Posts Tagged ‘Keith’

Admiral Keith: intro.

April 4, 2008


When in August 1815, the French Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte, defeated at Waterloo, surrendered to the British he found himself negotiating the terms of his surrender and his eventual imprisonment on St Helena with the Commander in Chief of the Royal Navy’s Channel Fleet, Admiral Viscount Keith.  Keith’s involvement with the surrender of the man who had dominated Europe for almost twenty years was the culminating experience of a lifetime at sea for one of Scotland’s greatest naval figures. 
George Keith Elphinstone was born on 7th January 1746 at the family home of Elphinstone Tower, Airth, near Stirling.  His father would in 1757 become the 10th Lord Elphinstone, and his mother, Clementina Fleming, was the heir to the estates of the Earl of Wigton and the niece of George Keith, the last Earl Marischal of Scotland, who had gone into exile following the failure of the 1715 Jacobite rising.  The Elphinstones were a well-connected and an old-established landed family but one that was burdened with debt and had many children to provide for.  The estate could not provide livings for all the sons and the two eldest sons joined the army; the third son, William, went into the marine service of the East India Company and George, the fourth surviving son, entered the Royal Navy at the age of 14 in November 1761.  In later years the Admiral often remarked that “he was sent to sea with only a five pound note in his pocket and was told by his parents to push his fortune in the world.” 
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