STEWART, Sir Hugh, 2nd bt. (1792-1854), of Ballygawley Park, co. Tyrone

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press

Constituency

Dates

1830 - 1834

Family and Education

b. 14 May 1792, 1st s. of Sir John Stewart*, 1st bt., of Ballygawley and Mary, da. of Mervyn Archdall† of Castle Archdall, Enniskillen, co. Fermanagh. educ. Trinity, Dublin 1810; L. Inn 1815; King’s Inns 1817. m. (1) 19 Jan. 1826, Julia (d. 29 Nov. 1830),1 da. of Marcus McClausland Gage of Bellarena, co. Londonderry, 1s. 1da.; (2) 28 Feb. 1837, Elizabeth, da. of Rev. Henry Lucas St. George, rect. of Dromore, co. Tyrone, 2s. 3da. suc. fa. as 2nd bt. 22 June 1825. d. 19 Nov. 1854.

Offices Held

Jt.-ld. treasurer’s remembrancer, exch. [I] 1825-35.

Sheriff, co. Tyrone 1827-8.

Biography

The Stewarts of Ballygawley (or Athenry) were descended from the seventeenth-century Scot Captain Andrew Stewart of Gortigal, county Tyrone, whose elder brother James was the forbear of the neighbouring Stewarts of Killymoon. Like his father, who brought this branch of the family to prominence, Hugh received a legal education, but he apparently never practised. He inherited his father’s baronetcy in June 1825, when he set about remodelling Ballygawley as a classical residence.2 That August, on the death of Lord Donoughmore, he and his brother Mervyn received the sinecure office of lord treasurer’s or second remembrancer in the Irish court of exchequer, the reversion to which had been negotiated by their father 22 years earlier on his retirement as Irish attorney-general.3 Stewart, who had signed the requisition for the anti-Catholic county meeting in February 1825, was thought that summer to have ‘hereditary pretensions’ to fill the parliamentary vacancy created by the death of Sir John, who had represented Tyrone for a total of 17 years. However, evidently deterred by the entry of the younger son of the leading magnate Lord Belmore, he issued an address stating that his father’s Tory ‘views and principles are mine’ and promised to offer on another occasion.4 To the regret of his supporters among the minor independent interests, he also declined at the dissolution the following year. An active participant in Protestant county meetings, he moved the resolutions against Catholic relief, 1 Dec. 1826, for the formation of the Tyrone Brunswick Club, 26 Sept., and against emancipation, 2 Dec. 1828.5 In January 1830 he was solicited to stand in place of the valetudinarian William Stewart of Killymoon and, having begun negotiating for the support of the Belmore and minority Abercorn interests, he issued a preparatory address in April.6 On the retirement of his distant cousin at the general election that summer, when he sought to head off a ministerial challenger by assuring the premier, the duke of Wellington, that he would not join opposition, he was introduced as a worthy successor to his father and was elected unopposed.7

Stewart was listed by ministers among their ‘friends’, with ‘q[uer]y’ written beside his name, but he missed the division on the civil list which led to their resignation, 15 Nov. 1830. This was perhaps owing to the condition of his wife, who was shortly to bear him a son; following her death he was given leave of the House for three weeks, 11 Feb. 1831. He voted against the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. A silent but ‘decided anti-reformer’, he was returned without opposition at the ensuing general election.8 He was absent from the division on the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, but his name appeared in the ministerial majority against using the 1831 census to determine the disfranchisement schedules, 19 July. His only other recorded votes that session were against the passage of the bill, 21 Sept., the second reading of the Scottish reform bill, 23 Sept., and the Maynooth grant, 26 Sept. He paired against the second reading, 17 Dec. 1831, and third reading of the revised reform bill, 22 Mar., and divided against the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and the second reading of the Irish bill, 25 May 1832. He sided with opposition against the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., but having been granted three weeks’ leave on urgent business, 9 July 1832, he was absent from the divisions on this later that month. He retained his seat as a Conservative at the general election of 1832 and sat for another two years. In 1835 he was deprived of his sinecure in a legal reorganization which saw him superseded by a practising barrister.9 He died of cholera in St. Helier, Jersey, in November 1854, and was buried the following month in the family vault in Termon, county Tyrone. He was succeeded by his eldest son John Marcus (1830-1905), who, like his two half-brothers and the subsequent holders of the baronetcy, was a professional army officer.