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James Stuart-Wortley, 1st Baron Wharncliffe
James Stuart-Wortley, 1st Baron Wharncliffe

Colonel James Archibald Stuart-Wortley-Mackenzie, 1st Baron Wharncliffe, PC (6 October 1776 – 19 December 1845) was a British soldier and politician. A grandson of Prime Minister John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute, he held office under Sir Robert Peel as Lord Privy Seal between 1834 and 1835 and as Lord President of the Council between 1841 and 1845.[1]

Background and education


Stuart-Wortley was the son of Colonel James Stuart-Wortley-Mackenzie, son of John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute and his wife Mary Wortley-Montagu, Baroness Mountstuart in her own right, daughter of Edward Wortley Montagu and Lady Mary Pierrepont. His father had assumed the additional surname of Wortley as heir to his mother, taking later also that of Mackenzie (which his son in later life discarded) as heir to his great-uncle James Stuart-Mackenzie of Rosehaugh.[2] Stuart-Wortley's mother was Margaret, daughter of Lieutenant-General Sir David Cunynghame, 3rd Baronet. He was educated at Charterhouse School.[1]

Military career


Stuart-Wortley was commissioned into the 48th Foot in 1790, transferred to the 7th Foot in 1791, and purchased a Captaincy in the 72nd Foot in 1793. He was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel in 1797 and became Colonel of the 12th Foot six months later. In 1797 he transferred to the Grenadier Guards, but resigned his commission in 1801.

Political career


Stuart-Wortley sat as Tory Member of Parliament for the rotten borough of Bossiney in Cornwall between 1797 and 1818,[3] when he was returned for Yorkshire.[1][2][4] His attitude on various questions became gradually more liberal, and his support of Catholic Emancipation lost him his seat in 1826. He was then raised to the peerage as Baron Wharncliffe, of Wortley in the County of York,[5] a recognition both of his previous parliamentary activity and of his high position among the country gentlemen.[2]

In 1831, as political tempers ran high over the issue of Reform, Wharncliffe succeeded in opening channels of communication between the Government and the Opposition. Greville noted in his diary on 19 November 1831 that:

He at first opposed the 1832 Reform Bill but, having come to see the undesirability of a popular conflict, separated himself from the Tories (with a number of colleagues, collectively known as "the Waverers") and took an important part in modifying the attitude of the peers and helping to pass the bill, though his attempts at amendment only resulted in his pleasing neither party. He became Lord Privy Seal in Sir Robert Peel's short 1834 to 1835 ministry, and again joined him in 1841 as Lord President of the Council,[2] a post he held until 1845. In 1834 he was sworn of the Privy Council.[7]

In 1837 Lord Wharncliffe brought out an edition of the writings of his ancestress, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.[2]

Family


Lord Wharncliffe married Lady Elizabeth Caroline Mary Crichton (1779–1856), daughter of John Crichton, 1st Earl Erne and his second wife Lady Mary Hervey on 30 March 1799. They had four children:[8]

Lord Wharncliffe died in December 1845, aged 69, and was succeeded in the barony by his eldest son, John, whose son Edward, 3rd Baron was created Earl of Wharncliffe in 1876. Lady Wharncliffe died in April 1856.

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