PITT, Thomas II (c.1688-1729), of Hanover Square, Mdx. and Pall Mall
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Family and Education
b. c.1688, 2nd s. of Thomas Pitt I* and bro. of Robert Pitt*. educ. Mr Meure’s acad. Soho Square 1703–6. m. 10 Mar. 1717, Lady Frances, da. and coh. of Robert Ridgeway, 4th Earl of Londonderry [I], 2s. 1da. cr. Baron of Londonderry [I] 3 Jan. 1719, Earl of Londonderry [I] 8 Oct. 1726.1
Ensign 9 Ft. 1708–Apr. 1709; capt. Killigrew’s drag. (8 Hussars) Apr. 1709–Feb. 1715; col. 2 Drag. Gds. Feb. 1715–Aug. 1726, 3 Ft. Aug. 1726–d.; gov. Leeward Is. 1727–d.2
Burgess, Wilton 1713, mayor 1716–17.3
‘Governor’ Pitt had planned that his younger sons should be ‘sent to Holland to learn that language and French, mathematics and merchants’ accounts, and write an excellent hand, or put to the best schools in England, to learn the beforementioned and all other accomplishments’. In fact they attended a private academy in London, and although they were taught ‘Latin, French, and accounts, fencing, dancing and drawing’, their father still regretted that his original intentions had not been carried out. He gave Thomas ‘leave to choose his profession’, but with typical threats to ‘make short work with him’ and ‘cast him off’ if he failed to ‘behave himself as he ought’, in other words if he proved a financial liability. Late in 1707 negotiations were begun to purchase a suitable army commission, but these were unexpectedly difficult. The prospect of a cavalry captaincy in Ireland disappeared with the removal of the Duke of Ormond as viceroy there; a second ‘troop of horse’ turned out to be ‘too dear’. A ‘troop of dragoons’ then took the young man’s fancy, only for his attention to be drawn away again to a vacancy as ‘exon’ in Ormond’s regiment of foot guards, a place which would have demanded attendance at court and in which, as his elder brother Robert put it, ‘the honour exceeds the profit’. In the meantime Robert’s wife’s stepfather, General William Steuart, had provided a commission for Thomas as ensign in his regiment. Reports of what seemed to be his son’s shilly-shallying over a career naturally infuriated ‘Governor’ Pitt, who was particularly fearful of any hint of prodigality. One correspondent in 1708 referred to young Thomas jocosely as ‘the captain’, and wrote that he was even ‘talking of going to India’. Eventually he was installed in a dragoon regiment, in which he was to serve in Spain, ‘in all the actions there’, his father later boasted, ‘to the time he was taken at Brihuega’ with his future brother-in-law, James Stanhope*.4
Brought into Parliament by his father at Wilton in 1713, Pitt did his filial duty in the Commons, voting on 18 Mar. 1714 against the expulsion of Richard Steele, and being classed as a Whig in the Worsley list and in two lists of the Members re-elected in 1715. He ended his days as governor of the Leeward Islands, dying at St. Kitt’s on 12 Sept. 1729, aged 41.5
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: D. W. Hayton
- 1. Hedges Diary ed. Yule (Hakluyt Soc. lxxviii), pp. cxlviii, clxiv; C. N. Dalton, Life of Thomas Pitt, 415–16; HMC Fortescue, i. 22.
- 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. xxix. 417–18; CSP Col. 1726–7, p. 297; 1728–9, p. 555.
- 3. Pembroke mss at Wilton House, burgess lists.
- 4. HMC Fortescue, 5, 13, 21–22, 27, 31–32, 38, 41; Dalton, 423; C110/28, John Dolben*, Sir Stephen Evance* and Robert Pitt to Thomas Pitt I, 20 Apr. 1708, Dolben to same, 20 Oct. 1708; HMC Portland, x. 80.
- 5. Pembroke mss, Sir Edward Ernle, 3rd Bt.*, to [–], 2 Apr. 1713; Hedges Diary, p. clviii.