17 November 2014

A statement of the sums due to Coutts by the late Mr. Pitt

In February 1806, the late Mr. Pitt's banker, Mr. Thomas Coutts, drew up a statement of the sums Mr. Pitt still owed to him. Pitt had died heavily in debt on 23 January 1806, and one of his creditors was Mr. Coutts. Pitt's two chosen executors, his brother John, the 2nd Earl of Chatham, and the Bishop of Lincoln, exchanged some correspondence with Coutts on the matter of Pitt's outstanding debts. 

Below is the statement that Mr. Coutts drew up for Pitt's executors:

"Statement of Sums due by the late Mr. Pitt (drawn up on 1st February 1806) -

On a Mortgage upon Burton Pynsent dated 27 August 1796 on which Interest is paid to the 2d August last - £5,805.6.11

On His [Pitt's] & Lord Chatham’s joint Bond dated 27 July 1791 on which Interest is paid to 27 July last - 6,000[£]

On His [Pitt's] Account Current on which Interest is paid to Midsummer last - 3,149.3.2[£]”

Taken in all, the amount to Coutts added up to nearly £15,000. Sadly, Pitt was in debt for the entirety of his adult life, beginning in the early 1780s. In many ways, the example left by his father's relationship with money did Pitt more harm than good. The Bishop of Lincoln, later known as the Bishop of Winchester, was still sorting out Pitt's unresolved financial affairs 15 years after Pitt's passing

More details regarding the lengthy ensuing correspondence between Chatham, Coutts, and the Bishop of Lincoln will be discussed in a future post. 


Pitt's financial affairs (February 1806) U1590/S5/C42. Pitt MSS: The Kent History and Library Centre.

16 November 2014

A lock of Mr. Pitt's hair (still including the hair powder)

In a previous post, I wrote an entry about a bracelet made of Mr. Pitt's hair. Also included with this item is a substantial lock of Mr. Pitt's hair dated January 23, 1806 (the day of his death). This must be the lock of hair which was once at Orwell Park, the former residence of the Pretyman family. 

If you look closely at the images below, you can still see the hair powder in the envelope.
A lock of Mr. Pitt's hair
Another view of Pitt's hair

Pitt retained his auburn-coloured hair until his death at the age of 46, although when I viewed the lock of hair in person, I could see a single grey hair. I'm blogging about Pitt's hair so that a modern audience can see what his hair colour actually looked like underneath his wigs and hair powder.

Reference/Image Credits:

A lock of William Pitt's hair taken on the date of his death. Pretyman MSS: HA 119:8837/1. Ipswich Record Office. 

15 November 2014

Who was Miss Elizabeth Hamilton?

I recently read a reference in The Polar Star (1829: 79) that would be a significant historical discovery indeed. Quoted verbatim, this was the claim:

"The 'Cottagers of Glenburnie.' Ah! By the late Mrs. Elizabeth Hamilton? By the way, among Mrs. Hamilton's papers are some curious letters from Mr. Pitt. How is it her executors do not give them to the world? The late Bishop of Winchester [George Pretyman-Tomline, Pitt's own executor] was once heard to say that if Mr. Pitt had ever married, the lady would have been Miss Elizabeth Hamilton. And this I can most fearlessly assert of one letter in particular, that if it had been written by any common, every-day man - any one, in fact, but a prime minister - it would have been, by common mortals, unhesitatingly pronounced a love letter."

From the mention of The Cottagers of Glenburnie in the snippet, I presume that the particular Elizabeth Hamilton being referred to was the Scottish writer and educationalist (1757-1816). It is possible, however, that the Bishop of Winchester meant another Elizabeth Hamilton. 

If anyone reading this post knows where Elizabeth Hamilton's papers are deposited, or has any further information regarding the whereabouts of such letters - if they are still in existence - please do get in touch with me. Until this can be confirmed by concrete evidence, it is impossible to give credit to this statement.


The Polar Star, Vol. 1. (1829) London: H. Flower, p. 79.

14 November 2014

Pitt's "soft susceptibility" to Miss Eden

At the end of 1796, and the very beginning of 1797, the intended marriage of William Pitt and Lord Auckland's eldest daughter the Honourable Eleanor Eden was widely spoken of and reported in various newspapers. Although the union never took place due to Pitt breaking it off, I have argued with reference to Pitt's draft letters to Lord Aucklanddirect observations by contemporaries, and Pitt's letter to Henry Addington about the affair that he was in love with Miss Eden. Indeed, unlike virtually all previous historiographers who have examined the life of William Pitt, I take a firm stand - backed by largely primary source material - that Pitt was interested in women. Despite the fact that he never married, his one widely known and documented foray into courtship strongly suggests that he was - if nothing else - enamoured with Eleanor. 

One of the various newspaper reports that jokingly mentions Pitt's infatuation with Miss Eden was the Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette of 29 December 1796:

From the Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, 29 December 1796

This is an amusing little anecdote that cannot be taken with anything but a grain of salt, and was undoubtedly created in the mind of a newspaper reporter. I'm especially amused by the reference to Pitt's alleged "soft susceptibility for this fairest flower of Eden [Eleanor]," and the comment about him meeting her for the first time at a rout [social gathering] given by Mrs. Moore (the Archbishop of Canterbury's wife and a relation of the Auckland family) at Lambeth Palace. The final part, however, particularly cracks me up when it talks about it being "delicately hinted to the enamoured Premier that special licences were retailed on the spot!" The facetiousness is unmistakable, but the point is made. 

16 October 2014

Lord Mahon's address on Harley Street: Number 52, now Number 61

Fig. 1: The 1778 Rate Book for Harley Street, showing Number 52: The address of Lord Viscount Mahon
On a recent research trip to Westminster City Archives, I had a look at the Rate Books for Harley Street for the year 1778. I chose that year as it was the period in which William Pitt the Younger was regularly staying with the Mahons on Harley Street. Lord Mahon, later Charles, the third Earl of Stanhope, had married Pitt's sister Lady Hester in December 1774, and the Mahons had a house on Harley Street. This was the exact same property in which their first child Lady Hester Stanhope was born in March 1776.  The property on Harley Street was also where Pitt stayed during the period in which he was arranging and serving as chief mourner at his father William Pitt the Elder's funeral. The exact number of this property has never, to my knowledge, been mentioned in any biographies of Pitt, Charles Stanhope, or Lady Hester Stanhope, so it is a real gem for the 18th century historian interested in tracking down Pitt's exact movements at various periods in time. 

From the image above, we can see that Lord Viscount Mahon was living at number 52 Harley Street, and paying £140 in rent in addition to the costs of repairs, additional rates, and a watch rate. 

Fig. 2: Lord Mahon's residence at 52 Harley Street, from Horwood's 1799 London map

The Mahons lived three houses up from the junction where Harley Street meets Mary Le Bone Street and New Cavendish Street (now both streets are simply called Cavendish Street). William would occasionally sign off his letters to his mother, Lady Chatham, with "Harley Street, Cavendish Square" when he was staying at his brother in-law and sister's house. In fact, the part of Harley Street where the Mahons resided was several street crossings away from Cavendish Square. Captain Alexander Hood lived at 7 Harley Street, which was much closer to the square. As I mentioned in a previous post, Hood was instrumental in getting the naval career of Pitt's youngest sibling, James Charles Pitt, up and running. Lady Harriot Pitt had also stayed at the Mahon's residence, and spent time with the Hoods in the spring of 1776 when she was in London. Thus, in various capacities, Harley Street was well-known to members of the Pitt family. 

Since the late 18th century, 52 Harley Street has become number 61, and the building itself has undergone extensive changes. The house pictured on the right is number 61 (formerly number 52). The house on the left still largely retains its Georgian exterior, and is shown here to give you an idea of how the Mahon's residence must have once appeared.

Fig. 3: A modern-day view of number 61 (formerly number 52) Harley Street

I wonder if the Chevening Estate is aware that Charles, third Earl Stanhope, lived at this address in the 1770s? Lady Hester Stanhope was also born there on March 12, 1776. Despite its significant external changes, the property still retains an historical significance.

Image Credits:

Figure 1: The 1778 Rate Book entry for Harley Street, showing number 52: The house of Lord Viscount Mahon. Westminster City Archives, London.

Figure 2: Lord Mahon's residence at Harley Street, from Horwood's 1799 London map.

Figure 3: A modern-day view of number 61 (formerly number 52) Harley Street (image from Google street view).

"I had not the curiosity to ask what I was to be": Political negotiations in March 1803

In late March 1803, Lord Melville went down to Walmer, ostensibly on a visit to see Pitt, in order to discuss the current political situation. Henry Addington, afterwards Viscount Sidmouth, was in office, and he had been responsible for raising Melville, formerly Henry Dundas, to the peerage the previous year. Affairs on the continent were in such a precarious state that it would not be long before there was a resumption of war with France. Addington, it seems, was anxious for a rearrangement in government, and he employed Melville as his go-between in talks with Pitt. 

Pitt's biographer, John Ehrman, explained the situation in the following terms:

"The leading proposition was certainly quite remarkably inept. Addington and Pitt should be Secretaries of State in a Ministry in which the First Lord of the Treasury should be Chatham [Pitt's brother]." [1] Although I disagree with Ehrman on the point of the arrangement being described as 'remarkably inept' simply because Lord Chatham would be First Lord of the Treasury, I think a large part of the issue at stake here was Pitt's pride. Pitt had been at the head of The Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer for over seventeen years, and now that he was out of office, he could not imagine returning to a position that was not at the head of State. In a conversation between Pitt and Wilberforce that took place soon after the discussions with Melville, Pitt remarked, "really...with a sly severity, and it was almost the only sharp thing I ever heard him say of any friend...I had not the curiosity to ask what I was to be." [2] Pitt simply would not countenance an arrangement whereby he himself was not at the helm. Furthermore, at that time Pitt expressed his wish not to take an active part in government, preferring to stay at Walmer Castle.

Melville wrote to Addington on March 22, 1803, apprising him of Pitt's decision. No doubt the letter was dictated by Pitt: 

“My dear Sir,

I arrived here Sunday Morning, and found Mr. Pitt very much improved in point of health beyond what I expected. He is alone and of course I found no interruption in conversing with him on the various topics touch’d upon in my Interview with you last Friday. As [a] Matter of private Gratification, Mr. P has the reverse of any wish to return to official Situation, and if the present Administration prove themselves in the present Circumstances of the Country, competent to carry on its Government with reasonable Prospects of Success, and are determined afterwards to adhere to those leading Principles of domestic & foreign Policy, which he [Pitt] has long considered as material, his Wishes to be able to support them, out of office, are precisely the same they were at their first formation. He does not however disguise from me that many things have occurred both in their relation to his transactions with foreign Powers (so far as he has the means of judging of them) and with regard to the financial operations and Statements of the Treasury, as to have given him sincere Concern, and if it were not under the Circumstances of the present critical Moment of the Country, he doubts how far, considering the Commotion he has had for these many years with the financial Affairs of the Country, he was at liberty to keep back so long from his distinctly stating to the public the fatal Errors which he is satisfied exist in the statement made, with regard to the Amount of the Natural Revenue compared with the Charges upon it. As things now stand he is induced from all these Considerations, for the present at least, to adhere to the resolution of continuing his Residence where he is [Walmer], and refraining from taking part in the Discussions of Parliament. 

I did not conceal from him the Idea you mention’d, of his returning to a share of the Government with a person of Rank & Consideration [i.e. Chatham] at the head of it, perfectly agreeable to him, and I even specified the Person you had named; but there was no room for any discussion on that part of the Subject, for he stated at once, without reserve or affectation, his feelings with regard to any Preposition founded on such a basis. The uncertain State of his Health makes him still doubt how far, on any call he could be justified in undertaking a lead in public Affairs under the difficulties now existing or impending. The Moment of a Negociation still in Suspence he thinks in every View unfit for his taking part, but in any Event nothing could induce him to come forward except an urgent Sense of Public Duty and a distinct knowledge that his Services (such as they may be) are wished and thought essential both in the highest quarter [the King], and by all those with whom (in consequence of any arrangement that might be formed on that ground) he might have to act confidentially. He is firmly of opinion that he could not on this Supposition have any Chance of answering his own Ideas of being useful to the Country in one of the great points on which he lays a principal Stress, but by returning to the Management of its finances. 

Besides this Consideration, he stated not less pointedly and decidedly his Sentiments with regard to the absolute necessity there is in the Conduct of the Affairs of this Country that there should be an avowed and real Minister possessing the chief weight in the Council, and the principal place in the Confidence of the King…that Power must be in the Person generally call’d the first Minister, and that Minister ought he [Pitt] thinks to be this Person immediately at the head of the Finances. He knows to his own comparable Experience that notwithstanding the abstract truth of that general Proposition, it is no ways incompatible with the most cordial Concert and mutual Exchange of Advice and Intercourse amongst the different Members of Government, and different branches of executive departments, but state of it should some unfortunately to such a radical difference of opinion that no spirit of Consideration or Concession can reconcile, the Sentiments of the Minister must be allowed and understood to prevail leaving to other Members of Administration to act as they may conceive themselves conscientiously call’d upon to act under such Circumstances. During the last Administration such a Collision of opinion I believe scarcely ever happened or at least was not such as the parties felt themselves obliged to push to extremities, but still it is possible and the only remedy applicable to it is solely in the Principles I have explained. 

In a Conversation of two Days which involved in it the discussion of such a Variety of topics it is impossible to give you more than an abstract or any general Outline of the heads of our Conversations. I have made it merely a recital, not intermixed with any Comments, opinions or Suggestions of my own. You expressed a Wish to hear from me without any delay, and I trust the Explanation I have given you is perfectly sufficient to convey to you such a View of the Subject as may enable you to draw your own Conclusions, and regulate your own deliberations.

I remain, etc. etc." [3]

In terms of those particular negotiations, that was that. Unfortunately, relations between Addington and Pitt were seriously diminished. An insight into Pitt's mental state can be deduced in the subscriptions he wrote at the end of his letters to Addington in April 1803. They had been friends since childhood, and Pitt usually signed off his letters with "yours affectionately." However, by mid-April 1803, he was writing "yours sincerely," and then it became merely "your faithful and obedient servant" - a mere cursory expression. [4] 

Despite his protestations to the contrary, by the following spring Pitt would be back as First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer. 


1. Ehrman, J. (1996) The Younger Pitt: The Consuming Struggle. London: Constable, p. 584.

2. Wilberforce's account of a conversation between himself and Pitt. R.I. and S. Wilberforce. Life of Wilberforce, Volume 3, p. 219; quoted in Ehrman, J. (1996) The Younger Pitt: The Consuming Struggle. London: Constable, p. 584.

3. The British Library. Dacres Adams MSS. BL Add Ms 89036/1/10, f. 93. Lord Melville to Mr. Addington, March 22, 1803 (copy).

4. Ehrman, J. (1996) The Younger Pitt: The Consuming Struggle. London: Constable, p. 589.

14 October 2014

The complicated nature of Pitt's debts (the 1780s edition)

Fig 1: William Pitt's handwriting, mentioning Goostree's, from a letter to his friend Edward Eliot

As early as the beginning of the 1780s, William Pitt was already on his way to being seriously in debt. He had regularly borrowed money from his mother in the 1770s in order to pay for his tuition fees at Pembroke College, Cambridge, and she (along with her brother, Pitt's uncle Lord Temple) helped William to establish himself at rented accommodation (the attic rooms of number 4, Stone Buildings) during his time at Lincolns Inn. In an insightful account book spanning the 1780s, there is a sampling of Pitt's debts, and a listing of sums made out to various people. 

Throughout this small book, there are many payments made to an anonymous "Bearer" for large and regular sums of money. Below is a listing of payments Pitt made, including the dates, and to whom:

"July 24 1782 - ‘To James Goostree’ - £100 subscription [the owner of Goostree's gentleman's club on Pall Mall, of which Pitt was a member]

1782 - April 16, 1782 - To the Rev. Mr Pretyman [Pitt's friend] £200, and to James Goostree £200

July 12, 1782 - to James Goostree - £200, ditto on 15th July - £20

1784 - May 6 - to George Pretyman - £72, 3s, 8d, 12th May - £60 to the same

June 15 1784 - to Lady Chatham’s Account - £500 [Pitt's mother]

July 20, 1784 - to Dr. Pretyman - £1,550

Nov 13, 1784 - ‘To Lady Harriot Pitt’s order’ - £275, 13s [Pitt's sister]

Dec 24, 1784 - To Mr Goostree £100" [1]

By the end of 1784, just a year after Pitt became First Lord of the Treasury, he was already in debt by £13,292, 10s, 8d! [2] He was then only 25 years old. Sadly, it does not improve from that point onwards, as the following account from the same book demonstrates:

"April 21, 1785 - to Eliz[abeth]. Sparry - £100 [a loyal servant from his childhood, and a lady who continued in his mother's service]

September 23, 1785 - To Lady Harriot Pitt - £268 [money for Lady Harriot's wedding to his friend Edward James Eliot that month. I recorded the September 1785 marriage entry of Lady Harriot Pitt and Edward James Eliot in a previous post.]" [3]

By the end of 1785, Pitt was in debt by £24,391 19s 3d. Augustine Greenland paid him £4,000, and Pitt’s debts were then £20, 787 9s 8d [4]. Pitt and his older brother John, the second Earl of Chatham, were already known to Greenland from about the year 1780. 

At the end of 1786, Pitt's debts had already spiralled to £38,832 14s 7d! [5] It is from about this point in time that the frequent and large sums of money begin to disappear from Pitt's account book, and are made out to an unnamed "Bearer." 

For example, on July 23, 1787, £800 was paid to "the Bearer." [6] These massive sums - exorbitant by late 18th century standards - continue as follows:

"Mar 30, 1787 - £208 2s to Bearer

£359 to Bearer on Sept 25, 1787.

Dec 6, 1787 - To Bearer £190

Jan 1788 - £1,399 11s 6d “To Bearer”

Ditto - Jan 10, 1788 £40

July 23, 1787 - £800 to Bearer

Sept 25, 1787 - £359

Dec 6, 1787 - £190

Dec 31, 1787 - £1,399 11s 6d" [7]

These are vast sums of money, and although Pitt must have had many creditors by this point, it is unclear who exactly was receiving these payments.

The first entry for “To the Bearer” in Pitt's 1780s account book is for £77 15s on Oct 23, 1784; what is intriguing is that these payments were followed in rapid succession on Nov 15, 1784  for £50, then on Nov 16, 1784 for £300, Nov 17th for £100, and then on January 7, 1785 for the payment of £500! [8]

These payments continued unabated, and there were sometimes four or five in a single month, as in the case of June 1788. A single payment on one occasion in 1788 was £1,428 8s 10d! [9]

What does this tell us? The records for this account ledger ceases after 1788. These are very complicated and highly intriguing debts. There is evidence of bonds, interest paid on these bonds, and money given to various friends including George Rose in 1785. Most of these people, including bankers, are directly named - as is Pitt's mother Lady Chatham, and his sister, Lady Harriot - so “The Bearer” is someone not directly named. In all likelihood, we may never know the full extent of what caused William Pitt to become so deeply embroiled in debt by his mid-twenties.


1. The National Archives. Chatham Papers: PRO 30/8/219, Part 1. 

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid.

9. Ibid.

Image Credits:

Figure 1: William Pitt's handwriting, with a mention of Goostree's gentleman's club, from a 1779 letter to his friend Edward James Eliot (Source: Pretyman Papers, Ipswich Record Office, Suffolk, England).

6 October 2014

"Tones of resistless power": Stratford Canning's reminiscences of William Pitt

Figure 1: Stratford Canning as a young man

Stratford Canning, 1st Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe (1786-1880), was a British politician, an ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, and a cousin of William Pitt's friend and political associate, George Canning. In his memoirs and private papers, Stratford makes several interesting mentions of Pitt that are worth recording for the little insights we can glean about Pitt's character. 

In his school days at Eton in the mid 1790s, Stratford recalled seeing Pitt and Addington at Windsor Castle, wearing "the new court uniform, of which scarlet breeches were a conspicuous portion" [1]. At around the same time, he was also able to watch Pitt during a debate in the House of Commons, and catch a glimpse of him going to St. Paul's Cathedral for a Thanksgiving service following several British naval victories against Napoleon. 

He presents a vivid image of Pitt as a commanding leader:

"I was old enough to listen with awed attention to a speech delivered by William Pitt. There was something singularly consistent in the principal qualities which combined to form his character as the minister of a constitutional monarch and the leader of a representative assembly. His features, though plain, were imposing; there was an air of natural command in his person; his voice was sonorous; he was at once without effort master of his subject, his language, and his arguments. From a window in Fleet Street I saw him [Pitt] go to St. Paul's with the grand procession of the King,  Lords, and Commons, which went to return thanks for the great naval victories of the time [I believe this dates from after Nelson's victory at the Battle of the Nile]. He [Pitt] was more admired than popular, and his reception by the public partook of both sentiments. At one moment he might be seen bowing to a chorus of cheers and a display of waving handkerchiefs; at another, he slunk out of sight while the dense air of London seethed with hisses, groans, and reproaches. [2]" 

Stratford Canning also brings to life Pitt in the House of Commons:

"Conceive him [Pitt] once more in the House of Commons as my own sight beheld him not long before his death. The House was crowded; all the chief leaders of opposition were in their places; the Minister [Pitt] rose to speak; he was greeted with that sort of insulting noise   from the opposite benches which boys at Eton sometimes make for the annoyance of their master. Mr. Pitt, without more change of posture than was necessary to place his hands upon the table in support of his tall advancing form, looked for a few seconds in silence into the noisy ranks, and said, in tones of resistless power, 'Am I to be interrupted by clamour?' The effect was complete, and an impartial spectator might have perceived in it the triumph of a supremacy sustained on the whole during twenty years. [3]" 

He was a fervent admirer of Pitt, and the impression made upon him as a schoolboy at Eton would last throughout his lifetime. Unfortunately, Pitt died whilst Canning was still at the college. He remembered the day he learned of Pitt's death:

"...I was still at Eton, and I can never forget the impression made on the whole school - masters and boys - by the announcement of his death. A passage in Virgil in the lesson of that day struck me as singularly applicable to the event: Utcunque fervent ea facta minores, Vincet amor patriae, laudumque immensa cupido. [4]" 

Pitt's sense of duty, and a powerful love for his country, was burned into Stratford's memory. Several years after Pitt's death, in about 1810, Canning visited Pitt's niece Lady Hester Stanhope. He was fond of her company, and enjoyed her conversations - especially when she was speaking about her beloved uncle. At the time, Lady Hester was travelling with her much younger lover Michael Bruce, Mr. Pearse, and her physician Dr. Meryon (Canning misspells it as 'Dr. Merriman'). 

Figure 2: Stratford Canning, Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe, in later life

Many years later, he recollected her witty conversations with a surprising degree of clarity.

"She [Lady Hester] told me sundry curious anecdotes of her uncle [Pitt] and others - too many in fact to be remembered at this distance of time. Speaking of Mr. Pitt, she said that during his retreat from office he shewed [sic] no signs of discontent or restlessness; that although she had slept under his bedroom at Walmer [Castle], she never heard the sound of his foot-fall after the hour - an early one - at which he had retired. She told me that he always expressed the highest admiration of his father, taking for himself, comparatively, a more humble position than she was inclined to admit. She spoke of the carelessness with which he [Pitt] often left his papers, either scattered about the room, or at best stowed away under the cushions of his sofa." [5]

Yes, Pitt was not known for the organisation of his papers, and they were found strewn about all over Walmer Castle and Downing Street at the time of his death. His executors, namely Bishop Tomline, took months to sift through (and probably destroy) most of Pitt's private correspondence. I blogged about the fate of Pitt's papers in a previous post. On the direction of Lady Hester Stanhope, Pitt's last private secretary William Dacres Adams arranged for someone to hurriedly gather up Pitt's correspondence at Walmer Castle before Tomline could get his hands on them. Most of these ended up in Dacres Adams' possession for the last fifty years of his life, subsequently being inherited by his descendants until the majority of them became the property of the British Library in 2012. 

In a final anecdote mentioned in Stratford Canning's memoirs, he recalls Lady Hester's fondness for General John Moore, and her ridicule against Pitt's friend General Phipps (a brother of Lord Mulgrave):

"She [Lady Hester Stanhope] added that General Phipps had made a call one day, and the conversation turning upon Sir John Moore, that he [Phipps] had sought to disparage that officer in Mr. Pitt's estimation, and that she perceiving his design had said, 'You imagine, General, that Mr. Pitt does not greatly value Sir John's abilities, but learn from me you nasty kangaroo' - alluding to General Phipps' paralytic infirmity and imitating his manner of holding his hands - 'that there is no one in the King's army whose services he appreciates more highly.' 'Lady Hester! Lady Hester! What are you saying?' exclaimed Mr. Pitt, with an ill-suppressed smile which betrayed his secret enjoyment of the scene." [6] 

Whether or not this recollection of Lady Hester actually took place is open to interpretation, but it was without a doubt a cutting jibe. Even Stratford Canning admitted in his memoirs that "it was difficult to see much of her eccentric ladyship without risk of offending her." [7]

Whatever he thought of Lady Hester Stanhope, Canning would remain a fervent admirer of William Pitt. At the age of 33 in 1820, he wrote that "...there is no concealing that I have a decided leaning in favour of Mr. Pitt's principles, and for this reason I consider them as being essentially principles of conservation applied to the support of a constitution under which, however defective it may be in theory, this country has eminently flourished, and which I have been accustomed from my boyhood to regard with affection and reverence." [8]

Canning remained actively interested in politics and world affairs until his death at the age of 93 in 1880.


1. Lane-Poole, S. (ed.) (1888) The Life of the Right Honourable Stratford Canning Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe, from his Memoirs and Private and Official Papers (Volume 1). London: Longmans, Green & Co., p. 16.

2. Ibid, p. 17.

3. Ibid, pp. 17-18.

4. Ibid, p. 29.

5. Ibid, p. 114. 

6. Ibid, p. 114-115. 

7. Ibid, p. 115.

8. Ibid, p. 288.

Image Credits:

Figure 1: Stratford Canning, 1st Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe, as a young man. Image Source

Figure 2: Stratford Canning, 1st Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe, in later life by Disdéri (1860s). Image Source

30 September 2014

A portrait miniature of 'Pitt the Statesman' by Joseph Daniel of Bath

By repute, a portrait miniature of 'Pitt the Statesman' by Joseph Daniel

Inside a relatively obscure tome entitled Collecting Miniatures by Daphne Foskett (1979), there is a description and an image of a miniature that is supposedly of William Pitt the Younger (c. 1800). It is signed by the miniature artist Joseph Daniel (c. 1760-1803). Originally from Bridgwater, Somerset, Daniel and his brother Abraham became competing miniature artists in Bath, as both men advertised in local papers as "Mr. Daniel of Bath" [1]. Joseph was known to have worked in Bristol from 1777 onwards, making his primary place of work at Bath from about 1786; his name is traceable through the Rate Books and Directories of Bath from 1786 until his death in 1803 [2]. The miniature reputed to be of William Pitt the Younger is signed with the initials "JD," and is the only known signed work of Joseph Daniel. 

Foskett describes the alleged attribution thus: "[the miniature] bears an inscription on the reverse, written by G. Blakie Morgan, who traced the miniature back to his father's death in 1877 when it was given to his mother; it had always been known in the family as 'Pitt the Statesman,' and was sold by Sotheby's in Zurich on 15th November 1977 for £1,200" [3]. She also states that "it is a half-length portrait against a sea-scape background, and...the miniature is painted in brownish tones and is signed 'JD'" [4]. 

If this miniature is of William Pitt, it would have been taken around the year 1800 (possibly 1802), when he was staying in Bath at the end of that year. Joseph Daniel was very ill for the last 13 months of his life, and he died in August of 1803, so it's possible - although not very probable - that Daniel could have undertaken this work. 

However, to me it is difficult to determine whether this miniature actually represents William Pitt the Younger. Nonetheless, it would be interesting to see it in colour, and to find out its present-day whereabouts. If you're reading this, and you have any information (or are a collector of miniatures), I'd be delighted to hear from you.


1. Foskett, D. (1979) Collecting Miniatures. Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Antique Collectors Club, p. 247.

2. Ibid, p. 249.

3. Ibid, p. 250.

4. Ibid, p. 247.

Image Credit:

The scanned image above may be found on p. 250 of Foskett, D. (1979) Collecting Miniatures. Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Antique Collectors Club.

17 September 2014

William Pitt the Elder's funeral

'Original Drawings made of the Funerals of The Earl of Chatham & The Rt. Hon. William Pitt'

William Pitt the Elder, the 1st Earl of Chatham, died on May 11, 1778 at his house at Hayes Place in Kent. Nearly a month later, on Tuesday, June 9, 1778, his funeral took place at Westminster Abbey. His second son William Pitt, then a young man of 19 years old, served as Chief Mourner. Young William took a primary role in arranging the funeral of his father, and he walked behind his father's coffin in the procession. 

The British Library holds a detailed book of the drawings and manuscript notes made by Messrs. Bishop and Clark, "a firm who for upwards of 300 years have been connected with the organisation of State and civic ceremonials." [1] Bishop and Clark were established in the 16th century, and their work included pageants from as far back as the reign of King Henry VIII down to the obsequies of Queen Anne, the Queen of James I, Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington, the playwright David Garrick, and the opening of the Royal Exchange by Queen Victoria in 1844 [2]. 

These beautifully detailed drawings preserve for posterity a sense of what it must have looked like at the Earl of Chatham's funeral in 1778, as well as Mr. Pitt's funeral procession in February 1806. This post focuses on the Earl of Chatham's funeral in 1778, and in my next piece I will discuss Pitt's funeral drawings from 1806.

Below is a detailed drawing of the crest of Chatham which was borne by the MP (Member of Parliament) David Hartley on June 9, 1778:

The Crests of Pitt, borne by David Hartley, Esq. M.P.

Next, the Arms of Pitt were borne by William Pulteney, MP:

The Arms of Pitt, borne by William Pulteney, MP

Messrs. Bishop and Clark also went into some detail when describing the quantity of escutcheons, banners, crests, and badges ordered by the Wardrobe which were used in the ceremony at Westminster Abbey [3]. 

These were as follows:

"8 Escutcheons on Sattin [sic] for the Pall
1 Coronet & Cushion
1 Atchievement [sic] of the House at Hayes
36 Escutcheons on Mantua Silk for the Church at Hayes
36 Crest for Do [ditto, the same]
1 Majesty Escutcheon for Painted Chamber on Silk with Gold Border round 1 yd. 1/2 Squares
Festoons for the Canopy
4 Dozen silk pencils for the Canopy & Lid of Feathers
11 Dozen 1/2 Escutcheons on Buckram for the Chamber
190 Feet of Silver Verging
70 Badges of the Crest of Pitt for Old Men’s Gowns [there was an ‘old man’ for each year of Chatham’s life - he was in his 70th year]
1 Great Banner on black Silk 2 yds. square 
11 Dozen 1/2 of Crest with Borders for Chamber
1 Standard on Red Silk 6 yards long
1 Banner 2 yds. square of the Barony of Chatham
1 Banner of Britannia 1 yds. 3/4 square
1 Do. with Crest of Pitt
6 Banner Rolls
1 Helmet
1 Crest
Mantle Robes, Shield & Sword
6 Earls Coronets for the Conductors Staves
1 Mantle" [4]

The quantity of Escutcheons, etc. used at the funeral of the Earl of Chatham 

In the image below, one gets an idea of the arrangement of the coffin, banner rolls, and the "Tables for Trophies" of the Barony of Chatham [5]. This depicts their appearance in the Painted Chamber of the old Houses of Parliament during the days leading up to the funeral:

The arrangement of the banners, tables of trophies, and the coffin as it was in the Painted Chamber

The crests, arms, and valance of canopies of the Pitt family were also drawn, including their measurements:

The Crests and Arms of the Pitt family, including canopies

The motto of the Pitt family was "Benigno Numine," which is Latin for "by the favour of the Heavens." This drawing shows the back of the canopy at the Earl of Chatham's funeral, including the heraldic features of the Pitt family (i.e. the coat of arms, motto, etc.) [6]: 

The back of the Canopy, displaying the Pitt family heraldry

After the funeral, the Pitt family requested that these banners and escutcheons were fixed up in the Church at Hayes, St. Mary the Virgin. This duty was duly fulfilled on June 20th, 1778 by Mr. Morris, the messenger of the Wardrobe, and an undertaker [7]. 

Banners and Escutcheons were fixed up at Hayes Parish Church on June 20, 1778

The man fixing the banners afterwards wrote of the difficulties associated with erecting these items at St. Mary the Virgin Church:

"Hayes Church [which was the parish church across the road from the Pitt family residence, Hayes Place] being small with an Arch’d Roof, the Banner was fix’d with Staples drove in the Beam from the top to the Wall, there being an Upright in the centre of the Beams to the Crown of the Arch. In the centre was fix’d the Surcoat with Shield in from of Sword pendant over Do [ditto] the Helmet Mantle & Crest. Over these the same Coronet as was used at the Funeral on a Cushion. To the Right Side the better to Shew the Center on each side the standard was fix’d. The great banner on the right, over the family seat on the left the Banner of the Barony of Chatham, these rather below the standard. On each side of the Shield Surcoat was fix’d the Six Banner Rolls on the cross beam, them belonging to the family of Pitt, beginning with Ld & Lady Chatham, Father & Mother next. Viz. Pitt Villiers, next Grand Father & Grand Mother on the right hand. On the left the banner belonging to the family of Grenville beginning with grand father & grand mother. The 3rd Grenville on the Left Side. In front of these was fix’d on another Beam as above in opposite page. The Banner representing Britannia weeping over the Arms of Pitt on the right, on the left the banner with the crest of Pitt with emblematic crowns of Damask with Gold Acorns on the upright was fix’d as Escutcheon & a crest.” [8]

At some point in time, these arms and banners were removed. St. Mary the Virgin church underwent drastic architectural changes during the mid-19th century, and it was later hit by a bomb during the Second World War. What became of the arms and banners of the Pitt family? It is a consolation to know that there is a memorial to the Earl of Chatham and William Pitt the younger inside St. Mary the Virgin Church in Hayes. As the memorial is  located in the oldest surviving part of the church, there is the possibility that it could be placed at approximately the same location as the banners were so long ago.


1. Pitt funeral drawings. British Library Add MS 47896.

2. Ibid, introductory page.

3. Ibid, p. 4.

4. Ibid, p. 4.

5. Ibid, p. 6.

6. Ibid, p. 7.

7. Ibid, p. 8

8. Ibid, p. 7.

Image Credits:

All images shown above are taken from BL Add MS 47896.