Carleton, the 1st Baron Dorchester, often known as Sir Guy Carleton, twice served as Governor of the Province of Quebec from 1768–78 and concurrently served as Governor General of Canada from 1785–95. He was the Governor of Quebec before the events of the Revolutionary War. He helped pass the Quebec Act, which guaranteed Quebec's freedom of religion and French civil code. This helped win the loyalty of Quebecois to the English, but infuriated many in the southern colonies. Carleton was forced to retreat to Quebec City when Brig. Gen. Benedict Arnold attacked Montreal, but resisted the attack on Quebec, forcing the Americans to retreat to the south.
Carleton was a part of James Wolfe's attack on Quebec City during the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. Carleton repelled the American attack at the Battle of Quebec in 1775, drove away the Americans at the Battle of Trois-Rivières, and commanded British naval forces at the Battle of Valcour Island in 1776, eliminating the American ships. After the Battle of Yorktown and the capitulation of Gen. Charles Cornwallis in 1782, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of North America until 1783.
In 1782, Carleton was appointed as the Commander-in-Chief of the British forces to replace Gen. Sir Henry Clinton. His mission was to recognize the independence of the 13 colonies. Knowing that those citizens who still wanted to be loyal to the British Crown would need a place to live, he looked to the unsettled land in Nova Scotia. Many Loyalists were interested and decided that they would try to build a British colony at this new location.
Arranging travel for the Loyalists was not easy but became more difficult after the peace agreement between the Americas and the British government was signed. It stated that the British would withdraw all their Armies, Garrisons and Fleets from the United States without carrying away any Negroes or other looted property. Carleton decided that the Blacks who had been granted their freedom previous to the treaty couldn't be considered property of any sort and thus weren't covered by the treaty. The Americans disagreed, but were willing to concede the point when Carleton promised compensation.
Carleton established a board of enquiry to hear disputes about who could claim the freedom offered by the proclamations. These officials also recorded the names and former owners of all freed slaves who were evacuated so that their old masters could be compensated. This record became known as "Carleton's Book of Negroes."
In the meantime, Brig. Gen. Birch was issuing certificates of freedom to all Blacks who qualified. These certificates were to allow the free Blacks to travel anywhere they wanted, including Nova Scotia. Many of the Blacks who had these certificates traveled to Nova Scotia along with their white counterparts.
In 1777, on the nomination of Gen. John Burgoyne to the command, Carleton threw up his commission, but was appointed the same year lieutenant-general, and in 1781, was appointed commander-in-chief in place of Gen. Sir Henry Clinton. When peace was concluded in 1783, he returned to England and was raised to the his brother Thomas, who was a British soldier. Carleton was appointed an ensign in Wolfe's regiment in 1755, became a captain in 1759, was brevetted major in 1773. appointed quartermaster-general of the army in Canada in November, 1775, lieutenant colonel of the 19th Regiment in 1776, and colonel of the 29th Foot Regiment on November 20, 1782. He was wounded in the naval conflict with Arnold on Lake Champlain in 1776. When New Brunswick, previously a county of Nova Scotia, was organized as a separate province in 1784, he was appointed lieutenant governor of the new colony, and at the same time governor and commander-in-chief of Nova Scotia and Canada, taking the oath of office on August 16, 1784.
He was raised to the Peerage in 1786 as Lord Dorchester, Baron of Dorchester in the County of Oxford. In 1786, Carleton was superseded as Governor-General of British North America, but retained the office of Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick until his death. He resided in the colony continuously for 19 years, and then went to England with the intention of returning at the end of 2 years, but remained there, the government being carried on for 14 years by 8 administrators. He was advanced to the rank of major- general in the army in 1793, lieutenant-general in 1798, and full-general in 1803.
Carleton was appointed again as Governor of Quebec, and he continued to serve for many years until 1796 .
On July 9, 1796 he sailed from Canada to England never to return. He lived mostly at Greywell Hill, adjoining Nately Scures, in Hampshire. On November 10, 1808 he died suddenly at Stubbings and was buried in a chapel adjoining his Greywell estate.