John Keate

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John Keate (1773 – 5 March 1852) was an English schoolmaster, one of the most famous headmasters in the history of Eton College.

He was born at Wells, Somerset, the son of Prebendary William Keate, D.D., rector of Laverton, Somerset, and brother of Robert Keate FRCS (1777-1857), Serjeant-Surgeon to King William IV and Queen Victoria.

He was educated at Eton and Kings College, Cambridge, where he had a brilliant career as a scholar. Taking holy orders, he became, about 1797, an assistant master at Eton College. In 1809 he was elected headmaster. The discipline of the school was then in a most unsatisfactory condition, and Dr Keate (who took the degree of D.D. in 1810) took stern measures to improve it. His partiality for the birch became a by-word, but he succeeded in restoring order and strengthening the weakened authority of the masters. Beneath an outwardly rough manner the little man concealed a kind heart, and when he retired in 1834, the boys, who admired his courage, presented him with a handsome testimonial. A couple of years before he had publicly flogged eighty boys on one day.

Keate was made a canon of Windsor in 1820. He died at Hartley Westpall, Hampshire, of which parish he had been rector since 1824.


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