century association biographical archive

Earliest Members of the Century Association

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William Kemble

Manufacturer (West Point Foundry)

Centurion, 1847–1881

Born c. 1795 in New York State

Died 5 November 1881 in New York (Manhattan), New York

Buried Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York

Proposed by N/A: Founder

Elected 13 January 1847 at about age fifty-two

Archivist’s Note: Brother of Gouverneur Kemble; father of Peter Kemble; uncle of James N. Paulding and William I. Paulding; grandfather of Peter Kemble; great-uncle of James Kirke Paulding

Century Memorials

William Kemble was one of the twenty original Centurions in 1846 [sic: 1847], of whom only six survive. Actively devoted to the welfare of the Club in its earlier and quieter days, he gradually withdrew when it began to extend its range, and reflect more clearly the conditions and interests of a new and changing community. Seldom a visitor in later years, he never came among us without leaving through his dignified courtesy, the impression of a refined and kindly nature. There was much in him of the artist and the poet; and there was everything in him of that old-fashioned gentleman-hood which has almost become a thing of the past.

Augustus R. Macdonough
1882 Century Association Reports

William, a brother of Gouverneur Kemble, graduated from Columbia College in 1813. He was a commission merchant and then took part in the family iron business. He joined the Sketch Club in 1849; the club held its last meeting in his house in 1869. He was one of the committee of twelve who placed the statue of Fitz-Greene Halleck on the Mall in Central Park, probably the first monument to a poet in the United States.

William A. Frosch
“Our Original Amateurs, 2009”