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Macartney, George, 1st Earl Macartney

Macartney, George, 1st Earl Macartney (1737–1806). Born in Ireland and educated at Trinity College, Dublin, Macartney had a varied career. He was envoy to St Petersburg (1764–7); a chief secretary for Ireland (1769–72); and captain-general of the Caribbee Islands (1775–9). In 1780 he was appointed governor of Madras. He arrived at Fort St George during a time of great troubles. The Madras Council was riddled with corruption and Hyder Ali, the sultan of Mysore, stood at the gates of the fort threatening, with French naval help, to drive the English into the sea. Macartney re-established some semblance of internal order and engaged Mysore in a truce. After returning to England in 1786, his most important office was as first British ambassador to the court of Peking (1792–4), where his relations with the imperial court soon became strained. His final office was that of governor of the Cape of Good Hope (1796–9).

David Anthony Washbrook

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