John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute

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I follow one uniform system and that is founded in the strictest honour, faith and duty.

John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute KG PC FSA Scot (25 May 1713 – 10 March 1792), styled Lord Mount Stuart between 1713 and 1723, was a British nobleman who served as the Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1762 to 1763 under George III. He was arguably the last important royal favourite in British politics. He was the first prime minister from Scotland following the Acts of Union in 1707. He was also elected as the first president of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland when it was founded in 1780.


  • He took this opportunity to also to add, that it was the glory and happiness of his life to reflect, that the advice he had given his Majesty since he had had the honour to be consulted, was just what he thought it ought to be.
    • Speech in the House of Lords (29 January 1762), quoted in Sir Henry Cavendish's Debates of The House of Commons, During the Thirteenth Parliament of Great Britain, Vol. I. May 10, 1768–May 3, 1770 (1841), p. 565
  • I follow one uniform system and that is founded in the strictest honour, faith and duty.
    • Letter to Henry Fox shortly before his resignation (1763), quoted in Karl Schweizer, 'John Stuart, Third Earl of Bute', in Robert Eccleshall and Graham Walker (eds.), Biographical Dictionary of British Prime Ministers (1998), p. 41

Quotes about Lord Bute[edit]

  • Lord Bute's reception in the City in his passage thro' it to Guildhall on Tuesday was such that it would have been much more prudent for him to have spared his visit; and he seems to have been deceived by his flatterers into an opinion that he was much less unpopular than he has now reason to think he is. As soon as it was known who he was, he was entertain'd with a general hiss; and if some accounts are true, his chariot was pelted, on each side of which the two famous bruisers, Broughton and Stevenson, are affirmed to have walked as a guard to him, tho' I can scarce credit it. It is certain that in the Hall he was very coldly received and sat for some time in a corner of the Council Chamber, alone, with all the appearance of gloom and confusion in his countenance. In short, the whole dinner passed with much less cheerfulness than has been known on such an occasion, and his Lordship thought proper to return, not in his own chariot, but in Lord Mansfield's coach, to escape observation.
    • Thomas Birch to Lord Royston (13 November 1762), quoted in Philip C. Yorke, The Life and Correspondence of Philip Yorke, Earl of Hardwicke, Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, Vol. III (1913), p. 432
  • [A]fter 1760, whether Bute was serving the king (1761–3) or out of office, he was attacked by the mob, threatened with assassination, vilified in pamphlets, prints, newspapers, songs, plays, and handbills, and effectively rejected as a potential ally by all the leading politicians of the day except for the none too politically respectable Henry Fox. The bulk of this criticism was levelled in the 1760s, but even after 1770 the so-called "Northern Machiavel" was under withering if increasingly sporadic fire, and as late as the 1780s vestigial elements of the old hostility remained.
    • John Brewer, 'The Misfortunes of Lord Bute: A Case-Study in Eighteenth-Century Political Argument and Public Opinion', The Historical Journal, Vol. 16, No. 1 (March 1973), pp. 3-4
  • [A]n excise was laid upon cyder... This scheme was imputed wholly to him, and filled the measure of his unpopularity. He was burnt in effigy in all the cyder counties; hissed and insulted in the streets of London. It is natural to suppose, and it is undoubtedly true, that the Opposition, which consisted in general of persons of the greatest rank, property, and experience in business, enjoyed, encouraged, and increased this unpopularity to the utmost of their power; and accordingly it was carried to an alarming height. Lord Bute, who had hitherto appeared a presumptuous, now appeared to be a very timorous Minister, characters by no means inconsistent; for he went about the streets timidly and disgracefully, attended at a small distance by a gang of bruisers, who are the scoundrels and ruffians that attend the Bear Gardens, and who would have been but a poor security to him against the dangers he apprehended from the whole town of London.
    • Lord Chesterfield, 'Lord Bute' (1764), quoted in The Letters of Philip Dormer Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield; Including Numerous Letters Now First Published from the Original Manuscripts, Vol. II, ed. Lord Mahon (1847), p. 477
  • I never knew a man with whom one could be so long tête-à-tête, without being tired, as with Lord Bute. His knowledge was so extensive, and consequently, his conversation so varied, that one thought one's self in the company of several persons, with the advantage of being sure of an even temper, in a man whose goodness, politeness, and attention, were never wanting towards those who lived with him.
    • Louis Dutens, Memoirs of a Traveller, Now in Retirement, Vol. IV (1806), pp. 177-178
  • It should be remembered that, in the opinion of many of the wisest and the best, Bute, by bringing the war to a conclusion, had done the State good service... Bute's enemies, however, not only denied him the credit even of good intentions, but continued to raise so fierce an outcry against him, that it had become perilous for him to appear in the streets except in disguise by night, or else protected by pugilists by day... Not since Lord Chancellor Jefferies had been seized in a sailor's dress in Wapping, had a British statesman been reduced to more ignominious straits, or been in greater danger from the fury of the mob. On one occasion, when on his way to the House of Lords in a sedan-chair, it was only by the timely arrival of the Horse Guards that he was rescued from the violence of the populace.
    • John Heneage Jesse, Memoirs of the Life and Reign of King George the Third, Vol. I (1867), p. 163
  • By the time the procession, which moved but slowly, had got into St. Paul's Church-yard, these fellows had halloed themselves hoarse, and it had been given out that Mr. Pitt was in the chariot, by which means, they had artfully obtained the mob to join them; but, on the east side of St. Paul's Church-yard, some knowing hand stepped up, and looking full at the idol, pronounced, with a fine hoarse audible voice, "by G—d, this is not Pitt; this is Bute, and be damned to him;" (I beg pardon of your ladyship for writing such words; but historians ought to tell facts as they happened.) Upon this, the tide took another turn; and the bruisers' lungs being worn out, the shouts from the independent mobility were instantly converted into hisses, accompanied with a few vulgar sayings, as "D—n all Scotch rogues!"—"No Bute!"—"No Newcastle salmon!"—"Pitt for ever!"
    • Thomas Nuthall to Lady Chatham (12 November 1761), quoted in Correspondence of William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, Vol. II, eds. William Stanhope Taylor and John Henry Pringle (1838), pp. 166-167
  • The great curiosity of seeing the King's new coach yesterday had filled the park and streets, by all accounts, fuller than they were at the coronation... In this crowd Lord Bute was very much insulted, hissed in every gross manner, and a little pelted. It is said, but it is denied also, that the King was insulted. Both Houses were up about four; the crowd of coaches and mob on foot not the least abated; it was so great that the King's coach, with his Majesty in it, upon his return from the House was a full hour in Palace Yard. Lord Bute, to avoid the like treatment he had met in going, returned in a hackney chair, but the mob discovered him, followed him, broke the glasses of the chair, and, in short, by threats and menaces, put him very reasonably in great fear; if they had once overturned the chair, he might very soon have been demolished.
    • Mr. Rigby to the Duke of Bedford (26 November 1762), quoted in Correspondence of John, Fourth Duke of Bedford: Selected from the Originals at Woburn Abbey, Vol. III (1846), pp. 159-160
  • He excelled most in writing, of which be appeared to have a great habit. He was insolent and cowardly, at least, the greatest political coward I ever knew. He was rash and timid, accustomed to ask advice of different persons, but had not sense and sagacity to distinguish and digest, with a perpetual apprehension of being governed, which made him, when he followed any advice, always add something of his own in point of matter or manner, which sometimes took away the little good which was in it or changed the whole nature of it.
    • Lord Shelburne, memorandum of the events of 1762, quoted in Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice, Life of William, Earl of Shelburne, Afterwards First Marquess of Lansdowne. With Extracts from His Papers and Correspondence, Volume I. 1737–1766 (1875), p. 140
  • He was always upon stilts, never natural except now and then upon the subject of women. He felt all the pleasure of power to consist either in punishing or astonishing. He was ready to abandon his nearest friend if attacked, or to throw any blame off his own shoulders. He could be pleasant in company when he let, and did not want for some good points, so much as for resolution and knowledge of the world to bring them into action. He excelled as far as I could observe in managing the interior of a Court, and had an abundant share of art and hypocrisy. This made all the first part of his rôle easy.
    • Lord Shelburne, memorandum of the events of 1762, quoted in Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice, Life of William, Earl of Shelburne, Afterwards First Marquess of Lansdowne. With Extracts from His Papers and Correspondence, Volume I. 1737–1766 (1875), pp. 140-141

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