William Stewart, 1st Viscount Mountjoy

William Stewart, 1st Viscount Mountjoy (1653–1692), was an Anglo-Irish peer and soldier.

William Stewart
Viscount Mountjoy
Born1650 or 1653
Died3 August 1692
Battle of Steenkerque
Spouse(s)Mary Coote
FatherAlexander Stewart, 2nd Baronet, of Ramelton

Early lifeEdit

William Stewart was born in 1653,[1] the son of Sir Alexander Stewart, 2nd Baronet, of Ramelton. His family was from Donegal, Ulster Scots, and Protestant.


He was appointed Master-General of the Ordnance and colonel of a regiment of foot. In 1682 Charles II created him Viscount Mountjoy and Baron Stewart in the Peerage of Ireland.

In 1686 Mountjoy served the Holy League (1684) in Hungary at the siege of Buda, where he was twice dangerously wounded.

On his return to Ireland he was made a brigadier-general. Macaulay styled him "a brave soldier, an accomplished scholar."[2] In Dublin he was the centre of a small circle of learned and ingenious men, who had, under his presidency, formed themselves into a Royal Society.

In 1685 Charles II died and King James II acceded to the throne. James started replacing Protestants in Ireland with Catholics. In 1687 James appointed a new viceroy: Richard Talbot, Earl Tyrconnell.

In 1688 James asked Tyrconnell for good Irish troops to defend England. These troops left in September and October 1688.[3] Tyrconnell felt it necessary to replace these troops and decided to raise four new regiments one for each Irish province. The regiment for Ulster was to be raised by the Earl of Antrim, a Catholic nobleman of Scottish origin. Antrim, already in his seventies, hired 1,200 Scottish mercenaries (i.e. redshanks), making sure they were all Catholics. The unit should have been ready by 20 November, but delays occurred.

In 1688, Mountjoy commanded the regiment stationed in Derry. During the Glorious Revolution he stayed loyal to James while most Protestants declared for the Prince of Orange. Nevertheless, Tyrconnell did not trust Mountjoy and sought to garrison Derry with more reliable troops. On 23 November 1688 Tyrconnell ordered Mountjoy to march to Dublin for embarking to England.[4] He then sent Alexander MacDonnell, Earl of Antrim to occupy Derry with his newly raised regiment, but when Antrim eventually reached the city on 7 December, he found the gates shut against him by the 13 apprentice boys. This was the beginning of the Protestant revolt in Ulster. Tyrconnell then sent Mountjoy back to Derry.[5] Mountjoy succeeded to strike a deal with the town on 21 December, and two of the companies of his regiment, consisting entirely of Protestants, were let into the town.[6] Mountjoy became governor of Derry but soon delegated the office to Robert Lundy.

Despite of this success, Tyrconnell decided to get rid of Mountjoy. He asked him to accept a diplomatic mission to France together with Stephen Rice. After some hesitations, Mountjoy agreed and he and Rice left for France on 10 January 1689. However, Rice had secret letters from Tyrconnell for Louis XIV that insinuated that Mountjoy should be arrested. He was accordingly thrown into the Bastille and kept there until 1692. While he was imprisoned, the Parliament of Ireland passed a bill of attainder requiring Stewart and two to three thousand others to report to Dublin for sentencing; Stewart in particular was directed to break out of the Bastille in order to report, under pain of being drawn and quartered."[7]

In April 1692 Montjoy was exchanged for Richard Hamilton.[8] On his release from the Bastille, he did indeed switch loyalties and joined William's army in Flanders as a General, losing his life at the battle of Steenkerque on 3 August 1692.


He married the Honourable Mary Coote, daughter of Richard Coote, 1st Baron Coote. They had six sons and two daughters, including:[9]

On his death in 1692, his title passed to his eldest son William.[9]

Through his eldest son William, he was the grandfather of five boys and four girls, including William Stewart, 1st Earl of Blessington and 3rd Viscount Mountjoy (1709–1769). Through his daughter Mary, he was the grandfather of two from her first marriage, including Jane Preston (c. 1690–1746) who married Alexander Breckenridge (1686–1743), Col. John Preston (1699–1747), and three more children from her second marriage, including George Forbes, 4th Earl of Granard who married his cousin Letitia, daughter of Arthur Davys of Hampstead.[11]


  1. ^ Wills 1841, p. 331: "BORN A. D. 1653—KILLED A. D. 1692"
  2. ^ Macaulay 1855, p. 146.
  3. ^ Childs 2007, p. 3, line 14: "To strengthen his forces in the face of the Dutch threat, James ordered the better elements of the Irish Army into England. One regiment of dragoons, a battalion of Foot Guards, and Anthony Hamilton's and Lord Forbes's battalions of line infantry , a total of 2,964 men, sailed to Chester during September and early October."
  4. ^ Lodge 1789, p. 248: "... which the Lord Deputy Tyrconnel perceiving, he ordered their march towards Dublin by 23 November that year, for their transportation to England, ..."
  5. ^ Childs 2007, p. 7, bottom: "Mountjoy's battalion, which had already trudged 176 km and was within three days march of Dublin, was ordered to turn round and recapture the town with musket and pike."
  6. ^ Witherow 1879, p. 199: "... in pursuance of an arrangement with Mountjoy of the 21st of December, the citizens of Derry had admitted a part of his regiment to garrison their town.
  7. ^ Macaulay 1855, p. 217: "Among the attainted Lords was Mountjoy. He had been induced by the villany of Tyrconnell to trust himself to St. Germains: he had been thrown into the Bastille; he was still lying there; and the Irish parliament was not ashamed to enact that, unless he could, whith a few weeks, make his escape from his cell and present himself at Dublin, he should be put to death."
  8. ^ Clark 1921, p. 108: "In April of the next year, 1692, he [Richard Hamilton] was at last allowed to go to France and was there exchanged for Lord Mountjoy."
  9. ^ a b Debrett, John (1820). Debrett's Peerage of England, Scotland, and Ireland. p. 1065. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
  10. ^ Debrett's Peerage of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. 1825. p. 984. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
  11. ^ Selby, Walford Dakin (1886). The Genealogist, Vol. III. George Bell & Sons. p. 363. Retrieved 18 December 2017.


Further readingEdit

Peerage of Ireland
New creation Viscount Mountjoy
Succeeded by
William Stewart
Baronetage of Ireland
Preceded by
Alexander Stewart
(of Ramelton)
Succeeded by
William Stewart