Keswick family

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The Keswick family (pronounced with a silent "w", "Kezzick") are a business dynasty of Scottish origin associated with the Far East since 1855 and in particular the conglomerate Jardine Matheson.

As tai-pans of Jardine Matheson & Co, the Keswick family have at some time been closely associated with the ownership or management of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, the Indo-China Steam Navigation Company Ltd., the Canton Insurance Office Ltd, (now the HSBC Insurance Co), The Hongkong and Kowloon Wharf and Godown Company Limited, Star Ferry, Hong Kong Tramway, the Hong Kong Land Investment and Agency Co Ltd, and the Hongkong and Whampoa Dock Co Ltd.

1st Generation[edit]

The Hon. William Keswick (1834–1912)[edit]

William Keswick, founder of the dynasty, was born in 1834, in Dumfriesshire in the Scottish Lowlands. His grandmother, Jean Jardine Johnstone was an older sister of Dr. William Jardine, the founder of Jardines. His father Thomas Keswick had married Margaret Johnstone, Jardine's niece and daughter of Jean, and entered the Jardine business. The company operated as opium traders and had a major influence in the First and Second Opium Wars although the company stopped this trading in 1870 to pursue a broad range of other trading interests including shipping, railways, textiles and property development.

William arrived in China and Hong Kong in 1855, the first of five generations of the Keswick family to be associated with Jardines. He established a Jardine Matheson office in Yokohama, Japan in 1859. He returned to Hong Kong to become a partner of the firm in 1862. He became managing partner (Taipan) from 1874 to 1886. He left Hong Kong in 1886 to work with Matheson & Co. in London as a senior director responsible only to Sir Robert Jardine (1825–1905), a son of David Jardine, William Jardine's older brother and the head of Mathesons in London.

He spent three spells on the Legislative and Executive Councils of Hong Kong between 1868 and 1887. In 1888, Keswick and the chemist Herbert W. C. Tweddle bought the Negritos oil fields on the hacienda La Brea y Pariñas in Peru. Keswick and Tweddle then formed the London and Pacific Petroleum Company to profit from the property.[1]

The Hon. James Johnstone Keswick (1845–1914)[edit]

J.J. Keswick, younger brother of William, arrived in the Far East in 1870 and remained for 26 years, mostly based in Hong Kong. Nicknamed, "James the bloody polite", a tribute to his personality. Like his brother, he was a Member of the Legislative Council and Chairman of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce in five spells between 1890 to 1900. He was taipan of Jardine, Matheson from the 1890s to the turn of the century. He founded Hongkong Land together with close associate Sir Paul Chater, a development company established in 1889 which remained closely associated with Jardine Matheson.

J.J.J. Keswick (1842–1904)[edit]

Another brother was based in Calcutta, where he headed Jardine Skinner & Co, with a fellow Scot as his business partner John (Skinner) Stewart.

2nd Generation[edit]

Henry Keswick (1870–1928)[edit]

Son of William Keswick, Henry Keswick arrived in Hong Kong in 1895 the year before his Uncle James left. He had previously spent two years in the New York office of Jardines.

The first gap in the long line of continuous association with Hong Kong occurred when he returned home to represent Hong Kong at the coronation of King George V in 1911. He did return to Hong Kong and the Far East in his yacht "Cutty Sark" in 1922. He remained a Director of Jardines until his death in 1928.

3rd Generation[edit]

The next family members to be associated with Hong Kong and Shanghai were Henry's sons "Tony" and John Keswick. As well as being directors of Jardines they served as members of the Legislative and Executive Councils in Hong Kong and of the Council of the International Settlement in Shanghai. They were also Chairmen of the Shanghai Municipal Council and Chamber of Commerce at various times. When William and his father Henry Keswick returned to the United Kingdom they both served as Members of Parliament with responsibility for Far Eastern interests.

Sir William Johnstone "Tony" Keswick (1903–1990)[edit]

"Tony" Keswick arrived in the far east in 1926. He and his brother remained Directors of the firm after they had left the Far East. He was in charge of the Shanghai office (at that time the Head Office in the Far East) from 1935 until 1941. He was also Chairman of the Shanghai Municipal Council during the crises leading to the Pacific War. He was shot in the arm by a Japanese at a Municipal Election Meeting held on the Shanghai Racecourse in 1941. The company's Chinese business interests were looted by occupying Japanese forces.

During World War II, he, along with his brother John, served as senior intelligence operatives with the British Special Operations Executive (SOE).

After the war he took over as Managing Director of Matheson & Co. Ltd, in London. Among his other business activities, he was Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, Director of the Bank of England, Vice-Chairman of Alliance Assurance, and Director of British Petroleum.

He was a friend of the sculptor Henry Moore and placed several statues in particularly scenic spots on the hillsides of the Keswick estate.[2]

Sir John "The Younger" Keswick, or Sir John Keswick, KCMG (1906–1982)[edit]

John followed his brother to the far east in 1929 and replaced him in Shanghai after the shooting incident. He fled the city when the Japanese took Shanghai. He escaped with his wife Clare to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and served during the war with Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten's staff.

John Keswick returned to Shanghai after the war to organize in the rebuilding of Jardine's office and to reestablish the firm's trading links throughout China and Asia. In 1949, after the communist party's takeover of China, Jardine's head office was moved to Hong Kong. Despite attempting to work with the communists, business conditions became worse. Operations were closed in 1954 with the effective nationalisation of the company's interests and a $20m loss.

John Keswick became a member of the Hong Kong Executive Council in 1952. He retired as Tai-pan in 1953 and joined Matheson & Co in 1956. He returned temporarily as non-executive Chairman of Jardine Matheson in Hong Kong from 1970 to 1972. While in England, he and his brother financed the buy-out and then public flotation of Jardine Matheson.

He was married in 1940 to the Roman Catholic, Clare Elwes (1905-1998), youngest child of the tenor Gervase Elwes. Their only child was Margaret, known as Maggie Keswick, gardener and author (1941-1995), who founded Maggie's Centres for those suffering from cancer.[3] She left issue, two children, by her husband, the landscape architect Charles Jencks, whom she had married in 1978, as his 2nd wife. (Charles Jencks remarried in 2006 Louisa Lane-Fox, former wife of historian Robin Lane Fox and mother of Martha Lane Fox, Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho).

4th Generation[edit]

Sir Henry Keswick[edit]

Tony Keswick's son, Young Henry, born 1938 as Henry Neville Lindley Keswick, joined Jardines in 1961 and was assigned to the firm's offices in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. He was made a Director in 1967, Senior Managing Director in 1970 and Chairman in 1972. He retired as Senior Managing Director and Chairman in 1975. He returned to London and is the current chairman of Jardine Matheson Holdings.

Sir Chippendale Keswick[edit]

Sir Chips Keswick, Tony Keswick's second son who was born in 1940, was not associated with Jardine Matheson but instead with the London merchant bank, Hambros.

Simon Keswick[edit]

Young Henry's youngest brother, Simon Keswick, born 1942, joined the firm in 1962 and a Director in 1972 but left Jardines in 1977 to join his brother at Matheson & Co. He returned to join Jardines again in 1983 as Senior Managing Director and then Chairman after his father managed to remove the former managing director David Newbigging. Simon Keswick started the restructuring of the company becoming more international rather than tied to Hong Kong.

Simon Keswick retired as Tai-pan in 1988 after seeing the firm's holding office redomiciled to Bermuda and restructuring the firm's senior management organization.

5th Generation[edit]

The family still owns considerable holdings in the company with a 5th generation actively working within the company.[4]

Percy Weatherall[edit]

Percy Weatherall (born 1957) or Edward Percy Keswick Weatherall, is a great grandson of Henry Keswick (1870–1928). He was Managing Director of the Jardine Matheson Group from 2000 to 31 March 2006 having joined the board in 1999.

Mr. Weatherall joined the Jardine Group in 1976 and worked in a number of senior executive positions in Hong Kong, the USA, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Korea and the Philippines. Prior to becoming "Taipan", Mr. Weatherall was chief executive officer of Hongkong Land.

Ben Keswick[edit]

Ben Keswick, son of Simon, born 1972, joined the Board in April 2007. He was group managing director of Jardine Cycle & Carriage. He joined the Group in 1998 and held positions in Dairy Farm and Hongkong Land before taking an MBA at INSEAD. In 2003, he was appointed finance director of Jardine Pacific, and was its chief executive officer from 2005 to 2007. Ben Keswick became Chairman and Managing Director (taipan) of Jardine Matheson Limited in April 2012. He also holds senior leadership positions in Cycle & Carriage Bintang and MCL Land; and a commissioner of Astra and United Tractors.

Adam Keswick[edit]

Adam Keswick, born 1973, son of Chips, joined the Board in April 2007. He is chief executive of Jardine Pacific and of Jardine Motors. After joining the Group in 2001 from N M Rothschild & Sons, he held positions within Group Treasury and Jardine Pacific. Mr Keswick was appointed group strategy director of Jardine Cycle & Carriage in 2003, and was group managing director from 2005 to 2007. He is also a director of Jardine Matheson Limited.

Family tree[edit]

Andrew Jardine
David Jardine
Rachel Johnstone
Jean Jardine
David Johnstone
William Jardine
Andrew Jardine
David Jardine
Nancy Jardine
Robert Paterson
Joseph Jardine
Robert Jardine
Margaret Hamilton
Andrew Johnstone
Margaret Johnstone
Thomas Keswick
James Jardine-Paterson
Robert William Buchanan-Jardine
William Keswick
J.J.J. Keswick
James Johnstone Keswick
Robert Jardine-Paterson
John William Buchanan-Jardine
Henry Keswick
Margaret Alice Keswick
Helen Keswick
David Jardine Patterson
(b. 1912)
Robert Jardine-Patterson
Arthur Jardine-Patterson
(b. 1918)
John Jardine Paterson
Priscilla Mignon
Andrew Robert John Buchanan-Jardine
William Johnstone "Tony" Keswick
John "The Younger" Keswick
Three sons, one daughter
John Christopher Rupert Buchanan-Jardine
Amelia Keswick
(b. 1929)
Anthony M. Weatherall
(b. 1924)
Henry Keswick
(b. 1938)
Chippendale "Chips" Keswick
(b. 1940)
Sarah Mary Ramsay
(b. 1945)
Simon Lindley Keswick
(b. 1942)
Emma Chetwode
(b. 1950)
Jamie Rupert Buchanan-Jardine
(b. 1994)
Catherine Weatherall
Edward "Percy" Weatherall
(b. 1957)
Clara Mary Johnstone
(b. 1960)
Isobel Weatherall
(b. 1962)
Benjamin Weatherall
(b. 1966)
David Keswick
Tobias Keswick
(b. 1968)
Adam Keswick
(b. 1973)
Clare Davidson
Benjamin William Keswick
(b. 1972)
Poppy Teresa Keswick
(b. 1978)
Archibald David Keswick
(b. 1980)
Willa Mary China Keswick
(b. 1985)
Bertram Weatherall
(b. 1989)
Stella Weatherall
(b. 1991)
Ruby Weatherall
(b. 1994)
Honor Weatherall
(b. 1997)
Eda Rose Keswick
(b. 2008)
Irene Keswick
(b. 2010)
Ross Keswick
(b. 2010)

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Margaret Hamilton was heiress of John Hamilton-Buchanan, Chief of Clan Buchanan so to avoid extinction of the surname, the name became double-barrelled.
  2. ^ J.J.J. Keswick was a partner in the firm of Jardine, Skinner and Company (later Jardine, Henderson) in Calcutta.


  1. ^ Clayton, Lawrence A. (1999). Peru and the United States: The Condor and the Eagle. University of Georgia Press. p. 91.  (Note that on p. 91 and p. 362, the 1991 edition of Clayton's book has the typographical error "Tweedle"; this error is the typesetter's — not Clayton's.)
  2. ^ Richard Thompson (21 February 1993). "Profile: Taipan coils for City strike: Richard Thomson assesses the rise of Henry Keswick and the impact of his homecoming". The Independendent, UK. Retrieved June 20, 2011. 
  3. ^ Maggie's Centres
  4. ^ Jardine Matheson Limited: Directors


External links[edit]