PIGOTT, Robert (1665-1746), of Chetwynd, Salop and Chesterton., Hunts.
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Family and Education
bap. 24 Oct. 1665, 1st s. of Walter Pigott of Chetwynd by his 2nd w. Anne, da. of Sir John Dryden, 2nd Bt.†, of Canons Ashby, Northants., sis. of John Dryden*. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. matric. 1681; I. Temple 1683. m. settlement 15 May 1695, Frances, da. of Hon. William Ward of Willingsworth Hall, Sedgeley, Staffs., sis. of William Ward*, 5s. 3da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. fa. at Chetwynd 1669, uncle John Dryden 1708, uncle Erasmus Dryden at Chesterton 1710.1
Sheriff, Salop 1696–7, Cambs. and Hunts. 1709–10.
The Pigotts had been settled at Chetwynd since migrating from Cheshire in the early 15th century and had provided several sheriffs for Shropshire but no Member of Parliament. Pigott himself served as sheriff and as a deputy-lieutenant; indeed, he was so comfortably placed as to be able to extend his family’s holdings of Shropshire manors and to marry into the aristocracy (his wife’s grandfather being the 1st Lord Ward) even before inheriting the substantial Huntingdonshire property of his maternal uncles in 1708 and 1710. In such a small county his landed wealth made him an obvious candidate in a way that he had not been before, and he was returned at the top of the poll for knight of the shire at the first attempt in the general election of 1713, but was not an active Member. He voted on 18 Mar. 1714 against the expulsion of Richard Steele, and was classed as a Whig in the Worsley list and in two lists of the 1713 and 1715 Parliaments, after which he continued a consistent, if occasionally absentee, supporter of Whig administrations. His eldest son, however, would seem to have been a High Tory. There is a legend that he visited the Pretender in Rome in 1720, coming away with a portrait. Pigott jnr. certainly contested Shrewsbury unsuccessfully on the Tory interest in 1747.2
Pigott died in December 1746, and was buried at Chetwynd. He left property in five counties – Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, Northamptonshire, Shropshire and Warwickshire – together with a personalty amounting to well over £17,000. The estates descending in the main line were, however, sold by his grandson and namesake, a radical in politics and manners, who went to live in France, where in due course, besides embracing vegetarianism, he naturally became an enthusiastic Jacobin.3