Born in Montrose, Forfarshire, he was the son of James Kiell and Betsy More née, Middleton. Following time spent in South Africa, he moved to London where he entered business as a merchant, insurance broker and underwriter with Lloyds of London. He lived in Kensington Park Gardens and Bletchingley, Surrey.
In 1870 he was elected to the newly-formed London School Board, representing Chelsea. He served only a single three-year term on the board. In 1879 he was declared bankrupt. He subsequently returned to business as chairman of the Transvaal Estates and Development Company and as a director of the Standard Bank of South Africa.
He retired to Hove, Sussex, where he died in 1918.
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