PYTCHES, John (1774-1829), of Groton House, nr. Sudbury, Suff.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. 1774, 2nd s. of John Pytches (d.1803) of Alderton by w. Mary née Westrope of Saffron Walden, Essex. m. 1 June 1798, Catherine Anne, da. and h. of John Revett of Brandeston Hall, Suff., 1s. 1da.
Pytches was a somewhat eccentric character. ‘Bred a maltster’, he conceived in 1793 the idea of compiling a ‘New Copious English Dictionary’ intended to supersede Dr Johnson’s by purging the English language of ‘its grossness ... its distorted phraseology and lingering anomalies’.1 After an advantageous marriage he appeared at Sudbury in March 1802 as a contender for the seat intended to be vacated by Sir James Marriott at the dissolution. The latter described him as ‘a violent republican’. His address stressed municipal freedom and the inviolacy of the constitution. He treated the freemen lavishly at his rented house at Groton.2 Eventually he forced other candidates to withdraw and was returned unopposed, though he had to face a petition for treating.
In his maiden speech Pytches assailed the address, ‘a salmagundi ... replete with servile adulation’. He quoted Dr Johnson and deprecated the threat of resumed hostilities with France, 28 Nov. 1802. He ‘did not succeed’.3 On 5 Apr. 1803 he opposed the coroners bill as affording them too much luxury in the way of travelling expenses. He voted with opposition on 24 May 1803, when war was imminent. On 10 and 13 Apr. 1804 he denounced the Irish militia offer bill and was in all the known divisions against Addington’s ministry between 10 and 25 Apr. Listed ‘Fox’ in May and ‘Fox and Grenville’ in September, he was an opponent of Pitt’s additional force bill in June, voting for its repeal on 6 Mar. 1805. He also opposed war with Spain, 12 Feb. 1805, and spoke against the suspension of habeas corpus in Ireland, 14 Feb., as it treated the Irish like ‘froward children’. He was in the majority against Melville, 8 Apr., advocated criminal proceedings against him ‘with some warmth’, 29 Apr., and reproached Wilberforce for his panegyric on Melville’s successor at the Admiralty, 10 May. On 11 June, supporting Whitbread’s motion for impeachment, he reproved Melville for a show of innocence; next day he was in the majority for criminal prosecution. On Pitt’s death he acknowledged ‘the electricity of his elocution’, but had confidence in ‘the large spreading shrubbery of genius which was shooting up’ and thought the laments of Pitt’s friends misguided.
Pytches was a silent supporter of the Grenville ministry. He voted for their repeal of the Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. 1806, and was listed ‘friendly’ to the abolition of the slave trade after the general election that year, in which he survived a contest and another petition. On 28 Dec., writing to Howick to promise attendance next session, he reminded him of his ‘constant fidelity’ and asked for ‘some office or employment’: he was unaware of any obstacle to his acquiring it.4 On 18 Mar. 1807 he obtained leave of absence to attend Bury assizes and on 10 and 14 Apr. was a defaulter. He was bottom of the poll at the ensuing election.
Pytches was ambitious of regaining his seat and apparently attached himself to the Portland and Perceval administrations to this end, but, more convincingly, in pursuit of a baronetcy extinct in his wife’s family, the Revetts, against whom he was obliged to go to law to procure the estates to which she was heir for their eldest son. In the event, he did not offer again at Sudbury; he got into financial difficulties. On 29 Apr. 1818 he petitioned the House against the Copyright Act, claiming that it would rob him of most of the profits of his dictionary. It never appeared. He died in King’s Bench prison, 15 May 1829. His will gave no indication of his problems. Dated 14 Feb. 1829, it directed that he should be buried under the inscription:
The freedom of Rome was lost by Pompey falling into the hands of Caesar; freemen of Sudbury, let it never be recorded in history that a similar calamity befell your borough by the fall of its watchful guardian into the hands of death.5