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by Brian Hutton
"The complete story of the creation and dispersal and re-discovery of the papers of George, 1st Earl Macartney, may never be told. This account, although a revised version of a paper given to the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society in 1981, is still not complete, but its publication may stimulate enquiry and response and may help to fill certain gaps.
The general reader's knowledge of the career and importance of Lord Macartney would have depended, prior to the publication of the Ulster Historical Foundation's volume of essays in 1983, upon scattered references in learned journals and upon biographical entries here and there.
The recently-published volume of essays, each written by a specialist, now draws together the strands of Macartney's career and evaluates his contribution to international affairs as a diplomat and to Irish affairs not only as Chief Secretary but also as a landowner.
This essay will therefore assume, on the part of the reader, a reasonable knowledge of the biographical essays. But it will undoubtedly be convenient here to sketch in the main features of Macartney's diplomatic career at least so that references to groups of papers become the more intelligible."
This article looks at the creation, dispersal and re-discovery of the papers of George, 1st Earl Macartney, and also looks at the Earl as a diplomat, Chief Secretary, and landowner.