Keene, Edmund

, an English prelate, born in 1713, was the younger son of Charles Keene, of Lynn, in Norfolk, esq. sometime mayor of that town, whose eldest son was sir Benjamin Keene, many years ambassador at Madrid, and K. B. who died Dec. 15, 1757, leaving his fortune to the subject of this article. Mr. Edmund Keene was first educated at the Charter-house, and afterwards at Caius college, Cambridge, where he was admitted in 1730. In 1738 he was appointed one of his majesty’s preachers at Whitehall chapel, and made fellow of Peterhouse in 1739. In 1740 he was made chaplain to a regiment of marines; and, in the same year, by the interest of his brother with $ir Robert Walpole, he succeeded bishop Butler in the valuable rectory of Stanhope, in the bishopric of Durham. In 1748, he preached and published a sermon at Newcastle, at the anniversary meeting of the society for the relief of the widows and orphans of clergymen; and, in December following, on the death of Dr. Whalley, he was chosen master of Peterhouse. In 1750, being vice-chancellor, under the auspices of the late duke of Newcastle, he verified the concluding paragraph in his speech on being elected, “Nee tardum nee timidum habebitis procancellarium,” by promoting, with great zeal and success, the regulations for improving the discipline of the university. This exposed him to much obloquy from the younger part of it, particularly in the famous “Fragment,” and “The Key to the Fragment,” by Dr. King, in which Dr. Keene was ridiculed (in prose) under the name of Mun, and in that of the “Capitade” (in verse), under that of Acutus, but at the same time his care and attention to the interests and character of the university justly endeared him to his great patron, so that in Jan. 1752, soon after the expirW tion of his office, which he held for two years, he was nominated to the see of Chester, vacant by the death of bishop | Peploe, and was consecrated in Ely-house chapel on Palm Sunday, March 22. With this he held in commendam his rectory, and, for- two years, his headship, when he was succeeded, much to his satisfaction, by Dr. Law. In May following his lordship married the only daughter of Lancelot Andrews, esq. of Edmonton, formerly an eminent linen-draper in Cheapside, a lady of considerable fortune, and a descendant of the family of bishop Andrews. She died March 24, 1776. In 1770, on the death of bishop Mawson, he was translated to the valuable see of Ely. Receiving large dilapidations, his lordship procured an act of parliament for alienating the old palace in Holborn, and building a new one, by which the see has been freed from a great incumbrance, and obtained some increase also of annual revenue. “The bishopric,” it has been humorously observed, “though stripped of the strawberries which Shakspeare commemorates to have been so noted in Holborn, has, in lieu of -them, what may very well console a man not over-scrupulous in his appetites, viz. a new mansion of Portland stone in Dover-street, and a revenue of 5000l. a year, to keep it warm and in good repute.Bishop Keene soon followed his friend Dr. Caryl, “whom,” he said, “he had long known and regarded, and who, though he had a few more years over him, he did not think would have gone before him.” He died July 6, 1781, in the sixty-eighth year of his age, and was buried at his own desire in bishop West’s chapel, Ely cathedral, where is a short epitaph drawn up by himself. “Bishop Keene,” it is observed by bishop Newton, “succeeded to Ely, to his heart’s desire, and happy it was that he did so; for, few could have borne the expence, or have displayed the taste and magnificence, which he has done, having a liberal fortune as well as a liberal mind, and really meriting the appellation of a builder of palaces. For, he built a new palace at Chester; he built a new Fly-house in London and, in a great measure, a new palace at Ely leaving onjy the outer walls standing, he formed a new inside, and thereby converted it into one of the best episcopal houses, if not the very best, in the kingdom. He had indeed received the money which arose from the sale of old Elyhouse, and also what was paid by the executors of his predecessor for dilapidations, which, all together, amounted to about 11,000l. but yet he expended some thousands more of his own upon the buildings, and new houses | require new furniture.” It is chiefly on account of this taste and munificence that he deserves notice, as he is not known in the literary world, unless by five occasional sermons of no distinguished merit. 1


Bentham’s Ely.—Nichols’s Bowyer.—Bishop Newton’s Life.