Amelia married Robert Stewart June 9, 1794 at St. George’s, Hanover Square, London. Robert made his debut in the English Parliament in 1795. Robert’s father became Marquise of Londonderry in 1796, giving Robert the honorary title of Viscount Castlereagh. At this point, Amelia became Lady Castlereagh. Subsequently his political career took off, and he held several offices, finally becoming Foreign Secretary in 1812. It is thought that Amelia’s election to the position of Lady Patroness of Almack’s occurred sometime after Lord Castlereagh became foreign secretary. As one of the Lady Patronesses, Amelia became known as a stickler for propriety, and is credited with establishing the rule that closed the doors of Almack’s at exactly 11:00 pm. Supposedly, she caused the Duke of Wellington to be turned away for arriving a few minutes after the hour. She is also credited with introducing a dance, the quadrille, to London. She was one of the older lady patronesses, and was described by Captain Gronow as tres grande dame. Her social and political assets made her very useful to her husband, making it possible for their home to be a meeting place for his political party.
Amelia accompanied Robert to the Congress at Vienna in 1814. They lived in a twenty-two-room suite in an elegant neighborhood, where they entertained lavishly. She apparently enjoyed Vienna a great deal. She was Robert’s hostess for many entertainments and lavish soirees. At one point, the Tsar of Russia, wanting to call on Lord Castlereagh (which would have been a breach of etiquette), officially visited Amelia herself, which allowed him access to Lord Castlereagh for a private conversation. Obviously, Amelia was a useful political hostess for her husband, who ultimately concluded the alliance with France and Austria in 1815.
Amelia and Robert were, by all accounts, a loving couple. Unfortunately, they had no children of their own. In 1821, Robert became the second Marquis of Londonderry. He was suffering a great deal from the strains of political life (having been thrust into huge responsibilities and several unpopular positions, knowing himself to be publically hated), which in turn led to significant health issues. Robert was suffering from mental as well as physical disorders and finally, despite the efforts of Amelia and others around him to protect him (including hiding his razors), he committed suicide at his home August 12, 1822. After an inquest determined that he had committed suicide while insane, Amelia was able to bury him in Westminster Abbey August 20, 1822. She died in London February 12, 1829, and was buried in the cloisers of the Abbey February 20, 1829.
Gronow, Captain Rees Howell. THE REMINISCENCES OF CAPTAIN GRONOW. McLean, VA: IndyPublish.com.
King, David. VIENNA 1814 How the Conquerors of Napoleon Made Love, War, and Peace at the Congress of Vienna. New York: Harmony Books, 2008.
The Jane Austen Center. The Patronesses of Almack's: The Arbiters of London Respectibility, by Laura Boyle. Posted 7/17/2011. http://www.janeausten.com.uk/ Viewed 2/29/2012
The Peerage.com. Lady Amelia Anne Hobart. http://thepeerage.com/p2833.htm Viewed 3/2/2012.
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Amelia Stewart, Viscountess Castlereagh. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amelia_Stewart,_Viscountess_Castlereagh Viewed 3/2/2012.
Westminster Abbey.org. Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh. http://www.westminster-abbey.org/our-history/people/robert-stewart,-viscount-castlereagh Viewed 3/2/2012.
The Romantic Query Letter and The Happy-Ever-After. The Patronesses of Almack's. http://theromanticqueryletter.blogspot.com/2009/12/patronesses-of-almacks.html Viewed 3/2/2012.
NNDB. Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh. http://www.nndb.com/people/357/000095072/ Viewed 3/25/2012.
By Lauren Gilbert, author of HEYERWOOD: A Novel.