Sackville, George Germain, Viscount, 1716-1785

Alternative names
Birth 1716-01-26
Death 1785-08-26
English, French, Spanish; Castilian

Biographical notes:

Sackville was at the time of this letter the Secretary of State for the Colonies for Great Britain. He served in this capacity from 1775-1782. He was a member of the Parliament of Ireland (1733-1761) and of Great Britain (1761-1782).

From the description of [Letter] 1779 Oct. 8, Whitehall [to] Gov. Dalling / Geo. Germain. (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 352925060

British secretary of state for the colonies.

From the description of Papers, 1779. (Duke University Library). WorldCat record id: 19647237

British army officer and public official.

From the description of George Germain, Viscount Sackville, correspondence, 1779. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 70980839

English soldier and statesman-known as Lord George Sackville.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Pall Mall, to Lord Bateman, 1759 Sept. 18. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270634137

British army officer and politician George Sackville Germain (1716-1785) was the son of Lionel Cranfield Sackville, seventh earl and first duke of Dorset, and Elizabeth Colyear. Educated at Trinity College, Dublin, Germain received his first army commission in an Irish regiment. In 1740 he served with distinction in the War of Austrian Succession and over the next eighteen years rose to prominence in both the British military and the House of Commons. In 1758, he attained the rank of commander- in-chief of the British forces in Germany under Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, but shortly after, his military career ended in disgrace for failure to follow orders at the Battle of Minden.

Court martialed and dismissed from the service, Germain spent the next 16 years rebuilding his career in the House of Commons. In 1765, the Rockingham ministry appointed him vice-treasurer of Ireland. Upon her death in 1770, friend Lady Elizabeth Germain bequeathed to him her estate of Drayton along with a vast sum of money. Lady Germain's will also conferred to him the name Germain.

In 1775, Lord North appointed Germain first lord of trade and secretary of state for North America and the West Indies. The position gave him influence over the British army, navy, board of ordnance, and the treasury. He took office confident that vigorous British action combined with Loyalist support would insure victory. He helped orchestrate several military successes, such as the defense of Quebec (1776) and the capture of Charleston, South Carolina (1780), as well as disastrous defeats, such as the Battle of Saratoga (1777). As France, Spain, and the Netherlands entered the war, he focused much of his attention on naval battles in the West Indies. After Yorktown, he urged continuing the war and refused to accept American independence. His quarrelsome style alienated many of the top British commanders, George III, and the cabinet, and in February 1782, the King forced Germain to resign.

Germain married Diana Sambroke in 1754. They had two sons, Charles, later 2nd viscount Sackville, and George. He retired to his country estate, Stoneland Lodge in Sussex, and died there on August 26, 1785.

From the guide to the George Sackville Germain papers, Germain, George Sackville papers, 1683-1785, (William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan)


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  • Public officials--Great Britain
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