Thursday, 21 January 2021

1st Earl Macartney

The ancient family of MACARTNEY is stated by William Playfair to be descended from a younger son of the MacCarthy Mór, of County Cork, who went over to Scotland to assist ROBERT THE BRUCE, King of Scotland, whom he served in his wars, and was awarded with a grant of land in Argyllshire, whereon are still to be seen the ruins of a castle, the ancient possession of MACARTNEY in that county.

Subsequently, driven from their original resting-place, the Macartneys fixed themselves in Galloway.

The family divided into three branches: MacCartney of Mickle Leathes [sic], MacCartney of Auchinleck, and MacCartney of Blacket.

 Of the Auchinleck branch of MACARTNEY was 

GEORGE MACARTNEY, who married, in 1522, Margaret, daughter of Godfrey MacCullogh, of Gatehouse of Fleet, Kirkcudbright, and had issue, several children, of whom

PATRICK MACARTNEY espoused the daughter of John McLellan, and was father of

BARTHOLOMEW MACARTNEY, of Auchinleck, who wedded, in 1587, Mary, only daughter of John Stewart of Auchinleck, and had a son,

BARTHOLOMEW MACARTNEY, who wedded Catherine, daughter of George Maxwell; though he died in the lifetime of his father, leaving a son,

GEORGE MACARTNEY (1626-91), who removed into Ulster in 1649 and settled near Belfast, where he acquired a large estate.

Macartney was one of the most significant figures in the economic development of early 17th century Belfast.

He was a Captain of Horse, Surveyor-General of the Province of Ulster, and Sovereign (Mayor) of Belfast, 1662-3.

In 1671, Mr Macartney served the office of High Sheriff, and in 1688 he proclaimed WILLIAM & MARY at Belfast, for which he was soon after obliged to flee to England, and was attainted by JAMES II's parliament held at Dublin in 1689.

He was buried in the Corporation Church of Belfast, having bequeathed 40 shillings to the poor of that parish, and other benefactions.

Mr Macartney married firstly, Janet, daughter of Quentin Calderwood, of Belfast, and had issue (with three daughters),
Arthur, m Jane Chalmers;
John, died young;
Bartholomew, died young;
George, died young;
Quentin, died young. 
He wedded secondly, Elizabeth, daughter of Henry Butler, of Hale, Lancashire, and sister to the Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Butler, Knight, of Edmonton, Middlesex, and had further issue,
Chichester, dsp;
GEORGE, of whom hereafter.
The youngest son,

GEORGE MACARTNEY (1671-1757), MP for Belfast, 1692-3 and 1715-57, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1743, Deputy Governor, Colonel of a regiment of militia Dragoons, married firstly, in 1700, Letitia, daughter and co-heir of Sir Charles Porter, LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND, and had issue,
Charles, dsp 1759;
GEORGE, of whom we treat;
Hugh, dsp 1731.
He wedded secondly, Elizabeth, daughter and co-heir of William Dobbin, of Carrickfergus, County Antrim, but had no further issue.

George Macartney (Image: NMNI)

Colonel Macartney's surviving son,

GEORGE MACARTNEY, of Lissanoure, County Antrim, married, in 1732, Elizabeth, youngest daughter of the Rev John Winder, Vicar of Carnmoney, County Antrim, and had (with other issue),
GEORGE, his heir;
Letitia; Elizabeth.
Mr Macartney died in 1778, and was succeeded by his only son,

THE RT HON SIR GEORGE MACARTNEY KB (1737-1806), of Lissanoure, who married, in 1768, the Lady Jane Stewart, second daughter of John, 3rd Earl of Bute.

George Macartney was born at Lissanoure Castle, County Antrim, in 1737.

In 1764, he was appointed envoy-extraordinary to St Petersburg.
In this role he successfully concluded a commercial treaty with Russia and was awarded the Polish order of the White Eagle.
He returned to England in 1767 where he declined the offer of the embassy at St Petersburg and instead entered parliament as member for Cockermouth.

He resigned from this post when he was appointed Chief Secretary to the 1st Marquess Townshend, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1769 (he had already been voted member for Armagh in absentia in 1768).

Macartney was sworn of the Irish Privy Council in 1769, was appointed Knight of the Bath (KB) in 1772, and Governor of Toome Castle, 1714.

In 1775, he was appointed Captain-General and Governor of the Caribbee islands (Grenada, the Grenadines and Tobago), and the following year was raised to the peerage in the dignity of Baron Macartney, of Lissanoure, County Antrim.

Lord Macartney was in Grenada in 1779 when the island was attacked and captured by the French and for a short period he was held as a prisoner of war in France.

During 1780, Macartney was sent by Lord North on a confidential mission to Ireland.

He also sat for a while in the House of Commons as member for Beeralston, Devonshire.

In 1781, the East India Company appointed him Governor of Madras, India; he resigned from this post in ca 1785.

After declining the offer of being Warren Hastings' successor as Governor-General of India, Macartney arrived back in England in 1786.

He took his seat in the Irish house of lords in 1788 and served as custos rotulorum of Antrim, as a trustee of linen manufacture, and as a colonel in the yeomanry in Ulster.

1st Earl Macartney KB (Image: Ulster Museum)

Lord Macartney was advanced, in 1792, to the dignities of Viscount Macartney of Dervock and EARL MACARTNEY.

Later in the the same year, he was part of an embassy sent to China to discuss a potential trade treaty. The embassy arrived home in 1794.

In 1795 the Foreign Secretary, Lord Grenville, sent Lord Macartney to Italy on a confidential mission to LOUIS XVIII of France, who was then an exile at Verona.

When Macartney returned to England he was created Baron Macartney, of Parkhurst, Sussex, and of Auchinleck, Kirkcudbrightshire.

In 1796 he was appointed to his last official post as Governor of the Cape of Good Hope colony.

He resigned in 1798 and returned to England, where he declined Addington's offer of the chairmanship of the Board of Control.

Earl Macartney died in 1806 without issue, when the titles expired.

The Glens of Antrim Historical Society has written a history of the Macartney family. 

His ancestral seat was Lissanoure Castle, near Ballymoney, County Antrim.  

Macartney arms courtesy of European Heraldry. First published in March, 2010.


Anonymous said...


Did you ever read Lord McCartneys autobiography?

Well worth a read

Neill Armstrong

Timothy Belmont said...

Thanks for the recommendation.

Anonymous said...

There are interesting memorials inside All Saints Church, Loughguile, setting out accounts of the lives of Earl Macartney's forebears and successors. Also a highly decorative communion table dedicated to his successors and a magnificent three light window by Meyer of Munich. Well worth a visit on a Sunday morning before the service. The Lissanoure estate hosts an annual antiques fair at Easter if anyone wants a closer look at the estate.