The Stuarts of Bute

The Stuart's of Bute The Stewart's, an Anglo-Norman family, came to Scotland in the 11th century and took their name from the office of Hereditary Stewards to successive Scottish Kings. In the 18th century the branch of the family associated with the Isle of Bute family adopted the French spelling of the name - Stuart.

In 1315, Walter, Hereditary Steward, married Marjory, daughter of King Robert the Bruce, and their son succeeded to the throne as Robert II, the first Stewart King, in 1371. Robert II had a large family, and among these was Sir John Stewart who was known as 'The Black Stewart' on account of his dark complexion. Additional offices and titles followed for the Black Stewart's descendants; Ninian Stewart was made Hereditary Captain and Keeper of Rothesay Castle in 1498; Sir James Stewart became a Baronet of Scotland and Nova Scotia in 1627; another James (died 1710) was created 1st Earl of Bute in 1703; the 4th Earl, John Stewart (died 1814), was made 1st Marquess of Bute in 1796 and his grandson, who inherited the Marquessate from him, also became, through marriage, Earl of Dumfries.

The family have been notable in military affairs, diplomacy and politics - the first Scotsman to become British Prime Minister, for example, was the 3rd Earl of Bute. They have also been among the most noted patrons of artists, writers and architects that Britain has seen; the 3rd Earl was a patron of Allan Ramsay, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Robert Adam and Dr Johnson; the 3rd Marquess was the greatest individual builder of his day; his works include the remodelling of Cardiff Castle with the Architect William Burges (from 1865) and also the new Mount Stuart, the ancestral home of the Bute family, now recognised as Britain's most important Victorian Gothic house.

In Industry the 2nd Marquess of Bute turned Cardiff into the greatest coal exporting port in the world, earning him the nickname 'Creator of Modern Cardiff'. The family have also been great benefactors, particularly to Wales and Scotland. These include gifting Cardiff and Caerphilly Castles to the Welsh people and, in Scotland, the islands of St Kilda and Bute House, Edinburgh, the official residence of Scotland's First Minister. The 6th Marquess, who died in 1993, was one of Scotland's greatest public servants and helped push through the new Museum of Scotland. The present head of the family, ,Johnny Bute, also enjoyed a successful career in motor racing and was joint winner of the Le Mans 24 hour race in 1988.

Andrew McLean MA(Hons), PGCE(Sec), Dip.Arch.Ad.
Mount Stuart Archivist, born in Edinburgh and came to Bute in 1997.

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