British army officer and politician George Sackville Germain (1716-1785) was the son of Lionel Cranfield Sackville, seventh earl and first duke of Dorset, and Elizabeth Colyear. Educated at Trinity College, Dublin, Germain received his first army commission in an Irish regiment. In 1740 he served with distinction in the War of Austrian Succession and over the next eighteen years rose to prominence in both the British military and the House of Commons. In 1758, he attained the rank of commander- in-chief of the British forces in Germany under Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, but shortly after, his military career ended in disgrace for failure to follow orders at the Battle of Minden.
Court martialed and dismissed from the service, Germain spent the next 16 years rebuilding his career in the House of Commons. In 1765, the Rockingham ministry appointed him vice-treasurer of Ireland. Upon her death in 1770, friend Lady Elizabeth Germain bequeathed to him her estate of Drayton along with a vast sum of money. Lady Germain's will also conferred to him the name Germain.
In 1775, Lord North appointed Germain first lord of trade and secretary of state for North America and the West Indies. The position gave him influence over the British army, navy, board of ordnance, and the treasury. He took office confident that vigorous British action combined with Loyalist support would insure victory. He helped orchestrate several military successes, such as the defense of Quebec (1776) and the capture of Charleston, South Carolina (1780), as well as disastrous defeats, such as the Battle of Saratoga (1777). As France, Spain, and the Netherlands entered the war, he focused much of his attention on naval battles in the West Indies. After Yorktown, he urged continuing the war and refused to accept American independence. His quarrelsome style alienated many of the top British commanders, George III, and the cabinet, and in February 1782, the King forced Germain to resign.
Germain married Diana Sambroke in 1754. They had two sons, Charles, later 2nd viscount Sackville, and George. He retired to his country estate, Stoneland Lodge in Sussex, and died there on August 26, 1785.