During the period in which England and France contented for the rule of Normandy (through the end of the Hundred Years' War), the kings of England not infrequently created peers as Counts and Dukes of Aumale. The last, to Richard de Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick, was in 1422; Aumale, anglicized as Albemarle, was not revived in the peerage until 1660.
In that year, Charles II bestowed the title of Duke of Albemarle on General George Monck. Monck's hereditary claim to this semi-royal peerage was a very shadowy one, being based—as was also his subordinate style of Baron Beauchamp—on his descent from the youngest of the three co-heiresses of Richard, Earl of Warwick, the last Earl of Albemarle. The title became extinct in 1688, on the death of Christopher, 2nd Duke of Albemarle.
In 1697 King William III created his Dutch favourite Arnold Joost van Keppel Earl of Albemarle in the Peerage of England. He was made Baron Ashford, of Ashford in the County of Kent, and Viscount Bury, in the County of Lancaster, at the same time. Keppel did not have any hereditary claim to the Albemarle title. The motive for choosing this title was probably that, apart from its traditions, it avoided the difficulty created by the fact that the Keppels had as yet no territorial possessions in the British Islands. Lord Albemarle was succeeded by his only son, the second Earl. He was a General in the Army and also served as Governor of Virginia and as Ambassador to France. He married Lady Anne Lennox, daughter of Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond, illegitimate son of King Charles II.
His eldest son, the third Earl, was also a successful military commander, best known as the commander-in-chief of the invasion and occupation of Havana and west Cuba in 1762. He was succeeded by his son, the fourth Earl. He served as Master of the Buckhounds and as Master of the Horse. His second but eldest surviving son, the fifth Earl, was also a soldier and fought at the Battle of Waterloo at an early age. He later represented Arundel in the House of Commons. He was childless and was succeeded by his younger brother, the sixth Earl. He also fought at Waterloo in early life and was later promoted to General. Albemarle also sat as Member of Parliament for East Norfolk and Lymington.
His only son, the seventh Earl, was a soldier and politician. At first a Liberal, he held minor office under Lord Palmerston and Lord Russell from 1859 to 1866. In 1876 he was summoned to the House of Lords through a writ of acceleration in his father's junior title of Baron Ashford. He had previously joined the Conservative Party and served under Benjamin Disraeli and Lord Salisbury as Under-Secretary of State for War. He was succeeded by his eldest son, the eighth Earl. He was a Colonel in the Army and also briefly represented Birkenhead in Parliament. As of 2007 the titles are held by his great-grandson, the tenth Earl, who succeeded his grandfather in 1979. Lord Albemarle is also in remainder to the ancient barony of de Clifford as the great-great-great-great-grandson the Hon. Elizabeth Southwell, daughter of Edward Southwell, 20th Baron de Clifford and wife of the fourth Earl of Albemarle.
Several other members of the Keppel family have also gained distinction. Augustus Keppel, 1st Viscount Keppel, second son of the second Earl, was a prominent naval commander. The Hon. William Keppel, third son of the second Earl, was a Lieutenant-General in the Army. The Right Reverend the Hon. Frederick Keppel, fourth son of the second Earl, was Bishop of Exeter. The Hon. Sir Henry Keppel, fourth son of the fourth Earl, was an Admiral in the Royal Navy. The Hon. Sir Derek Keppel, second son of the seventh Earl, was a soldier and prominent member of the Royal household. The Hon. George Keppel, third son of the seventh Earl, was the husband of Alice Edmondstone, the most well-known of the mistresses of King Edward VII, and the father of (although his paternity has been questioned) of the writer and socialite Violet Trefusis and of Sonia, Baroness Ashcombe. The latter was the grandmother of Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall.
The Heir Apparent is the present holder's son Augustus Sergei Darius Keppel, Viscount Bury (born 2003)