel of the civil service rifle volunteers in 1860, volunteer aide-de-camp to the queen in 1881, and published ‘Suggestions for an Uniform Code of Standing Orders on the Organisation and Interior Economy of Volunteer Corps’ (London, 1860, 12mo). He was also author of ‘The Rinderpest treated by Homœopathy in South Holland,’ 1865, 8vo, and with Mr. G. Lacy Hillier of ‘Cycling,’ in the ‘Badminton Library’ (London, 1887, 8vo), which reached a fifth edition in 1895.

[Works in Brit. Mus. Libr. ; G. E. C[okayne]'s Complete Peerage; Burke's Peerage, 1900; Army Lists, 1843-54 ; Men of the Time, 1891, s.v. ‘Bury;’ Times, 29 Aug. 1894; Tablet, 1 Sept. 1894; Official Return of Members of Parliament.]

A. F. P.