Charles Vane, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Most Honourable
The Marquess of Londonderry
oil painting of the Charles William Stewart 1812 standing in a hussar's uniform
Minister to Prussia
In office
MonarchGeorge III
Preceded byNo representation
Succeeded byGeorge Henry Rose
Ambassador to Austria
In office
MonarchGeorge III
George IV
Preceded byThe Earl of Aberdeen
Succeeded byHon. Sir Henry Wellesley
Personal details
Born(1778-05-18)18 May 1778
Dublin, Ireland
Died6 March 1854(1854-03-06) (aged 75)
Londonderry House, Park Lane, London
Spouse(s)Lady Catherine Bligh
(d. 1812)
Lady Frances Anne Vane-Tempest (d. 1865)
ChildrenFrederick Stewart, 4th Marquess of Londonderry
George Vane-Tempest, 5th Marquess of Londonderry
Frances Anne Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough
Alexandrina Dawson-Damer, Countess of Portarlington
Lord Adolphus Vane-Tempest
Lady Adelaide Emelina Caroline Vane
Lord Ernest McDonnell Vane-Tempest
ParentsRobert Stewart, 1st Marquess of Londonderry
Lady Frances Pratt

Charles William Vane, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry KG GCB GCH PC (1778 – 1854) was an Irish soldier in the British army, a politician, and a nobleman. As a soldier he fought in the French Revolutionary Wars, in the suppression of the Irish Rebellion of 1798, and in the Napoleonic wars. He excelled as a cavalry commander on the Iberian Peninsula under John Moore and Arthur Wellesley (Wellington).

Having been dismissed by Wellington, his half-brother Lord Castlereagh helped him to launch a diplomatic career. He was posted to Berlin in 1813, and then as Ambassador to Austria, where his half-brother was the British plenipotentiary at the Congress of Vienna.

He married Lady Catherine Bligh in 1804 and then Lady Frances Anne Vane, a rich heiress, in 1819, changing his surname to hers, thus being called Charles Vane instead of Charles Stewart. He succeeded his half-brother as 3rd Marquess of Londonderry in 1822. He was made a Knight of the Garter in 1853, and he died a year later in London.

Early life[edit]

Charles Stewart was born in Dublin on 18 May 1778 where his father Robert Stewart was member of the Irish House of Commons for Down since 1771.

His father, Robert Stewart, was an important landowner in Ireland but not yet a nobleman at the time of his birth. Robert was made a baron in 1789. He married twice. Charles's mother was his father's second wife. She was Frances, daughter of Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden, a leading English jurist. Charles was his father's second son. His half-brother from his father's first marriage was Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, who made a brilliant diplomatic and politic career. He and his half-brother remained lifelong friends and wrote each other many letters. His half-brother's influence helped to make his father a Marquess and to launch and further Charles in his own diplomatic career.

drawing of the shield of arms
Shield of arms of the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry, as shown on his Order of the Garter stall plate

Military career[edit]

Charles Stewart entered the British Army on 3 April 1791 (at the age of 12) as ensign in the 108th Regiment. He was commissioned a lieutenant on 8 January 1793 in this same unit.[1] He saw service in 1794 in the Flanders Campaign of the French Revolutionary Wars.

He was lieutenant colonel of the 5th Royal Irish Dragoons by the time he helped put down the Irish Rebellion of 1798. In 1803, Stewart was appointed aide-de-camp to King George III.

The remainder of his military career developed during the Napoleonic Wars, more exactly in the Peninsular War. The war started with the Corunna Campaign (1808–1809), in which the British troops were commanded by Sir John Moore. In this campaign Charles Stewart commanded a brigade of cavalry, and played, together with Lord Paget, a prominent role in the cavalry clash of Benavente.[2][3]

When the British troops returned to the Iberian Peninsular after the Corunna Campaign, they were commanded by Sir Arthur Wellesley (later the Duke of Wellington). Charles Stewart was appointed, in April 1809, Adjutant General to Wellesley. He distinguished himself, particularly at the battle of Talavera (July 1809) for which he received the thanks of the Parliament on 2 February 1810 when he returned to England on sick leave.[4] He also excelled at Bussaco in September 1810 and at Fuentes de Oñoro (May 1811) where he took a French Colonel prisoner in single combat.[5]

He resigned as Adjutant General in February 1812.[6] Some say this was due to bad health,[7] but some say that Wellington fired him. Wellington apparently appreciated him as a soldier but judged him a "sad brouillon and mischief-maker" among his staff.[8]

On 20 November 1813 he was made Colonel of the 25th Light Dragoons, a honorary position. He became a Knight Companion of the Bath that same year.[9] He was also made Knight Grand Cross of the Guelphic Order (GCH) in 1816 and colonel of the 10th Hussars on 3 February 1820.

Political career[edit]

In 1796, he was elected to the Irish House of Commons as Tory representative for Thomastown, County Kilkenny, and after only two months exchanged this seat for that of Londonderry County. He sat for the latter constituency until the Act of Union in 1801, and then represented Londonderry in the British House of Commons until 1814. In 1807 he became Under-Secretary of State for War and the Colonies.

From 1813 until the end of the war he was Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Berlin,[10] and was also Military Commissioner with the allied armies, being wounded at the Battle of Kulm.

The recipient of numerous foreign honours, Stewart was also ennobled as Baron Stewart, of Stewart's Court and Ballylawn in County Donegal, in 1814 by the Prince Regent.[11] In the same year he received honorary degrees from Oxford and Cambridge, was admitted to the Privy Council, and was appointed a Lord of the Bedchamber to the King.

He was also appointed Ambassador to Austria, a post he held for nine years (1814-1823), and attended the Congress of Vienna with his half-brother Lord Castlereagh as one of the British plenipotentiaries, where, according to the renowned historian Adam Zamoyski in his book Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna, he made a spectacle of himself with his loutish behaviour, being apparently rather often inebriated, frequenting prostitutes quite openly, and once even starting a fist-fight in the middle of the street with a Viennese coach driver after he punched the coachman's horse. He quit the diplomatic service in 1823 after his half-brother's death in 1822. Queen Victoria had a low esteem of the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry as a civil servant. She said that "Lord Londonderry should not be employed in any post of importance, as this would, in my opinion, be detrimental to the country".[12]

As Marquess[edit]

Back in England he befriended Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (later Napoleon III) while the latter was exiled in London between 1836 and 1840. After Napoleon had been elected president of France in 1851, Charles asked him to free Abd-el-Kader.[13]

By the time of the Great Irish Famine in the 1840s, Londonderry was one of the ten richest men in the United Kingdom. While many landlords made efforts to mitigate the worst effects of the famine on their tenants, Londonderry was criticised for meanness: he and his wife gave £30 to the local relief committee but spent £150,000 renovating Mount Stewart, their Irish home.[14] Nevertheless, Debbie Orme maintains that "the Marquis was held in high regard in the land for his attempts to alleviate suffering during the potato famine".[15]

The entry for the Scrabo Tower in the Historical Building List states that "rather than the object of tenant affection, the 3rd marquis had alienated many of his tenantry through his unbending attitude during the tenant right campaign of the early 1850s".[16] He was in disagreement over this question with his son and heir Frederick, who was more liberally inclined.

Marriages and family[edit]

picture of the Wynyard Park Manor House
Wynyard Park, c.1880

His first wife was Lady Catherine Bligh,[17] daughter of the 3rd Earl of Darnley. Charles married her on 8 August 1804 at the church of St George's, Hanover Square, London; she was three years older than he. She bore him a son, named Frederick, who was to become the 4th Marquess of Londonderry. She died during the night of 10–11 February 1812, of fever following a minor operation, while her husband was on his way home from Spain.[6]

Lord Stewart married his second wife, Lady Frances Anne Vane-Tempest, daughter and heiress of Sir Henry Vane-Tempest, on 3 April 1819 at her mother's house in Bruton Street, Mayfair, and took her surname of Vane, by Royal licence, as had been stipulated in her father's will. [18] He was henceforth known as Charles William Vane, while his son out of his first marriage remained Frederick Stewart. He used his new bride's immense wealth to acquire the Seaham Hall estate in County Durham with a view to developing the coalfields there. He also built the harbour at Seaham, to rival nearby Sunderland.

He commissioned Benjamin Wyatt to build a mansion at Wynyard Park. It was completed by Philip Wyatt in 1841 and cost £130,000 (equivalent to £10,772,000 in 2016) to build and furnish. Unfortunately, just as the mansion was being completed, a fire broke out and gutted the house; it was later restored and remodelled by Ignatius Bonomi.

The family also used their newfound wealth to redecorate their country seat in Ireland, Mount Stewart, and bought Holdernesse House on London's Park Lane, which they renamed Londonderry House.

Lord Stewart succeeded his half-brother as 3rd Marquess of Londonderry in 1822. The following year he was created Earl Vane and Viscount Seaham, of Seaham in the County Palatine of Durham, with remainder to the heirs male of the body of his second wife.[19]

Detail of the equestrian statue
Memorial statue by Raffaelle Monti in Durham

Governor of County Londonderry from 1823, Londonderry was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Durham in 1842 and the following year became Colonel of the 2nd Regiment of Life Guards. Queen Victoria finally made him a Knight of the Garter in 1853, and he died a year later at Londonderry House. Scrabo Tower near Newtownards was erected in his memory and his widow honoured him by the Londonderry Equestrian Statue in Durham.[20]

He was succeeded as Marquess of Londonderry by Frederick Stewart, the only child from his first marriage, and as Earl Vane by George Vane, the eldest son from his second marriage. At Charles's death Frederick therefore became the 4th Marquess of Londonderry, whereas George became the 2nd Earl Vane. George later became the 5th Marquess when his half-brother died childless.

Charles was styled The Honourable Charles Stewart from 1789 until 1813 (because his father was created Baron Londonderry in 1789), The Honourable Sir Charles Stewart from 1813 to 1814 (because he was made a Knight of the Bath), The Honourable The Lord Stewart from 1814 to 1822 (because he was made a baron in his own right), and finally The Most Honourable The Lord Londonderry.


Through his daughter Lady Frances, Lord Londonderry was a great-grandfather of Winston Churchill.


The 3rd Marquess has been a prolific writer and editor. He published books about his own military and diplomatic career and published many of his half-brother's papers. The following two books describe the Peninsular War as he saw it happen and the War of the Sixth Coalition, which forced Napoleon to abdicate:

  • Vane, Charles William (1828). Narrative of the Peninsular War. London: Henry Colburn. Retrieved 16 July 2018. and
  • Vane, Charles William (1830). Narrative of the War in Germany and France: In 1813 and 1814. London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley. Retrieved 26 July 2018.

The 3rd Marquess also compiled, edited, and published many of the papers left by his half-brother and published them in the following twelve volumes:


  1. ^ Alison, Archibald (1861). Lives of Lord Castlereagh and Sir Charles Stewart the second and the third Marquesses of Londonderry, Volume 1. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons. p. 4.
  2. ^ Vane, Charles William (1828). Narrative of the Peninsular War. London: Henry Colburn. pp. 207–208. Retrieved 5 August 2018. ...Lord Paget and the writer of these pages arrived: when the former made haste to bring up the 10th hussars, whilst the latter put himself at the head of the detachments already in the field.
  3. ^ Hugo, Abel (1838). France militaire: histoire des armees françaises de terre et de mer de 1792 à 1837, quatrième tome. Paris: Delloye. p. 19. ...le général Lefebvre-Desnouettes passa à gué cette rivière avec trois escadrons de chasseurs de la garde, et se trouva bientôt en face de toute la cavalerie Anglaise commandée par les généraux Stewart et Paget. Les Français malgré leurs courageux efforts, ne purent pas lutter contre de forces si supérieures, et repassèrent l'Esla, abandonnant aux Anglais une soixantaine d'hommes blessés ou démontés, parmi lesquels se trouvait le général Lefebvre-Desnouettes.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Alison, Archibald (1861). Lives of Lord Castlereagh and Sir Charles Stewart the second and the third Marquesses of Londonderry, Volume 1. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons. p. 423. Sir Charles Stewart, who made Colonel La Motte, of the 18th Chasseurs, prisoner in single combat
  6. ^ a b Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 54. London: Smith Elder & Co. 1898. pp. 278–281. Article on Charles William Stewart written by Ernest Marsh Lloyd.
  7. ^ Alison, Archibald (1861). Lives of Lord Castlereagh and Sir Charles Stewart the second and the third Marquesses of Londonderry, Volume 1. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons. p. 480. ... and he became so seriously ill that Lord Wellington, much against both their wishes, insisted on his return. He embarked for Britain, accordingly, in the beginning of February 1812.
  8. ^ Jennings, Louis J. (1885). The Croker Papers. The correspondence and Diary of the Late Right Honourable John Wilson Croker LL.D., FRS, Secretary to the Admiralty from 1809 to 1830. London: John Murray. p. 346. Charles Stewart (third Marquis of Londonderry) was a sad brouillon and mischief-maker. I was obliged to get rid of him
  9. ^ "No. 16699". The London Gazette. 30 January 1813. pp. 227–228. Knights Companions of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath
  10. ^ "No. 16729". The London Gazette. 17 May 1813. p. 944. Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of His Majesty the King of Prussia
  11. ^ "No. 16909". The London Gazette. 18 June 1814. p. 1255. to grant the dignity of a baron of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland onto the Honourable Sir Charles William Stewart
  12. ^ Urquhart, Diane (2007). The Ladies of Londonderry: Women and Political Patronage. London: I. B. Tauris. p. 65. ISBN 1-84511-410-8. Queen Victoria's mandate 'that Lord Londonderry should not be employed in any post of importance, as this would, in her opinion, be detrimental to the country'
  13. ^ "Miscellaneous". The Spectator. 12 April 1851. p. 8. Retrieved 19 July 2018. Pardon me, my Prince, if I take the liberty to write to you ...
  14. ^
  15. ^ Orme, Debbie. "The History of Scrabo Tower - Guardian of the North Down coast". Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  16. ^ "Scrabo Tower - Historic Buildings Details". Department for Communities.
  18. ^ "No. 17480". The London Gazette. 25 May 1819. p. 906. ... may, in compliance with the provisions of the last will and testament of the said Sir Henry Vane, Bart. from henceforth continue to repectively use the surname of Vane only, ...
  19. ^ "No. 17909". The London Gazette. 29 March 1823. p. 498.
  20. ^ Equestrian statue, monument to the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry. Archived 2011-06-18 at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]

Parliament of Ireland
Preceded by
George Dunbar
James Kearney
Member of Parliament for Thomastown
March–May 1800
With: James Kearney March–April 1800
William Gardiner April–May 1800
Succeeded by
William Gardiner
John Francis Cradock
Preceded by
Thomas Conolly
The Earl of Tyrone
Member of Parliament for Londonderry County
With: The Earl of Tyrone
Succeeded by
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament for Londonderry
With: Sir George Hill, 2nd Bt 1801–1802
Lord George Thomas Beresford 1802–1812
Hon. William Ponsonby 1812–1814
Succeeded by
Hon. William Ponsonby
Alexander Stewart
Military offices
Preceded by
Richard Wilford
Colonel of the 25th Light Dragoons
Regiment disbanded
Preceded by
George, Prince of Wales
Colonel of the 10th (The Prince of Wales's Own)
Royal Regiment of (Light) Dragoons (Hussars)

Succeeded by
The Earl Beauchamp
Preceded by
The Earl Cathcart
Colonel of the 2nd Regiment of Life Guards
Succeeded by
The Lord Seaton
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir George Shee, Bt
Sir James Cockburn, Bt
Under-Secretary of State for War and the Colonies
With: E. Cooke
Succeeded by
Hon. F. J. Robinson
Hon. Charles Jenkinson
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
No representation due
to the Treaties of Tilsit
(previously John Frere)
British Minister to Prussia
Succeeded by
George Henry Rose
Preceded by
The Earl of Aberdeen
British Ambassador to Austria
Succeeded by
Hon. Sir Henry Wellesley
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Duke of Cleveland
Lord Lieutenant of Durham
Succeeded by
The Earl of Durham
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by
Robert Stewart
Marquess of Londonderry
Succeeded by
Frederick Stewart
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Earl Vane
Succeeded by
George Vane-Tempest
Baron Stewart