Family History

Tom sent these old stories which he had been told by Dad. Relationships are all from his viewpoint.

Grandpa (Sir John Keeling)

The first bit of luck for the Keeling family was that Grandpa was not posted to the Western Front during the first world war. He was part of a local County Regiment and was sent to Turkey in the Gallipoli campaign. After this military disaster / fiasco he returned home and joined the Grenadier Guards. In this role he was posted to guard the King and Queen at Windsor Castle, during which time it was his habit to ride a bicycle by way of transport.

The second bit of luck for the family was that one day as he was leaving the Castle he was knocked down by a bus and had his leg severely broken. This rendered him hors d’combat and he did not see any more active service. Fortunately the accident did not prevent him from making a pretty full recovery after time and he was able to play tennis and golf quite proficiently.

After the war Grandpa met the Finucane family and spotted the girls and got chatting with their Dad, Doctor Finucane. The Doctor advised Grandpa that he was a clever chap and that he should rent some office space in the City and put his nameplate on the outside of the front door. That way he would soon make some money! True enough, this advice proved worthwhile and Grandpa teamed up with Reg Cornwall and they soon found themselves in business together.

On one occasion they needed to provide funding for a particular business venture but were short of the necessary money. Then Grandpa got talking to a gentleman from Yorkshire who agreed to guarantee Grandpa’s overdraft to enable him to finance the aforementioned business deal. This led to a business relationship which drove Grandpa and Reg Cornwall to formalise their business, but they couldn’t decide whether to incorporate the business as Keeling & Cornwall or as Cornwall & Keeling. So they decided on The London & Yorkshire Trust and this was the beginning of a successful business story.

Reg Cornwall’s dad had been a manager at Nat West Bank. Reg was never the ambitious, cunning and clever man that Grandpa was and by the end of the second world war he had sold his interest in the L&YT to Grandpa.

Aged 29 or 30, Grandpa presented himself to the board of directors of Bowaters to say he believed he would be able to help them raise money to assist their business. The board was comprised of old farts, with the exception of Eric Bowater who was the same age as Grandpa. The belief that he could raise the money was based on discussions Grandpa had been having with stockbrokers, including Arthur Gibbs, who were prepared to follow Grandpa’s proposition to support Bowaters. The process would have involved some mechanism of issuing shares to generate funding.

The board of Bowaters welcomed this opportunity so Grandpa told them it would be available to them on the basis that they should meet one important condition. This was that Eric Bowater should be appointed as the Chairman and Managing Director of Bowaters and the directors accepted this condition. In return for this Eric appointed Grandpa as his deputy chairman and that was the beginning of an extremely fruitful business relationship and a lifelong friendship.

Gift from Eric to Grandpa "as a token of
friendship and appreciation"
Bowaters was a paper merchant and in fairly bad shape at the time of their first encounter with Grandpa, who had recently set up the London & Yorkshire Trust. This first meeting transformed their fortunes and also contributed significantly to the fortunes of LY&T. Eric was a very ambitious and driven man and he expanded the business to the USA from where it grew to be an international business of great proportions. By the time the business was at the zenith of its fortunes the business had moved its headquarters from Mayfair into premises which straddled the southern entrance to Hyde Park, opposite Knightsbridge.

Through the issue of preference shares to L&YT the Bowater Group paid dividends to L&YT for the duration of its existence and this was Grandpa’s biggest and most significant deal.

Eric Bowater went on to abandon his wife, who had become a good friend of Granny, which did not help matters, but also it did not derail the business side of things. Dad recalls that whenever Eric had a suit made he ordered three of them, so that he could keep one in each of his houses on both sides of the Atlantic.

Grandpa had a major stroke during a board meeting at L&YT in 1955, when he was sixty and he was never the same again after that. Because of this affliction he slipped out of the mainstream and his high profile in some circles of financing diminished from this time.

In 1938 the Australian cricket team was touring England and Grandpa had bought tickets for his family to watch their match at The Oval. Unfortunately Grandpa had a cold on that occasion and was deemed unfit to attend. As a consolation he was dispatched to Hawkhurst, to Reg Cornwall’s house to watch the match on TV. This would have been one of the earliest TV sets available at that time.

Dad recalled an occasion on which he was driving Grandpa from London to Hurst and they were crawling along behind a very long lorry laden with a Spitfire, with its wings packaged up in parallel to its fuselage. Dad spotted an opportunity to overtake and pulled out, but then had second thoughts. He recalls that Grandpa, barely looking up from the evening newspaper he was reading, simply said “Put your foot down”. Dad obeyed and overtook the lorry. At that time there was a lot less traffic on the roads than today.

Johnny Keeling (Dad's older brother)

Johnny Keeling had qualified as an accountant and joined the London & Yorkshire Trust and after a time there he suggested to Dad that he might join – because there were too many non-Keelings in the office. So Dad followed this suggestion and joined. Johnny was very brainy and had great mathematical skills, which were on a par with Grandpa. However he did not possess the same charm or skill to hold an audience as Grandpa. Also Johnny did not have the same ability as Dad to find that after sitting in a meeting with the directors of a company he had become the de facto chairman of the room by the time the meeting had ended.

However he did have the ability to pull the girls. On one occasion in the flat which Dad shared with Henry Hely-Hutchinson (Dad's best friend from Eton), they were sitting around and a girl called Robbie arrived who was extremely attractive and was simply a magnet to all the men there, including David Gibbs who was present. But Johnny was the one who took her out to dinner. Romance followed this and on one occasion when the Keeling family were on holiday in northern Italy, Johnny received a phone call informing him that Robbie had been involved in a serious car crash and her face was badly injured. Johnny flew home, leaving the family to continue their holiday. Robbie, an Australian, ended up back at home with Johnny visiting her and they were married there in a glamorous but non-church wedding.

After a ski-ing holiday together in Austria, where Robbie proved to be a superb ski-er and Johnny an indifferent one, Johnny found Robbie back in London with their Austrian ski guide, who said he had wanted a holiday in London…..Johnny was able to find a number of letters exchanged between Robbie and the guide which provided sufficient evidence to enable him to obtain a divorce from Robbie. Johnny then had the good fortune to of meeting Jocelyn Crean, nee Wenham and marrying her.

Dad (Michael Keeling)

Dad related his only two, pre-Mum, amorous encounters. On the first, during a war effort for agriculture, he was sent from Eton at the age of seventeen along with some other boys including Henry H-H and Peter Nissen to Piddletrenthide in Dorset. On this occasion HHH was clearly having a good time with the daughter of the owner of the house where they were staying and Dad was getting along well with the best friend of the daughter. At the end of their spell Dad and HHH were leaving and the daughter of the house offered to give Dad the address of her friend. But Dad declined and that was that.

About a year later Dad was posted to Germany as a young officer in the army with something like the Allied Liaison Bureau, which Johnny had helped to fix up for him. In the office where he worked there was a very beautiful German secretary who he asked out for a walk and that began a close friendship. But when he returned to England he quickly found that he could not remember her easily and after a couple of letters were exchanged between them he informed her he did not want to continue their relationship.

Then Barbar and Mum were invited to stay at Hurst and Dad arranged a ferreting session with Guy the gardener. Mum asked to join in and even though she was recovering from an appendicitis operation at the time she was very energetic while catching the rabbits in the nets which Guy had set over the rabbit holes. Dad was very impressed by this and, well the rest is history.

About five years after the ferreting weekend Granny and Grandpa had a niece visiting them in London, from Milwaukee (Grandpa’s side of the family) along with the boyfriend or husband of the niece and Granny asked Dad to take the visitors out to dinner. So Dad phoned Mum at Heals where she was working and suggested that she join the outing. Mum replied in her stuttering voice “I will not be taken for granted”. So Dad suggested that they meet for lunch in Oxford Street at a pub they both knew. He was doing an audit in Golden Square at the time. They met at the pub and sat on stools facing onto Oxford Street with Mum on Dad’s right hand side. They ordered some lunch and Dad said they should not go on like this and would Mum like to marry him. Mum looked at him and started to cry before saying “Yes”, and that was the beginning of a great marriage.

After lunch Dad went back to work via Grandpa’s office in Brook Street to let his Dad know the good news and they cracked a bottle of champagne in celebration of the occasion.

Great Uncle Edward (Grandpa’s older brother).

Uncle Edward might have had a rather sad life. At one stage he occupied a flat in Grosvenor House (not Grandpa’s), but which would have been provided by Grandpa. Dad said that when Edward told Dad about this situation he added “Dear Jack, he always seems to have enough money to help everyone”.

Aunty Cally (Dad's younger sister)

Cally went to school in St.Leonards and as a teenager was quite a handful. Granny and Grandpa sent her to a finishing school in Paris to polish her up, but not to much avail. So from there she found her way to Bavaria to stay with good friends of G & G called the von Huttens. The Dad, Nandel von Hutten, had been introduced to Grandpa by Tris Grayson and Nandel was Cally’s godfather. While staying with the von Huttens Cally met a local chap called Herbert Seitz and fell in love with him.

When Grandpa asked Nandel about Herbert, Nandel was a bit cautious and described the Seitz family as local tradesmen in the paint business, but certainly not aristocratic like us! Anyway Herbert and his parents were invited to stay at Hurst, which was probably a bit awkward because none of them spoke any English, so to help the weekend along, Dad invited Mum to join the party to act as an interpreter.

Subsequently Cally and Herbert were married in London.

Sir John Hanbury-Williams

John H-W worked at Courtaulds and was a very honourable and good chap, although Grandpa said he always missed a big opportunity by not exploiting the American market which would have been very lucrative. His daughters were Biddy and Bar, who were twins and there was a much younger brother. Biddy married Bri (Uncle Brian, Dad's younger brother) and was the mother of Sarah and Patrick.

Bri and Biddy lived in Astell Street, Chelsea for a while. Bri enjoyed the bottle more than he should have done and on one occasion he locked Biddy out of the house. Luckily the nanny heard her cries and let her back in.

John H-W gave Mum and Dad new curtains for a flat they had bought in Westbourne Grove. He admitted later that he had been rather shocked at their price and he had not realised what high ceilings the flat had!

Dr Morgan Finucane

Dr Finucane and his wife Jane lived in Fiji where he was the colonial doctor looking after the island’s inhabitants. Their oldest daughters Ruvé and Mo were born in Fiji. At the end of his appointment there he sailed home, Westwards, while his wife sailed home Eastwards across the Pacific to Vancouver. There she caught a train with her two little girls to New York and then took ship to England.

They settled at 10 Ashley Place, close to Westminster Cathedral and there Dot and Barbie were born. Mrs Finucane died before her husband and then he moved to Hurst and occupied ‘the batchelor’s room’ (a single room on the first floor). He died there in c1935 and Dad remembers being taken to see his corpse and being made to kiss the body by Granny!!

Ruvé (born 1894) – fell in love with an Australian soldier who returned home and set up with an Australian girl.
Mo – married Peter Petri.
Dorothy (born 1901) – married Jack Keeling.
Barbie – married Tris Grayson and their daughters are Mary Blaksley and Angie Drummond Brady.

The four Finucane sisters died in reverse order of their ages.

The early telephone

Dad recalls during the second World War Grandpa being woken by his bedside telephone at about 4am. It was the operator informing him that he should expect a call from Montreal imminently. That call duly arrived and it was some friends / business colleagues of his phoning to let him know that they were having a jolly good dinner! He explained that it was 4am in the morning in England and he was not very thrilled by their news. A few minutes later he received a third call, from the operator again, to ask him if he had received the international call satisfactorily…..

Rob in America

When Mum and Dad took Rob to the Mayo Clinic (west of Chicago) for his heart operation in 1961/62 they crossed the Atlantic in the Queen Mary, taking five days to reach New York. Aeroplanes would not have been taking passengers in those days[??]. Then they travelled to Chicago and took a train out to the Clinic. In New York they had stopped and stayed in a flat in the centre of the City which belonged to relations of Granny.

Mum and Dad’s honeymoon

When Mum and Dad went on their honeymoon they stayed in Rome for some of the time in Uncle Edward’s flat which he lent to them. He was in the Diplomatic Corps and he arranged an audience with the Pope for them. This was a day on which the Pope was scheduled to meet Italian farmers, but Uncle Edward got Mum and Dad in on the act.

Grandpa had arranged for a car of his to be taken by train out to Italy for Mum and Dad to use, but the car had got stuck in Genoa. Dad managed to have the car held there until they stopped there on their journey home, where they collected it and drove the rest of the way to England. 

Zilch: How to play Zilch

A few members of the family have been mystified by the references to Zilch and some have requested an explanation so I decided it was time to write down the rules of this excellent parlour game.

It was Camilla who introduced Zilch to the family and she learnt it on her honeymoon with David from a man called Bali Bill. There are variations on the rules which we will not further discuss.

These rules and examples are also available as a four page pdf here.

How to play


The game is played with six ordinary dice by two to six people. Six is quite a lot and it usually gets out of hand with more. One of the players must be chosen as the scorer.

Each player takes it in turn to play and it is decided who starts by each player throwing just one dice and seeing who gets the highest number. The highest number starts. If two or more players get the same highest number, those players throw again until a starter is found. The game proceeds with the starter making a play. Once they have finished the next player on the left plays and so it goes round and round. It is important to note that every player gets the same number of plays.

In order to start scoring points a player must make 500 points in their first scoring play.

Middle: Plays, scoring

→ When a player plays they start by throwing all six dice.

⇒ Whenever a player throws (any number of dice) there are two possible outcomes:
1) The thrown dice get no points. That is Zilch. Their play ends, Z for Zilch is written against their score. They lose any score they made that play. The next player plays.
2) The dice thrown score some points. The player may then stop and their accumulated total for that play is added to their score; the next player plays. Or the player keeps some of the scoring dice and throws the remainder again. Often there is no choice of how many dice to keep.  The total scored so far is accumulated for that play. Now go back to ⇒ (with less dice to throw).

On step 2 above their may be no dice left. This is excellent. The player may start again with all six dice and continue to accumulate points for that play. (Go back to →).

Since a player must get a score of 500 or more in one play to get into the game they must throw relentlessly until that happens. This can cause numerous zilches at the start of the game.

If a player gets four zilches in a row 500 is deducted off their score. Subsequent consecutive zilches incur the same penalty of -500. With bad luck, it is quite possible to go seriously negative at the start of the game. I have seen -5000 and the player involved ended the whole game on a record breaking zero.


You might be wondering how you do score points in this game. Here's the answer:

Thrown dice include
Points scored

·        One 1
100 (and two 1s scores 200 points)

·        One 5

·        Three of a kind
100×N where N is the number on the dice. So three 4s scores 400 points. But …

·        Three 1s
1000 (not 100 which would be very silly)

·        Three pairs

·        A run (123456)

Clearly throws including the last three are very desirable as are three 6s, three 5s and two sets of three of a kind.


You may want to cover up the answers to test yourself! They are written quite faintly on the right.

Thrown dice

Maximum score

One 5

One 1 and two 5s

Three 1s

Three 4s =400 + one 5

Three pairs

One 1

Nothing scores

One 1 and one 5

A run

Three 4s + three 3s

Three 2s

Three 1s +one 1

Some of the examples are deliberately tricky, but it is easy to make an error in the excitement of the game. For example a throw like 255552 might easily be scored as 550 (for three 5s and the singleton 5). It is also quite easy to not see three pairs or a run. The last example, 131113, is interesting because one could also take 1000 points for the three pairs and then throw all six dice again. This is normally the better strategy.

When less than six dice are thrown, a run or three pairs are impossible.  When only one or two dice are thrown, three of a kind or three 1s are also impossible.

The dice that were previously thrown, whose score is 'in the bank', have no effect on the score of the thrown dice.

The scores should be laid out as shown to the right. There are four players Alice, Bob, Doris and Chris. Alice was the starter, chosen as described above, so her score is in the first column. The players were not sitting in alphabetical order round the table. She is not doing well, she has scored zilch five times in a row. Bob was next. He scored 700 in his first play, zilch in his second then 200, 800. Doris 1000, 200, Z, 500. Scores for each play are not recorded. It is easy to tell who must play last because the scores are laid out so neatly.


Here is an example of Alice's first play: She threw the six dice and got 146523. She kept the 1 and the 5 (worth 150) and threw the other four dice again. With those she got four 2s. She kept three of those bringing her total on that play to 350. She has one dice left and needs 150 points to get into the game with 500. She throws it and it's a 1! She now has 450 and can throw all six again. But then she threw 364632 which is no points so she lost all her score that play and got Zilch. On Alice's fifth play she got zilch again so another 500 was deducted.

Alice must throw more than 500 in one play to get going on the right direction. If she got exactly 1000 in her sixth play 0 not Z would be put in her score. Z would be wrong and confusing.

Doris threw three 1's as her first throw and wisely stopped. 1000 went in her score and she was in the game. Next time round (after all the others got zilch) she threw 153562 and kept the score of 200. She probably would have been better to keep the 1 and throw five dice again.


As stated above every player gets the same number of plays. The game ends when a player's score gets to 10,000 or more. We'll call that person Bob. When that happens any other players who have not had as many plays as Bob get one last chance to equal or overtake Bob. So that's Doris and Chris in our example. If Doris succeeded she would be declared the winner (unless Chris overtook her on the last play of the game.)

Tactics and Etiquette

  • If in a throw any dice fall off the table or are cocked (leaning at an angle due to other dice or some other obstacle) all the thrown dice must be thrown again.
  • It's important not to get zilch in a play but also important to get a decent score. Therein lies the tension in each play and the judgement required.
  • After any throw is made, nobody should touch the dice until a few players (particularly the scorer) have seen them all. Moving them around may be considered cheating. Peter ✠ used to wrap his arms around his thrown dice so only he could see them. This was banned.
  • It may be best not to comment after a throw is made. The player may fail to spot a good score. There is no need to tell them (until it's too late). On the other hand you may innocently call a run a 100 and see if the player falls for your trap. Camilla says this is unsporting.
  • Consider the scorer. They not only have to play but they have to add up everybody else's score. In particular do not start a new play until the scorer has written down the score from the last play.
  • If you’re in Bali and Chris wins, for the next game someone will make him go and get the next round of drinks. While he’s away from the table they’ll move to sit in his place because they believe the seat is affecting his luck – and they want it!
  • Cheating: It is surprisingly easy to cheat if all the players are discussing the latest gossip or otherwise entertained. A cheat may slyly turn over a dice as they are 'rearranging' a throw. If all the other players are really being so inattentive it serves them right. Be warned, be attentive and devise a punishment if a cheater persists.

The Zilch Odds Table

We all know that the odds of getting a 1 with one dice is 1 in 6 = 1/6 = 17%. What are the odds (the probability) of getting a 1 with six dice? They aren't six times the odds of getting a 1 with one dice. That would be 100% - a dead cert. Here is a little table with some useful probabilities.

Zilch Odds Table
Throwing dice
Probability of
1 or 5


three 1s
three of a kind
three pairs


1) Does not help much with calculating the odds of getting over 2000 in a play.
2) Not guaranteed correct.
3) These are all calculated at the end of the page here. (The first three zilch odds which were done with a simulator.) All the others were checked by said simulator which gave the same answer.

By George, November 2019 with thanks to David and Camilla who checked this for me (and also told me that the rules I had been using were wrong).

Who's Who 1971

Edward Allis and Sir John Henry Keeling. Click the pick for a larger view.
 Sir John Henry was the father of Grandpa / Dad and Edward was his brother. The copy of Who's Who was found in a hotel in Lewes by Trevor and Louise.