13 November 2013

The demise of the House of Chatham

Word began spreading as early as 1806 that the House of Chatham - Pitt’s direct family line - was dying out. In a report on Pitt’s funeral, a commentator prophetically (yet still quite unsympathetically) wrote: 

"By the demise of Mr. Pitt, the illustrious house of Chatham, as far as the lineal male succession is concerned, will in all probability become extinct. Mr. Pitt died unmarried; and his only brother, the Earl of Chatham, though married nearly twenty-three years, has had no children. The family vault in which the remains of Mr. Pitt have been interred is situated near the North Door of Westminster Abbey, nearly opposite the end of King Street. It already contained the bodies of the Great Earl of Chatham, of the late Countess Dowager of Chatham, and of Lady Harriet Elliot [it’s actually spelled Lady Harriot Eliot]. This receptacle is about ten feet by six, and about ten feet deep"(The Universal Magazine of Knowledge and Pleasure, Vol. V, January to June 1806).

Yeah, it’s not very sympathetic to William’s living brother John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham! I suppose it reflected public opinion at the time, though. Unfortunately, the Pitt family line - the male line, that is - did end with the death of John Pitt in September 1835, and consequently the Earldom of Chatham became extinct.

Source:

The Universal Magazine of Knowledge and Pleasure, Vol. V., January to June 1806. London: H.D. Symonds, p. 171.

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