George Macartney papers ([1765]-1800, bulk 1776-1787)

Collection processed and finding aid created by Clements Staff and Meg Hixon, November 2012
Manuscripts Division, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

Summary Information

Title: George Macartney papers
Creator: Macartney, George Macartney, Earl, 1737-1806
Inclusive dates: [1765]-1800
Bulk dates: 1776-1787
Extent: 0.25 linear feet
This collection contains 56 letters and documents written and received by Irish politician George Macartney. Most items pertain to Macartney's service as governor of Grenada, Tobago, and the Grenadines from 1776-1779.
Language: The material is in English and French
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use

Acquisition Information

1925. M-2133, M-4946.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Alternate Format

The collection has been microfilmed.

Preferred Citation

George Macartney Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged chronologically.


George Macartney was born in Ireland on May 3, 1737, the son of George Macartney and Elizabeth Winder. He attended Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, in the 1750s, and earned his master's degree in 1759. In the 1760s and early 1770s, he served in the Irish parliament; he was envoy extraordinary and ambassador to Russia, and later served in Ireland as chief secretary to Field Marshal George Townshend. On February 1, 1768, he married Lady Jane Stuart (1742-1828), the daughter of former prime minister John Stuart, third Earl of Bute (1713-1792), and Mary Wortley Montagu (1718--1794). Macartney traveled to the Caribbean in 1776 and served as governor of Grenada, Tobago, and the Grenadines until 1779, when he was imprisoned following the French invasion of Grenada. After his return to Great Britain, he was governor of Madras (1781-1785) and a diplomat to China and the Cape Colony (in what is now South Africa). He received an earldom in 1794. George Macartney died on March 31, 1806.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection contains 56 letters and documents written and received by Irish politician George Macartney. Most items pertain to Macartney's service as governor of Grenada, Tobago, and the Grenadines from 1776-1779.

The first item is an 11-page essay supporting the right of Parliament to tax Great Britain's North American colonies, written around 1765. The remaining material is comprised of letters and documents regarding British colonies in the southern Caribbean. Many items concern British military operations and the French navy, particularly the fleet of the Comte d'Estaing; some pertain to prisoners of war and to the payment of black troops. Macartney's correspondents included British Army general James Grant, Royal Navy officers Samuel Barrington and John Byron, and George Sackville Germain, Secretary of State for America during the Revolutionary War. One letter from French Army general Theobald Dillon is written in French, and is accompanied by an English translation (March 17, 1787). Other items, such as indentures and grants, concern the ownership of land in the southern Caribbean. Some correspondents discussed commercial affairs, such as exports from Curacao. One item, dated 1792, relates to Philippine commerce in light of the declaration of Manila as a free port (in 1785) and the French Revolution.

Subject Terms

  • Anglo-French War, 1778-1783--Campaigns--Atlantic Ocean.
  • Curaçao.
  • Estaing, Charles Henri, comte d', 1729-1794.
  • France--History--Revolution, 1789-1799.
  • Great Britain--Colonies--America--Administration.
  • Great Britain--Colonies--America--Early works to 1800.
  • Great Britain--Colonies--America--History--18th century.
  • Grenadines (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada)
  • Manila (Philippines)--Commerce.
  • Philippines--Commerce--Early works to 1800.
  • Real property--Caribbean Area.
  • Saint Lucia--History.
  • Soldiers, Black.
  • Ashwell, Charles.
  • Barrington, Samuel, 1729-1800.
  • Byron, John, 1723-1786.
  • Dillon, Theobald, comte de, 1745-1792.
  • George III, King of Great Britain, 1738-1820.
  • Grant, James, 1720-1806.
  • Home, William.
  • Mill, David.
  • Munro, Hector, 1726-1805.
  • Sackville, George Germain, Viscount, 1716-1785.
  • Walsingham, Thomas De Grey, Baron, 1748-1818.
Genre Terms:
  • Accounts.
  • Essays.
  • Indentures.
  • Letters (correspondence)

Contents List (Request Materials)

Request materials for use in the Clements Library
Container / Location Title
George Macartney papers [series]
Box   1  
 [1765]-April 30, 1800

Additional Descriptive Data

Related Materials

The Clements Library has many additional materials pertaining to George Macartney, including items in manuscript collections such as:


Thorne, Ronald. "Macartney, George." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online edition. Oxford University Press, 2009. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/17341