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Tobago: Monument to Archibald Stewart, public commission, c1779, unexecuted (3)


Archibald Stewart was born in Edinburgh on 28 May 1741, a younger son of Sir Michael Stewart, 3rd Bt. and Helen Elanora Houston. The family estate Ardgowan was inherited by Archibald’s older brother Sir John Stewart in 1796. Stewart married Elizabeth Walker (d. 1769), with whom he had three children. He was possibly the merchant partner of John Paul Jones, operating in the early 1770s.

In June 1770 Archibald Stewart purchased a 200 acre lot in the Queens Bay Division, Tobago. By June 1773 he had acquired a further 500 acre lot, possibly purchased from D. Mill and A. Young. The two properties were then combined to form the Roxborough sugar plantation, which Stewart passed over to his father in September 1775. Early documentation relating to the Roxborough estate does not account for the numbers of enslaved people. The earliest indication dates to 1819 when a total of 193 enslaved people were recorded at the plantation.

Archibald Stewart served as a Lieutenant Colonel in Tobago’s militia. On the afternoon of 17 January 1779, raiders from the American ship, the Governor Trumbell, landed on the island at Man of War Bay. Reports were received of a band of 50 men who set to raiding nearby plantations. Stewart led Captain Lincoln and a group that eventually totalled 18 men in a counter attack, arriving in the Bay in the early evening. King references an account given by the militia’s Lieutenant, written the following day:
‘We halted at about 40 yards distance. Lieutenant Colonel Stewart, Captain Lincoln and myself formed the first line. We advanced some paces further and fired, which they immediately returned with swivels, blunderbusses and muskets’.
The Lieutenant goes on to record how Lieutenant Colonel Archibald Stewart was wounded ‘in the head which I am afraid will prove mortal, and Captain Lincoln in the upper thigh which fractured the bone; the other lines coming up kept on a constant fire till dark’. The account concludes noting ‘Mr Stewart was insensible, and I am afraid by this time he is no more’. The raiders were thought to have killed at least three people, imprisoned others and burnt buildings. Several of the raiders were captured.

Following Archibald Stewart’s death, a commission was awarded to Adam for a monument to his memory. King notes that although the intended location of the monument is not recorded on the drawings, it was most likely commissioned for a site in Tobago. Adam produced variant designs for an inscription surmounted by a frame with an oval relief panel set within. The panel depicts the death of Stewart, with the militia shown on the left-hand side and the retreating raiders on the right. The scheme was not carried out and King suggests that following a sudden shortage of funds in Tobago, the project was abandoned.

A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index p. 88; D. King, The complete works of Robert and James Adam & unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume II, pp. 263-264, 267; J. Goodall, ‘Ardgowan House: An almost miraculous survival with a fascinating history’, Country Life, September 8 2019, www.countrylife.co.uk; ‘Archibald Stewart of Tobago’, www.ucl.ac.uk; ‘Archibald Stewart (1741-1779)’, www.ancestry.co.uk (accessed March 2021)

Anna McAlaney, 2021



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Contents of Tobago: Monument to Archibald Stewart, public commission, c1779, unexecuted (3)