STUART (afterwards STUART WORTLEY MACKENZIE), Hon. James Archibald (1747-1818), of Admaleish, Bute.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1768 - 1774
1774 - 1780
30 Nov. 1780 - 1784
1784 - 1790
1790 - 1796
22 Feb. 1797 - 1802
1806 - 1807

Family and Education

b. 19 Sept. 1747, 2nd s. of John, 3rd Earl of Bute [S], and bro. of Hon. Charles Stuart* and Hon. Frederick Stuart*. educ. di Graffiani’s acad. Kensington; Edinburgh Univ. 1766-7; France 1767-8. m. 8 June 1767, Margaret, da. of Sir David Cunynghame, 3rd Bt., of Milncraig, Ayr, 4s. 3da. suc. mother 1794 and took additional name of Wortley 17 Jan. 1795; uncle Hon. James Stuart Mackenzie 1800 and took additional name of Mackenzie.

Offices Held

Lt.-col. commdt. 92 Ft. 1779-83, maj. 1783; lt.-col. Sutherland fencibles 1793, 1 W. Yorks. militia 1798.

Dep. ranger, Windsor New Park 1786-d.


By his grandfather’s will Stuart was designated next heir (after his mother) to the vast Wortley fortune, failing legitimate issue of his disinherited uncle, Edward Wortley Montagu. Notorious from his student days at Edinburgh as the leader of a riot and afterwards as a heavy drinker and gambler, he had been sobered by the death of a young daughter in 1786. ‘I think’, wrote his sister Louisa in 1788, ‘his misfortune has altered and improved him—made him much gentler.’ Boswell considered him ‘a man of sterling good sense, information, discernment and conviviality’. He had supported Fox in 1784 and was a friend of William Adam, but he did not play an active part in opposition politics owing to his quieter way of life and his father’s natural inclination not to oppose the King’s ministers.1

In 1790 Stuart was returned for Bossiney, the family seat in Cornwall. He was listed favourable to repeal of the Test Act in Scotland in April 1791. He voted against Pitt, 1 Mar. 1792, on the Oczakov crisis, having been absent on the previous division of 12 Apr. 1791; but it seems to have been his last such vote. He was listed a Portland Whig in December 1792 and thought of by Windham as a member of his ‘third party’ early in 1793. He went over to government. He succeeded his mother in 1794 and two years later made way at Bossiney for his eldest son, John Stuart Wortley, on whose death in 1797 he resumed the seat. He is not known to have spoken in debate. In that Parliament, during which he proceeded to Ireland with the Yorkshire militia, and was appointed to the East India judicature committee, his only known vote was on 31 Mar. 1802 in favour of the Prince of Wales’s claims to the revenues of the duchy of Cornwall. At the subsequent general election he bestowed his seat on his second son, James Stuart Wortley.

He had succeeded his uncle James Stuart Mackenzie, lord privy seal of Scotland, in 1800. The entail of 1689 was so ambiguously worded that the inheritance was contested by his nephew, Lord Herbert Windsor Stuart. The judgment of the court of session in Stuart’s favour was confirmed by the House of Lords on 4 Mar. 1803 and he came into possession of extensive estates in Ross-shire and Angus. Known by this time as Stuart Wortley Mackenzie, he lived in political retirement, spending considerable time on his property, improving the drainage at Belmont in particular. His new daughter-in-law who called him ‘Pops’ or the ‘Lion’, said of him in 1800: ‘His temper is quite divine and he was very talkative and entertaining and put me entirely at my ease’. He had never been able to manage his financial affairs and the increased expense of his agricultural works, together with his other failings, placed him in pecuniary difficulties. In 1806 he came into Parliament again for Buteshire on his brother’s interest and was described as ‘violent’ in opposition, but he does not seem to have taken an active part against the Grenville ministry. In March 1807 he wished to resign his seat from ‘declining health’, but his brother asked him to postpone it for electoral reasons and to take two months’ leave of absence instead.2

After 1807 Stuart again retired from political life. He was content to leave the stage to his son James and returned to his estates. He had applied to Pitt for a peerage, 31 July 1805, and received a promise. He applied to the Duke of Portland in 1807, but to no avail. His daughter-in-law reported that he much enjoyed a harlequinade farce at Covent Garden called A New Way to pay Old Debts in January 1810.3 He continued to live beyond his means until his death, 1 Mar. 1818.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: D. G. Henry


  • 1. Gleanings from an Old Portfolio, ii. 93; Life of Johnson, iii. 399; Boswell Private Pprs. xv. 195, xvi. 215; E. Stuart Wortley, A Prime Minister and His Son, 198, 203.
  • 2. C. Grosvenor, The First Lady Wharncliffe, i. 53; Sheffield City Lib. Wharncliffe mss, Stuart Wortley to his father, ?Mar. 1808; Harrowby mss, Ryder to Harrowby, 9 Jan.; Blair Adam mss, Bute to Adam, 11 Mar. 1807.
  • 3. PRO 30/8/154, f. 220; SRO GD51/1/195/24; Grosvenor, i. 170.