STUART, Hon. Frederick (1751-1802).
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Family and Education
Early showing himself the black sheep of the family, Stuart ran away from Oxford to Paris in 1768 at the age of 17, but was sent back. His father resolved to send him to India, and a writership in the East India Company was obtained for him.1 He sailed for Bengal in 1769, but was back in England by 1772. He was sent out again, much against his will, the Company on 13 Mar. 1772 permitting him to return without loss of rank.2 Once more in Bengal, he was taken into the circle of Warren Hastings, now governor of Bengal (who had already befriended him). Hastings not only lent him sums totalling over £4,000, but gave him a mission to the Nawab of Arcot and, though he later spoke disparagingly of Stuart’s ability and character, appears to have promised him the profitable position of resident at the court of the Vizier of Oude.3 Stuart was also on friendly terms with Richard Barwell, who considered him likely to attain prominence in the service. The arrival in 1774 of the three new members of council, appointed under the Regulating Act of 1773, wrecked his prospects, however, and he applied for permission to return to England.4 Armed with letters and a dispatch from Hastings, he arrived in time to help Hastings’s supporters in 1775-6 in fighting to prevent his recall. Though he had been in private somewhat critical of Hastings, he now zealously espoused his cause, as did his family connexions (though Lord Bute was annoyed with Hastings for not preventing his son from leaving India). At first all seemed to go well. In the abortive arrangements made by Lauchlin Macleane for Hastings’s resignation, Stuart was among the Company servants promised reinstatement, but when these broke down he failed to get any position; while the Government put a stop to a plan for the Nawab of Arcot to employ him as ambassador to the British court.5
In 1776 Stuart had been brought into Parliament on the family interest for Ayr Burghs; it was hoped he would make his mark in the House, and on 29 Feb. 1776 he made what seems to have been his maiden speech in support of Administration.6 But in 1780 no seat was found for him, he had incurred heavy debts while in London, and at the beginning of 1782 he fled from his creditors.7 For some months at least he lived in retirement in Paris, avoiding his friends, but he disappears from sight between the end of 1783 and 1796. Warren Hastings believed him to be living ‘in indigence and vagrancy’, and was ‘told that he had entered himself in some monastery on the Continent, and continued in it long enough to become its cashier’.8
He died 17 May 1802.
Ref Volumes: 1754-1790
Author: Lucy S. Sutherland
- 1. Jenkinson Pprs. 70; E.I. Co. ct. bk. 77, p. 455.
- 2. E.I. Co. ct. bk. 80, p. 506; Add. 29133, f. 221.
- 3. Bengal Past and Present, lii. 5-9; Add 29232, ff. 240-255.
- 4. E.I. Co. Home Misc. 118, f. 156.
- 5. Add. 29147, ff. 310-11; Bengal Past and Present, xvi. 78.
- 6. Almon, iii. 349.
- 7. W. A. S. Hewins, Whitefoord Pprs. 180-2; Francis mss Eur. E. 19, f. 42.
- 8. Bengal Past and Present, lii. 8.