KECK, Anthony (1708-67), of Great Tew, Oxon.
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Family and Education
b. 1708, 2nd s. of John Tracy of Stanway (gd.-s. of John, 3rd Visct. Tracy), by Anne, da. of Sir Robert Atkyns, M.P., chief baron of the Exchequer; his paternal gd.-m. was Katherine, da. of Sir Anthony Keck, M.P. m. 3 Aug. 1736, Lady Susan, da. of James, 4th Duke of Hamilton, whose 1st w. (not the mother of Lady Susan) was a da. of Robert, 2nd Earl of Sunderland, 2da. suc. to Keck estates in Oxon. 1729; and assumed name of Keck.1
Keck was returned for Woodstock on the Marlborough interest, and throughout his parliamentary career remained the Duke’s dependant and protégé. Keck, and still more his wife, took a very active part on behalf of the New Interest in the Oxfordshire election of 1754.2 George, 4th Duke of Marlborough, wrote to Pitt, 8 Feb. 1759:3
Mr. Keck of Oxfordshire, Member for Woodstock, is the person I now take the liberty to trouble you about. My father I believe, Sir, spoke to you in his favour, before he went to Germany; he was of infinite use to him in the Oxfordshire election, where he spent more money than he could afford, had he no family. He is in every respect an honest man, and a gentleman, and will not prove unworthy of any favours you may please to confer on him.
And on 16 Dec. 1759 he wrote to Newcastle asking for a seat at the Board of Trade for Keck, or Humphry Morice’s place at the Board of Green Cloth, or the post of secretary to the Princess of Wales; to which Newcastle replied on the 20th that there was no vacancy at either Board, while he had ‘no concern’ with the third place.4 On 2 May 1760 Newcastle named Keck to the King for a secret service pension of £400 p.a.; on 7 June Marlborough reminded him of the pension of £700 which Keck was to have received as from 1 May ‘till he could be otherwise provided for’; to which Newcastle replied on 12 June:5
His Majesty was very glad of an opportunity to oblige your Grace, and very readily agreed to give an allowance of £600 p.a. to the person mentioned in your Grace’s letter. He would not, however, go beyond £600, but agreed to the pension starting as from last Christmas.
The pension was continued to him till the fall of the Grenville Administration.6
But the claim to better provision was repeated. Bute wrote to Fox, 16 Dec. 1762: ‘Keck was here this evening to press in the Duke of Marlborough’s name for the Green Cloth. I choose not to believe him, on the Duke’s account.’ Fox replied the next day: ‘The Duke of Marlborough thinks you promised him the Green Cloth for Keck. He says, by letter. I told him he must be mistaken, and that he would not, and to my knowledge, could not have it now. I wonder after that he should come to tease your Lordship.’7
In the House Keck naturally voted with the Government, but was absent from the division of 18 Feb. 1764 on general warrants. Marlborough wrote to Bedford the same day:8 ‘As to Mr. Keck, he stayed in town on purpose and I am certain nothing but illness would have prevented his attendance.’ When the negotiations between the Bedfords and Chatham seemed likely to succeed, Marlborough wrote to Bedford on 30 Nov. 1766:9 ‘As to Mr. Keck, I take it for granted there will be no objection to his having his pension restored to him immediately, which was £600 p.a. clear money, as it was not upon the list, but paid by the first lord of the Treasury.’
On 29 May 1767, at midnight, Grenville wrote to Bedford, who might wish ‘to apprize the Duke of Marlborough of it’, that ‘Mr. Keck was seized with an apoplexy to-day on the course at Epsom, and ... is since dead’.10
Ref Volumes: 1754-1790
Author: Sir Lewis Namier
- 1. Wilts N. Q. vii. 315.
- 2. R. J. Robson, Oxfordshire Election 1754; W. Wing, Great Oxf. Election 1754.
- 3. Hoare mss.
- 4. Add. 32900, ff. 105, 212.
- 5. Add. 32905, f. 242; 32907, ff. 66, 176.
- 6. See lists in Royal archives, Windsor.
- 7. Bute mss.
- 8. Bedford mss 49, f. 50.
- 9. Bedford Corresp. iii. 357.
- 10. Grenville Pprs. iv. 20.