CRICHTON STUART, Lord Patrick James Herbert (1794-1859), of Rosemount, nr. Kilmarnock, Ayr and Cardiff Castle, Glam.
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Family and Educationb. 25 Aug. 1794, 2nd and posth. s. of John Stuart†, Visct. Mountstuart, and Lady Elizabeth Penelope Crichton, da. and h. of Patrick, 6th earl of Dumfries [S]. educ. Eton 1808; Christ’s, Camb. 1812. m. 13 July 1818, Hannah, da. of William Tighe† of Woodstock, co. Kilkenny, 2s. 1da. Took additional name of Crichton 21 Mar. 1817; patent of precedence as son of a mq. 28 May 1817. d. 7 Sept. 1859.
Constable, Cardiff Castle, 1823.
Ld. lt. Bute 1854-d.
Crichton Stuart, or Lord James Stuart as he was commonly known, had replaced his uncle Lord Evelyn James Stuart as Member for Cardiff Boroughs in 1818, despite opposition raised by a faction led by the Wood family, who sought to weaken his brother the 2nd marquess of Bute’s control over the constituency and Cardiff corporation. Unlike Bute, whose heir he remained until 1847, he supported the Whig opposition, and his silent votes with them in the 1818 Parliament had brought him independent constituency support.1 He was requisitioned to stand there again in 1820, when his brother considered offering him for Ayr Burghs and had arrangements in place to return him, if required, for Buteshire.2 As directed by their local agent Peter Taylor Walker, he stayed away from Cardiff Boroughs, which returned Bute’s nominee, the Dowlais ironmaster Wyndham Lewis of Green Meadow, after a bitter contest. He was seated for Buteshire.3
Crichton Stuart aligned with the main Whig opposition in the 1820 Parliament, voted against Lord Liverpool’s ministry in almost all major divisions, and was unstinting in his support for the ‘Mountain’ and Hume’s campaigns for economy and retrenchment until 1823, when he apparently abstained from voting on several issues in an endeavour to minimise political conflict with his brother and safeguard their constituency interests. A radical publication in 1825 noted that he ‘attended regularly, and voted with the opposition’.4 He backed the 1820-1 parliamentary campaign on behalf of Queen Caroline, and divided for Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May 1825. He voted for a scot and lot franchise for Leeds under the Grampound disfranchisement bill, 2 Mar., to disqualify civil officers of the ordnance from voting in parliamentary elections, 12 Apr., and for reform, 9 May 1821, 25 Apr. 1822, 24 Apr. 1823. He supported the campaign for Scottish burgh reform as a member of the 1819-21 committees, but did not vote to reform the Scottish county representation, 10 May 1821. He cast a critical vote on the lord advocate’s dealings with the Scottish press, 25 June 1822, and voted to debate the findings of the commission of inquiry into Scottish courts, 30 Mar. 1824. He presented the Buteshire petition against currency changes in Scotland, 17 Mar. 1826.5 He had been sworn in as constable of Cardiff Castle and stewarded the October races there in 1823 preparatory to resuming the representation of those Boroughs, when that of Buteshire transferred to Caithness at the dissolution.6 However, the Dowlais Company, which had rejected Bute’s renewal terms for their lease, and the Glamorgan Canal Company, which opposed Bute’s plans for the port of Cardiff, encouraged opposition. By February 1824 Lewis was campaigning openly for re-election and Crichton Stuart commenced his two-year canvass when he accompanied Bute to the April 1824 sessions at Cardiff.7 The other leading protagonists, the 6th duke of Beaufort and Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot* of Margam, were initially hostile, and Beaufort cited Crichton Stuart’s pro-Catholic and opposition votes as reasons for denying him support.8 Bute countered by threatening retaliation in Monmouth Boroughs. In October 1824 Crichton Stuart informed Joseph Phillimore*, who had suggested government mediation though Charles Williams Wynn*, that the offer was premature.9 When dissolution seemed imminent in July 1825, Bute wrote to Beaufort:
I flatter myself that my brother now, if the votes of so quiet an individual have been attended to, can no longer be objected to by you as a thorough partisan of opposition although he acts with them on some great public questions.10
Talbot declared for him in February 1826 and nominated him at the general election in June, when a contest was narrowly averted through Lewis’s late resignation.11
He divided for Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827, 12 May 1828, and presented a favourable petition from the Catholics of Monmouth, 6 May 1828, and several for Test Acts repeal from Dissenters and others in Glamorgan, 30 May 1827, 22, 26 Feb. 1828, when he also divided for it. He voted against sluicing the franchise at East Retford, 21 Mar., and presented a petition from Cowbridge against the alehouse licensing bill, 23 May 1828. Bute welcomed Wellington’s decision to concede Catholic emancipation in 1829, and as the patronage secretary Planta predicted, Crichton Stuart divided for it, 6, 30 Mar. Bute, who already paid his constituency expenses, now granted him an additional £500 a year.12 He was one of 28 ‘opposition Members’ who voted against Knatchbull’s amendment to include reference to distress in the address, 4 Feb. 1830. He voted to transfer East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 1 Feb., 5, Mar., to enfranchise Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb., and steadily throughout May with the revived Whig opposition, including a paired vote for Jewish emancipation, 17 May. Attending to constituency business, he took charge of the Swansea gas bill, 16 Feb., voiced support for the campaign against the coal duties, 11 Mar., and voted for their repeal in Ireland, 13 May 1830. He co-operated with Lewis’s business partner Josiah John Guest* and Talbot’s stepfather Sir Christopher Cole* to secure the passage of the contentious Bute (Cardiff) ship canal bill enacted shortly before the 1830 dissolution. His return was not opposed and he brought his wife and young family to Cardiff to preside over the entertainments. He also attended Talbot’s election for Glamorgan and proposed the toast to him at the dinner.13
A scurrilous publication, A Peep at the Peers, reported that Bute and his family received £60,000 a year in sinecures and pensions, and when the home secretary Peel alluded to it in the debate on the civil list, 12 Nov. 1830, Crichton Stuart denounced it as ‘full of gross and infamous falsehoods’ and asserted that Bute had not received ‘6d. of public money’ since 1814. The Wellington ministry listed him among the ‘good doubtfuls’ and regarded him as ‘a friend where not pledged’, but he and his cousin Lord Dudley Coutts Stuart divided against them on the civil list when they were brought down, 15 Nov.14 He presented numerous petitions against slavery, the assessed taxes and the coal duties in 1830-1 and strenuously endorsed the latter, 17 Dec. 1830.15 Writing to Lady Holland, 7 Mar. 1831, the Whig Member George Agar Ellis commented that he was ‘glad to find that James Crichton Stuart votes with us in spite of Lord Bute’, who threatened to withdraw his electoral patronage because of their political differences.16 Bute had recently been warned by his Cardiff agent, Edward Priest Richards, of the danger of turning out Crichton Stuart, because he could attract a strong following in Cardiff’s western boroughs, where Bute himself was weakest, and because an alternative nominee had little prospect of electoral success.17 The Grey ministry’s reform bill proposed dividing Cardiff Boroughs and making Aberavon, Kenfig, Loughor and Neath contributories of Swansea, while Cardiff, which retained Cowbridge and Llantrisant, acquired the city of Llandaff and industrial town of Merthyr Tydfil. Crichton Stuart presented favourable petitions from Cowbridge and Neath, 21 Mar., and divided for the bill at its second reading, 22 Mar., and against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. He arrived in Cardiff, 27 Apr. 1831, with his return at the ensuing general election assured, to find canvassing under way for the post-reform Boroughs and Glamorgan, which, as he had urged, had been conceded a second Member.18 On the hustings, he ended speculation about his future candidature for Glamorgan, where his popularity had increased ‘a hundredfold’, by declaring his intention of standing for Cardiff. He also explained that his anti-government vote on the civil list had been motivated by his support for reform, which, despite pressure from Bute and his family, he would never renounce.19
Crichton Stuart presented Cardiff’s petition for the abolition of stamp duty on marine insurance policies, 4 July 1831, and unlike Bute, Glamorgan’s lord lieutenant, he interceded with lord chancellor Brougham to try to prevent the execution of the Merthyr rioter Richard Lewis (Dick Penderyn).20 He voted for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, and fairly steadily for its details, but he cast a wayward vote for Lord Chandos’s amendment to enfranchise £50 tenants-at-will, 18 Aug., and opposed the bill’s provisions for Glamorgan and its boroughs, where these conflicted with Bute’s interests. He presented and endorsed reform petitions from Cardiff, Cowbridge and Merthyr Tydfil, which called additionally for independent representation for Merthyr, 4 Aug., and, comparing it with the Staffordshire iron towns of Walsall and Wolverhampton, which were awarded separate representation, he complained:
I have been a humble supporter of the government on all occasions; but I must say, that in this instance, I hope through inadvertence, it has acted most unjustly by those whom I have the honour to represent. The petitioners complain that the effect of the present bill will be to reduce Cardiff to a mere suburb of Merthyr, which is 25 miles off.
He spoke similarly when Gateshead’s separate enfranchisement was considered, 5 Aug. He said that he had supported the bill hitherto ‘at some inconvenience to myself’, suggested that Merthyr Tydfil had been added to Cardiff ‘for no better reason than that it happens to be in the Principality of Wales’, and said that he saw no reason why Wales should not be treated like England or why its contributory borough system should continue. He, however, conceded Gateshead’s case and said that he would vote for its separate enfranchisement in the hope that ministers would treat Merthyr similarly to do justice to Wales and the electors of Cardiff. He refuted Lord John Russell’s remark that Merthyr had already been catered for by increasing Glamorgan’s representation. He naturally voted to enfranchise Merthyr separately, 10 Aug., and would have no truck with proposals to add it to the proposed Swansea group of boroughs, or to leave the constituency intact to allow for the separate enfranchisement of Merthyr. His assertion that abolition of Wales’s separate judicature in 1830 had removed all justification for treating the Principality differently to England was shouted down. He voted for the bill’s passage, 21 Sept., the second reading of the Scottish measure, 23 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s motion of confidence in Grey’s administration, 10 Oct., following the bill’s defeat in the Lords, to which Bute contributed. Before details of the revised bill were announced, he wrote to Brougham urging the cabinet to pay
greater attention to the arguments offered by the people of Merthyr, who, as it appears to me, independently of the hardship of sluicing the rising town and port of Cardiff, have a far better claim than many of the towns in the iron trade, to which, by the late bill Members were given.21
He divided for the second reading of the revised reform bill in which Merthyr Tydfil remained a contributory designate of Cardiff, 17 Dec. 1831, and consistently for its details. On 23 Feb. 1832, having received further memorials from Merthyr Tydfil, he announced that he would support Thomas Wood’s amendment awarding it separate representation, for which Bute now also lobbied.22 Before casting a wayward vote to substitute Merthyr for Gateshead, 5 Mar., he repeated the arguments he had deployed the previous August, claimed, erroneously, that five of the Welsh borough constituencies had ‘never been contributory at all’, and pressed Cardiff and Merthyr’s claims to be represented separately from and independently of Glamorgan. He complained again, but without forcing a division, when the provisions for the Cardiff group were considered, 9 Mar. By the 12th he knew that, as announced, 14 Mar., Merthyr would receive the third Member intended for Monmouthshire. Lord Granville Somerset criticized him for not doing enough for that county after they had backed Merthyr’s claim, but despite their complaints to Bute about the difficulty of dealing ‘with a friend of the government’, all the South Wales Tories supported Crichton Stuart’s motion transferring Merthyr Tydfil and Aberdare from schedule E to schedule D, 14 Mar.23 He voted for the third reading of the reform bill, 22 Mar., and the address requesting the king to appoint only ministers who would carry it unimpaired, 10 May. He divided for the Irish reform bill at its second reading, 25 May, and against a Conservative amendment to the Scottish measure, 1 June 1832. He had forwarded a letter and memorial from Bute to Brougham in January protesting at the proposed inclusion of the Cowal district of Argyllshire in Buteshire, and generally directed patronage requests concerning their relations to him and the colonial secretary Lord Goderich.24 He divided with government on the Dublin election controversy, 23 Aug. 1831, the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12, 16, 20 July, relations with Portugal, 9 Feb., and the navy civil departments bill, 6 Apr. 1832, but in the minority for printing the Waterford petition for disarming the Irish yeomanry, 11 Aug. 1831. He presented a petition from Loughor against further reductions in the duty on spelter, 21 July 1832.
Crichton Stuart expected to be returned for Cardiff Boroughs as a Liberal in December 1832 and was ‘perfectly frantic with Lord Bute’ for insisting upon returning a Conservative and forcing him to make way for John Nicholl of Merthyr Mawr.25 The Cambrian of 20 Oct. 1832 praised him for pursuing his parliamentary career ‘unsullied by sycophancy and untarnished by political tergiversation’. He stayed away from Cardiff Boroughs, as Bute directed, but he refused to denounce his supporters or to declare that he would not represent them if elected.26 Considered for Bristol, defeated in absentia in Cardiff and in person at Perth, where he was ‘personally unknown’, he vainly applied to the leader of the Commons Lord Althorp and Brougham for ‘employment ... at home, or in the diplomatic service’, and economized by breaking up his household and taking his family abroad.27 Assisted by Henry Villiers Stuart*, for whom he repeatedly requested a peerage, he came in for Ayr Burghs at the 1834 by-election and retained the seat for the Liberals until 1852, coming out of retirement in 1857 to take the county, where his family were the second largest landowners.28 He had succeeded his brother to the lieutenancy of Buteshire in 1848 and was tutor-at-law to his nephew, the infant 3rd marquess. In September 1859 he died of a heart attack at Dumfries House, the family seat near Cumnock. He was buried in a vault in the parish church there, although he had willed that he should be buried with his ancestors in Rothesay. Obituarists recalled his Tory origins and long ‘steady and unselfish’ commitment to the Liberal party.29 He left his estates to his elder son, James Frederick Dudley Crichton Stuart (1824-91), Liberal Member for Cardiff, 1857-80, and provided for his widow (d. 1872), relations and servants.30
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Margaret Escott
- 1. L. Hargett, ‘Cardiff’s ’Spasm of Rebellion’ in 1818’, Morgannwg, xxi (1977), 69-88; HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 500-1; iii. 531-2; P.D.G. Thomas, Politics in 18th Cent. Wales, 52-53.
- 2. NLW, Penllergaer mss, diary of Lewis Weston Dillwyn, 1 Mar.; Cambrian, 4 Mar. 1820; NLS mss 11, f. 4. See AYR BURGHS and BUTESHIRE.
- 3. NLW, Bute mss L63/22; Glam. RO D/DA7/7; 8/11, 25; Penllergaer mss, Dillwyn diary, 7 Mar.; The Times, 15 Mar. 1820; Christ Church, Oxf. Phillimore mss, Crichton Stuart to Phillimore, 17 Oct. 1824.
- 4. Session of Parl. 1825, p. 486.
- 5. The Times, 18 Mar. 1826.
- 6. Bute mss L65/42; Cambrian, 25 Sept., 9 Oct. 1824.
- 7. Bute mss L66/3, 5, 7, 10, 13, 15, 18-22; L67/11 16, 19, 20, 22, 26, 28, 42; Glam. RO D/DA11/2, 9-11, 17, 18, 27, 32; 12/76, 116, 118; J. Davies, Cardiff and the Marquesses of Bute, 120-1.
- 8. Bute mss L67/23; L68/17, 20; Glam. RO D/DA11/11, 47, 50;12/100, 104, 135-6; Bodl. Hughenden dep. D/I/D/47-70 passim.; I.W.R. David ‘Pol. and Electioneering Activity in S.E. Wales, 1820-52’ (Univ. of Wales M.A. thesis, 1959), 249-50.
- 9. Phillimore mss, Crichton Stuart to Phillimore, 17 Oct. 1824.
- 10. Glam. RO D/DA12/94.
- 11. Merthyr Mawr mss L/206/37; Hughenden dep. D/I/D/70-79; Bute mss L69/29, 39-40; Bristol Mercury, 29 May; Courier, 15 June 1826; E. Ball, ‘Glam. Members during Reform Period’, Morgannwg, x (1966), 6-7, 13-26; and ‘Glamorgan: A Study of the Co. and the Work of its Members in the Commons, 1825-1835’ (Univ. of London Ph.D. thesis, 1965), 58-60.
- 12. Cardiff Public Lib. Bute estate letterbks. ii. 79, 122, 185; Bute mss L72/27; Mirror of Parliament (1829), 171; The Times, 15 Apr. 1829; Davies, 64.
- 13. Ball, thesis, 126-9; Bute estate letterbks. ii. 223-4, 228-40; Bristol Mercury, 31 Aug. 1830.
- 14. Bute estate letterbks. ii. 241.
- 15. Bute mss L73/29, 31, 36.
- 16. Add. 51590.
- 17. Bute estate letterbks. ii. 267-8; Davies, 122-3.