Keats, Sir Richard Goodwin (1757-1834)
Richard Goodwin Keats was born January 16, 1757 in Chalton, Hampshire, England. He joined
the Royal Navy in 1770, and in 1776 visited Newfoundland with Governor Montagu on the
Romney. He had a successful career, and in 1807 he was promoted rear-admiral and became a
Knight of the Order of the Bath the next year. He was promoted vice-admiral in 1811.
On March 18, 1813, Keats was appointed governor and commander-in-chief of Newfoundland
and the neighbouring islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, which were then in British hands. Keats
was instructed to grant leases of land for cultivation to help the growing population. By the fall,
he had granted 110 leases in St. John's. However, it was still not legal to own property, or to
enclose property for any other reason besides the fishery. Keats punished those who did not obey
the law, and had two Bell Island inhabitants' property destroyed because of it.
Keats was concerned with the number of Irish Catholics on the island, and appealed for more
Anglican missionaries. In 1815, 6,000 Irish immigrants arrived, which alarmed many
Newfoundland inhabitants, coinciding as it did with the post-war depression. In May 1816, Keats
became Governor of Greenwich Hospital for seamen. He became an admiral in 1825. He died
April 5, 1834 and was buried at Greenwich Hospital, London.
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