13 November 2013

Following up on Ehrman's reference to Miss Williams

I found the reference Ehrman (1996:93) refers to in one of the footnotes from ‘Notes & Queries, 6th Series, 1880, p. 376.’ 
Here is a link to the speculation regarding Miss [Elizabeth] Williams’ supposed relationship to William Pitt the younger.

I know of no such book entitled ‘The Private Life of William Pitt,’ nor who it could have been that originally put forward this theory. 

Printed in its entirety, here is what Notes & Queries (1880: 376) had to say upon the matter:

"William Pitt - Son of the Earl of Chatham - A book entitled The Private Life of William Pitt is said to exist; where can it be obtained? Was there any truth in the report that he was privately married? Who was Miss Williams, and where was she born and christened? She is said to have been at his death-bed, and subsequently to have accompanied Lady Hester Stanhope to Syria. Are any of the descendants of William Pitt’s (the second) private secretary Mr. Adams, living; and if so, where can they be communicated with?”

This speculation does not necessarily suggest Pitt was married to Miss Williams, but rather that there was a link between the two of them. Clearly, someone either got their facts mixed up - which, believe me, can easily happen - or there might have been a Private Life of William Pitt published in the 19th century which I simply cannot locate. Rumours it must be, but it doesn’t surprise me that people wondered at Elizabeth Williams privileged place in Pitt and Lady Hester Stanhope’s households.

Incidentally, my current work in progress is entitled 'The Private Life of Pitt.' 


Ehrman, J. (1996) The younger Pitt: The consuming struggle. London: Constable, p. 93 (footnote).
Notes & Queries, 6th Series, I. (1880) p. 376.

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