John Patrick Crichton-Stuart

(3rd Marquess of Bute)

1847 - 1900

Patron of the arts and philanthropist. Born at Mount Stuart (Argyll and Bute) and educated at Harrow and Oxford, Crichton-Stuart inherited the Marquessate of Bute on the death of his father when was barely six months old. His mother died when he was just twelve, giving rise to a troubled adolescence. He became a learned and deeply spiritual man who, in 1868, caused a sensation by becoming an ardent convert to Roman Catholicism. He became a religious scholar of some note, but also maintained a broad range of interests from literature, the paranormal, through to architecture and Mediaevalism. His early life is said to have inspired Benjamin Disraeli's novel Lothair. He commissioned Robert Rowand Anderson (1834 - 1921) to completely rebuild his home at Mount Stuart in remarkable style and at a remarkable cost. In Wales, Crichton-Stuart worked on Cardiff Castle (1865) and Castlell Coch (1871-9). Crichton-Stuart also extended Cardiff Docks to cope with increased volumes of production from his South Wales collieries. His monopoly in the port of Cardiff gave rise to a dispute with fellow-Scot Archibald Hood (1823 - 1902), who also had significant mining interests in South Wales.

A respected historian, Crichton-Stuart was also responsible for bringing about the restoration of as many as sixty notable buildings in Scotland, including Dunblane Cathedral, Falkland Palace, Pluscarden Abbey, Rothesay Castle, St. Andrews Priory. Said to have been the richest man in the world for a time, he was generous in terms of patronage and public benefaction, supporting Glasgow and St. Andrews Universities; the Bute Hall at the former, and Bute Medical School at the latter are named in his honour.

Women played an important part in his life; his astute mother developed his intellect, his wife Gwen who he loved dearly and his daughters who, in contrast to other girls at the time, were provided with the best education. He funded the first female lecturer at the University of St. Andrews.

His interest in the occult was stimulated when he was diagnosed with a life-limiting condition in 1895 and he died aged just 53. His heart was taken to the Holy Land to be buried on the Mount of Olives, while his body lies on the Isle of Bute.

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