John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute (1713-1792)
John Stuart succeeded to his father’s title aged 10 and was
educated at Eton. He married Mary Wortley Montagu in 1736 and spent
the first nine years of his married life on the Isle of Bute studying
botany, agriculture and architecture and corresponding with other
collectors and gardeners.
In 1745 he moved to London where he was introduced to Frederick,
Prince of Wales and made a Lord of the Bedchamber in 1750. Frederick
died suddenly in 1751 and Princess Augusta sought Lord Bute’s
guidance on finishing the horticultural improvements that her husband
had started at Kew. Augusta relied on him for advice on new specimens
for the plant collection, landscaping and the recruitment of staff,
such as the architect William Chambers.
He was a mentor to the young Prince of Wales, later George III,
who appointed him Prime Minister in 1762, but he resigned in 1763
and retired from court life.
In 1763, with his wife’s inheritance, he purchased a 4,000-acre
estate, Luton Hoo, in Bedfordshire, commissioning Robert Adams to
build a residence and Capability Brown to landscape the grounds.
At Luton Hoo and at Highcliffe, Hampshire, also landscaped by Capability
Brown, which he bought later, he created botanic gardens and used
these plant collections when making observations for his major work
Botanical tables, containing the different families of British
plants distinguished by a few parts of fructification rang’d
in a synoptical method (1784).
Lord Bute was a patron of botanical authors such as John Hill and
William Curtis’s, and commissioned and collected botanical
After Princess Augusta died in 1772 he had little to do with Kew
and was replaced as horticultural adviser by Joseph Banks.
A portrait of Lord Bute by Sir Joshua Reynolds can be found in
the National Portrait Gallery.
On to: Sir