William Keppel, 4th Earl of Albemarle

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The Earl of Albemarle
William Keppel (Martin Archer Shee)
Master of the Buckhounds
In office
12 February 1806 – 31 March 1807
MonarchGeorge III
Prime MinisterThe Lord Grenville
Preceded byThe Earl of Sandwich
Succeeded byThe Marquess Cornwallis
Master of the Horse
In office
24 November 1830 – 14 November 1834
MonarchWilliam IV
Prime Minister
Preceded byThe Duke of Leeds
Succeeded byThe Duke of Dorset
In office
25 April 1835 – 30 August 1841
Prime MinisterThe Viscount Melbourne
Preceded byThe Duke of Dorset
Succeeded byThe Earl of Jersey
Personal details
Born14 May 1772 (1772-05-14)
William Charles Keppel
Died30 October 1849 (1849-10-31) (aged 77)
Quidenham, Norfolk
Political partyWhig
  • Elizabeth Southwell
    (m. 1792; died 1817)
  • Charlotte Hunloke
    (m. 1822)
Children11, including Augustus, George and Henry

William Charles Keppel, 4th Earl of Albemarle, GCH, PC (14 May 1772 – 30 October 1849), briefly styled Viscount Bury between May and October 1772, was a British Whig politician.


Albemarle was the only child of General George Keppel, 3rd Earl of Albemarle, and Anne, daughter of Sir John Miller, 4th Baronet. He succeeded in the earldom in October 1772, aged five months, on the early death of his father.[1] He was educated at St John's College, Cambridge.[2]

Political career[edit]

On the formation of the Ministry of All the Talents in 1806, Lord Albemarle was appointed Master of the Buckhounds by Lord Grenville.[3] Thereby he became an officer in the Master of the Horse's department in the Royal Household and also the equivalent of today's Representative of Her Majesty at Ascot. The Mastership of the Buckhounds being a political office, the holder changed with every government and because the Earl's patrons fell in March 1807 he lost his position after only one year.[1] He remained out of office until 1830 when he was sworn of the Privy Council and made Master of the Horse by Lord Grey,[4][5] which was the third-ranking officer at court (after the Lord Chamberlain and Lord Steward). He continued in this office until November 1834, the last few months under the premiership of Lord Melbourne, and held the same post under Melbourne between 1835 and 1841.[5][1] Consequently, he was responsible for managing all matters equine at the changeover from one reign to the next and, in particular, at Queen Victoria's Coronation. The Earl was accorded the honour of travelling to Westminster Abbey inside the Gold State Coach with the nineteen-year-old, and as yet unmarried Victoria, who recorded in her diary: "At 10 I got into the State Coach with the Duchess of Sutherland and Lord Albemarle...It was a fine day, and the crowds of people exceeded what I have ever seen; their good humour and excessive loyalty was beyond everything, and I really cannot say how proud I feel to be the Queen of such a nation".

As horseman and racehorse owner[edit]

In addition to managing the bloodstock of two successive heads of state, when the horse was still a main mode of transport, Lord Albemarle was also a leading racehorse owner of his day. As an owner, William Charles won two Classics (the 1000 Guineas in 1838 with Barcarolle and the 2000 Guineas in 1841), and the Ascot Gold Cup three times (with two different horses) in 1843, 1844, and 1845. The second Gold Cup win, in 1844, was by a colt which the Earl had not yet named. One of the witnesses of this triumph, Tsar Nicholas I of Russia, let William Charles know how excited he had been by the race, and the Earl promptly named his horse "The Emperor" in honour of the distinguished Russian visitor. In 1845, when "The Emperor" won the Gold Cup (now renamed The Emperor's Plate) again the Earl received a massive silver centrepiece paid for by the Tsar as the race prize based on Falconet's well-known sculpture of Peter the Great in St Petersburg, the base flanked by Russian equestrian troops. William Charles's horses were also victorious in the 1840s in the Cesarevitch and Cambridgeshire major handicaps run at Newmarket. (Source for the above two paragraphs is The Newsletter of the Keppel Association, Issue 4, August 2011)

In 1833 he was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Hanoverian Order.[1]


Lord Albemarle married, firstly, the Hon. Elizabeth Southwell, daughter of Edward Southwell, 20th Baron de Clifford, on 9 April 1792. They had at least twelve children:

After his first wife's death in November 1817, aged 41, Lord Albemarle married, secondly, Charlotte Susannah, daughter of Sir Henry Hunloke, 4th Baronet, on 11 February 1822.[10] This marriage was childless. He died at Quidenham, Norfolk, in October 1849, aged 77, and was succeeded in the earldom by his second but eldest surviving son, Augustus.

The Dowager Countess, Charlotte Susannah, was nicknamed the "Rowdy Dow" by her stepchildren, who accused her of squandering the family's fortune.[10][11] In the words of one biographer: "[She] managed to disperse Keppel heirlooms with extravagant eccentricity."[10] The Dowager Countess of Albemarle died at Twickenham, London, in October 1862, aged 88.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e "William Charles Keppel, 4th Earl of Albemarle". The Peerage. 1 April 2011.
  2. ^ "Keppel, William Charles (KPL787WC)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. ^ "No. 15891". The London Gazette. 18 February 1806. p. 221.
  4. ^ "No. 18748". The London Gazette. 23 November 1830. p. 2449.
  5. ^ a b Cook, C. & Keith, B. (1975) British Historical Facts 1830—1900. London and Basignstoke: The Macmillan Press. pp. 3, 8.
  6. ^ Moon, George Washington (1891). Men and Women of the Time: A Dictionary of Contemporaries p. 849 London: Sutton Publishing [1]
  7. ^ a b Fisher, D. R. (2009). The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832 Cambridge: Cambridge Press [2]
  8. ^ England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975
  9. ^ Norfolk, England, Church of England Deaths and Burials, 1813-1995
  10. ^ a b c Lamont-Brown, Raymond (2001). Edward VII's Last Loves: Alice Keppel & Agnes Keyser p. 48 London: Sutton Publishing
  11. ^ Souhami, Diane (1998). Mrs. Keppel and Her Daughter p. 18 New York: St. Martin's Press

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Master of the Buckhounds
Succeeded by
Preceded by Master of the Horse
Succeeded by
Preceded by Master of the Horse
Succeeded by
Peerage of England
Preceded by Earl of Albemarle
Succeeded by