THE STUARTS OF BUTE.
HE Stewarts or Stettarts of Bete, whose family name is now T spelt "Stuart," spring from Sir Joins7 SrewAer, a natural son of King Robert IL, the first monarch of the Stewart family, and the only child of the Lady Marjory Bruce, eldest daughter of King Robert Bruce. Sir John's mother,:according to tradition, bore the name of Leitch. His Royal father made him a grant about the year 1385 of " a fair estate in the Isle of Bute, the ancient patrimony of the Stewarts," with the hereditary stewardship of Bute and Arran. These grants were confirmed by a charter of Robert III. on the 11th of. November, 1400, " to his beloved brother," and the same King confirmed to him an annual rent out of the barony of Abernethy with an. entail. Robert, Duke of Albany, Governor of Scotland, granted on the 1st of January, 1419, "to his beloved brother," John Stewart, sheriff of Bute, and Jean Semple, his wife, half the lands of Fynock, in the barony of Renfrew. He also possessed the estates of 13alochschean and Auchinquhorne, in Perthshire. His second son, William, had the lands of Fynock from his father, and was sheriff of Bute in the reign of James IL His eldest son, Ninian, was also sheriff of Bute, and had a grant of the keeping of the castle of Rothesay, with eighty marks yearly out of the lordship of Bute, August 5, 1498. He exchanged the Perthshire property mentioned above and the annual rent out of the barony of Abernethy with John Stewart, of Ardgowau, for his property in Arran, consisting of "the forty-pound land of old extent, called the ten-penny land," the lands of Kildonan, North and South Fearline, the Dupin lands, the three Largies, the two Kiscadales, Glenaska- dale, and Glachan, of which he had a charter, February 28, 1503. He had also, on the 10th of August, 1506, a charter to himself and his wife, Janet Dunlop, of the lands of Nether Dunal- tird, Danulerd, &c., and died in 1509. His son, James Stewart of Bute, succeeded to his estates and the hereditary constabulary of the castle of Rothsay. On the 3rd of December, 1541, he had a charter of Drumsidan, in Bute, and in 1549 was made Chamberlain of Bute, to which office the King's forest within the isle was annexed, and at the same time obtained a charter of the Kirktoun of Cumra, in recompense probably of the great part of his estate in Arran of which he was dispossessed in that year, the Hareiltons being in the ascendant. On the 10th of February, 1554, he had a charter of the lands of Ballelone and Achemore, in Bute. His eldest son, John, had a charter of the lands of Kikhatten and Grenan, May 25, 1566, was one of the Gentlemen of the Bed- chamber to James VI., and August 11, 1580, was constituted Captain of the Castle of Brodick, and Chamberlain of Arran, which office he held till the restoration of the Hamilton in 1585. He had, January 18, 1591, a charter of the barony of Ardmoleis, on the 2nd of July, 1599, of the mill of Rothsa.y to himself and John, his eldest legitimate son, and on the 4th of March, 1602, a confirmation of the lands of Garathie, Langhill, Culquhy, Michell Escogs, Cogeth, &c., in Bute, to himself and Jean Blair, his wife. He died the same year, and was succeeded by his son, Sir John Stewart, who was knighted by James VI., had a charter, August 23, 1615, of the lands of Knawslatlon in Bute, and married Eliza- beth, eldest of the two daughters and coheiresses of Robert Hep- burn of Foord, in the county of Edinburgh, which estate with others he obtained in her right. His eldest son and successor, Sir James Stewart, was created a baronet by Charles I., March 28, 1627, and on the breaking out of the disturbances in Scotland espoused the Royal cause, garrisoned the castle of Roth- say at his own expense, and furnished a body of his tenantry for the Royal service. He was appointed by the King Lieutenant of the West of Scotland, and sent with two frigates to capture and hold Dumbarton Castle. One of the frigates was wrecked in a storm, Sir James himself narrowly escaping, and he was unable with the r'maining one to accomplish his enterprise, findingv,the channel of the Clyde blocked against him by sunken ships and the neighbouring country in arms to oppose him. He was com- pelled to take refuge in Ireland, his estate was sequestrated by the Covenanters, and his wife and family had great difficulty in pro- curing a subsistence. In 1646 he " came in," and recovered pos- session of his estates on paying a fine of 5,000 marks, but his estate had been meanwhile much dilapidated. Cromwell's Govern- ment took his castle of Rothsay out of his hands and placed a garrison there, he lost his heritable office of sheriff, and was declared incapable of any public trust. Sir James just survived
• the Restoration, dying in London in 1662, and being buried in Westminster Abbey.
His second son, Sir Robert Stewart of Tillicoultry, in Clack- mannan, was a Lord of Session in 1701, created a baronet in 1707, a member of Parliament for Bute, and a Commis- sioner for the Union, which he steadily supported. His elder brother, Sir Dugald Stewart of Bute, was created, September 2, 1671, Bailie of the Regality of Glasgow, and died the next year. His second son, Dugald Stewart of Blairhall, was M.P. for Rothsay, and opposed the Union. He was afterwards member for the counties of Perth and Bute at once, till in 1709 he was appointed a Lord of Session and Justiciary in the room of his uncle, and had a high character for ability and integrity. His elder brother, Sir James of Bute, succeeded his father in the dilapi- dated family property at an early age, and became a supporter of the Government in Scotland during the reign of Charles IL On the forfeiture of the Earl of Argyll in 1681 he had the charge of that part of Scotland entrusted to him, and in April, 1683, was appointed colonel of the militia of the shires of Argyll, Bute, and Dumbarton ; in June, 1684, sheriff of the district of Tarbat, and in February, 1685, sheriff of the county of Argyll, and admitted a member of the Faculty of Advocates March 25 following. He raised the militia for the Crown during the risings in the West of Scotland in that year, but at the Re- volution he took part with William, and in Queen Anne's reign was sworn a Privy Councillor, representing also Bute in Parlia- ment. On the 14th of April, 1703, he was raised to the peerage as Earl of Bute, Viscount Kingarth, Lord Montatuart, Cumra, and Inchmarnock, to him and his heirs male whatever. The Stewarts, or as we may now call them, Stuarts of Bute, form in the history of their rise a sort of supplement to the histories of the Houses of Hamilton and Argyll, their powerful neighbours, existing by sufferance or support of one or the other, or being set up by the Crown as a counterweight or as a temporary substi- tute for them, as a centre of authority in these parts during the de-
pression of either of these families. They now took up a more independent and important position in public affairs. The first Earl joined the Duke of Atholl September 1, 1705, in protesting against the rejection of the clause prohibiting the Commissioners for the treaty of Union to depart the kingdom till the Act of the English Parliament declaring the subjects of Scotland aliens was repealed, nor did he attend the Parliament of 1707, in which the Union was passed. He died at Bath, June 4, 1710. His first wife was Agnes, eldest daughter of Sir George Mackenzie, of Rosehaugh, nephew of the first and second Earls of Seaforth, and King's Advocate in the reigns of Charles II. and James IL, by whom he had an only kon James. The Mackenzie estates,. after the death of Sir George, underwent a curious succession of legal. casualties. Sir George had settled them, failing heirs male of his own body, on the second son of Agnes, Countess of Bute (his eldest daughter), and the heirs male of his body, which failing, to her other younger sons in succession, and the heirs. male of their bodies, which failing, to the second and younger sons in succession of his second daughter Elizabeth, and the heirs male of their bodies, with other remainders. Sir George's only son, George, who succeeded him, died in 1707 without issue. The second daughter, Elizabeth, had married first Archibald Cockburn,. of Langton, and afterwards Sir James Mackenzie, of Roystown, by the former of whom she had, at the date of her brother's death, an only son, Archibald Cockburn. As neither of Sir George Macken- zie's daughters had a second son, Lord Montstuart, the only son of the Countess of Bute, was admitted as heir of tailzie to his uncle, notwithstanding the opposition of his Aunt Elizabeth, Lady Mac- kenzie, who contended that the estates should not pass to Lord Mountstuart during her life, as she might have a second son. And so it turned out, Lady Mackenzie bearing a second son,. George, about a year afterwards (by her second husband), and after extraordinary litigation, in which the judges were equally divided, and the Marquis of Annandale (one of the Extraordinary Lords) had to be called in to give a casting vote, it was decided. that Lord Montstuart must surrender the estates to his baby cousin, George Mackenzie. Lord Montatuart, however, continued. to put forward one legal objection after another, but they were being all decided against him, when his cousin Archibald Cock- burn, the elder son of Elizabeth, Lady Mackenzie, died, and. George Mackenzie becoming no longer the second, but the eldest• son, Lord Montstuart kept possession of the estates of his grand- father, Sir George Mackenzie. He succeeded his father as second Earl of Bute a few months after his ultimate triumph in the Mac- kenzie law-suit. He was a Hanoverian in politics, and after the accession of George I. was appointed one of the Commissioners. of Trade and Police in Scotland, Lord-Lieutenant of the county of Bute, and a Lord of the Bedchamber. During " the '15 " commanded the militia of Bute and Argyll at Inverary in the interest of the Government, was chosen in the same year one of the sixteen representative peers for Scotland, and re-chosen in 1722. He died in January, 1723, at the early age of 33. He had. married Lady Anne Campbell, only daughter of Archibald, first Duke of Argyll, and his second son, the Right Hon. James Stuart- Mackenzie (who succeeded to the Rosehaugh estates), also married- his cousin, Lady Elizabeth Campbell,fourth daughter of John, the celebrated Duke of Argyll. This gentleman sat for 42 years in the House of Commons, was Envoy Extraordinary to Turin, Keeper of the Privy Seal of Scotland, and a Privy Councillor. He was a man of some ability and strong scientific tastes, ambitions, but withal very cautious. He died in 1800, when the question a the succession of the Mackenzie estates again arose, and after liti- gation they were awarded to the Hon. James Archibald Stuart- Wortley, next brother of the then Marquis of Bute.
We now turn to the eldest son and successor of the second Earl of Bute, John, third Earl of Bute, the noted "favourite " of George III.. Historiansare now beginning to speak more coolly of this noble- man, and to assign him with more impartiality his proper intellec- tual and moral position. The extraordinary elevation to which for time he rose seems with his contemporaries to have magnified the extent both of his capacity and his disposition for political design and intrigue. His proper and natural sphere seems to have been in. reality private life, in which he displayed all the equable virtues of an English gentleman of limited means, considerable prudence in, their management, somewhat cold and formal manners, and a dis- criminating hospitality, and patronage of literature. His sudden elevation placed him in a position for which he was wholly unsuited, and excited ambitions and projects in his mind which he was wholly unequal to carry out. He thus got the reputation of being a dark, deep, and dangerous scheemer, when he was only a man of very moierate abilities and narrow prejudices, who was tempted to dabble in political affairs by being treated as an authority by others, and who hastily retired again iuto obscurity before a storm of popular obloquy, which assigned to the man himself the importance of the design which he had merely set on foot, and busied himself in a little. He was born in Parliament Square, Edinburgh, May 25, 1713, and became a Scotch re- presentative peer on a vacancy occurring in 1737, but he was not chosen again during the reign of George II. For some years he neither " enjoyed nor apparently aimed at political distinction." " In private life," says Lord Stanhope, " he.had borne a blameless character, having married in 1736 the only daughter of Lady Mary Wortley-Montagu, an excellent wife and mother, with whom he had quietlyresided at his seat of Caen Wood, near London, and moderately and prudently, yet not parsimoniously, maintained a large family from a scanty income: In 1750 he had received an appointment in the household of Prince Frederick, who used fre- quently to say, " Bute is a fine, showy man, and would make an excellent ambassador in any Court where there was no business." But he was little noticed by the public until it was seen that the widowed Princess honoured him with her highest trust and confi- dence. So sudden an elevation in a scandal-loving age produced, as might have been foreseen, rumours by no means favourable to the fame of the Princess. Such rumours in such a case are always easy to circulate and hard to disprove. Without attaching the slightest weight to them, it must, however, be owned that the abilities of Bute were by no means such as to justify his rapid rise. He had indeed several elegant accomplishments, some taste for. literature, and some knowledge of science. But he could gain no reputation either in council or debate. Proud and sensitive in his temper, he was easily elated and as easily depressed, and ill- qualified for the fierce encounters of the political arena. Like most men flushed by power unexpected and unearned, the people thought him prone to arbitrary measures as apparently the shortest road to his objects. Besides the resentment which such tendencies real or supposed commonly create, he had but little skill in con- ciliating adherents, being, at least to his inferiors, cold, reserved, and haughty in his manners. Whatever the subject, whether grave or trifling, he was equally slow and solemn in his tone. Once as he was speaking in the House of Lords, and as the words fell from him one by one, his kinsman, Charles Townshend, who was present, could not forbear exclaiming ' Minute guns ! '" A still more recent historian of the reigeof George III., Mr. Massey, re- ferring to the exaggerated contemporary ideas of an organized and systematic plot on the part of that King's " friends," observes, " Neither was the conduct of the Earl of Bnte, the reputed author and manager of this abstruce policy, consistent with the part attributed to him. Instead of keeping in the background, and retaining the direction of that secret interior cabinet, in which alone real power was to reside, he put himself forward with intemperate haste as a candidate for that exposed and prominent post which is the object a statesman's legitimate ambition. He was sworn of the Privy Council the day after the King's [George M.'s] accession. At the first opportunity he became Secretary of State, and a few months later he assumed the name and office of First Minister. All this time his language and conduct were those of a High Tory. So far from seeking to dissemble his master's views, he astonished and alarmed the Duke of Newcastle by quoting the King's personal pleasure as a reason for every- thing that was done, or ordered to be done. He named the Court candidates at the general election, and rated the First Lord of the Admiralty for having presumed to dispose of the Admiralty boroughs without the King's express directions. All this might be arrogant and unconstitutional, but nothing could surely be further removed from subtle intrigue and clandestine management. Bute and his system were unpopular ; the vulgar clamour, however, was raised not against the unconstitutional chief of a dark cabal, but against the upstart Scot, the favourite, the minion of the Princess mother. Yet the scandal implied by the latter epithet may have had no other foundation than the fact that Bute had been for many years the confidential friend of the Princess, and
the chief officer of her household. Neither was Bute a favourite
in the odious sense which history attaches to that term, though the jealousy and rage of faction did not hesitate to countenance
such a prejudice. The King had from his earliest years been
taught that his first duty was to cast off the thraldom in which his grandfather had been held by political combinations. Bute had no doubt inculcated this precept, and it was almost a matter of course that the chief political instructor of George III. should be the Minister on whose counsel and aid he first re- lied in bringing the new system of Government into operation. To this extent Lord Bute enjoyed favour and credit, but when he proved incompetent to the task he had undertaken, the King cast him aside and sought for other services. It is now well ascertaine d that instead of being the ruling genius of a Court cabal for years subsequent to his retirement from office, Bute had scarcely any communication with the Court after that period, and complained, not without reason, of the King's neglect and ingratitude."
The outline of his political career may be drawn in a few words. He was created a Gentleman of the Bedchamber to Frederick, Prince of Wales, October 17, 1750, and after the death of that Prince was appointed Groom of the Stole to his son George, Prince of Wales, and confirmed by the latter in that post at his accession. This post he exchanged for that of one of the principal Secretaries of State, March 25, 1761. The same year he was appointed Ranger and Keeper of Richmond Park, and had the Order of the Garter given him. On the 29th of May, 1762, he was appointed First Lord of the Treasury on the resignation of Newcastle, and held this position till the 16th of April, 1763. His great act of merit or demerit during his ascendency was the conclusion of the peace of Paris against the will of the elder Pitt, and certainly against the prevailing feeling of the nation. The charge of personal cor- ruption has been brought against him in connection with this treaty, but no evidence has ever been brought forward, and it seems to rest entirely on party rancour and the idea that Bute's investments of money were disproportionally large to the income of his paternal estates. The clamour against him in the North Briton paper and the Wilkes mobs are matters of history, and the English hatred of the Northern favourite rendered this about the most turbulent period of the reign of his Royal master. Yet, though the popular clamour was exaggerated and unreasonable enough in its professed watch-words, there can be no doubt that it really derived much of its vitality from an uneasy conscious- ness, scarcely self-recognized, in the national mind that there was a new attempt commencing on the part of the Crown to revert to the right-divine dogma of the Stuart period, and that Lord Bute was intimately connected with this new policy.. The Earl continued to be consulted for a short time and at increasingly longer intervals by the King after his resignation, but he gradually disappeared from the public eye and thought, and was probably entirely~ forgotten at the time of his death, March 10, 1792, the rise of the younger Pitt and the French Revolution having quite replaced the earlier events of the reign of the King in the minds of the rising generation.