PITT, Robert (?1680-1727), of Stratford, Wilts.
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Family and Education
b. ?1680, 1st s. of Thomas Pitt of Boconnoc and e. bro. of Thomas (d.1729), 1st Earl of Londonderry, and John Pitt. m. 1704, Harriet, da. of Gen. the Hon. Edward Villiers of Dromana, sis. of John Villiers, 5th Visct. Grandison [I], 2s. 5da. suc. fa. 26 Apr. 1726.
Clerk of the household to the Prince of Wales 1716-d.
In 1715 Robert Pitt was re-elected for his father’s borough of Old Sarum as a Tory who might often vote with the Whigs. He also stood for Salisbury, where he was defeated by two Tories, against whom he petitioned. His petition was heard at the bar of the House but was discharged at the request of both parties.1 He was employed by his brother-in-law, James Stanhope, as an intermediary with the Duke of Ormonde before the latter’s flight to France.2 Reporting the arrest of ‘your bosom friend,’ Edward Harvey of Coombe, his father informed him, 27 Sept. 1715, that
I have heard since I came to town that you are struck in with your old hellish acquaintance, and, in all your discourse, are speaking in favour of that villainous traitor Ormonde.
Two days later, in a letter saying that Stanhope had told him that a letter from Robert, of no importance, had been found in Harvey’s papers, Governor Pitt added:
Since last post I have had it reiterated to me that in all company you are vindicating Ormonde and Bolingbroke, the two vilest rebels that ever were in any nation, and that you still adhere to your cursed Tory principles.
On Robert’s appointment, through Stanhope’s influence, to a £500 a year post in the Prince of Wales’s household, he was exhorted by his father, 21 Jan. 1716,
to let the King and Prince see that you are capable to serve ’em in this employ,
to shun the company of your old comrades as you would the plague, for they are most of them in actual rebellion, or abettors, or those of avowed indifference.
On learning that Robert did not intend to come to town his father wrote, 7 Feb. 1716:
I think you have already put a more than ordinary slight on the Prince’s favour, and those that obtained it for you. I do not doubt but you still adhere to the advice of your old Jacobite friends.
His failure to attend Parliament for the septennial bill gave rise to ‘not a few speculations on his behaviour to the Prince and the reason he forbears to come up at this time’, but like his father he voted against the Government on the repeal of the Occasional Conformity and Schism Acts and the peerage bill in 1719. In 1720 he moved unsuccessfully that the final report of the secret committee on the South Sea bubble should be printed. With Archibald Hutcheson he introduced a bill for securing the freedom of elections, 14 Jan. 1722, which passed the Commons but not the Lords. But a bill of £2549 for Robert’s election expenses at Okehampton in 1722 produced an explosion from his father:
You have been such a son to me as he [the estate agent concerned] has been a steward, who I will suddenly discharge as a cursed and ungrateful steward.
On his failure to come up to vote for Archibald Hutcheson on the Westminster election petition, he was denounced as ‘a slinker’. And again:
My resentments against you all have been justly and honourably grounded, and that you will find when my head is laid.3