George Clinton (Royal Navy officer)

George Clinton (Royal Navy officer) bigraphy, stories - Royal Navy admiral, governor of the Province of New York

George Clinton (Royal Navy officer) : biography

1686 – 1761

Admiral of the Fleet The Hon. George Clinton (c.1686 – 10 July 1761) was a British naval officer and political leader who served as the colonial governor of Newfoundland in 1731 and New York from 1743 to 1753.

He was the younger son of the 6th Earl of Lincoln, within the Clinton family lineage. Consequently, George lacked any chance of taking the leadership of his line. However, the wife of George’s elder brother Henry, the subsequent Earl of the family, was the sister of the English statesman Thomas Pelham-Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle, who was amongst the most powerful Englishmen of that epoch, and George Clinton profited continually from his support.

George Clinton saw service in the Royal Navy, attaining the highest of naval ranks as Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean in 1737, Admiral in 1747 and Admiral of the Fleet in 1757. He built a significant career as a result of Pelham-Holles’ patronage. Clinton did not feel any remorse, pleading-for and receiving favours from Pelham-Holles continually. As a result of such support, Clinton avoided most naval tasks which could have meant an actual risk to his own life. During those years, England was seriously engaged at sea against Spain, but Clinton experienced almost no naval engagements.

Also through such means, Clinton acquired the royal governorship of New York Province in 1743, dealing with the northern French threat during King George’s War. Nevertheless, he could not cope with the liberal politicians of the New York assembly who were led by the sagacious James De Lancey.

Clinton spent his 12 year governorship confronting anti-monarchy attacks.


George Clinton was born in 1686, in Stourton Parva, in Lincolnshire. He was the second son of Francis Clinton, 6th Earl of Lincoln and Susan Penninston. This celebrated lineage of the Clinton lordship stemmed from a family who had fought with William the Conqueror.

George’s only sibling was Henry Clinton, the 7th Earl of Lincoln. Henry was married to the sister of two powerful Whig politicians Henry Pelham (Prime Minister from 1743–1754) and Thomas Pelham-Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle (who succeeded Henry as Prime Minister). George Clinton was married to an heiress, Anne Carle. Their children were Sir Henry Clinton (1730–1795), who became an English commander in the American Revolutionary War and Lucy Mary Clinton, who married Admiral Robert Roddam and four other children who died in infancy.


George Clinton died on 10 July 1761, although the location is unknown. He had debts of £1,500. A son-in-law was Admiral of the Red; Robert Roddam (1720–1808) of Roddam Hall.

Naval career

Ships commanded
HMS Monck (1720)
HMS Nottingham (1721–1722)
HMS Colchester (1726–1727)
HMS Sunderland (1728–1729)
HMS Namur (1732–1734)
HMS Berwick (1734)
HMS Prince Frederick (1739)
HMS Marlborough (1740)

As his brother begat a male heir, George Clinton had to pursue a career; he joined the Royal Navy in 1708, using Pelham-Holles’ leverage extensively, during his entire naval service.

By such means, Clinton was a Captain in 1716. In 1720, he served in the Baltic Sea, under Sir John Norris in HMS Monck. With some Swedish ships, this squadron patrolled against Russian vessels. After four years of inactivity, Clinton returned to a more central role in 1726, patrolling the Mediterranean Sea in HMS Colchester, successively under Rear Admiral Hopson and Sir Charles Wager.

During those years, England experienced a severe international crisis with Spain, with frequent naval confrontations between the two countries. Due to Pelham-Holles’s influence, Clinton managed to conduct uncomplicated tasks, being limited to the escort of merchant ships, from Gibraltar, toward distant ports in Turkey, Portugal and England. He saw action against the Spanish, including attacks on gun batteries near Gibraltar, but the engagements were not too strenuous.