PITT, John (c.1673-1731), of Crow’s Hall, Debenham, Suff.
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Family and Education
b. c.1673, 2nd surv. s. of George Pitt† of Strathfieldsaye, Hants and Duke Street, Westminster; bro. of George Pitt*. educ. Balliol, Oxf. matric. 16 Oct. 1690, aged 17; I. Temple 1693. m. (1) Lady Diana (d. 1710) da. of Henry Howard, 5th Earl of Suffolk, ?s.p. (2) Mary Scrope, ?1s.; (3) Isabella (?d. 1753) Bendon or Condon, 2da.1
Sheriff, Suff. Jan.–Dec. 1721.
The proliferation of the Christian name John among the Pitt family in this period has caused considerable confusion, but the return for Stockbridge in January 1701 identifies the Member as John Pitt of Crow Hall. It was presumably the same man, then MP for St. Ives, who in 1703 signed a recommendation to the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†) which was endorsed as from Suffolk Members. As a result either of inheritance or of marriage, Pitt had been able to set himself up as a country squire in his own right with the purchase of the Crow’s Hall estate in 1697. He later acquired a neighbouring manor, and in 1710 property at Great Bealings, where he seems to have resided.2
It is probable that Pitt was the younger brother of George Pitt of Strathfieldsaye to whose former seat at Stockbridge he was returned in a by-election in 1699. John Pitt had, in December 1688, joined the party accompanying the Earl of Clarendon (Henry Hyde†) to meet the Prince of Orange, only to desert it on a flimsy pretext and scuttle back to London. He was, however, a strong Tory, and in August 1700 was rumoured to have kissed the hand of King James II, and ‘the pretended Prince of Wales’, during a brief stay in Paris. Lord Manchester reported that he had been ‘much with the Jacobites’ in the French capital, and that before his return to England he ‘was closeted at St. Germain’. He ‘recommended himself’, wrote Manchester,
by making them believe he is commissioned by a certain Member of Parliament, to come hither and receive instructions in what way King James would have them act for his service in the next session; and I am told he is ordered to propose that the King’s business with Parliament should be postponed till the league with France be first considered, as grievances always were before subsidies.
Pitt was not a particularly active Member and in 1700 an analysis of Members into interests placed a query against his name. In January 1701 he stood at Stockbridge, where he was returned again, and at St. Ives, where he was defeated; in the following November he stood only at St. Ives, presumably on the interest of his father-in-law, the Earl of Suffolk, and was defeated again. At the 1702 election Suffolk was able to bring him in, albeit on petition. In 1704, a ‘Mr Pitt’, more probably his brother, acted as a teller on three occasions. With his brother, Pitt was listed as a likely opponent of the Tack in October 1704, and did not vote for it on 28 Nov. He did not thereafter seek re-election.3
Pitt served as sheriff of Suffolk in 1721. With a slight geographical inaccuracy, his death was reported as having taken place on 5 Aug. 1731 ‘at his seat in Norfolk’, aged 57. His estates were later sold.4
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: D. W. Hayton
- 1. Hutchins, Dorset, iv. 90–91; Berry, Hants Gens. 102; HMC Lords, n.s. vii. 99; Collins, Peerage, iii. 157.
- 2. Add. 61294, f. 25; Norf. Arch. xxvi. 384; Copinger, Suff. Manors, iii. 5.
- 3. J. H. Matthews, St. Ives, 501; Clarendon Corresp. ed. Singer, ii. 212; 7th Duke of Manchester, Court and Soc. Eliz. to Anne, ii. 115.
- 4. Hist. Reg. Chron. 1731, p. 38; Add. 19145, f. 53; Copinger, 5.