PITT, John (1725-1805), of Palace Yard, Gloucester.
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Family and Education
bap. 4 Aug. 1725, s. of James Pitt, attorney, of Gloucester.1 educ. Charterhouse 1736-42. m. Mary, da. of Frances Roberts, 1da.
Collector and customer of port, Gloucester, 1755-89.
Pitt, an attorney and sometime steward of Lord Hardwicke’s Gloucestershire property, became the largest private landlord in Gloucester and a leader of the ‘True Blue’ party opposed to the Whig corporation and the 11th Duke of Norfolk. His election for the city on a vacancy in February 1789, when he beat Norfolk’s cousin by one vote, was expensive. In an unsuccessful attempt to recoup some of the cost from the Treasury he claimed to have contributed £4,500 to the total bill of £10,000, while his committee had raised another £3,000. He was willing to produce a further £1,000 if government would make up the balance.2
He was returned unopposed for Gloucester, where an electoral truce had been called, at the next three general elections. He probably gave general support to administration, but few traces of parliamentary activity have been found. He was reckoned hostile to the repeal of the Test Act in Scotland in 1791. He is credited with an unlikely vote in favour of the Sheffield reform petition, 2 May 1793. When Burke raised the case of an aggrieved employee of the East India Company, 4 Apr. 1791, Pitt proposed postponement of any inquiry until the chairman of the Company was present, and he favoured exemption of the royal family from the watch and clock duty bill, 11 July 1797. In 1792 and 1797 he approached Lord Liverpool unsuccessfully for a prebendal stall at Gloucester cathedral for his nephew. On the first occasion he observed that ‘do I not succeed, I must trouble some one for a piece of preferment for myself, the Chiltern Hundreds, for I am heartily tired of the nonsense I am exposed to in Town’; on both he offered to buy off his nephew’s rivals to the tune of £1,000.3 He was appointed to the copper trade committee, 4 Apr. 1799.
Pitt was marked ‘pro’ in the ministerial survey drawn up for the 1796 general election. In September 1804 government initially listed him under ‘Pitt’, but subsequently transferred him to ‘doubtful’. Shortly before his death, 14 July 1805, it was noted that his ‘age and infirmities prevent his parliamentary attendance’.4
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: David R. Fisher
Partly based on unpub. article (1941) by B. Frith at Soc. of Genealogists.