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George Macartney, 1st Earl Macartney

(b. May 3, 1737, Loughguile, County Antrim, Northern Ireland – d. March 31, 1806, Curzon Street, Mayfair, London )

Gender: M

George Macartney (1737-1806), 1st Earl Macartney, was born in Ireland. He was appointed British envoy to Russia in 1764 and negotiated an alliance with Catherine the Great. In 1768 he became MP for Armagh Borough in the Irish House of Commons, and Chief Secretary for Ireland. In 1775 he was appointed governor of the British West Indies, and from 1776-1779 was governor of Grenada, which he surrendered to a French invasion force. From 1781-1785 he was Governor of Madras and in 1792 was appointed the first British envoy to China, during which he refused to kowtow to the Emperor, and returned without securing the desired trade concessions. From 1796-1798 he was Governor of Cape Colony in South Africa. Macartney married Lady Jane Stuart, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Bute, in 1768; they had no children and his title became extinct, with his property passing to his niece. During his time in India, Macartney disciplined Major-General James Stuart, who was keen for revenge. The day after Macartney returned to London in 1786, he received a note from Stuart informing him that he had sent a petition to the King, protesting that the charges brought against him in Madras were false and unjust. On 27th May, on his return from the opera to his house in Charles Street, Macartney found a written challenge from Stuart. The duel with pistols took place on 8th June; Macartney was wounded in the shoulder and the seconds stopped the duel, despite Stuart’s desire to continue. The King had to intervene personally to prevent the duel being repeated.

Also known as:

  • George Macartney
  • 1st Earl Macartney

Authorities

Electronic Enlightenment DOIexternal link
Oxford DNB DOIexternal link
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Recipient of 1 letters

Title Sent Received EMCO ID
Letter from Elizabeth Montagu to Lord Macartney Dec. 31, 1781 1832

Please note that all dates and location information are provisional, initially taken from the library and archive catalogues. As our section editors continue to work through the material we will update our database and the changes will be reflected across the edition.