Keppel, Augustus

, a celebrated English admiral, the second son of William earl of Albemarle, was born April 2, 1725. He entered the sea-service while he was young, accompanied commodore Anson round the world, and by the zeal which he manifested in his profession, was raised to the first honours which it had to bestow. The most important occurrence in his life took place in 1778, when he had the command of the channel fleet, to which he had been appointed at the personal and urgent solicitation of the king, and which he readily accepted, though he could not help observing, that “his forty years’ services were not marked by any favour from the crown, except that of its confidence in the time of danger.” On the 12th of July he fell in with the French fleet, under count d’Orvilliers, off Ushant: an engagement ensued, which, though partial, was very warm while it lasted. It was necessary to take a short time to repair the damages: which being done, the admiral made proper signals for the van and rear division to take their respective stations. This order was obeyed with great alacrity by sir Robert Harland of the van, but admiral sir Hugh Palliser of the rear took no notice of the signal, and refused to join his commander, till night prevented a renewal of the battle. The French, taking advantage of the darkness, escaped to their own. coast. Admiral Keppel, willing to excuse sir Hugh Palliser, at least to screen him from public resentment, wrote home such a letter as seemed even to imply great impropriety of behaviour in the commander himself. The conduct, however, of the rear-admiral was attacked in the public papers: he demanded of his commander a formal disavowal of the charges brought against him, which Keppel indignantly refused. He immediately exhibited articles of accusation against the commander-in-chief, for misconduct and neglect of duty, although he had a second time sailed with him, and had never uttered a syllable to his prejudice. The lords of the admiralty instantly fixed a day for the trial of admiral Keppel, who was most | honourfcbly acquitted, and received the thanks of both houses of parliament for his services. Palliser was next tried, and escaped with a censure only, but the resentment of the public was so great, that he was obliged to resign several offices which he held under government, and to vacate his seat in parliament. The acquittal of Keppel was celebrated with the most magnificent illuminations, and other marks of rejoicing which had never been known at that time in this country; and the houses of lord Sandwich, first lord of the admiralty, and sir Hugh Palliser, were with difficulty saved from destruction; the windows and much of the furniture being demolished by the fury of the populace. In 1782, admiral Keppel was raised to a peerage, with the titles of viscount Keppel baron Elden: he was afterwards, at two different periods, appointed first lord of the admiralty. He died Oct. 3, 1786, unmarried, and of course his titles became extinct He was a thorough seaman, and a man of great integrity and humanity. 1


Sir E. Brydges’s edition of Collins’s Peerage.