William Augustus Pitt

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Sir William Augustus Pitt
Born c. 1728
Died 29 December 1809
Highfield Park, Hampshire
Allegiance  Great Britain
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1744 to 1809
Rank British Army General
Battles/wars Seven Years' War
Battle of Kloster Kampen
French Revolutionary Wars
Napoleonic Wars
Awards Knight Companion of the Order of the Bath

General Sir William Augustus Pitt KB, PC (c. 1728 – 29 December 1809) was a long-serving if undistinguished senior officer of the British Army whose sixty years of service covered several major wars and numerous postings as garrison or regiment commander. He served as MP between 1754 and 1761. He came from a notable political family: his father was also an MP and his elder brother became Baron Rivers.

Military career[edit]

Pitt was born in approximately 1728, the sixth but second surviving son[1] of George Pitt, MP for Wareham and his wife Mary Louisa. His date of birth has not been ascertained, and little information is available about his early life. He may have attended Winchester College as a schoolboy as his elder brother George is known to have done, but nothing is known for sure of his activities until 1744 when he received a commission to join the 10th Dragoons as a cornet. In the dragoons Pitt registered solid if unspectacular service and was not engaged on active service until the outbreak of the Seven Years' War in 1756.[2]

Pitt's wartime records are vague, but he gained distinction for his bravery in action and was severely wounded and taken prisoner at the Battle of Kloster Kampen in 1760. Released on parole, Pitt returned to his regiment at the war's conclusion and was made a full colonel.[2] Between 1754 and 1761 Pitt had been the Member of Parliament for Wareham, a Dorset constituency with approximately 500 voters. He lost his seat whilst a prisoner in France and did not enter politics again, even after his brother's elevation to the House of Lords. In 1763 Pitt married Mary Howe, the daughter of Emanuel Howe, 2nd Viscount Howe. They had no children.[2]

In 1770 Pitt was promoted to major-general while maintaining the colonelcy of the 12th Dragoons. His forces were not deployed during the American Revolutionary War and in 1775 he transferred to the 3rd Irish Horse, again not seeing any action. In 1777 he was promoted to lieutenant general and in 1784 became commander of all the British forces in Ireland, a post he retained until 1791, when he was made a Knight Companion of the Order of the Bath.[2] At the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars in 1793, Pitt was promoted to full general but his age and lack of military service precluded any active postings and in 1794 he was given the shore command of the Portsmouth defences, a post he retained until 1809 when he died at his estate in Hampshire aged over eighty.[2] Despite his relatively uneventful service, Pitt continued to exert influence at Army headquarters throughout his life.

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Robert Banks Hodgkinson
Henry Drax
Member of Parliament for Wareham
with Henry Drax 1754–1755
Edward Drax 1755–1761

1754–1761
Succeeded by
Thomas Erle Drax
John Pitt
Military offices
Preceded by
Benjamin Carpenter
Colonel of the 12th Regiment of Dragoons
1770–1775
Succeeded by
William Keppel
Preceded by
Edward Harvey
Colonel of the 3rd Regiment of Horse (Carabiniers)
1775–1780
Succeeded by
Sir John Irwin
Preceded by
John Mordaunt
Colonel of the 10th Regiment of Dragoons
1780–1796
Succeeded by
The Prince of Wales
Preceded by
John Burgoyne
Commander-in-Chief, Ireland
1784–1791
Succeeded by
George Warde
Preceded by
The Earl of Pembroke
Governor of Portsmouth
1794–1810
Succeeded by
Henry Edward Fox
Preceded by
Sir George Howard
Colonel of the 1st King's Dragoon Guards
1796–1809
Succeeded by
The Lord Heathfield