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The Hon. Admiral Augustus Keppel: unexecuted design for a freedom box, 1779 (2)

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The Hon. Augustus Keppel (1725-86) was the second son of the 2nd Earl of Albermarle. He entered the Royal Navy in 1735; was made captain in 1744, rear-Admiral in 1762, Lord of the Admiralty in 1765, Vice-Admiral in 1770, Admiral in 1778, and was first Lord of the Admiralty in 1782-83. He served as Groom of the Bedchamber in 1761-66 and as MP for Chichester in 1755-61, New Windsor in 1761-80 and Surrey in 1780-82. He was created Viscount Keppel on 22 April 1782.

In 1779 Keppel was honourably acquitted at a court martial following an argument with his second-in-command, Sir Hugh Palliser, at the Battle of Ushant (1778). The case stirred widespread public interest, and Keppel was hailed a national hero. He was awarded the Freedom of the City of London and a freedom box – traditionally used to contain a freedom scroll or certificate. As evidenced by this drawing, Adam made a design for Keppel’s freedom box, but it was not realised as the executed freedom box – now at the Museum of London – was designed by William Charron and John Bacon. It was made by a London-based Swedish silversmith, Andrew Fogelberg, in oak with gold trellis and enamel medallions, and was paid for by a goldsmith, John Newman.

Literature:
A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 55, 77; ‘Keppel, Hon. Augustus (1725-86), of Elveden Hall, Suff.’ History of Parliament online; ‘Keppel, Augustus, Viscount Keppel (1725-1786)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online’ ‘Freedom box’, Museum of London collections online

Frances Sands, 2015

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