Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh
Born: 18 Jun, 1769
Died: 12 Aug, 1822
Location in the Abbey: North transept
Type of memorial: Grave; stone
Type of material: Marble

Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh and 2nd Marquis of Londonderry, politician, was buried in the centre of the north transept of Westminster Abbey, to the south of the grave of William Pitt and his son. The inscription on his grave has now worn away but it read:

"ROBERT MARQUIS OF LONDONDERRY.VISCOUNT CASTLEREAGH.BORN 18 JUNE 1769.DIED 12 AUG 1822"

Statue

In 1823 an application was made by his brother to erect a bust in the Abbey but nothing seems to have come of this. But in 1849 permission was given for a statue to be placed near the grave. The larger than life white marble figure shows Robert in robes of the Order of the Garter, holding papers in his left hand, with more papers on the ground by his feet. The sculptor was John Evan Thomas. The inscription reads:

"This statue is erected to the memory of Robert Second Marquis of Londonderry, and Viscount Castlereagh K.G. Born A.D. 1769, Died August 12th 1822. History will record the success and splendour of his public career during a period of unexampled difficulty in the annals of Europe, in which he successfully filled the highest offices under the Crown, and Ireland will never forget the statesman of the legislative union. This tribute to the best of brothers and friends is placed in Westminster Abbey by Charles William Vane, Third Marquis of Londonderry".

Life and career

He was born in Dublin on 18 June 1769, the only surviving son of Robert Stewart of Mount Stewart in co.Down, and his first wife Lady Sarah Seymour Conway. He followed his father into politics. On 9 June 1794 he married Lady Amelia Hobart but they had no children. His debut in the Westminster Parliament was in 1795. When his father was created Earl of Londonderry in 1796 Robert had the courtesy title Viscount Castlereagh. His father was later created Marquis of Londonderry. He became a lord of the Irish Treasury and privy counsellor and retained his county seat in Dublin. He was secretary for War 1807-9, Foreign Secretary 1812-22 and he concluded the first Peace of Paris in 1814. At the First Congress of Vienna he was Senior British Plenipotentiary, and concluded the triple peace alliance with France and Austria in 1815. In 1821 he succeeded as 2nd Marquis of Londonderry. The strain of office caused him to take his own life by cutting his throat with a penknife at his country residence at North Cray in Kent. His Mount Stewart estate was left to his half brother Sir Charles who succeeded to his title. Lady Amelia was buried at the north east angle of the cloisters of the Abbey on 20 February 1829 but her grave is not marked.

A photo of the statue can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

Further reading:

"Castlereagh" by W.Hinde, 1981

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

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