Rachel Susannah Townshend (5D32)

Date of Birth: 1885
Date of Death: 1969
Generation: 7th
Residence: Leeds and London
Father: Chambre Corker Townshend [5D14]
Mother: Gibson, Emily Caroline
  1. Keeling, Frederic Hillersdon
  1. Bernard
  2. Joan
See Also: Table VD ; Scrapbook ; Lineage ; Ancestors' Tree ; Descendents' Tree

Notes for Rachel Susannah Townsend

Married 15 May 1909. Frederic Hill Hillersdon Keeling MM (1) was the eldest son of Frederic John Keeling a solicitor of Colchester, Essex.

Rachel was a suffragette and spent a month in prison in 1914 for demonstrating, the year before her marriage. Shortly after the birth of their daughter Joan, Rachel moved to Leeds and set up home on her own; though Frederick visited her on a regular basis. Some time after the birth of their son Bernard in 1912 Rachel divorced Frederick, who then became great friends with Rachel's mother, Emily. After his death she edited his letters and recollections and published them in 1918 - the 'Keeling Letters'.

Following Frederick's death in 1916 and with no pension Rachel went to live a very simple life in the Chilterns for many years. During the period 1934-40 she was the North East Bethnal Green Member [Labour] of the London County Council. She ran a nursery school which was named after her, as was a block of flats in Bethnal Green during her later years.

Frederic was educated at Winchester and Trinity College, Cambridge (2). When he went up to Trinity in October 1904 he was already a Socialist and member of the Fabian Society. In 1906 along with Amber Reeves he founded the Cambridge University Fabian Society. Appointed manager of the Leeds Labour Exchange in January 1910, Frederic did not hesitate a moment about joining the Army when war was declared in 1914. Initially he joined the Artists' Rifles, but soon decided to join a county regiment and by the end of August he had enlisted as a private in the 6th Battalion The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. On several occasions he was offered a commission but always declined. In May 1915, by which time he had been promoted to Sergeant, his battalion joined the British Expeditionary Force in France. He was killed in action on 18 August 1916 during the Battle of the Somme.

Of the children;

Joan Keeling married E. A. Radice, the Fabian economist.

Bernard Keeling was educated at Winchester College and spent his career in the iron and steel industry. (3)

(1) Frederic was born in 1886. He was always known as 'Ben'.

(2) He graduated with First Class in both Part I and Part II of the History Tripos.

(3) In a letter dated 19 March 1930 to Helena Armitage (connect with [5D25]) Dorothea Townshend [5D15] wrote "You will find my great nephew Bernard Keeling touring Sicily. He is a Winchester boy and charming." RBT Papers 5D32/1

See Dictionary of National Biography 2004 for full details about Frederick Keeling.