Robert Stewart, 1st Marquess of Londonderry

The Most Honourable
The Marquess of Londonderry
PC (Ire)

The Marquess of Londonderry by Hugh Douglas Hamilton.
Personal details
Spouse(s) Lady Sarah Frances Seymour
Lady Frances Pratt
Children Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh
Charles William Vane, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry
Parents Alexander Stewart
Mary Cowan

Robert Stewart, 1st Marquess of Londonderry PC (Ire) (27 September 1739 – 6 April 1821), was an Irish politician and landowner, the father of politician Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh. He was also an ancestor of Winston Churchill.

Early life in Dublin

Stewart was born in 1739, son of Alexander Stewart, alderman of Londonderry in 1760, and Mary Cowan, daughter of John Cowan, alderman of Derry. He was also the nephew of Robert Cowan, the wealthy Governor of Bombay.[1]

As the second son he expected to take up the linen trading business in Dublin. He did so, and it is for this reason that his first son was born in Dublin. His offices traded with many Baltic cities, including Saint Petersburg, Reval, and Memel. At the death of his older brother he moved to Ulster to be closer to his father and look after the family properties in Donegal, Londonderry, and Down.

Irish House of Commons 1771–1783

He was elected to the Irish House of Commons in 1771 as member for Down. Between 1775 and 1783 he lived in Bangor with his wife while his father was living in Mount Stewart.

In 1779, worried by the presence of American and French vessels in the Irish sea, he organised the Newtownards Company of 115 men to act as fencibles. When he lost his seat in 1783 he was appointed to the Irish Privy Council. In the same year he inherited his father's properties in Co. Londonderry and Co. Down and settled at Mount Stewart, in the grounds of which he built the Temple of the Winds.

Irish House of Lords

In 1789 he was created Baron Londonderry in the Peerage of Ireland. The following year he took his son (the future Viscount Castlereagh) out of Cambridge University and had him run for the seat of County Down in the Parliament in Dublin, which he won. In 1795 he became Viscount Castlereagh. The following year he was elevated to Earl of Londonderry. His second son at this point also gained a seat in the Dublin Parliament.

Robert Stewart and his two sons favoured the Act of Union and fought to have it presented once more after it had been turned down in 1799. As a result of the vote Londonderry obtained a seat in the House of Lords in London, which he never took up. In 1816 he was created Marquess of Londonderry, again in the Peerage of Ireland. From 1801 until his death he was also an Irish representative peer.

Marriages and issue

Lord Londonderry was married twice. He married firstly to Lady Sarah Frances Seymour (27 September 1747 – 20 July 1770), daughter of Francis Seymour-Conway, 1st Marquess of Hertford. Together they had a son:

After Lady Sarah's death in childbirth, Lord Londonderry married, on 7 June 1775, Lady Frances Pratt, daughter of Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden (1714–94).[2] With Lady Frances he had another son:

He died at his home of Mount Stewart, County Down, and was buried at the nearby Priory of Newtownards, together with his father.


  1. "The Cowan inheritance" (PDF). The Londonderry Estate Office Archive. Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. Retrieved 2008-11-01.
  2.  Rigg, J. M. (1896). "Pratt, Charles (1714-1794)". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 46. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
Parliament of Ireland
Preceded by
Roger Hall
Bernard Ward
Member of Parliament for Down
With: Roger Hall 1771–1776
Arthur Hill, Viscount Kilwarlin 1776–1783
Succeeded by
Arthur Hill, Viscount Kilwarlin
Hon. Edward Ward
Peerage of Ireland
New creation Marquess of Londonderry
Succeeded by
Robert Stewart
Earl of Londonderry
Viscount Castlereagh
Baron Londonderry
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