John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute (1713-1792)

Image: Rothesay, Isle of Bute

From: Chapter Six (1757-1758) of Benjamin Franklin in London (2016) by George Goodwin:

Though he never formally joined the Royal Society Club, Franklin was a guest on more than sixty occasions…that invitations continued right through the politically volatile year of 1774 underlines Franklin’s own assertion in 1769 that the Club, like the Royal Society itself, was non-political…Most often he was the guest of Dr (later Sir John) Pringle, who in 1757 was already well connected as doctor to the Prince of Wales (from 1760, George III) and his tutor the Earl of Bute…

Franklin was in his element. As a youth he had read of the ideal club in Addison and Steele’s Tatler…here he was with the men he regarded as the greatest minds in the capital of the world’s greatest empire. More to the point, he was having fun…

Aside from the events with Dr Pringle, his two favourite clubs were the Monday Club at the George & Vulture in Castle Court, off Birchin Lane, and the Club of Honest Whigs…When he was away he missed them…he explained in 1763 to John Ellicott, an FRS…who was now clockmaker to George III but also a founder member of the Monday Club…Among the other Monday Club members was Captain Cook…

…at the Club of Honest Whigs…(James) Boswell talked to Franklin…It was the second time he had seen him that week, as the previous Friday he had called at Dr Pringle’s to find the two of them playing chess, where he described Franklin, in contrast to Pringle, as being “all jollity and pleasantry”.”

Andrew Thompson posted on 28 January 2015 at history.blog.gov.uk:

“John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute (Whig 1762-1763) John Stuart, third Earl of Bute, was a Scottish aristocrat who rose, through his royal connections to a position of political pre-eminence. Bute was born in Edinburgh on 25 May 1713…

His first real political experience came with election as one of the sixteen Scottish representative peers in the House of Lords in 1737. Bute was only an occasional attendee, however, and failed to secure re-election in 1741.

Having spent time improving his Scottish estates, Bute moved to London after the outbreak of the 1745 pro-Stuart Jacobite rebellion. He came into the circle of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and quickly achieved his confidence. He retained the trust of Frederick’s wife, Augusta, after the prince’s death in 1751 and he became tutor to their eldest son, the future George III. Bute’s relationship with Prince George was a close one – he was a father-like figure for the young prince.

Following George II’s death in October 1760, the new King promoted Bute quickly. He became a Privy Counsellor, Secretary of State for the Northern department and was created a British peer. Bute’s new colleagues, particularly William Pitt the Elder and the Duke of Newcastle, resented Bute’s rapid rise…

…Bute was the subject of sustained personal attacks in the public sphere. His Scottishness and supposedly improper relations with George III’s mother, the Dowager Princess of Wales, were both satirised, including by the satirical journalist John Wilkes. His popularity was further damaged by the imposition of a new Cider Tax in 1763. The costs of the (Seven Years) war meant that the government was keen both to cut expenditure and raise income but there were fears that the new tax would lead to an unacceptable degree of government intrusion into the lives of the population at large.

Shortly after the bill passed in April 1763, Bute tendered his resignation. George III reluctantly accepted. The King continued to consult Bute on major issues, although his continued influence was probably not as great as many of Bute’s detractors claimed…Bute’s relationship with George III cooled after Pitt returned to office in 1766. In his political retirement he devoted himself to scholarship and using his considerable wealth as a patron of literary and scientific endeavour. He died in London in March 1792 and was buried on his familial estates at Rothesay.”

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