History and Tour

Earl of Bute

John Stuart Earl of Bute Born: 25 May 1713 in Parliament Square, Edinburgh

First entered Parliament: Took seat in House of Lords on 24 January 1738

Age he became PM: 49 years and one day

Maiden speech: On 19 January 1762. His first recorded speech was on 5 February 1762 on the war with Spain

Total time as PM: 317 days

Died: 10 March 1792 in Grosvenor Square, London

Facts and figures

Nickname: “Jack Boot”

Education: Eton and University of Leiden, the Netherlands

Family: Stuart was the eldest son and the second of eight children. He was married to Mary Wortley Montagu (Baroness Mount Stuart), and had five sons and six daughters

Interests: amateur theatricals, botany (he helped to create Kew Gardens), art and architecture.


Tall, slim and handsome

Bute succeeded the Duke of Newcastle as Prime Minister, not through political expertise but through personal connections. He had spent just three years in Parliament before his time as PM, and this was more than 20 years earlier. He is said to have been ‘tall, slim and very handsome’.

George III, who fell out with Grenville In the following two decades he had befriended and become tutor to the young Prince George. Upon George’s accession as King George III, Bute was made Secretary of State and then Prime Minister.

Only 11 months in office, Bute nevertheless ended both the predominance of the Whigs and the Seven Years War.

Unpopular with the English

Despite bringing peace, Bute proved deeply unpopular in England for reasons including his nationality (many in England were still distrustful of the Scots after the Jacobite Rising of 1745 - 6). This led to written, verbal and physical attacks being made upon him and he resigned in 1763.

He died in 1792, shortly after falling 28 feet down some cliffs near his home, and was buried, appropriately, on the Isle of Bute in Scotland.

Quote unquote

During a debate on the cider tax: “A noble duke knows the difficulty to choose proper taxes.”

Did you know?

The Earl of Bute was the first Scottish-born PM, and the first Tory to hold the office.


Mary Wortley Montague was said to be ‘plain but dutiful’ and loyal to her husband. Marrying at 18, she went on to deliver 11 children in 18 years.

Intelligent and witty, her mother was a popular author although after her death, Mary became embarrassed by her mother’s reputation and burned her diary to avoid further interest in her life.

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