John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute

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The Earl of Bute

John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute

The Duke of Newcastle
Prime Minister
George Grenville
Term: 26 May 176216 April 1763
Date of Birth: 25 May 1713
Place of Birth: Parliament Square, London
Date of Death: 10 March 1792
Place of Death: Grosvenor Square, London
Political Party: Tory

John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute (May 25, 1713 - March 10, 1792), was a Scottish nobleman who served as Prime Minister of Great Britain (1762-1763) under George III.

A close relative of the Campbell clan (his mother was a daughter of the First Duke of Argyll), Bute succeeded to the earldom upon his father's death in 1723. He was brought up thereafter by his maternal uncles, the Duke of Argyll and the Earl of Ilay, and studied at Eton and the University of Leiden. On August 27, 1736, he married Mary Wortley Montagu (daughter of Edward and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu), bringing the large Wortley estates to his family. In 1737, due to the influence of his uncles, he was elected a Scottish representative peer, but he was not very active in the Lords and was not reelected in 1741. For the next several years he retired to his estates in Scotland to manage his affairs and indulge his interest in botany.

During the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, Bute moved to London, and two years later he there met the Prince of Wales. Bute soon became a close associate of the Prince. Upon Frederick's death in 1751, the education of his son, Prince George, became a priority and in 1755 Bute was appointed as his tutor. Bute arranged for Prince George and his brother Edward to follow a course of lectures on natural philosophy by the itinerant lecturer Stephen Demainbray. This led to an increased interest in natural philosophy on the part of the young Prince George and was one in a series of events that led to the establishment of the George III Collection of natural philosophical instruments. Furthermore, following the Prince's death, Bute became close to his widow, Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, the Dowager Princess of Wales. It was rumoured that the couple were having an affair, and indeed soon after John Horne (an associate of Prince George) published a scandalous pamphlet alluding to a liason between Bute and Augusta. Despite this, rumours of this affair were almost certainly untrue: Bute being a deeply religious man and happily married.

Because of the influence he had over his pupil, Bute expected to rise quickly to political power following George's accession to the throne in 1760, but his plans were premature. He was indeed appointed the de facto Prime Minister, and was successful in ending the Whig dominance and the Seven Years' War, but King George began to see through him, and turned against him after being criticised for an official speech which the press recognised as Bute's own work. The journalist John Wilkes published a newspaper called The North Briton, in which both Bute and the Dowager Princess of Wales were savagely satirised. Bute resigned as prime minister shortly afterwards. He remained friendly with the Dowager Princess of Wales, but her attempts to reconcile him with George III proved futile.

For the remainder of his life, Bute remained at his estate in Hampshire, from where he continued his pursuit of botany and became a major literary and artistic patron. Among his beneficiaries were Samuel Johnson, Tobias Smollett, Robert Adam, and William Robertson. He also gave considerably to the Scottish universities. His botanical work culminated in the publication of Botanical Tables Containing the Families of British Plants in 1785.

He died in London on 10 March, 1792, and was buried on the Isle of Bute in Scotland.

The flowering plant genus Stuartia is named after him.


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Arms of John Stuart
  1. Mary Crichton-Stuart (b. c. 1741) m. James Lowther, 1st Earl of Lonsdale on 7 September 1761.
  2. John Crichton-Stuart, 1st Marquess of Bute (30 June 174416 November 1814)
  3. Anne Crichton-Stuart (b. c. 1745) m. Hugh Percy, 2nd Duke of Northumberland on 2 July 1764.
  4. James Archibald Stuart-Wortley-Mackenzie (19 September 17471 March 1818)
  5. Jane Crichton-Stuart (b. c. 174828 February 1828) m. George Macartney, 1st Earl Macartney on 1 February 1768.
  6. Sir Charles Crichton-Stuart (January 175325 May 1801)
  7. Most Rev. William Crichton-Stuart, Archbishop of Armagh (Church of Ireland) (March 17556 March 1822)
  8. Lady Caroline Stuart (before 1763–January 1813) m. John Dawson, 1st Earl of Portarlington on 1 January 1778.


Preceded by:
The Earl of Holdernesse
Secretary of State for the Northern Department
Succeeded by:
George Grenville
Preceded by:
The Duke of Newcastle
Prime Minister
Succeeded by:
George Grenville
Preceded by:
The Duke of Newcastle
Leader of the House of Lords
Succeeded by:

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Preceded by:
James Stuart
Earl of Bute Succeeded by:
John Stuart
de:John Stuart, 3. Earl of Bute


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