Sold with a quantity of original documentation, including Warrants for the G.C.B. (dated 23.8.1865), and the recipient's earlier appointment to K.C.B. (dated 5.7.1855); Nomination Document for the rank of Grand Officer, Legion of Honour (dated 8.4.1857); other official correspondence and paperwork, including a rare French Pass for the Trenches before Sebastopol in 1855; together with an early Daguerreoytype of the Admiral in uniform wearing his Honours and Decorations, and a gilt and leather framed Portrait Miniature of his wife, by Hawke, Portsmouth.
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Houston Stewart, G.C.B., was born in 1791, younger son of Sir Michael Shaw Stewart, Bart., of Greenock, and Catherine daughter of Sir William Maxwell, Bart., of Sprinkwell, Dumfries. He entered the Royal Navy in 1805 as a First Class Volunteer on board the Medusa, which escorted the new Governor-General of India out to Bengal and returned home in only 82 days. He next served in the Revenge (74), which acting with a Squadron under the orders of Sir Samuel Hood, witnessed the capture of four French Frigates on 25.9.1806. The following month he joined the extraordinary Captain Lord Cochrane, 'an Officer of high birth but low income', in the Imperieuse, and participated in a series of daring raids on enemy coastal installations - these including 'the destruction of the Fort of Roquette in the Bay of Arcasson'; 'the surrender of the Castle of Mongat, by which the road to Gerona, then besieged by the French, had been completely commanded'; the destruction of semaphores at Bourdique, La Pinde, St. Maguire, Frontignan, Canet, and Froy, 'with the houses attached to them, 14 Barracks belonging to the Gendarmes, a Battery, and a strong tower on Lake Frontignan'.
In November 1808 he served on shore at the defence of the Fortress of Rosas, then being besieged by the French, and was afterwards given the command of La Julie, an Armed Tender, which he had assisted in cutting out from under the Shore Batteries at Port Vendres, and was sent to cruise in the Mediterranean. Unfortunately, however, he tangled with a powerful Battery and his vessel was so badly damaged that he had to seek assistance at a Spanish port. On arriving at Gibraltar, he found that Cochrane had been recalled to England with the Imperieuse and so did not rejoin the ship until after Captain Garth had taken over the command. In a tight spot on the Walcheren Expedition, he suggested to his new Captain the firing of shells (previously supplied by Cochrane) from the maindeck guns, and thereby saved his ship when in difficulties under the guns of the formidable Fort of Terncuse, which was consequently blown to pieces.
Between 1809-10 he served in the Flagship Adamant at Leith, and in 1811 joined the Hussar (38). Whilst in Hussar he cruised for four weeks in a boat with 16 men off Rostock and Kiel, and gained much credit for detaining an American vessel which he put into Leith and was there condemned. Receiving his Commission that same year, he became the Signal Lieutenant of Lord Keith's Flagship the Queen Charlotte (100) in the Channel, being detached to the acting command of the Clarence (74) and the Podarus (14). Confirmed as Commander in 1814, he ended the Napoleonic War on the Jamaica Station in command of a succession of Sloops, becoming, on his promotion in 1817 to Post Rank, Flag Captain to Rear-Admiral Douglas in the Salisbury (58).
Successfully surviving the massive reduction in Naval personnel, he obtained command of the Menai on the North American Station in the 1820s and for two winters had charge of the dockyard and port duties at Halifax. In 1839 he was appointed to the command of the Benbow (72) in the Mediterranean, and with the Carysfort (26), the Magicienne (24), and the Zebra (16) also under his command, was entrusted with the bombardment of Tripoli in 1840, and also 'took possession of the Island of Aronad, attacked Tortosa, which was afterwards evacuated, saved the Consuls of Aleppo and Alexandretta, and destroyed the Governor's House and stores at the latter place; took possession of Liftakiah for the Sultan; and distributed above 6000 stand of arms to the mountaineers'. In the attack on St. Jean d'Acre, off which place he was for a while the Senior Officer, the Benbow was the first ship in action, and from December 1840 until March 1841 commanded both the British and Austrian Forces employed off the coast. Nominated a C.B. for the latter services, he was 'afterwards sent to the Archipelago for the purpose of effecting an adjustment in the affairs of Candia, where an insurrection had broken out. After his arrival not a single execution for political offences took place and the boats of Benbow, Tyne, Hazard and Vesuvius, assisted by the French under M. Le Grandois, had the good fortune to rescue more than 600 of the insurgents from the vengeance of the Turkish'.
In 1846 Stewart was appointed Superintendent of the Woolwich Dockyard and Captain of the Royal Yacht William and Mary. He served in the Crimean War as Second-in-Command of the Naval Forces off Sebastopol in 1855, in consequence of which he was created a K.C.B. and later in 1857 a Knight Grand Cross of the same Order. Sir Houston was also one of the Lords of the Admiralty from 1852 to 1855; a Visitor and Governor of Greenwich Hospital from 1869 to 1872; and Superintendent of both Devonport and Portsmouth Dockyards. He died in 1875.