George Thomas Staunton papers, 1743-1885 and undated

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Staunton, George Thomas, Sir, 1781-1859
This collection is primarily correspondence to and from British diplomat George Thomas Staunton (1781-1859), with some letters to his father George Leonard Staunton. There are also travel diaries, a journal, newspaper clippings, and some genealogical material.
1.5 Linear Feet
Materials in English
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The papers of Sir George Thomas Staunton, a politician and author of works on China, include correspondence with his father Sir George Leonard Staunton (1737-1801) and mother Jane (Collins) Staunton describing his education, his life at the East India Company's factory in Canton (1798-1817), several disputes with Chinese officials, and Lord Amherst's mission to China (1816-1817). A few letters relate to France and England from 1780 to 1792, Paris social life, the French National Assembly, and British attitudes toward the French Revolution. Letters to his mother during periods of travel in England and Ireland (1802-1819) describe his examination of various country estates there. There are also letters written while touring France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and Belgium.

Several letters to George Leonard Staunton (father of George Thomas Staunton) concern the senior Staunton's diplomatic career, the negotiation of a treaty with the ruler of Mysore in 1783, British rule of Madras and Calcutta (1781-1784 and 1791), his part in the mission to China (1792), and family and personal matters.

This collection contains six travel diaries authored by George Thomas Staunton. Five were written during childhood travels with his father in Europe and China, from 1791 to approximately 1796. There is another travel diary dated 1826-1830 and a journal from 1831-1837 which records Staunton's opinions on parliamentary matters, his voting record, a list of correspondents, draft letters, and other political information, especially concerning the Reform Bill of 1832.

Letters are arranged chronologically. Many letters are from members of the Collins and Staunton families. Correspondents include: E. C. Bentley, Edward Blakeney, Lucy B. (Staunton) Cormick, Richard Blake, W. Leonard (?), John Staunton, Margaret (Leonard) Staunton, Thomas Staunton, Sam Simcockes, and Alyward L. Staunton, Peter B. Brodie, Benjamin Collins, Benjamin C. Collins, Mary Collins, and Barfoot Cotton. The correspondence indicates that Staunton wrote frequently to Sir John Barrow, Secretary to the Admiralty and close friend of the family, but this collection has only one of these items. There is a sizeable group of letters from Henry John Temple, Third Viscount Palmerston.

Biographical / historical:

Sir George Thomas Staunton (1781-1859) was the only surviving child of Sir George Leonard Staunton (1737-1801) who was born in County Galway, Ireland. George Leonard Staunton graduated M. D. from a college at Montpelller, France, in 1758, and he lived on Grenada, B. W. I., during most of the 1760s and 1770s. His first diplomatic missions were from 1781-1784, when he was secretary to George Macartney, First Earl Macartney, who was Governor of Madras. From 1792-1794, the senior Staunton was secretary in the first British mission that was sent to China, the Macartney Mission. George Thomas Staunton’s mother Jane (Collins) Staunton, was the daughter of Benjamin Collins, a banker of Salisbury.

George Thomas Staunton accompanied his father to China from 1792-1794. During 1798-1817 he was writer, supercargo, member of the Select Committee, and, finally, chief of the East India Company's factory at Canton. From 1816-1817 Staunton was a ranking member of Britain’s second mission to China. After 1817 he lived in England and was an M. P. during most of the period from 1818-1852.

Ships on which Sir George Thomas Staunton sailed to and from China were the Hindustan, Arniston, Bombay, Charles Grant, Wexford, Discovery, Alceste, and Scaleby Castle. These vessels sailed for the East India Company. Numerous other ships are noted in the diaries and letters from China.

Acquisition information:
The George Thomas Staunton Papers were acquired by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library between 1960 and 1968.
Processing information:

Processed by Lucy VanderKamp, December 2016.

Accessions described in this collection guide: 8-30-60, 10-31-60, 8-10-62, 6-27-64, 11-1-67, and 5-15-68.

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All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], George Thomas Staunton Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.