PIGOTT, John (c.1647-1727), of Brockley, Som.
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Family and Education
b. c.1647, 2nd s. of Thomas Pigott of Long Ashton and Brockley, Som. by Florence, da. of John Poulett†, 1st Baron Poulett, wid. of Thomas Smythe† of Long Ashton. m. 1s. 1da. suc. to Irish estates of fa. 1673, bro. Poulett Pigott ?by 1683.1
Sheriff, Som. 1682–3.
Pigott’s family had first come to prominence in Ireland, where his great-grandfather had been granted the estate of Dysart in Queen’s County in 1562. His father, a younger son, who had been master of the court of wards in Ireland and a member of both the Irish parliament and privy council, bought the manor of Brockley in Somerset, a county in which he already had connexions through his wife. Pigott himself inherited part of the Irish estates of his father in 1673 and eventually the family seat from his elder brother. He was sheriff and deputy-lieutenant of Somerset in 1683 at the time of the Rye House Plot in which capacity he was responsible for searching out disaffected persons in Taunton. He was removed from the deputy-lieutenancy in 1688 for refusing to agree to the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws. On being reinstated in the lieutenancy in May 1691 he declined to act, asking to be excused from command of the Bridgwater militia on account of his affairs in Ireland. He stood unsuccessfully as a lone Whig candidate for the county in the 1698 election, and in 1702 took part in a foredoomed Whiggish attempt on the county seats.2
Pigott’s position was altogether stronger in 1705 when his kinsman Lord Poulett, the chief aristocratic influence in Somerset, played a major part in mobilizing Court support for him against the ‘tacking party’ which ensured his return as knight of the shire. Lord Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*) listed him as a gain for the Whigs, and in another post-electoral list he was classed as a ‘Churchman’. He obtained a month’s leave on 17 Dec. His support for the government was demonstrated on 18 Feb. 1706 in a vote on the ‘place clause’ of the regency bill. On 5 Dec. 1707 he was one of three Somerset MPs initiating a bill to enforce a local duty at Watchet harbour, but on the 19th was granted a month’s leave. He was likewise a sponsor, on 22 Mar. 1708, of a bill concerning the estate of the young Somerset Tory, Sir William Wyndham, 3rd Bt.*, quite possibly on behalf of his fellow knight, Nathaniel Palmer, who was Wyndham’s uncle. At about the same time he was noted by a Commons analyst as a Whig. Though he indicated his desire to stand for re-election in 1708, he soon discovered a strong feeling among the county’s Tory gentry that they should return one of their own party colour, particularly in view of the increasing Whig hold over the ministry. He made a final bid to regain his seat in the county contest of 1715, but in an outcome which only stressed the predominantly Tory character of Somerset’s freeholders, he finished bottom of the poll. He died on 23 Dec. 1727, aged 80.3
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Paula Watson / Andrew A. Hanham
- 1. Harbin, Som. MPs, 185–6; Burke, LG (1952).
- 2. Collinson, Som. ii. 293–4; Harbin, 185–6; F. Brown, Som. Wills, iv. 106–7; CSP Dom. July–Sept. 1683, pp. 19, 266; 1690–1, p. 358; Duckett, Penal Laws and Test Act (1883), 13; Add. 28876, ff. 87, 108.
- 3. Oldmixon, Hist. Addresses, ii. 302; Harbin, 186.