Robert Stewart (1769-1822) was born in Dublin, Ireland, the son of Robert Stewart, first Marquis of Londonderry, and Lady Sarah Frances Conway, daughter of the Marquis of Hartford. He was educated in a public school at Armagh and St. John's College, Cambridge. From 1796 until 1821 he was known as Viscount Castlereagh and became the Marquis of Londonderry in that year on the death of his father. In 1790, he was elected to the Irish parliament as an independent member, and in 1793 he became lieutenant-colonel of the Londonderry militia. The next year, on 9 June 1794, he married Lady Emily Ann Hobart, a daughter of the Earl of Buckinghamshire. From March 1798 until May of 1801, he served as acting secretary, and then secretary, to England's Irish governor, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and in this position was responsible for suppressing the Irish rebellion of 1798. Viscount Castlereagh was largely responsible for the Irish Parliament passing the Act of Union in 1800, but in 1801, his attempt to gain emancipation for Irish Catholics failed when the King would not consent. He sat in the Imperial Parliament for County Down, Ireland, and for constituencies in Yorkshire and Devonshire in England. In 1805, he was named Secretary of State for War by Prime Minister Pitt, and became the leader of the grand alliance of powers against Napoleon. He managed to secure the command of the British army for Sir Arthur Wellesley, later the Duke of Wellington, in 1809. After two years out of office, he returned to the government as Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Leader of the House of Commons, and held that office until his tragic death in 1822. With the fall of Napoleon, Castlereagh negotiated the Treaty of Paris by which the Bourbon monarchy was restored in France, and the Low Countries were created an independent kingdom. At the peace conference in Vienna, he played the dominant role, but also one of conciliation. The Treaty of Ghent between Great Britain and the United States, and directly affecting Canada, was concluded at the same time, due largely to the conciliatory policy laid out by Castlereagh for the commissioners. At the end of the Napoleonic War, Castlereagh's goal was a peaceful Europe maintained by a balance of power between the nations.
The eye legible target at the beginning of this reel indicates that it contains
letters relating to Nova Scotia from 1791-1813. For some reason which is not apparent, only two letters from Viscount Castlereagh were microfilmed. The first letter is addressed to Major General Sir Martin Hunter, President of the Council of New Brunswick, and the second is addressed to Sir John Wentworth, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia. Both letters are written from Downing Street in London and dated 4 April 1807. They concern the "critical state" of affairs between Great Britain and the United States, and the possibility of hostilities being a threat to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Included in the letters are instructions for placing both colonies, and in particular Halifax, in a state of defense, and for arming and training the militia with as much speed as possible. Castlereagh states that should New Brunswick be invaded and both the garrison and the militia are unable to resist, all military forces are to be withdrawn to Halifax where a stand must be made until support can arrive from Britain. In both letters, the recipients are informed of the appointment of General Sir James Henry Craig to be Governor General and Commander of the Forces in North American, replacing Sir Robert Prescott. In the crisis, the British Government revised the system of command in the Atlantic Provinces, placing a soldier in charge of both civil and military affairs.