McKinley's Official Correspondence and other later manuscripts from the family will be included in Book and Manuscript Sales at South Kensington on 5th June and King Street on 6th June. Please contact department for futher details.
Admiral George McKinley (1766-1852), born of a naval family but orphaned at an early age, entered the Navy on 5th August 1773 as Captain's Servant on board the Albion. In January 1778 he joined Prince of Wales and sailed for the West Indies where, towards the end of that year, he became a Midshipman in the sloop Ceres just prior to her being captured by the French frigate Iphiginie. Released early in 1779, he spent the next three years -- still on the West India station -- in various ships of the squadron and saw action off Martinique and Chesapeake Bay in 1781. Although made Lieutenant of the Stormont in January 1782, this ship was captured before he could reach her so he returned to Admiral Hood's flagship Barfleur and was present in her at all three actions fought that April including the decisive victory at the Saintes. In July 1783 he returned to England and, between April 1784 and August 1791, served on the Newfoundland and Home stations where, on the latter, he was active in the pursuit of smugglers in 1787. His exploits during the Napoleonic Wars began on 1st December 1792 when he was appointed to the 74-gun Alcide. Transferred into Windsor Castle in 1794 and later to the Fortitude, he took part in the unsuccessful expeditions to Corsica, ultimately being given command of the 14-gun cutter Liberty in March 1795. On 17th March 1796 he greatly distinguished himself by entering the Brittany port of Herqui, in company with the Diamond and the Aristocrat, where they engaged and sank the French 16-gun corvette Etourdie along with several small merchantmen. Transferred to the command of the fireship Otter, he then took part in the expedition to Holland in 1799 and was placed in charge of the town of Enkuyssen during the campaign.
Otter was subsequently present at Copenhagen as part of Nelson's light squadron, and in October 1801, McKinley was promoted Captain and sailed for the West Indies with despatches relating to the Peace of Amiens. Returning to England, he took command of the Roebuck, flagship of Admiral Douglas, and from her served in various other ships including the Quebec (coast of Holland), Lively (Lisbon), San Josef (Mediterranean), Bellona (the Scheldt, St. Helena and the Channel), Namur and Bulwark. During his command of the 38-gun frigate Lively (1806-10), McKinley was for some time senior officer on the Lisbon station, being responsible for the evacuation of British ships in the Tagus and latterly serving during the blockade. In March 1809 he proceeded to Galicia and played a notable role in the operations resulting in the capture of Vigo and Santiago, saving St. Payo by destroying a strategic bridge. In July, he convoyed a fleet back to England and then captured the 16-gun French pirate lugger Aurore on 18th September; whilst on convoy duty the next year however, Lively was wrecked off Malta on 10th August 1810.
Appointed Captain of the Royal Hospital, Greenwich, in 1817 and then Superintendent of the R.N. Asylum in 1821, he was promoted Rear-Admiral in 1830, Vice-Admiral in 1841 and Admiral of the Blue in 1851, retiring the next year after a hugely successful career in which he achieved considerable distinction.