Guide to the George Thomas Staunton Papers, 1743-1885 and undated


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.

Collection Details

Collection Number
George Thomas Staunton papers
1743-1885 and undated
Staunton, George Thomas, Sir, 1781-1859
1.5 Linear Feet
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Materials in English

Collection Overview

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.

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

Contents of the Collection

Childhood travel diaries, 1791, 1792, and undated (approximately 1796)
(3 Volumes)
Box 1
Childhood travel diary, 1792 Sept. 15-1793 May 16
Box 1
Childhood travel diary, 1793 Aug. 30-1794 Feb. 1
Box 1
Travel diary, 1826 Oct. 27-1827 May 8 and 1830 May 24-July 13
Box 1
Journal, 1831-1837

This volume contains entries regarding Staunton’s parliamentary activities and opinions, drafts of letters, and more than eighty clippings. Topics include the Reform Bill of 1832; the parliamentary election of 1835 in South Hampshire, in which the reform coalition of Staunton and Henry John Temple, Third Viscount Palmerston, met defeat; and the actions of William John Napier, Ninth Baron Napier, in 1834 at Canton which caused a temporary cessation of trade.

Box 1
Genealogy, 1792 and 1817 Sept. 12

A certified genealogy (1792) and a patent of arms (1817).

Box 1
Newspaper clippings, 1832-1853 and undated

Clippings contain announcements of Staunton's candidacy for parliament, public pronouncement of his support for candidates, parliamentary proposals, and a pamphlet he authored titled An Inquiry in the proper mode of rendering the word “God,” in translating the Scriptures into the Chinese Language (Lionel Booth, London, 1849)

Box 1
Parliamentary work, 1850-1852 and undated

Includes and announcement of candidacy and two miscellaneous invitations.

Box 1
Photograph and seals

Undated photograph of men sparring. Three unidentified seals in Chinese script.

Box 1
Scrapbook, ca. 1814

Title on spine: Staunton Family. Scrapbook is entirely blank except for a bookplate ("Sir George Staunton Bar."), a photograph (of "Staunton's Island"), and clippings pasted onto the inside covers. Clippings appear to be related to properties owned by the Staunton family.

Box 1
Bound volume with 2 printed titles (A Poem on Leigh Park and Letters Addressed to William Garrett) and manuscript entries, 1819-1858

Bound volume (former call number E K53P) regarding the Staunton seat in England: Leigh Park. Contains two titles: A Poem on Leigh Park, the seat of Sir George Thomas Staunton, bart. by James King (London: Whittaker, Treacher, 1829) and Letters Addressed to William Garrett, esq., relative to the state of Leigh House. (Havant, Hampshire, England: Havant Press, printed by H. Skelton, 1819). These twenty letters testify to the sound condition of Leigh House at the time when Garrett repossessed it from John Julius Angerstein. Staunton bought Leigh House in January 1820.

The volume was originally printed with 52 blank pages at the end. 33 pages of this section contain entries most likely written by George Thomas Staunton from 1819-1858 pertaining to events of personal interest, improvements at Leigh Park, purchases of real estate, employment of tenants and workers, national affairs, and a list of visitors to Leigh Park. Eight newspaper clippings are mounted on the fly-leaves. Two items relate to the election of 1832 (July 25 and Sept. 25, 1832) and the others refer to local matters.

Box 1
Letters, 1743-1812
(9 folders)
Box 2
Letters, 1813-1885 and undated
(6 folders)
Box 3

Historical Note

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.

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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.