The Keeping brothers | RBS Remembers

RBS remembers 1914-1918


The Keeping brothers

Herbert Keeping (highlighted) as part of a staff cricket team, London & Westminster Bank, 1906 © RBS

 

Edwin, Herbert and John Keeping were three brothers, part of a much bigger family. Edwin was the second-eldest, born in 1875. There were two more between him and Herbert, who was born in 1880. Next came John, born in 1882. Then there were four younger siblings; ten children in all. Their parents were Edward Keeping, steward of the Grocers’ Hall in London, and his wife Elizabeth, known as Bessie.

In 1893 18-year-old Edwin became the first of the boys to go to work for London & Westminster Bank, later London County & Westminster Bank. Herbert joined four years later, when he was 16. Both were enthusiastic sportsmen, and represented the bank on its staff rugby team.

After John left school he initially went to work for an accountancy firm, but in 1900 he, too, joined London & Westminster Bank. He worked at Westminster branch, while Herbert was at Bloomsbury and Edwin at head office.

In January 1901 both Herbert and Edwin volunteered for the army, to fight in the Boer War in South Africa. They were gone for 18 months, returning to England – and to the bank – in summer 1902.

Edwin married Annie Pawsey in 1904. They had four children together; two boys and two girls. John and Herbert lived together as bachelors until 1914, when John married Dorothy Ballard and Herbert married Mary Pritchard. John and Dorothy’s son Peter was born the following year, at around the same time as Edwin and Annie’s youngest child, Audrey.

During the First World War thousands of men with previous military experience rejoined the army. Among them was Herbert Keeping. His brother John joined up with him, and both men became Privates in the 1st Battalion of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. Edwin, already 39 years old, remained at the bank. John and Herbert died together in Greece on 9 October 1916.

In 1918 Edwin Keeping was promoted to assistant chief clerk at the bank, and then, within a month, to head office superintendent. Two years later, he became the bank’s superintendent of staff, a position he held for the next fifteen years. He also retained his early interest in sport, serving on the committee of the bank’s staff sports club. He sat on the committee of the bank’s war memorial fund, which distributed funds to war-disabled ex-staff and to the widows and orphans of colleagues who had died in the war.

Edwin retired in 1935. He enjoyed thirty years of retirement and died in 1965, at the age of 90. Herbert’s widow Mary died in 1970. John’s widow Dorothy had died in 1954, twelve years after Peter, their only son, was killed in the Second World War.

 


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