STEWART, John (c.1723-81), of York Bldgs., Buckingham St., London and Mitcham, Surr.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. c.1723, s. of Archibald Stewart, M.P. (bro. of Sir James Stewart, 2nd Bt. of Allanbank) of York Bldgs., wine merchant,1 by his w. Grizel Gordon. unm.
Stewart’s father was tried and acquitted in 1747 for conniving at the surrender of Edinburgh to the rebels; after that he moved his headquarters to London. By 1759 Steward was a partner in his father’s business and from 1764 active in East India Company politics, throwing in his lot with Clive’s party, and as early as 1766 managing many of the multifarious affairs of Sir George Colebrooke. Common speculative interests brought him into contact with Lauchlin Macleane, who after 1771 was also working for Colebrooke. Stewart won considerable notoriety in the East India Company disputes in 1772-3 speaking and writing articles under the pseudonym of Philindus. He was attacked in the Public Advertiser (which described him as ‘wine-merchant and stockjobber’) as the power behind the throne in the Company, and was accused of using his influence to further the careers of his kinsmen. When Macleane, sitting for Arundel on Colebrooke’s interest, felt compelled, as a result of his misfortunes in speculation, to apply for the Chiltern Hundreds, he and Colebrooke succeeded, despite threatened opposition, in getting Stewart elected in his place for the rest of the Parliament. There is no evidence that he took any active part in the business of the House. His fortunes declined with those of Colebrooke, and after seeking to help him in his struggle to escape bankruptcy, Stewart disappears from view. He canvassed Arundel in 1774 but did not proceed to a poll.2 In 1775 a codicil to his will3 shows the deterioration of his financial position: ‘my fortune is greatly dependent on a West Indian property’; and on his death his brother was granted administration, all other legatees waiving their claims.
He died 1 Apr. 1781.