Record

CodeNA9593
Dates1730-1787
Person NameJohnstone; Commodore George (1730-1787); Director of Honourable East India Company
SurnameJohnstone
ForenamesCommodore George
EpithetDirector of Honourable East India Company
ActivityGeorge Johnstone was born in 1730 in Dumfriesshire, a younger son of Sir James Johnstone of Westerhall and Barbara Murray, daughter of the 4th. Lord Elibank. He joined the Royal Navy around 1743, passed his lieutenant’s exams in 1749 but was only promoted in 1755. He was court martialled for insubordination in 1757, but let off with a reprimand. After a varied service, he was raised to the rank of Captain and appointed to the ‘Hind’ in 1762, but an accident prevented him from taking up his post. Instead he was made Governor of West Florida the following year, and was almost immediately involved in a duel of sorts concerning the posting. He was elected MP for Cockermouth in 1768 and earned himself the reputation of being loud-mouthed, opinionated and rude. Another duel followed in 1770, and in 1774 he was elected to the Commons again for Appleby. In 1778 he was appointed one of the Commissioners to treat with the American colonies, but he again offended sensibilities and had to withdraw. He returned to sea in 1779, this time as Commodore and Commander in Chief of a small fleet. This he led with great incompetence and considerable luck, and returned home to receive a Directorship of the Honourable East India Company. He was drawn into a prolonged court case when one of his fellow officers returned to Britain with an account of his naval actions which did not tally with his own, but although Johnstone lost the case he died, in 1787, before he could pay the fines levied.
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