Raised in North America, where his father served as governor of Newfoundland (1732-41) and New York (1741-51). Lieutenant in the Coldstream Guards (1751); rose steadily to the rank of major general (1772), serving in Germany and Canada.
Member of Parliament for Boroughbridge (1772-74), Newark (1774-78), and Launceston (1790-94). Second-in-command of British forces in North America (1776-78), then commander in chief (1778-82). His career was marred by untimely hesitation and disputes with other high-ranking officers. General (1793). Governor of Gibraltar (1794-95).
Son of George and Anne (Carle) Clinton. Married Harriet Carter in 1767; five children.