Sir George Staunton, 2nd Baronet

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Sir George Thomas Staunton, 2nd Baronet.

Sir George Thomas Staunton, 2nd Baronet (26 May 1781 – 10 August 1859) was an English traveller and Orientalist.

Early life[edit]

Born at Milford House near Salisbury, he was the son of Sir George Leonard Staunton (1737–1801), first baronet, diplomatist and Orientalist. In 1792, at the age of 12, he accompanied his father, who had been appointed secretary to Lord Macartney's mission to China, to the Far East (1792–1794).[1] Prior to the trip the young George Staunton had begun to learn Chinese alongside Sir John Barrow, 1st Baronet[2] and for the duration was therefore given the role of Page to Lord Macartney.[1] During the mission his Chinese proved good enough to engage in diplomatic banter and he received a personal gift from the Qianlong Emperor.[1] In 1797 he spent two terms at Trinity College, Cambridge.[3]

In the employ of the East India Company[edit]

In 1798 was appointed a writer in the British East India Company's factory at Canton (Guangzhou), and subsequently its chief.[4] During this time his knowledge of Chinese increased.[4] In 1805 he translated a work of Dr George Pearson into Chinese,[4] thereby introducing vaccination into China[citation needed]. Five years later he published a translation of a significant part of the Chinese legal code.[4]

In April 1803 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.[5]

In 1816 Staunton proceeded as second commissioner on a special mission to Beijing with Lord Amherst and Sir Henry Ellis.[4] During the mission he landed in Hong Kong in July, 1816. He walked from the shore of Hong Kong to Hong Kong Village via Wong Chuk Hang. After the trip, Wong Chuk Hang was named Staunton Creek and the valley where Hong Kong Village was located was named Staunton Valley. Staunton Creek later became a cesspool of mud and rotting sampans and was eventually cleared to create Wong Chuk Hang Nullah with the residents housed in Wong Chuk Hang Estate. Hong Kong Village was most likely Wong Chuk Hang Lo Wai; only Wong Chuk Hang San Wai still exists at the bottom of Shouson Hill. After the ceding of Hong Kong from China to Great Britain, Staunton Street in Central was named after him.

The embassy was unsuccessful and shortly after it departed back to Britain Staunton decided to leave China permanently.[6]

Back in Britain[edit]

One of the follies that Staunton had built on his Leigh estate

George Staunton had been looking for a country home for some years before his permanent return from China and in 1818 put in a bid for Newstead Abbey but was outbid by Thomas Wildman.[7] In 1820 he purchased the Leigh estate in Hampshire [8] which included what was to become Staunton Country Park. He lived there for part of each year and made substantial alterations to the buildings and the landscape.

Three years later he was heavily involved with the founding of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland.[9] Their Sir George Staunton prize is awarded annually.

Between 1818 and 1852 he was MP for several English constituencies, finally for Portsmouth. He latter described himself as being during his early years in parliament a liberal Tory who looked to George Canning for leadership.[10] He was a member of the East India Committee, and in 1823, in conjunction with Henry Thomas Colebrooke founded the Royal Asiatic Society.

From 1829 until 1856 he was a member of the Society of Dilettanti[11]

He had never married and the baronetcy became extinct on his death (in London). He left his Irish estate, Clydagh House, to his eldest cousin George Staunton Lynch (who took the additional surname of Staunton) and Leigh Park and his London house (17, Devonshire Street, Marylebone) to George Staunton Lynch's younger brother, Captain Henry Cormick Lynch.

Publications[edit]

His publications include translations of Great Qing Legal Code, known as the Fundamental Laws of China (1810) and of the Narrative of the Chinese Embassy to the Khan of the Tourgouth Tartars (1821); Miscellaneous Notices Relating to China and our Commercial Intercourse with that Country (1822); Notes of Proceedings and Occurrences during the British Embassy to Peking (1824); Observations on our Chinese Commerce (1850). For the Hakluyt Society he edited Juan González de Mendoza's History of the Great and Mighty Kingdom of China.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Gladwyn, Derek (1992). Leigh Park a 19th Century Pleasure Ground. Middleton press. pp. 23–25. ISBN 1-873793-07-3. 
  2. ^ Golden, Sean (2000). Society of Jesus to the East India Company: A Case Study in the Social History of Translation. State University of New York at Binghamton. p. 210. 
  3. ^ Gladwyn, Derek (1992). Leigh Park a 19th Century Pleasure Ground. Middleton press. p. 26. ISBN 1-873793-07-3. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Gladwyn, Derek (1992). Leigh Park a 19th Century Pleasure Ground. Middleton press. p. 27. ISBN 1-873793-07-3. 
  5. ^ "Library and Archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 21 October 2010. 
  6. ^ Gladwyn, Derek (1992). Leigh Park a 19th Century Pleasure Ground. Middleton press. p. 28. ISBN 1-873793-07-3. 
  7. ^ Gladwyn, Derek (1992). Leigh Park a 19th Century Pleasure Ground. Middleton press. p. 29. ISBN 1-873793-07-3. 
  8. ^ Gladwyn, Derek (1992). Leigh Park a 19th Century Pleasure Ground. Middleton press. p. 39. ISBN 1-873793-07-3. 
  9. ^ Gladwyn, Derek (1992). Leigh Park a 19th Century Pleasure Ground. Middleton press. p. 43. ISBN 1-873793-07-3. 
  10. ^ Gladwyn, Derek (1992). Leigh Park a 19th Century Pleasure Ground. Middleton press. p. 60. ISBN 1-873793-07-3. 
  11. ^ Gladwyn, Derek (1992). Leigh Park a 19th Century Pleasure Ground. Middleton press. p. 71. ISBN 1-873793-07-3. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Lord Binning
Edward Law
Member of Parliament for Mitchell
18181826
With: William Leake 1818–1820
William Taylor Money 1820–1826
Succeeded by
William Leake
Henry Labouchere
Preceded by
Edward Henry A'Court
Henry Stafford Northcote
Member of Parliament for Heytesbury
18301832
With: Edward Henry A'Court
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for South Hampshire
18321835
With: The Viscount Palmerston
Succeeded by
John Willis Fleming
Henry Combe Compton
Preceded by
Francis Baring
John Bonham-Carter
Member of Parliament for Portsmouth
18381852
With: Francis Baring
Succeeded by
The Viscount Monck
Francis Baring
Baronetage of Ireland
Preceded by
George Staunton
Baronet
(of Cargins, Galway)
1801–1851
Extinct