William Horwood Stuart
William H. Stuart was born in Harrow, London, in 1857 to William Stuart M.A. (1816-1896), who later served as Vicar of Mundon, Essex (1862-1889), and Rector of Hazeleigh, Essex (1889-1896). His mother was Caroline (1834-1921), youngest daughter of Edward Horwood of The Manor House, Weston Turville, Buckinghamshire. He was also a nephew of the diplomat Major Robert Stuart and the surgeon and artist James Stuart, as well as a great-nephew of the Indophile Major-General Charles Stuart, and a descendant of Lieutenant-General William Spry.
In 1873 Stuart was serving as Private Secretary to his uncle Major Robert Stuart, a British consul-general for the Russian ports on the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov at Odessa, Ukraine. In the 1880s he was based at Brăila in Romania, where, in July 1885, his younger brother Charles Leader Justice Stuart drowned in the Danube at the age of 16.
By the early 1890s, Stuart had moved to Batum, where he remained until his death. In 1904 he became an American vice-consul and in 1906 was also serving as an acting British consul. Stuart had been named Japanese consul but his appointment was deferred owing to the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War.
While serving in Batum, Stuart actively lobbied for the American interests in the region and was connected with an American copper-mining concern in the Caucasus. He was the representative of several British companies, including MacAndrew Forbes. He was one of the largest ship-brokers and exporters of Batum.
At about 11 p.m. on 21 May 1906, Stuart was returning to his home at Makhinjauri, 5 miles north of Batum, after dining with a friend, when he was shot three times from behind a tree. He was taken to a nearby military barracks but died within an hour.
It seems likely that the murder was committed for personal reasons and that the murderers were paid to carry out the act. Stuart had spent most of his life in Eastern Europe and could speak several local languages; he was respected by the local populations but during the revolutionary uprisings of the previous year, his life was threatened and he was obliged to hand over large amounts of cash. In a letter to the United States Secretary of State on 31 May 1906, Ambassador George von Lengerke Meyer wrote that two men, "Kassim Didjavadgé and Ali Porkhall Oghly" had been arrested.
Reaction to the murder
The matter of the murder was taken up by all levels of the American, British and Russian diplomatic services. Letters and memoranda were exchanged by Elihu Root (United States Secretary of State, George von Lengerke Meyer (US Ambassador to Russia), Whitelaw Reid (US Ambassador to the UK), Cecil Spring-Rice (British Chargé d'Affaires at Saint Petersburg, and author of the lyrics to the hymn I Vow to Thee My Country), Patrick Stevens (British Consul at Batum), Alexander Petrovich Izvolsky (Russian Foreign Minister) and Baron Roman Romanovitch Rosen (Russian Ambassador to the US).
- Saul, Norman E. (1996), Concord and Conflict: the United States and Russia, 1867-1914, p. 520. University Press of Kansas, ISBN 0-7006-0754-4
- The United States Department of State/Papers relating to the foreign relations of the United States with the annual message of the president transmitted to Congress December 3, 1906, pp. 1290-1295. Foreign Relations of the United States. University of Wisconsin Digital Collections. Accessed March 28, 2011