The Macartney Family

Macartney family crest

(Crest No. 277. Plate 54.)

THE Macartney family is descended from Milesius, King of Spain, through the line of Heber, and belongs to the Eoganacht tribe. The founder of the family was Cormac Cas, King of Munster, A. D. 483. The ancient name was Carthan, signifying “Kindness.” The chiefs of this family had their possessions in the present Counties of Cork, Clare and Limerick. The head of the tribe was McCarthy More, Prince of Muskerry, King and Prince of Desmond, and King of Cashel and Munster.

A member of this family was created Lord Macartney, Baron of Lisanoure, in the County of Antrim. This Lord Macartney was Governor of the Isle of Grenada, West Indies, in 1779, when it was captured from the English by the French, or rather by the Irish troops in the French service. Macartney made a gallant defense, and won the admiration and praise of his conquerors.

This branch of the Macartneys was descended from a son of Donogh McCarthy named Cairthanach, or “The Friendly,” King of Desmond in the fourteenth century. His son, Prince Donal, joined Edward Bruce when that gallant Captain had been chosen King of Ireland, in the effort to drive the English out of Ireland, as they had been driven out of Scotland. He afterward served with Bruce’s brother, the great Robert, in Scotland. King Robert gave Prince Donal a grant of land in Argylshire, and from thence they branched into Galloway, and finally came to Ulster, where, as above mentioned, they became connected with the peerage in 1764.

Lord Macartney was a man of high talents and admirable qualities and character, but more anti-Irish than the English themselves. He was Envoy Extraordinary from George the Third to Catharine the Second of Russia, 1764 to 1767, and received from King Stanislaus of Poland the Order of the White Eagle; in 1769 he was Chief Secretary for Ireland; in 1774 he sat in the British Parliament; in 1775 he was appointed Governor of the Islands of Grenada, the Grenadines, and Tobago. After the capture of Grenada by the French he was appointed Governor of Madras, India, and afterward offered the Governorship of India. From 1792 to 1794 he was Ambassador to China, a country then but little known, and Macartney’s account of his embassy was for a long time the standard authority on the Middle Kingdom. He died in 1806.