William Horwood Stuart

William Horwood Stuart

William Horwood Stuart was a British diplomat who was murdered in Batum, Georgia, in 1906.

He was born in Harrow, London, in 1857 to the Rev. William Stuart M.A. (1816-1896), who later served as Vicar of Mundon, Essex (1862-1889), and Rector of Hazeleigh, Essex (1889-1896). His mother was Caroline (1834-1921), youngest daughter of Edward Horwood of The Manor House, Weston Turville, Buckinghamshire. He was also a nephew of the diplomat Major Robert Stuart, a great-nephew of the Indophile Major-General Charles Stuart, and a descendant of Lieutenant-General William Spry.

In 1873 Stuart was serving as Private Secretary to his uncle Major Robert Stuart (British Consul-General for the Russian ports in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azof) at Odessa, Ukraine. In the 1880s he was based at Brăila in Romania, where, in July 1885, his younger brother Charles Leader Justice Stuart drowned in the Danube at the age of 16.

By the early 1890s, Stuart had moved to Batum, Georgia, where he remained until his death. In 1904 he became American Vice-Consul and in 1906 was also serving as acting British Consul. Stuart had been named Japanese Consul but his appointment was deferred owing to the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War.

He was the representative of several British companies, including MacAndrew Forbes. He was also a manager of the Caucasus Copper Company Limited and a managing partner of F. A. Mattievich and Co.

At about 11 p.m. on the evening on 21 May 1906, Stuart was returning to his home at Makhinjauri, 5 miles from Batum, after dining with a friend, when he was shot three times from behind a tree. He was taken to a nearby military barracks but died within an hour.

It seems likely that the murder was committed for personal reasons and that the murderers were paid to carry out the act. Stuart had spent most of his life in Eastern Europe and could speak several local languages; he was respected by the local populations but during the revolutionary uprisings of the previous year (in which Joseph Stalin may have been active in Georgia), his life was threatened and he was obliged to hand over large amounts of cash.

In a letter to the United States Secretary of State on 31 May 1906, Ambassador George von Lengerke Meyer wrote that two men, "Kassim Didjavadgé and Ali Porkhall Oghly" had been arrested.

Reaction to the murder

The matter of the murder was taken up by all levels of the American, British and Russian diplomatic services, and letters and memoranda to and from Elihu Root (United States Secretary of State, George von Lengerke Meyer (US Ambassador to Russia), Whitelaw Reid (US Ambassador to the UK), Cecil Spring-Rice (British Chargé d'Affaires at Saint Petersburg, and author of the lyrics to the hymn "I Vow to Thee My Country"), Patrick Stevens (British Consul at Batum), Alexander Petrovich Izvolsky (Russian Foreign Minister) and Baron Roman Romanovitch Rosen (Russian Ambassador to the US) can be found in the archives of the Foreign Relations of the United States website: [http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/cgi-bin/FRUS/FRUS-idx?type=turn&entity=FRUS000100290474&isize=M&q1=Stuart%20was%20in%20full%20charge] .

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