Charles Stuart, 1st Baron Stuart de Rothesay

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Lord Stuart de Rothesay painted in Paris by George Hayter, 1830.

Charles Stuart, 1st Baron Stuart de Rothesay GCB, PC (2 January 1779 – 6 November 1845), known as Sir Charles Stuart between 1812 and 1828, was a British diplomat. He was twice Ambassador to France and also served as Ambassador to Russia between 1841 and 1844.

Background and education[edit]

Stuart was the son of Lieutenant-General the Honourable Sir Charles Crichton-Stuart, younger son of Prime Minister John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute. His mother was Louisa, daughter of Lord Vere Bertie, younger son of Robert Bertie, 1st Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven. He was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford.[1]

Diplomatic career[edit]

Stuart joined the Diplomatic Service in 1801,and was immediately appointed as Secretary of Legation in Vienna, a post he held until 1804. He was then sent to Petersburg and this was followed by an assignment in French occupied Spain in 1808.[2] He served as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Portugal and Brazil between 1810 and 1814.

Briefly Ambassador to the Netherlands between February and May 1815, it was during his posting as ambassador in Spain that he became indispensable to the Duke of Wellington. At the Generals' insistence, he was appointed British Ambassador to France. During Napoleon's Hundred Days, he left Paris and was in Brussels at the start of the Waterloo Campaign, where during his stay he attended the Duchess of Richmond's Ball.[3] After the fall of Napoleon, he escorted the exiled French King Louis XVIII back to Paris, and became British Ambassador there until 1824.

From 1825 to 1826 he was once more Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Portugal and Brazil. He was created Count of Machico in 1825 by John VI of Portugal and Marquess of Angra in Brazil in 1826 by Maria II of Portugal, and was a Knight of the Portuguese Order of the Tower and Sword.[1] In 1825 the Portuguese King John VI named Stuart his plenipotentiary with powers to negotiate and sign with Brazil a Treaty on the recognition of that country's independence. Invested with those powers, Stuart signed the treaty recognising Brazilian independence on 29 August 1825, and on 15 November of the same year the Portuguese King ratified the treaty.

In January 1828 he was once again appointed Ambassador to France and was raised to the peerage Baron Stuart de Rothesay, of the Isle of Bute, at the same time.[4] He continued as Ambassador to France until 1831. In 1841 he was made Ambassador to Russia, a post he held until 1844.[1]


He was appointed a Knight of the Order of the Bath (KB) in 1812[5] and sworn of the Privy Council in 1814.[6] In 1815 he was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB)[7]

Personal life[edit]

Stuart's wife Elizabeth, Lady Stuart de Rothesay, and daughters Charlotte (later Countess Canning) and Louisa (later Marchioness of Waterford), painted in Paris by George Hayter, 1830.

Lord Stuart de Rothesay married Lady Elizabeth Margaret, daughter of Philip Yorke, 3rd Earl of Hardwicke, on 6 February 1816. They had two daughters:

Highcliffe Castle[edit]

Main article: Highcliffe Castle

Early retirement from the diplomatic service meant he start on a project to build a new family home. By 1830 he had purchased much of the eastern end of the estate, at Highcliffe, Dorset. Previously had been owned by his forebears, the estate had been sold by his father.[8] He engaged William Donthorne, a founder member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, to design a new Highcliffe Castle. The castle is built on an L shaped plan, oriented on a south-east axis, so the oriel window is central on the south east elevation, providing a vista across the landscaped gardens to a panorama of the needles and Isle of Wight. Used in the building of the house was carved medieval stonework from the Norman Benedictine Abbey of St Peter at Jumieges and from the Grande Maison des Les Andelys. Both of these buildings had fallen into disrepair after the French Revolution. Also included in the castle, were a 16th-century oriel window and a stained glass window.

Later life[edit]

After the Castle was completed, Charles became Ambassador to Russia in 1841. However ill-health caused his return to England and he died at Highcliffe in November 1845, aged 66, when the barony became extinct. He was buried at St Mark's Church, Highcliffe and his memorial can still be seen there. Lady Stuart de Rothesay remained a widow until her death in June 1867.[1]



Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Hon. John Villiers
Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary
to Portugal and Brazil

Succeeded by
Thomas Sydenham
Preceded by
The Duke of Wellington
British Ambassador to France
Succeeded by
The Viscount Granville
Preceded by
The Viscount Granville
British Ambassador to France
Succeeded by
The Viscount Granville
Preceded by
The Marquess of Clanricarde
British Ambassador to Russia
Succeeded by
Hon. John Bloomfield
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Stuart de Rothesay