In the chapel of St Michael in Westminster Abbey is a white marble column in memory of Admiral Richard Kempenfelt. In the upper portion is a relief of the Admiral's body ascending towards clouds in which is an angel with a crown of immortality and a palm branch. On the base is a relief of the sunken ship, HMS Royal George, with her masts above water. The sculptor was John Bacon junior. The inscription reads:
In memory of Richard Kempenfelt Esqr. Rear Admiral of the Blue who was lost in His Majesty's ship Royal George which overset and sunk at Spithead on the 29th of August 1782; by which fatal event about nine hundred persons were launched into eternity: and his King and country deprived of the services of a great and meritorious officer in the 64th year of his age. This monument was erected pursuant to the will of his brother, Gustavus Adolphus Kempenfelt Esqr, who died at his seat, Lady Place, Hurley, Berkshire, on the 14th March 1808 aged 87; of whose philantrophy and humanity his liberal subscriptions and bequests to most of the charitable institutions in this country will be lasting records
The unpainted coat of arms shows the quarterly arms of Kempenfelt.
Richard was a son of Colonel Magnus Kempenfelt, who came from Sweden, and his wife Anne (Hunt). Magnus was Lieutenant Governor of the island of Jersey. Richard was born on 23rd November 1715 and baptised a few weeks later at St Margaret's Westminster, as was his brother Marmaduke in 1714 and sisters Anna 1711 and Mary 1713. Richard served in the navy in the West Indies at the taking of Portobello. He served in various vessels and went to the East Indies as a commodore, later taking part in the capture of Pondicherry. He was also an author and in 1777 published Original hymns and poems. In 1780 he was appointed a rear admiral and fought against the French. He took command of the Royal George early in 1782. While heeled over slightly in harbour in order to repair a leak some men started transferring casks through the lowered gun ports and the extra weight caused water to rush in and capsize the vessel and many of the crew and visitors who were aboard drowned.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004
23rd November 1715
29th August 1782