Hugh Pigot (Royal Navy admiral)

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For other people named Hugh Pigot, see Hugh Pigot (disambiguation).
Hugh Pigot
Born (1722-05-28)28 May 1722
Died 15 December 1792(1792-12-15) (aged 70)
Bristol, England
Allegiance Kingdom of Great Britain
Service/branch Royal Navy
Years of service 1734–1783
Rank Admiral
Commands held
Battles/wars
Relations

Admiral Hugh Pigot (28 May 1722 – 15 December 1792), of Wychwood Forest in Oxfordshire, was an officer of the British Royal Navy who served during the Seven Years' War and the American Revolutionary War, and also twice as a Member of Parliament (MP).

Biography[edit]

Hugh Pigot was the third son of Richard Pigot of Westminster, by his wife Frances, daughter of Peter Goode, a Huguenot who had come to England in the late seventeenth century.[1] His elder brothers were George Pigot, 1st Baron Pigot, who twice served as Governor of Madras, and Lieutenant-General Sir Robert Pigot, who commanded the left flank of the British forces at the Battle of Bunker Hill.[2]

Pigot entered the navy in around 1735, serving for four years as a captain's servant and able seaman aboard the Captain under Captain Alexander Geddes on the home station, and then Seaford under Captain Savage Mostyn. He then served for another two years as a midshipman aboard the Seaford, Cumberland, and Russell. On 5 November 1741 he passed his examination, and on 9 February 1741/42 (OS) was promoted to lieutenant, and on 2 August was appointed to the Romney under Captain Thomas Grenville, in the Mediterranean.[3]

In March 1744 he followed Grenville into Falkland on the home station, and on 2 November 1745 was promoted to commander of the fireship Vulcan. On 22 April 1746 was posted into the Centaur, apparently for rank only, and in April 1747 was appointed to command of the Ludlow Castle in the West Indies.[3] In 1755, he was appointed captain of the 60-gun York, one of the ships put into commission in anticipation of the war with France.[4] In 1758 he commanded York at the reduction of Louisbourg, and in 1759 commanded the 84-gun Royal William in the fleet of Sir Charles Saunders at capture of Quebec.[3] He was employed in Royal William for the remainder of the war in the Channel; and in May 1760, chased the Diadem, a French third rate of seventy-four guns, bound for Martinique with stores and specie for the payment of the soldiery, into the Groyne.[4]

He saw no further service at sea following the conclusion of the war in 1763, but in 1769 was appointed colonel of the second (or Portsmouth) division of Marines; shortly before he had been chosen as representative in parliament for the borough of Penryn,[4] a government-dominated borough which frequently chose distinguished naval officers as its MPs. (Pigot succeeded Vice-Admiral Sir George Rodney.) Pigot was a close friend of the Prime Minister, the Duke of Grafton, and this connection was cemented when Grafton married Elizabeth Wrottesley, sister of Pigot's second wife, Frances. Pigot represented Penryn until 1774, but did not contest the general election that year.[5]

In January 1771[3] he was appointed to command of the Triumph, one of the ships commissioned during the dispute with Spain over the Falkland Islands. When the crisis was peaceably settled his ship was put out of commission, and Pigot held no subsequent commission as a captain.[4]

On 31 March 1775 he was promoted to rear-admiral, and to vice admiral on 7 December.[3] In 1778, following the death of his brother, Lord George Pigot, he was elected to fill his seat in Bridgnorth.[5]

By this time he was a consistent opponent of Lord North's government (he was a gaming crony of the Whig leader Charles James Fox), and seems to have been denied commands for political reasons. When Sheridan attacked the government in the Commons in February 1782 for driving the most distinguished naval commanders out of the service, it was Pigot who rose in answer to the invitation to give instances of the First Lord of the Admiralty's conduct towards officers who were his political opponents.[5]

With the fall of the government the following month,[5] on 30 March 1782 Pigot was appointed one of the Lords of the Admiralty in the Rockingham administration,[5] and on 8 April 1782[4] was promoted to admiral and appointed to supersede Sir George Rodney as commander-in-chief in the West Indies.[5] Pigot hoisted his flag on board the 50-gun Jupiter, and sailed from Plymouth[4] on 18 May,[3] only a day before the arrival of the frigate bringing the news of the defeat of the French fleet under Comte de Grasse at the Battle of the Saintes on the 12 April.[4] Although Rodney was neither in favour with the new ministry, nor a particularly popular commander, it was considered politic to allow him to remain in command and a message was sent after Pigot to recall him.[4] However, it failed to arrive before he had assumed command at Jamaica on 13 July.[3] His appointment was allowed to proceed, and Rodney received an apology and was made a Baron. Pigot, having hoisted his flag on board the 98-gun Formidable, then sailed, as was customary at that time, to America during the hurricane months.[4]

Pigot had little experience as a captain, with none as an admiral. His second-in-command, Samuel Hood, seems to have regarded him with mixed feelings of pity and contempt, and considered that the government had acted unwisely "in placing an officer at the head of so great a fleet who was unequal to the very important command, for want of practice". In any event Pigot's term of command was uneventful,[3] and following the signing of the peace treaty in September 1783, he returned to England.[4] Pigot retired from the Navy on 30 December 1783,[4] and was defeated at Bridgnorth at the general election of 1784.[5]

Admiral Pigot died at Bristol on 15 December 1792.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Pigot was twice married, firstly c.1749, to Elizabeth le Neve,[5] by whom he had a son, General Sir Henry Pigot (1750–1840)[3] and a daughter, and secondly c.1768 to Frances, the daughter of the Very Reverend Sir Richard Wrottesley, 7th Baronet,[5] by whom he had a second son, Captain Hugh Pigot, RN, (1769–1797),[3] and two daughters.[5]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ Marshall, P. J. (2004). "Pigot, George, Baron Pigot (1719–1777)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 30 December 2013. 
  2. ^ "Brig. Gen. Robert Pigot and the Battle of Bunker Hill". derekbeck.com. 17 June 2011. Retrieved 8 April 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k  Laughton, John Knox (1896). "Pigot, Hugh (1721?-1792)". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography 45. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Charnock, John (1797). Biographia Navalis; or, Impartial memoirs of the lives and characters of officers of the navy of Great Britain, from the year 1660 to the present time; drawn from the most authentic sources, and disposed in a chronological arrangement. Vol. V (1st Continuation). London: R. Faulder. pp. 497–499. Retrieved 8 April 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Namier, Lewis; Brooke, John, eds. (1964). "Pigot, Hugh (1722-92), of Wichwood Forest, Oxon.". The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790. Boydell & Brewer. Retrieved 8 April 2014. 
Bibliography
  • Concise Dictionary of National Biography. 1930. 
  • Namier, Lewis (1961). The Structure of Politics at the Accession of George III (2nd ed.). London: St Martin's Press. 
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
George Brydges Rodney
Francis Basset
Member of Parliament for Penryn
17681774
With: Francis Basset 1768–1769
William Lemon 1770–1774
Succeeded by
Sir George Osborn
William Chaytor
Preceded by
Thomas Whitmore
The Lord Pigot
Member of Parliament for Bridgnorth
1778–1784
With: Thomas Whitmore
Succeeded by
Thomas Whitmore
Isaac Hawkins Browne