Thomas Pitt of Boconnoc

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Thomas Pitt (c. 1705 – 17 July 1761), of Boconnoc, Cornwall, was a British landowner and politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1727 and 1761. He was Lord Warden of the Stannaries from 1742 to 1751.

Boconnoc civil parish in Cornwall, England

Boconnoc is a civil parish in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom, approximately four miles east of the town of Lostwithiel. According to the 2011 census the parish had a population of 96.

Lord Warden of the Stannaries

The Lord Warden of the Stannaries used to exercise judicial and military functions in Cornwall, England, in the United Kingdom, and is still the official who, upon the commission of the monarch or Duke of Cornwall for the time being, has the function of calling a Stannary Parliament of tinners. The last Stannary Parliament convened by a Lord Warden of the Stannaries sat in 1753.

Boconnoc House, Cornwall Boconnoc Estate3.jpg
Boconnoc House, Cornwall

Pitt was the grandson and namesake of the better known Thomas Pitt and the son of Robert Pitt, MP, of Boconnoc, near Lostwithiel in Cornwall. He was the elder brother of William Pitt the Elder. He succeeded his father in 1727 to his estates, including Boconnoc. [1]

Thomas Pitt English politician

Thomas "Diamond" Pitt was an English merchant involved in trade with India, the President of Madras and a Member of Parliament.

Sir Robert Pitt was a British politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1705 to 1727. He was the father and grandfather of two prime ministers, William Pitt the elder and William Pitt the younger.

William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham 18th-century British statesman

William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, was a British statesman of the Whig group who served twice as Prime Minister of Great Britain in the middle of the 18th century. Historians call him Pitt of Chatham, or William Pitt the Elder, to distinguish him from his son, William Pitt the Younger, who also was a prime minister. Pitt was also known as The Great Commoner, because of his long-standing refusal to accept a title until 1766.

As head of the family, Pitt inherited both his grandfather's immense fortune and his parliamentary boroughs - he had the complete power to nominate both MPs at Old Sarum and one of the two at Okehampton, as well as considerable influence in at least two Cornish boroughs, Camelford and Grampound. He had himself elected Member of Parliament for Okehampton in 1727, the first election after he came of age, and represented the borough until 1754; but on a number of occasions he was also elected for Old Sarum, which meant that when he chose to sit for Okehampton the Old Sarum seat was free to offer at a by-election to somebody else who had failed to get into Parliament.

Old Sarum (UK Parliament constituency) Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom

Old Sarum was from 1295 to 1832 a parliamentary constituency of England, of Great Britain, and finally of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It was a so-called rotten borough, with an extremely small electorate that was consequently vastly over-represented and could be used by a patron to gain undue influence. The constituency was on the site of what had been the original settlement of Salisbury, known as Old Sarum. The population had moved to New Sarum at the foot of the hill and at a confluence known as the cathedral city of Salisbury in the 14th century. The constituency was abolished under the Reform Act 1832.

Okehampton was a parliamentary borough in Devon, which elected two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons in 1301 and 1313, then continuously from 1640 to 1832, when the borough was abolished by the Great Reform Act.

Cornwall County of England

Cornwall is a county in South West England, bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by Devon, the River Tamar forming the border between them. Cornwall is the westernmost part of the South West Peninsula of the island of Great Britain. The southwesternmost point is Land's End and the southernmost Lizard Point. Cornwall has a population of 563,600 and an area of 3,563 km2 (1,376 sq mi). It is administered by Cornwall Council, apart from the Isles of Scilly, which are administered separately. The county town is Truro, Cornwall's only city.

Pitt was Assay master of the Stannaries from March 1738 to February 1742 and Lord Warden of the Stannaries from February 1742 to March 1751, when the Cornish Stannary Parliament met for the last time. [1]

According to Rod Lyon's "Cornwall's Historical Wars: A Brief Introduction" The Cornish Stannary Parliament was chartered in 1201, by King John. In spite of the name the Parliament was not a national assembly. The charter granted special rights to "tinners" - those involved in mining Tin, and exempted them taxes and dues, while they were working in the Tin industry. Tinners were also protected from being called up to provide labour to local lords of the manor - while they were working in the Tin industry. The Stannary Parliament's authority was confined to matters related to the Tin industry.

Pitt was ambitious for political influence and, attaching himself to the retinue of Frederick, Prince of Wales, managed the general elections of 1741 and 1747 in Cornwall in the Prince's interests; but this involved massive expenditure - especially at the notoriously-corrupt Grampound, where he spent huge sums both on bribing the voters and on lawsuits attempting to deprive the most rapacious of their votes. By 1751 he had bankrupted himself, and the death that year of the Prince of Wales destroyed his hopes of securing influence or patronage for his efforts. He mortgaged his boroughs to the Treasury, allowing the government to name two MPs at Old Sarum and one at Okehampton in return for a pension of £1000 a year. After sitting briefly for Old Sarum in the 1754 Parliament, he resigned his seat and fled the country. [1]

Frederick, Prince of Wales heir apparent to the British throne from 1727 until his death

Frederick, Prince of Wales, KG, was heir apparent to the British throne from 1727 until his death from a lung injury at the age of 44. He was the eldest but estranged son of King George II and Caroline of Ansbach, and the father of King George III.

1741 British general election

The 1741 British general election returned members to serve in the House of Commons of the 9th Parliament of Great Britain to be summoned, after the merger of the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland in 1707. The election saw support for the government party increase in the quasi-democratic constituencies which were decided by popular vote, but the Whigs lost control of a number of rotten and pocket boroughs, partly as a result of the influence of the Prince of Wales, and were consequently re-elected with the barest of majorities in the Commons, Walpole's supporters only narrowly outnumbering his opponents.

1747 British general election

The 1747 British general election returned members to serve in the House of Commons of the 10th Parliament of Great Britain to be summoned, after the merger of the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland in 1707. The election saw Henry Pelham's Whig government increase its majority and the Tories continue their decline. By 1747, thirty years of Whig oligarchy and systematic corruption had weakened party ties substantially; despite the fact that Walpole, the main reason for the split that led to the creation of the Patriot Whig faction, had resigned, there were still almost as many Whigs in opposition to the ministry as there were Tories, and the real struggle for power was between various feuding factions of Whig aristocrats rather than between the old parties. The Tories had become an irrelevant group of country gentlemen who had resigned themselves to permanent opposition.

Returning to England in 1761, however, Pitt persuaded the government to allow him to be once more elected for Old Sarum - a temporary measure, he promised, to prevent his being arrested for debt until he was able satisfy his creditors. (MPs were immune from civil arrest.) He promised to relinquish the seat at the earliest possible moment and allow the government to name his replacement in accordance with the original arrangement; but he died a few months later, still MP for Old Sarum. [2]

Pitt had married, c.1731, Christian, the daughter of Sir Thomas Lyttelton, 4th Baronet, M.P., of Hagley, Worcestershire and the sister of Lord Lyttelton. They had two sons and two daughters. He afterwards married, in 1761, Maria, the daughter of General Murray.

Pitt died on 17 July 1761. His only surviving son was the first Baron Camelford, who repudiated his father's arrangement for Old Sarum, and chose himself as MP when he inherited the borough.

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Baron Camelford

Lord Camelford, Baron of Boconnoc, in the County of Cornwall, was a title in the Peerage of Great Britain. It was created in 1784 for Thomas Pitt, who had previously represented Old Sarum and Okehampton in Parliament. A member of the famous Pitt family, he was the son of Thomas Pitt of Boconnoc, the great-grandson of Thomas Pitt, the great-nephew of Thomas Pitt, 1st Earl of Londonderry, the nephew of William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham and the cousin of William Pitt the Younger. Lord Camelford was also the father-in-law of William Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville. The title became extinct on the death of his only son, the second Baron, who was killed in a duel in 1804.

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References

  1. 1 2 3 "PITT, Thomas (c.1705-61), of Boconnoc, Cornw". History of Parliament Online (1715-1754). Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  2. "PITT, Thomas (c.1705-61), of Boconnoc, Cornw". History of Parliament Online (1754-1790). Retrieved 14 September 2018.
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Robert Pitt
John Crowley
Member of Parliament for Okehampton
1727–1754
With: William Northmore 1727–1734
George Lyttelton 1734–1754
Succeeded by
George Lyttelton
Robert Vyner
Preceded by
John Pitt
George Pitt
Member of Parliament for Old Sarum
1727–1728
With: The Earl of Londonderry
Succeeded by
The Earl of Londonderry
Matthew St Quintin
Preceded by
Matthew St Quintin
Thomas Harrison
Member of Parliament for Old Sarum
1734–1735
With: Robert Nedham
Succeeded by
Robert Nedham
William Pitt
Preceded by
William Pitt
Edward Willes
Member of Parliament for Old Sarum
1747
With: Sir William Irby, Bt
Succeeded by
Earl of Middlesex
The Viscount Doneraile
Preceded by
Earl of Middlesex
Simon Fanshawe
Member of Parliament for Old Sarum
1754–1755
With: Viscount Pulteney
Succeeded by
Viscount Pulteney
Sir William Calvert
Preceded by
Viscount Pulteney
Sir William Calvert
Member of Parliament for Old Sarum
1761
With: Howell Gwynne
Succeeded by
Howell Gwynne
Thomas Pitt
Political offices
Vacant
Title last held by
Richard Edgcume
Lord Warden of the Stannaries
1742–1751
Succeeded by
The Earl Waldegrave