PIGOT, Hugh (1722-92), of Wichwood Forest, Oxon.
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Family and Education
b. 28 May 1722, 3rd s. of Richard Pigot, and bro. of Sir George and Robert Pigot. m. (1) c.1749, Elizabeth, da. of Peter le Neve of Norf., 1s. 1da.; (2) c.1768, Frances, da. of Sir Richard Wrottesley, 7th Bt., sis. of Elizabeth who m. 24 June 1769, Augustus, 3rd Duke of Grafton, and of Sir John Wrottesley, 8th Bt., 1s. 2da.
Entered R.N. 1734; lt. 1742; capt. 1746; served in W. Indies and at Louisbourg; r.-adm. Mar. 1775; v.-adm. Dec. 1775; adm. and c.-in-c. W. Indies Apr. 1782.
Ld. of Admiralty Mar. 1782-Dec. 1783.
In 1768 Pigot, a friend and soon a brother-in-law of Grafton, was presumably returned on the Government interest, or at least with their support. In the House he voted regularly with the Government, except over the petition of naval captains on half-pay—he seconded the motion to refer it to a committee, 9 Feb. 1773. Grafton writes in his Autobiography (p. 259) that had he been placed at the head of the Admiralty in 1771, he would have wished Pigot to have been his ‘right hand man’. At the end of the Parliament Robinson listed Pigot as ‘pro’ (although his elder brother had become ‘doubtful’). Pigot did not re-enter Parliament in 1774; but on the death of Lord Pigot was returned for his seat at Bridgnorth.
When on 16 Mar. 1778 Keppel was appointed to the command of the Channel fleet, he told Grafton about the gracious reception he had met with from the King, ‘and only expressed his disappointment in not having Vice-Admiral Pigot with him’ [instead of Palliser].1 Between December 1778 and March 1782 Pigot is reported to have spoken in eleven parliamentary debates, ten of them dealing with two subjects only: the case of Admiral Keppel and that of Lord Pigot, and the wrongs they had suffered. In the last speech during that period, 6 Feb. 1782, when Sheridan called on certain admirals to explain ‘the reason which they had for withdrawing’ from the service, Pigot gave an account of the first lord’s conduct towards him—
by which it appeared that Lord Sandwich, having first solicited him to serve in the most flattering terms, had offered him a command by letter which he had the day before given to another officer, Admiral Gambier; that afterwards, on the breaking out of the French war, on Admiral Pigot’s renewing his offers to serve, the first lord of the Admiralty asked him directly for his interest in the India House, the charge of the murder of Lord Pigot, his brother, being then brought against the friends of Lord Sandwich. On the admiral’s refusing, Lord Sandwich told him, with a sneer, that he would acquaint his Majesty of his readiness to serve him, and from that hour he was never applied to more!2
Pigot was now in regular Opposition to the Government.
In the Rockingham Government of March 1782, Pigot was made a lord of the Admiralty under Keppel, and appointed c.-in-c. in the West Indies to supersede Rodney—a political replacement of the very kind previously complained of by the Rockinghams. He sailed for Jamaica on 18 May, the day the news of Rodney’s great victory reached England. Pigot, whose connexion was primarily with Fox (he was one of Fox’s gaming set),3 was absent from England during Shelburne’s term at the Treasury, and only returned after peace had been concluded. He adhered to the Coalition; voted for Fox’s East India bill; and introduced the naval estimates, 19 Nov. 1783. Defeated at Bridgnorth at the general election of 1784, he did not stand again for Parliament, and died 15 Dec. 1792.