Stewart, Charles Stewart Vane - Tempest (1852–1915), 6th marquis of Londonderry , politician, was born 16 July 1852 in London, eldest of the six children of the 5th marquis, George Henry Robert Charles William Vane-Tempest (1821–84) and his wife Mary Cornelia, only daughter of Sir John Edwards of Garth, Montgomeryshire. Charles was educated at Eton, and matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, but did not graduate. After two expensive and unsuccessful attempts to get into parliament, he was returned for the tories as Viscount Castlereagh at a by-election in Co. Down in 1878, after election expenses of a colossal £14,000. He held the seat until 1884, when he transferred to the lords on the death of his father; at which time he succeeded to extensive estates in Wynyard Park, Co. Durham, and Mount Stewart, Co. Down.
On 27 July 1886 Londonderry was appointed lord lieutenant of Ireland by the new prime minister, Lord Salisbury, and served three years. Relations with the more liberal-minded chief secretary Sir Michael Hicks Beach (qv) were strained; the situation improved for Londonderry when Beach was replaced with Arthur Balfour (qv). His most significant acts in the light of his future career as a leading Ulster unionist were his befriending Edward Carson (qv), and his conferring (13 October 1888) the charter of city on Belfast, observing that it was the first town without a bishopric to receive this honour. He resigned in August 1889, in part because of the expense of the office, which entailed personal costs of £15,000–£20,000 a year.
With the threat posed by Gladstone's second home rule bill in 1893, Londonderry threw all his energies into the defence of the union brokered by his ancestor, Lord Castlereagh (qv). He opposed the bill in the lords and presided over the meeting in which the political alliance between conservatives and liberal unionists was formally ratified. In 1900 Londonderry entered government as postmaster-general, and in 1902 joined the cabinet as president of the board of education. In this capacity he administered with success Balfour's English education act of 1902, which gave support from local rates to religiously affiliated schools, but led the protest against the Irish university bill brought forward by the chief secretary, George Wyndham (qv), in 1903. After the devolution scheme of September 1904, supported by the under-secretary Sir Antony MacDonnell (qv), Londonderry followed Carson in threatening to resign from cabinet if Wyndham was retained. He was one of the ten original members of the Ulster Unionist Council (UUC) standing committee on its inception in 1905 and was appointed president. His was the second signature after Carson's to the Solemn League and Covenant in Belfast city hall on 28 September 1912, which pledged its 471,414 signatories to use all possible means to defeat home rule. He contributed an essay to the unionist party's publication Against home rule (1912) and argued the unionists' interest in the prosperity of Ireland as a whole as against what he perceived to be the nationalists' willingness to see an independent Ireland in rags. On 23 September 1913 he was present with 500 UUC delegates assembled in Ulster Hall to approve the setting up of an Ulster provisional government in the event of home rule, despite Carson's protestations that a man in his position had too much to lose from such a ‘clandestine’ association. At the meeting he personally pledged £10,000 for an indemnity guarantee fund for UVF members. He addressed a mass meeting at Hyde Park on 3 April 1914, and two months later he and Lord Lansdowne (qv) were the main opponents of the third home rule bill in the lords. The outbreak of war shelved the question and Londonderry did not live to see the outcome. He died 8 February 1915 at his estate in Wynyard Park, Co. Durham. He was a great asset to the Ulster unionists, more by reason of his fortune and family status than of his political gifts, which were of no great order. Simple and unpretentious, he was a popular and good landlord who provided land for a market in Newtownards, Co. Down (1873), gave permanent leases for industrial sites, and built a catholic church (1876). He was survived by his son Charles Stewart Henry (qv), who became 7th marquis of Londonderry, his daughter, and his wife (m. 2 October 1875), the former Lady Theresa Chetwynd Talbot (1856–1919), eldest daughter of the 19th earl of Shrewsbury. Theirs was a dynastic rather than a love match and Londonderry suffered through his wife's infidelities; but they were politically attuned and, in later years at least, relations were affectionate. Beautiful and dynamic, Lady Londonderry was more forceful than her husband, and her political talents were more impressive. She used her influence to effect and was the model of a great political hostess, befriending Edward Carson and Walter Long (qv), with whom she held important correspondences, and arranging the social calendar for Andrew Bonar Law after the death of his wife in 1908. As one of the founders and its first president, she left a lasting legacy in the creation of the Ulster Women's Unionist Council. She died 16 March 1919 at home, 5 Carlton Terrace, London. Her papers and those of her husband are held in PRONI and Durham County Record Office.