John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute

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John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute KG, PC (25 May 1713 – 10 March 1792), styled Lord Mount Stuart before 1723, was a Scottish nobleman who served as Prime Minister of Great Britain (1762–1763) under George III, and was arguably the last important favourite in British politics. He was the first Prime Minister from Scotland following the Acts of Union in 1707.

Contents

Career

A close relative of the Clan Campbell (his mother was a daughter of the 1st Duke of Argyll), Bute succeeded to the Earldom of Bute (named after the Isle of Bute) upon the death of his father, James Stuart, 2nd Earl of Bute, in 1723. He was brought up thereafter by his maternal uncles, the 2nd Duke of Argyll and Archibald Campbell, 3rd Duke of Argyll, 1st and only Earl of Ilay, Viscount and Earl of Hay. Bute studied at Eton College (1720–1728) and the University of Leiden, Netherlands (1728–1732), where he graduated with a degree in civil and public law. On 24 August 1736, he married Mary Wortley Montagu (daughter of Sir Edward and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu), bringing the large Wortley estates to his family. In 1737, due to the influence of his uncles, he was elected a Scottish representative peer, but he was not very active in the Lords and was not reelected in 1741. For the next several years he retired to his estates in Scotland to manage his affairs and indulge his interest in botany.

During the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, Bute moved to Westminster, London, and two years later met Prince Frederick, the Prince of Wales there, soon becoming a close associate of the Prince. Upon the Prince's death in 1751, the education of his son, Prince George, the new Prince of Wales, became a priority and in 1755 Bute was appointed as his tutor. Bute arranged for the Prince and his brother Prince Edward to follow a course of lectures on natural philosophy by the itinerant lecturer Stephen Demainbray. This led to an increased interest in natural philosophy on the part of the young prince and was one in a series of events that led to the establishment of the George III Collection of natural philosophical instruments. Furthermore, following the death of the Prince Frederick, Bute became close to his widow, Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, the Dowager Princess of Wales. It was rumoured that the couple were having an affair, and indeed soon after John Horne (an associate of the Prince of Wales) published a scandalous pamphlet alluding to a liaison between Bute and the Princess. Rumours of this affair were almost certainly untrue, as Bute was by all indications happily married, and he held sincere religious beliefs against adultery.

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