KEENE, WILLIAM (1798-1872), geologist, was born in Bath, England, the sixth son
of Thomas Keene, owner of the Bath Journal, and his wife Ann, née Buck. In 1821 he
began to study medicine in London but became interested in geology and engineering
and helped Goldsworthy Gurney (1793-1875) with chemical science lectures at the
Surrey Institution. About 1823 at the British Embassy in Paris Keene married Sarah
Charles (1804-1867), née Evans. In 1827 they moved to the Bayonne district in
south-west France, where he soon engaged in mining salt and coal. In 1836 he was
living at Bordeaux as a civil engineer. He gained wide experience of French
coal-mines and oil shale deposits, and farmed on land near Bayonne and St Lon. In
1848 when revolution broke out in France he returned to England with his family.
He probably worked in coalfields in Wales and near Manchester and developed a
variety of maize for use in England. He also retained a financial interest in the
Bath Journal. About 1850 his son William Thomas joined the California gold rush,
went to Victoria in 1851 and later moved to New South Wales.
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Australian Dictionary of Biography