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Robert Stewart, 1st Marquess of Londonderry

Robert Stewart, 1st Marquess of Londonderry PC (Ire) (27 September 1739 – 6 April 1821), was an Irish politician and landowner, the father of politician Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh. He is an ancestor of Winston Churchill.

The Marquess of Londonderry

Robert Stewart (1739–1821), 1st Marquess of Londonderry, MP by Hugh Douglas Hamilton.jpg
The Marquess of Londonderry by Hugh Douglas Hamilton.
Personal details
Spouse(s)Lady Sarah Frances Seymour
Lady Frances Pratt
ChildrenRobert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh
Charles William Vane, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry
ParentsAlexander Stewart
Mary Cowan


Early life in DublinEdit

Robert Stewart was born in 1739, as the eldest son of Alexander Stewart, alderman of Londonderry (or Derry) in 1760, and Mary Cowan, daughter of John Cowan, also an alderman of that same town. Through his mother Robert was the nephew of Robert Cowan, the wealthy Governor of Bombay.[1] His grandfather was Captain William Stewart, who commanded one of the two companies of Protestant soldiers that Derry admitted into town when Mountjoy was sent to Derry by Tyrconnell before the start of the siege.[2]

The arms of Robert Stewart Earl of Londonderry[3]

Irish House of Commons 1771–1783Edit

He was elected to the Irish House of Commons in 1771 as member for Down. Between 1775 and 1783 he lived in Bangor with his wife, while his father was living at Mount Stewart.

In 1779, worried by the presence of American and French vessels in the Irish sea, he organised the Newtownards Company of 115 men to act as fencibles. When he lost his seat in 1783, he was appointed to the Irish Privy Council. In the same year he inherited his father's properties in counties Londonderry and Down and settled at Mount Stewart, in the grounds of which he completed the Temple of the Winds, which his father had commissioned.

Irish House of LordsEdit

In 1789 he was created Baron Londonderry in the Peerage of Ireland.[4] The following year he took his son (the future Viscount Castlereagh) out of Cambridge University and had him run for the seat of County Down in the Parliament in Dublin, which he won. In 1795 he became Viscount Castlereagh.[5] The following year he was elevated to Earl of Londonderry.[6] His second son at this point also gained a seat in the Dublin Parliament.

Robert Stewart and his two sons favoured the Act of Union and fought to have it presented once more after it had been turned down in 1799. As a result of the vote, Robert Stewart obtained a seat in the House of Lords in London, which he never took up. In 1816 he was created Marquess of Londonderry, due to the influence of his son, Lord Castlereagh. This title is again in the Peerage of Ireland. From 1801 until his death he was an Irish representative peer. He achieved the rare feat to rise from a commoner to a Marquess.

Family tree:
Robert Stewart with red frame; marquesses with background

Mary Cowan
d. 1788
Sarah Frances


d. 1812


Note: first wife on the left, second on the right.

Marriages and issueEdit

Robert Stewart married twice. He married firstly in 1755 Lady Sarah Frances Seymour (27 September 1747 – 20 July 1770), daughter of Francis Seymour-Conway, 1st Marquess of Hertford. Together they had a son:[7]

After Lady Sarah's death in childbirth, the elder Robert Stewart married, on 7 June 1775, Lady Frances Pratt, daughter of Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden (1714–1794).[8] With Lady Frances he had another son:

He died at his home of Mount Stewart, County Down, and was buried at the nearby Newtownards Priory, where his father already had been laid to rest.

Notes and ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "The Cowan inheritance" (PDF). The Londonderry Estate Office Archive. Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. Retrieved 1 November 2008.
  2. ^ Bew 2012, p. 6: "His son, Colonel William Stewart, had raised a troop of horse during the siege of Londonderry by James II in 1689, making them the archetypal Ulster Scots settlers."
  3. ^ Debrett 1808, p. 61: Note that this drawing appears under the heading "Earls of Ireland"]
  4. ^ "No. 13131". The London Gazette. 9 September 1789. p. 597. The Right Honourable Robert Stewart, Baron Londonderry
  5. ^ "No. 13821". The London Gazette. 10 October 1795. p. 1052. To Robert Lord Londonderry, and the Heirs Male of his Body lawfully begotten, the Dignity of Viscount Castlereagh, of Castlereagh in the County Down
  6. ^ "No. 13922". The London Gazette. 10 August 1796. p. 781. To Robert Lord Viscount Castlereagh, and the Heirs Male of his Body lawfully begotten, by the Name Stile and Title of Earl of Londonderry, of the County of Londonderry
  7. ^ Debrett (1800), p. 635: "ROBERT, eldest son, was created baron Stewart, 1789; viscount Castlereagh, 1795; earl of Londonderry, 1796; and marquess of Londonderry, 1816. The marquess m. 1st 3 June 1755 Sarah-Frances Seymour, 2nd da. of Francis, 1st marquess of Hertford, K.G., and by her (who d. 17 July 1770) had issue, 1. Alexander-Francis, d. 1769 2. ROBERT, 2nd marquess. The marquess m. 2ndly, 7 June 1775, Frances, eldest da. of Charles Pratt, 1st earl Camden, and sister to the present marquess Camden, and had issue, 3. CHARLES-WILLIAM, 3rd marquess ..."
  8. ^ Rigg, J. M. (1896). "Pratt, Charles (1714-1794)" . In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 46. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
Parliament of Ireland
Preceded by
Roger Hall
Bernard Ward
Member of Parliament for Down
With: Roger Hall 1771–1776
Arthur Hill, Viscount Kilwarlin 1776–1783
Succeeded by
Arthur Hill, Viscount Kilwarlin
Hon. Edward Ward
Peerage of Ireland
New creation Marquess of Londonderry
Succeeded by
Robert Stewart
Earl of Londonderry
Viscount Castlereagh
Baron Londonderry