STEUART, William (1686-1768), of Weyland and Seatter, Orkney.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1713 - 1722
1722 - 1734
1734 - 1741

Family and Education

b. 25 May 1686, o.s. of Thomas Steuart, commissary and stewart clerk of Orkney, by his 2nd w. Isobel, da. of Andrew Young of Castle Yards, Orkney, niece of Sir Thomas Moncreiffe, 1st Bt., of Moncreiffe, Perth. educ. King’s Coll. Aberdeen 1701. adv. 1707. m. 30 Apr. 1741, Frances, e. da. of Dr. George Cheyne of Bath, s.p.

Offices Held

Principal clerk of the Exchequer [S] 1705-8; jt. King’s remembrancer of the Exchequer [S] 1708-d.; sec. to Prince of Wales for Scotland 1714-27; director, E.I. Co. 1716-19; paymaster of pensions 1731-42; overseer of the King’s swans by 1739.


Steuart was the confidential agent of the 2nd Duke of Argyll and his brother, Lord Ilay. During the Fifteen he was the recipient of a long letter from Argyll justifying his conduct in the rebellion, written just before Sheriffmuir.1 Hervey relates in his memoirs that about 1724 Argyll and Ilay had a quarrel, after which, for many years, they never spoke to one another, but

by the means of a Mr. Stuart, who went between them, an adroit fellow and a common friend to them both, they acted as much in concert as if they had been the most intimate and most cordial friends.2

An example of this form of intercourse is a long letter to Steuart from Ilay reporting on his proceedings at Edinburgh during the malt tax agitation in 1725, which was presumably intended to be shown to Argyll.3 Lord Chancellor King states that Steuart in 1725

acquainted me that all the lists of the justices of the peace for the several counties of Scotland had been settled, by the direction of Lord Townshend, by Lord Ilay, with the Members of the House of Commons, and that the settling these lists had taken up three months’ time.4

Returned to Parliament for nearly thirty years on the Argyll interest, to which he also owed offices worth 1,400 a year in 1739,5 Steuart voted with the Government from 1715, except on the motion of 4 June 1717 against Argyll’s rival, Lord Cadogan, till he retired in 1741. When Argyll went into opposition in 1739, Steuart adhered to Ilay, who wrote through him to Walpole from Scotland: ‘I have desired Mr. Stewart to ask you for the 500 which I am now laying out, and I fear 100 more.’6 He died 13 Sept. 1768, leaving £2,000 to the 4th Duke of Argyll.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: J. M. Simpson


  • 1. Dalton, Geo. I’s Army, i. 10-16.
  • 2. Hervey, Mems. 297.
  • 3. Coxe, Walpole, ii. 456-62.
  • 4. Peter, Lord King, Notes of Domestic and Foreign Affairs, 10.
  • 5. Gent. Mag. 1739, p. 307.
  • 6. 16 Sept. 1740, Cholmondeley (Houghton) mss.