1836: Obituary: William Morton Pitt Esq.

Feb. 28. At Fordington, Dorsetshire, in his 82d year, William Morton Pitt, esq. of Kingston house, in the isle of Purbeck, formerly, during thirty-six years, one of the Knights in Parliament for the county of Dorset.

We have had to notice, in recent years, the failure in the male line of two branches of the family of Pitt: of that represented by Lord Rivers in 1828; and that of the Earls of Chatham in 1835. In the memoir of the late Earl of Chatham (in our number for Nov. last, p. 546) we noticed the extinction of the four several titled branches, of Rivers, Camelford, Chatham, and Londonderry; and we remarked that the sole male survivor of another branch, and, as we believed, of the whole race, was the gentleman whose decease we have now to record. We now understand, however, that he has left, by his second marriage, an inheritor, and we trust perpetuator, of a name highly honoured among Englishmen.

Mr. W. Morton Pitt was the eldest and only surviving son of John Pitt, esq. of Encombe, a Commissioner of Trade and Plantations, Surveyor of Woods and Forests, and M. P. for Wareham and Dorchester, (who was an uncle of half-blood to the first Lord Rivers,) by Marcia, daughter of Marcus Morgan, esq. of Ireland. His name of Morton was derived from a remote ancestor: his great-great-grandmother, the wife of Edward Pitt, esq. of Stratfieldsaye, (married in 1620) having been Rachel, daughter of Sir George Morton, of Milbourne, St. Andrew, co. Dorset, Bart.

Mr. Morton Pitt was a member of Queen’s college, Oxford, and matriculated March 14, 1772: but quitted the university without taking a degree.

He first entered the House of Commons at the General Election of 1780 as a burgess for Poole, in asociation with Joseph Gulston, esq. having defeated Joshua Manger, esq. one of the former members, and John Adams, esq. who petitioned against the return, but without success. In 1784 he was rechosen, together with the late Mr. Michael Angelo Taylor; and in 1790 he was elected one of the County Members, in the room of his cousin the Hon. George Pitt, the late Lord Rivers. On the 17th of April 1791, he vacated his seat, on what account we are unaware, by accepting the Chiltern Hundreds; but was re-elected, as he was again to the seven following Parliaments, and finally retired at the general election of 1826. We believe he generally supported his kinsman Mr. Pitt and his Tory successors. He was one of the members chosen on the part of the House of Commons, Feb. 24,1803, to form the Court of East India Judicature.

In 1779, Mr. Morton Pitt was appointed Lieut-Col. of the Dorsetshire Militia.

The mansion-house at Encombe in the Isle of Purbeck, which Mr. Pitt inherited from his father (and of which there is a folio plate in Hutchins’s Dorsetshire), he sold some years ago to Lord Eldon, who subsequently took from it the title of his Viscounty.

The estate of Kingston had belonged to his uncle William Pitt, esq. who died in 1773, having been derived from his mother Lora, daughter and heiress of Audley Grey, esq.

Essentially a public man, throughout a long and laborious life, Mr. Pitt bad the rare success of obtaining the good will of, and giving satisfaction to, all classes and parties; and whether as an active county magistrate, the duties of which office he fulfilled with zeal, ability and discretion, for upwards of half a century; or in the Senate, where he sat for six years, his time and exertions unremittingly devoted to the public good. Nor was his private life less worthy. Beloved by his family, esteemed by his friends, and honoured by all, he passed through life distinguished by the possession of the purest virtues, and by the exercise of a diffusive philanthropy, and extensive practical benevolence.

To encourage industry, and detach the population from smuggling, Mr. Pitt established a manufactory for cordage and sail-cloth, near his domain in the Isle of Purbeck, and he also erected, at his own expense, a manufactory for hats in the gaol at Dorchester. He was likewise one of the first promoters of Sunday schools; and addressed in 1789 a public letter to the London Society established for their encouragement, containing a plan for the formation of District Committees and County Societies, in furtherance of their objects: this will be found printed in Hutchins’s History of Dorsetshire, vol. i. p. 306—311. He was also at the expense of printing some statistical tables on the state of the poor, which are given in that work.

He published, in 1798, an address to the Landed Interest on the deficiency of Habitations and Fuel for the use of the Poor: and he was the author of several communications to the Bath Agricultural Papers, and Young’s Annals of Agriculture.

Mr. Pitt was twice married. His first wife was Margaret, daughter of John Gambier, esq. Governor of the Bahama Islands, by whom he had an only daughter Sophia, who was married in 1806 to Charles, second and present Earl of Romney, and died in 1812, leaving, issue Charles Viscount Marsham and four daughters.

Mr. Pitt married secondly, in 1815, Grace-Amelia, daughter of Henry Seymer, of Hanford in Dorsetshire, esq.: this lady’s mother was Griselda, or Grace, daughter of James Kerr, of Kerrsfield, N.B. by Lucy sister to the first Rivers; and she was thus Mr. Pitt’s cousin, twice removed. We believe she survives him, having had issue a son and heir, and other children.

The Gentlemen’s Magazine, Volume 5, January to June 1836

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