Maccartney, George (DNB00)
MACCARTNEY or MACARTNEY, GEORGE (1660?–1730), general, born in Belfast about 1660, was elder son of George Maccartney, who was descended from the Maccartneys of Blackett in Scotland, and had settled in Belfast as a merchant in 1650. His mother, Martha Davies, was of the family of Sir John Davies, kt. [q. v.], attorney-general for Ireland. George was educated at home and in France. He joined the Scots guards as a volunteer, and rose to the rank of lieutenant-colonel. In April 1703 he was appointed colonel of a regiment of foot, to be raised in Scotland (Treas. Papers, lxxxix. 33, xcviii. 109). The regiment went to Flanders, where it was present at the siege of Ostend in 1706, and was afterwards ordered to Spain. Maccartney was appointed ‘brigadier of horse and foot’ 25 Dec. 1705 (Home Off. Military Entry Book, vi. 426), and was a brigadier in Lord Rivers's expedition to the coast of France, and afterwards in Spain. He commanded a brigade at the battle of Almanza in 1707, where his regiment was ‘broken,’ i.e. destroyed (Treas. Papers, cvi. 37). Maccartney retired to the mountains with the remnant of his brigade, but had to surrender, and was made prisoner. Marlborough in- terested himself to procure his exchange (Marlb. Desp. vol. iv.) There was a proposal to send Maccartney in command of a secret expedition to Canada in 1708, but it fell through. His conduct in a drunken fit towards an old woman subjected him to an indictment, which Chief-justice Holt [see Holt, Sir John] declared to be vexatious. The lady, however, being a ‘parson-widdow,’ got the Bishop of London to petition the queen on her behalf, and Maccartney received word from the queen that she had ‘no more occasion for his service.’ He consequently sold his regiment (Wentworth Papers, p. 86). In 1709 he distinguished himself as a volunteer at Malplaquet (Blaregnies), and in 1710 was a major-general and acting engineer at the siege of Douay. He was dismissed from his appointments when Marlborough fell into disgrace. Swift wrote on 13 Dec. 1710 that Maccartney, Brigadier Meredyth, and Colonel Honeywood ‘are alleged to sell their commands at half their value and leave the army’ for drinking destruction to the new ministry, putting up an effigy of Harley and shooting at it, &c. (‘Journal to Stella,’ Works, ii. 106).
In 1712 he was second to Lord Mohun [see Mohun, Charles, fifth Lord] in the notorious duel in Hyde Park, on Sunday morning, 15 Nov., with the Duke of Hamilton [see Douglas, James, fourth Duke of Hamilton]. The seconds, Maccartney and Colonel John Hamilton, Scots guards, also drew, as was then not unusual, and exchanged some passes. The duke and Mohun were both fatally wounded. At the inquiry ordered by the privy council Colonel Hamilton made oath that while he was holding his principal, the duke, in his arms against a tree, Maccartney gave him a murderous thrust that caused his death (see Lord Dartmouth's minutes of the council in Hist. MSS. Comm. 11th Rep. pt. v. pp. 211–34). This view was adopted by Swift (‘Journal to Stella,’ Works, iii. 62–6) and other party writers, but the medical evidence and the finding of the coroner's inquest were to the effect that the duke's death was caused by the wound inflicted by Mohun. On 16 November Swift wrote in his Journal to Stella, ‘I design to make the ministry put out a proclamation (if it can be found proper) against that villain Macartney, what shall be done with these murderers.’ After hiding a few days in London, Maccartney escaped to Holland (ib. p. 82). For his apprehension 500l. was offered by the crown and 200l. by the Duchess of Hamilton. A copy of the proclamation is in the British Museum. The Scottish peers voted an address to the throne, praying that her majesty would prevail on any foreign power in whose territories Maccartney might seek shelter to give him up. Writing to Stella on 26 Dec. 1712, Swift said, ‘We hear Macartney is gone over to Ireland,’ and he adds, ‘Was it not comical for a gentleman to be set upon by highwaymen and to tell them he was Macartney? Upon which he brought them to a justice of peace in hopes of a reward, and the rogues were sent to gaol.’
After the accession of George I Maccartney returned to England and surrendered. He was arraigned for murder in the court of king's bench, 13 June 1716, when Colonel Hamilton, who in the meantime had been tried and acquitted, gave evidence against him. Hamilton's evidence was discredited, and he had to sell his commission and leave the country to avoid an indictment for perjury. Maccartney was found guilty as an accessory, pleaded his clergy, and was ‘burnt in the hand’ with a cold iron (as was then the custom), to prevent an appeal. Swift maintained that the Duke of Hamilton was ‘murdered by that villain Macartney, an Irish Scot,’ whom he also described as a bravo kept by Mohun (ib.), but Lord Chesterfield, probably with more truth, writes: ‘Nothing is falser than that Maccartney murdered Duke Hamilton, for though he was capable of the worst, he was guiltless of that, as I myself can testify, who was present at the trial. This lie was invented to inflame the Scottish nation against the whigs.’
Maccartney was speedily restored to military rank and favour. In less than a month after his trial he was made colonel of the Scots fusiliers (21st fusiliers), and was promoted to lieutenant-general (Home Off. Military Entry Books, x. 309), and in 1718 was made governor of Berwick (ib. xi. 267). In 1722 he was appointed one of the comptrollers of army accounts, with Cadogan, Cobham, Tatton, and others of Marlborough's most distinguished officers (Hist. MSS. Comm. 11th Rep. pt. iv. p. 138). He was afterwards general commanding the forces in Ireland, colonel of the 7th horse (now 6th dragoon guards, or carabineers), and governor of Portsmouth.
Maccartney was a brave officer, but dissolute and extravagant. His staunch and aggressive whiggism marked him out for political attack, for which his profligate conduct furnished the opportunity. He married the widow of General Douglas, by whom he had issue, now extinct. He died in 1730.[Burke's Landed Gentry, under ‘Macartney;’ Georgian Era, vol. ii.; Swift's Works, ‘Journal to Stella;’ Narcissus Luttrell's Relation of State Affairs, vols. v. vi.; Tyburn Chronicle, i. 139.]