STUART, Walter (1683-1713)

STUART (STEWART), Walter (1683–1713)

suc. fa. 20 June 1704 as 6th Ld. BLANTYRE [S]

RP [S] 1710

First sat 25 Nov. 1710; last sat 17 June 1713

b. 1 Feb. 1683, o. s. of Alexander Stuart, 5th Ld. Blantyre [S], and 2nd w. Anne, da. of Sir Robert Hamilton of Pressmennan, E. Lothian (Ld. Pressmennan SCJ). unm. d. 23 June 1713; admon. 30 Sept. 1713 to bro. John Stuart (mother first renouncing).1

Associated with: Lennoxlove House, Lethington, E. Lothian.

Blantyre’s father had been a strong supporter of the Revolution, raising a regiment for the prince of Orange and acting as a commissioner of supply for the shires of Lanark and Renfrew. In 1696 he endorsed the Association. By 1702, however, he had come to be associated with James Hamilton, 4th duke of Hamilton [S], in the ‘country’ opposition. He was among those who seceded from the Scottish Parliament after the accession of Queen Anne and was their representative sent to her to present their case against the continuation of the Convention Parliament. 2 In the following year, however, he returned to government as treasurer depute, being described by George Lockhartof Carnwath on that occasion as a ‘dependant’ of James Douglas, 2nd duke of Queensberry [S].3

In October 1702 the 5th Lord Blantyre’s cousin, the dowager duchess of Richmond, had died in possession of a vast fortune which contemporaries estimated at £60,000. She bequeathed to his son and heir Walter an annual pension of £4,000 p.a. for 20 years. She also purchased for his benefit Lethington Castle in East Lothian, which she insisted be renamed ‘Lennox’s Love to Blantyre’; this was quickly shortened merely to Lennoxlove, which soon became Walter Stuart’s residence. However, when the 5th Lord Blantyre died in late April 1704 he left his estate heavily burdened by debt, a state of affairs that Walter, the new Lord Blantyre, himself did very little to put right, apart from pestering the treasury in London for payment of the very considerable arrears of the duchess of Richmond’s pension.4

The 6th Lord Blantyre’s politics were complicated by conflicting loyalties. On the one hand, his religious preferences were Episcopalian, which drew him close to the ‘cavalier’, Jacobite faction.5 On the other hand, and possibly for opportunistic reasons given his family’s financial predicament, he was a political client of John Campbell, 2nd duke of Argyll [S], and Argyll’s brother Archibald Campbell, earl of Ilay [S]. In May 1706 Blantyre’s first request for the payment of the arrears owed to the duchess of Richmond’s estate was rejected, because ‘the condition of the queen’s revenue is such as will not permit her at present to consider this arrears’.6 This may have influenced his vote in the Union Parliament with the cavaliers and against Argyll, in opposing the ratification of the treaty with England.7 This ensured that he would be excluded from the cohort of 16 representative peers in the first Parliament of Great Britain, but he rebuilt bridges with Argyll sufficiently to be included on the court list drawn up by Queensberry in 1708.8 Unfortunately, although he received votes on that occasion from Argyll, some members of Queensberry’s court party, and some Episcopalians, he could not summon up enough to secure election, finishing well down the field.9

On 10 Nov. 1710, however, Blantyre was elected as a representative peer.10 This time he had a place on the list of candidates agreed by the incoming administration of Robert Harley, later earl of Oxford, with Argyll, Hamilton, and Queensberry’s lieutenant, John Erskine, 22rd earl of Mar [S]. At this point Blantyre seems to have been working closely with Mar and the ministry: he was sent £200 of secret service money to secure the vote of his friend Robert Rutherford, 4th Lord Rutherford [S].11 Before the election, Daniel Defoe had lumped Blantyre with other Episcopalian lords as ‘declared professed Jacobites’. 12 Shortly afterwards, the duchess of Buccleuch’s chaplain, Richard Dongworth, identified him as a ‘court Tory’, and estimated his income at ‘near £4,000’ a year.

Blantyre took his seat on the opening day of the new Parliament, 25 Nov. 1710, and two days later he was appointed to the committee for the address on the queen’s speech. He was present for 76 per cent of the sitting days of this first session of the Parliament in 1710-11. In the first two weeks of January 1711 Blantrye, with other representative peers, supported the attack on the previous Whig ministry’s conduct of the war in Spain.13 At about this time it was reported that he would be given command of a new regiment, but this did not materialize.14 On the cause célèbre of the petition of the Episcopalian minister James Greenshields, requesting reversal of a judgment against him by Edinburgh magistrates for using the Church of England liturgy, Blantyre followed Argyll rather than other Scottish Tories. On 1 Mar., on the question whether to adjourn consideration of the case, only five Scottish lords were said to have voted in the minority for delay, and thus against Greenshields: Blantyre, Argyll and Ilay, their kinsman Hugh Campbell, 3rd earl of Loudoun [S], and John Murray, duke of Atholl [S].15 Blantyre was also named a manager for the two conferences held on 9 Mar. concerning the address to the queen condemning Guiscard’s assassination attempt on Harley.

Blantyre’s proxy with William Livingston, 2nd Viscount Kilsyth [S], was registered on 6 Dec. 1711, one day before the session of 1711-12 commenced, and he was not expected to arrive in the English capital until 15 December. 16 He first attended on 20 Dec., in order to vote in the critical division on whether the duke of Hamilton could sit in the House by virtue of his British peerage as duke of Brandon. With the other representative peers Blantrye gave his vote, unavailingly, in favour of Hamilton’s right to sit, then signed the protest against the resolution excluding the Scottish peer, and later added his name to a representation submitted to the queen against the decision. 17 Overall he was present for 64 per cent of that session’s sitting days. Although he separated from Argyll and Ilay in the spring of 1712 in his support for the bill on lay patronages in Scotland, he voted with them on 20 May against the bill to resume the land grants made by William III.18 He, with Argyll, supported the ministry on 28 May in resisting a Whig attempt to address the queen against the ‘restraining orders’ given to the captain-general James Butler, 2nd duke of Ormond. 19 On 17 June he chaired and reported from the committee of the whole considering the private bill of Sir William Douglas, a lieutenant-general of the armed forces, and he continued to attend sittings regularly until the prorogation on 8 July. Shortly afterwards he at last, after continued petitioning, received an instalment of the arrears of the duchess of Richmond’s pension.20

After attending two of the many prorogations of Parliament in March 1713, Blantyre resumed his seat when the next session convened for business on 9 Apr. and attended 48 per cent of the sitting days of this, his last session. On 24 Apr. he and George Seaton petitioned the House for the reversal of judgments made by the lords of session, in their capacity as commissioners for planting churches, in favour of John Currie, the minister of Haddington. At the beginning of June Oxford (as Harley had become) thought him likely to support the bill to confirm the eighth and ninth articles of the French Commercial Treaty; the bill, though, never came up from the Commons. With all the Scots peers, including Argyll and Ilay, Blantyre backed the unsuccessful motion on 1 June for leave to introduce a bill to dissolve the Union.21 A week later he made his last contribution as a representative peer, participating in the unsuccessful opposition to the bill to extend the malt tax to Scotland, against whose passage he signed the protest.

He attended for the last time on 17 June 1713. Six days later, on 23 June, a petition was read from Blantyre stating that he was too ill to attend for the hearing of his appeal against John Currie scheduled for the following day and requesting a postponement. He was not exaggerating in this claim for that same day John Elphinstone, 4th Lord Balmerinoch [S], a fellow Episcopalian, reported that ‘this day about two o’clock poor Blantyre died of a fever. He was much a servant to two noble brothers but they nor any mortal could not influence him to favour presbytery nor the Union, both which he detested’.22 Blantyre was buried on 24 June in Westminster Abbey, in the Richmond vault in the Henry VII Chapel.23 He was succeeded in his title by his younger brother Robert Stuart, 7th Lord Blantyre, who did not serve as a representative peer. Blantyre’s estate was administered, as he died intestate, by his next eldest brother John Stuart, a member of the Faculty of Advocates.


  • 1 TNA, PROB 6/89, f. 156.
  • 2 Seafield Letters, 115; Lockhart Pprs. i. 47.
  • 3 Lockhart Pprs. i. 51.
  • 4 Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 225; Add. 70073-4, newsletters of 17 and 20 Oct. 1702; CTP, iii. 435; iv. 111; CTB, xx. 202.
  • 5 HMC Portland, viii. 204.
  • 6 CTBP, 1702–7, p. 435; CTB, xx. 202.
  • 7 P.W.J. Riley, Union, 332.
  • 8 Add. 61136, f. 113.
  • 9 NLS, ms. 1026, ff. 24, 32.
  • 10 NLS, ms 1026, ff. 62-4.
  • 11 HMC Portland, x. 348, 454; iv. 622.
  • 12 HMC Portland, iv. 630.
  • 13 Haddington mss at Mellerstain, 3, George Baillie to his wife, 11, 13 Jan. 1711.
  • 14 Scot. Hist. Soc. Misc. xii. 125.
  • 15 NAS, GD 124/15/1020/13; Haddington mss at Mellerstain, 3, Baillie to his wife, 3 Mar. 1711; NLS, Advocates’ mss, Wodrow pprs. letters Quarto, 5, f. 147.
  • 16 Add. 70281, [unknown] to earl of Oxford, ‘Thursday 3 o’clock’ [6 or 13 Dec. 1711].
  • 17 HMC Laing, ii. 167.
  • 18 Wodrow letters Quarto, 6, f. 160; Haddington mss at Mellerstain, 5, Baillie to duke of Montrose [S], 20 May 1712.
  • 19 Haddington mss at Mellerstain, 5, Baillie to duke of Roxburghe [S], 29 May 1712.
  • 20 CTBP, 1708–14, p. 391; HMC Portland, x. 473.
  • 21 BLJ, xix. 167.
  • 22 Scot. Hist. Soc. Misc. xii. 162; Wentworth Pprs, 339-40.
  • 23 Douglas, Scots Peerage, ii. 88.