Mount Stuart Collection

Scope and Content

Four volumes of consular correspondence and papers of John Stuart (1744-1814), Viscount Mount Stuart, later 1st Marquis of Bute. The first three volumes contain some 660 letters from consuls, vice-consuls and agents at Nice, Leghorn, Genoa and elsewhere in Southern Europe, addressed to Mount Stuart as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary at the Court of Turin, 1779-1783, and to the chargés d'affaires there. Enclosures include intelligence reports from ports in France and Spain. The fourth volume contains official copies of memorials, correspondence and reports forwarded with his despatches, together with treaties and political documents. Among them are letters and papers relating to the capture of Fort St Philip, Minorca, 1781-82

Administrative / Biographical History

John Stuart (1744-1814), diplomatist, was born on 30 June 1744, the eldest son John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute (1713-1792), Prime Minister. He was elected to Parliament in 1766, representing Bossiney. He was created Baron Cardiff on 20 May 1776. In 1779 he was appointed envoy to Turin for three years. On 10 March 1792 he succeeded to the earldom of Bute on the death of his father, and on 6 November 1794 he became Baron Mount Stuart of Wortley, on the death of his mother Mary, suo jure Baroness Mount Stuart. In the following year he belatedly took up an appointment as ambassor to Spain (originally offered to him in 1783), and in 1796 he was rewarded for his services to the government with the creation of the title Marquess of Bute. The year 1800 marked a watershed for Bute. His first wife, Charlotte Jane, died, and he remarried, to Frances, heiress to the banker Thomas Coutts. He also joined the opposition and became closely associated with the Prince of Wales. He died in Geneva on 16 November 1814.

Source: Roland Thorne, 'Stuart, John, first marquess of Bute (1744-1814)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. By permission of Oxford University Press -

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

Purchased by the John Rylands Library at auction at Sotheby's in March 1950.


Description compiled by Jo Humpleby, project archivist, with reference to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article on John Stuart, and G.E.C., Complete Peerage. John Stuart is referred to as 'Mount Stuart' throughout this description, in accordance with the form given in G.E.C., although he appears to have styled himself Mountstuart.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued in the Hand-List of the Collection of English Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library, 1937-1951 (English MSS 1145-1148).

Related Material

Papers of John Stuart have been widely dispersed: see the National Register of Archives at

Geographical Names