Henry Strachey, 1st baronet, was born at Sutton Court, Somerset, England, on May 23, 1736. He was the son of Henry Strachey (1707-1765) and Helen Clerk (c. 1710-1745), and grandson of the notable geologist John Strachey (1671-1743). Strachey began his public career as a clerk in the War Office in 1764; in the same year he became private secretary to Lord Robert Clive and spent several years in India. During this time, Strachey developed a close personal relationship to Clive, and assumed a large share of the administrative duties when the latter's health began to fail. Strachey returned to England in 1768 with sufficient funds to redeem mortgages on his impoverished family's estates and to stand for the House of Commons, of which he would remain a member until 1807.
In 1770, Strachey married Jane (Kelsall) Latham (1738-1824), the widow of Captain Thomas Latham. They had five children: Charlotte-Margaret (c. 1771-1801), Henry (1772-1858), Edward (1774-1832), Richard (1781-1847), and Lucy (1782-1863). Around the time of his marriage, Strachey purchased a plantation, called Beauclerc Bluff, near present-day Jacksonville, Florida, and, as an absentee planter, became the first to cultivate indigo in the state. In 1776-1777, he served as secretary to Lord Richard Howe, head of the commission sent to negotiate peace with the American colonies, and spent time in New York City and Philadelphia. After the failure of that mission, he returned to London and took the position of Storekeeper of the Ordnance, which he held for three years. He also served as joint secretary to the Treasury in the second Rockingham ministry, in 1782. He continued as undersecretary of the Home Department in the brief Shelburne administration, and in this office, was one of the negotiators of the peace treaty ending the American Revolutionary War. In 1784, he sold his plantation and slaves at a great loss, compounded by the inability of Thomas Bee, the man who had purchased his slaves, to pay him. From 1794 to 1810, Strachey served as Master of the King's Household and was created a baronet on June 15, 1801. He died on January 3, 1810.