25 March 2014

Good Enough for Dr. Goodenough: Pitt's first speech in the House of Commons

On 26th of February 1781, William Pitt made his first speech in the House of Commons in support of Edmund Burke's bill for the regulation of the civil list. He was still only 21 years old. Dr. Goodenough (later Bishop of Carlisle) wrote to the Reverend Edward Wilson, Pitt's childhood tutor, the next day to relay the happy event:

"I cannot resist the natural Impulse of giving pleasure by telling you & Mrs. Wilson that the famous Wiliam Pitt who made so capital a figure in the last Reign [a reference to Pitt's father, the 1st Lord Chatham] is happily restor'd to this Country. He made his first Publick Appearance in the Senate last night. All the old members [of the House of Commons] recognis'd him instantly, & most of the Young Ones said he appear'd the very man they had so often heard describ'd. The language, the manner, the gesture, the action were the same, & there wanted only a few wrinkles in the face, & some Marks of Age, to identify the absolute Person of the late Earl of Chatham." [1]

Reverend Wilson later passed on Dr. Goodenough's letter to Dr. Anthony Addington, Lord Chatham's former physician, and a copy of it remained in the Addington family. 

Excuse the pun, but if Pitt's maiden speech was good enough for Dr. Goodenough, it must have been something to see!


1. Dr. Goodenough to Rev. Edward Wilson, 27th February 1781. Sidmouth MSS, Devon Record Office: 152M/C1781/OZ/2.

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