City Readers Digital Historic Collections at the New York Society Library
Sir George Staunton (1737-1801)
Sir George Leonard Staunton, 1st Baronet (10 April 1737 – 14 January 1801) was an employee of the East India Company and a botanist.
He was born in Cargins, Co Galway, Ireland and educated at the Jesuit College, Toulouse, France (obtaining an MD in 1758) and the School of Medicine in Montpellier, France. He was awarded a DCL by Oxford University in 1790.
He initially practised as a physician in the West Indies but switched to law and was made Attorney-General in Grenada in 1779. In 1784, he accompanied his lifelong friend George, Lord Macartney, whom he first met in the West Indies, to Madras to negotiate peace with Tipu Sultan, for which service Staunton was created a baronet of Ireland, of Cargins in the County of Galway on 31 October 1785.
Staunton was elected in February 1787 a Fellow of the Royal Society.
In 1793, Staunton was named Secretary to the British mission to the Chinese Imperial court. This diplomatic and trade mission would be headed by Lord Macartney. Although the Macartney Embassy returned to London without obtaining any concession from China, the mission could have been termed a success because it brought back detailed observations. Staunton was charged with producing the official account of the expedition after their return.
It was published 1797 under the title An Authentic Account of an Embassy from the King of Great Britain to the Emperor of China.
This multi-volume work was taken chiefly from the papers of Lord Macartney and from the papers of Sir Erasmus Gower, who was Commander of the expedition. Sir Joseph Banks, the President of the Royal Society, was responsible for selecting and arranging engraving of the illustrations in this official record.
Staunton died at his London house, 17 Devonshire Street, on 14 January 1801 and was buried in Westminster Abbey, where a monument by Sir Francis Chantrey is erected to his memory. The baronetcy, his Irish estate at Clydagh, County Galway and his London home were all inherited by his only son, George Thomas Staunton.