STEWART, Alexander I (c.1739-94), of Afton, Ayr and Cairne, Wigtown.
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Family and Education
b. c.1739, 2nd s. of John Stewart† of Castle Stewart by Jean Craik of Duchra, Kirkcudbright; bro, of William Stewart† of Castle Stewart. m. 1 Feb. 1770, Catherine, da. of Thomas Gordon of Earlston, Kirkcudbright and Afton, 1s. 4da.
Lt. 37 Ft. 1756, capt. 1761, maj. 1771; lt.-col. 3 Ft. 1775; brig.-gen. (America) 1781-3; col. 1782, maj.-gen. 1790; col. 2 Ft. 1793-d.
From a cadet branch of the Galloway family, whose property was encumbered, Stewart entered the army and quickly established a reputation for efficiency. His marriage brought him estates in Ayrshire and he acted independently in local politics in that county and in the Stewartry. Professedly a government supporter, he was returned to Parliament in 1786 in accordance with the terms of an electoral pact. After soliciting Pitt for the governorship of Jamaica (1785), the colonelcy of his regiment (1786) and for civil employment (1788), he voted with the Prince of Wales’s friends on the Regency. In June 1789, Henry Dundas, acting on behalf of Pitt, brusquely dismissed Stewart’s hopes of advancement. Within a fortnight of this, Stewart applied for the colonelcy of a regiment. Described as ‘not steady in opposition’ he succeeded in regaining the good opinion of Dundas and was reelected as a friend in 1790.1
Stewart supported Pitt silently in the House, though on 10 May 1791 he voted unexpectedly for the exemption of Scotland from the Test Act. On 1 Apr. 1791, applying to Pitt for the colonelcy of the 74th regiment, then in India, he wrote, ‘I believe there is now of that rank but me without a regiment that votes with you in the House, which I have uniformly done and attended regularly this session’. His conduct and repeated applications to the prime minister obtained for him the colonelcy of the Queen’s royal regiment in 1793 and he was appointed to the command of the 1st brigade of infantry on the Continent in 1794. Invalided home towards the end of the year, he ‘fell a sacrifice to an illness contracted in consequence of the fatigues he had undergone’, dying 16 Dec. 1794.2