Sir Charles William Vane Stewart

Stewart, Sir Charles William Vane, 3rd Marquis of Londonderry, younger brother of preceding [Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh], was born in Ireland, 18th May 1778.

At six years of age he was sent by his grandfather, Lord Camden, to Eton.

He entered the army in 1791, and received a company, and when but sixteen was Assistant Quartermaster-General in an expedition to Flanders, where he was wounded.

In 1796 he was Major of the 5th Dragoons, and served in Holland, and in 1803 was promoted to a colonelcy, and appointed Aide-de-camp to the King and Under-Secretary of State for Ireland.

In 1808 he married Lady Catherine Bligh, daughter of the Earl of Darnley.

He served through the Peninsular war, and had numerous honours conferred upon him. Shortly before his return home, early in 1812, his wife died, leaving an only son.

In March 1813 he was appointed Minister at the Court of Prussia, and during the campaign of 1814 acted as Military Commissioner in the armies of the allied sovereigns. Shortly afterwards he was called to the peerage as Lord Stewart.

He was British representative at the Congress of Chatillon in 1814, and was actively engaged in many of the operations, both civil and military, that led to the Peace of Paris, and, after Waterloo, to the second Treaty of Paris, in November 1815.

From 1814 to 1822 he held the position of British Minister at Vienna.

In 1819 he married Lady Frances Anne Vane-Tempest, a young lady of wealth and beauty, by whom he had a numerous family. On his marriage he added the surname and arms of Vane to his own.

In 1822, upon the death of his brother, to whom he was warmly attached, he succeeded to the title of Marquis of Londonderry, when he resigned his appointment, and returned home.

In the same year he acted with the Duke of Wellington as plenipotentiary at the Congress of Verona. Although, after that congress, his official career came to an end, he continued to take an active part in the proceedings of the House of Lords.

He devoted much attention to the improvement of his estates at Wynyard and Seaham.

He supported Catholic Emancipation, but offered a steady opposition to the Reform Bill.

In 1835 Sir Robert Peel gave him the appointment of Ambassador at St. Petersburg; and in 1839 he fought a duel with Henry Grattan, junior, on account of some political differences.

In 1828 he published Narrative of Events in Spain and Portugal, and in 1841, a more important work, The War in Germany and France in 1813–’14.

Between 1848 and 1852, he devoted himself to the collection and arrangement of his brother's papers, and the publication of that invaluable work, the Castlereagh Correspondence, in twelve volumes.

He was the warm friend and admirer of Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, who frequently enjoyed the hospitalities of Wynyard Park.

Lord Londonderry died at Holdernesse House, London, 6th March 1854, aged 75, and was interred in the family vault at Wynyard Park.

Besides the vast revenues of his wife's estates in Durham, he left a personalty of £300,000.

Sir Archibald Alison praises him in an almost extravagant manner, as “a Christian,” “the idol of his family,” “chivalrous,” “equally fitted to lead a headlong charge of horse, and to combine the military movements which were essential to the success of a great campaign;” “a statesman,” “one who reared the princely halls of Wynyard,” and “bridled the Northern Ocean amidst the rocks of Seaham;” but liberal politicians form a different estimate of his character. Carpenter says in his Peerage for the People:

“As a military officer, Lord Londonderry has managed to acquire a reputation for great valour; but, if discretion be the better part of valour, the title to this distinction must be very defective. There are few men in public life who evince so little judgment, or who exhibit so much intemperance of feeling and manner. Even the Tory party, to which he is so thoroughly devoted, would be glad to be rid of one who perpetually places their projects in such jeopardy by his folly and his passion; and in private life he is little better than in public.”


72a. Castlereagh, Lives of Lord, and Sir Charles Stewart: Sir Archibald Alison. 3 vols. London, 1861. See also No. 216a.

281. Peerage for the People: William Carpenter. London, 1835.