William Pitt Byrne

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William Pitt Byrne (c. 1806 – 6 or 8 April 1861) was a British newspaper editor and proprietor of The Morning Post.

He graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge with a BA and M.A.. He was admitted to the Inner Temple in 1835 and called to the bar in 1839 but never practised law.[1]

His father Nicholas Byrne was his predecessor as editor and proprietor of the Morning Post, about whom there is little biographical information in the historical record. Nicholas Byrne took a strongly pro-Tory editorial stance, and his son was named after William Pitt the Younger. He was mysteriously attacked by a masked intruder around 1833 and never fully recovered, dying of his injuries about two years later.[2][3][4]

His mother was the Gothic novelist Charlotte Dacre, who had three children with Nicholas: William Pitt Byrne (born 1806), Charles (born 1807) and Mary (born 1809); however the children were not baptised until 1811 and Nicholas and Charlotte did not marry until 1 July 1815.[2][3] William Pitt Byrne was baptised on 8 Jun 1811 at St. Paul's, Covent Garden.[5]

He married the writer Julia Clara Busk on 28 April 1842.[6] Her books were sometimes attributed to "Mrs. William Pitt Byrne",[7] and for this reason some sources (particularly online book sellers) mistakenly attribute authorship of her books to her husband.

He broadened the focus of the Morning Post from being a mostly political journal by including more general topics. He ended his connection with the paper prior to his death to follow literary pursuits, contributing to leading journals.[4]

Memorial fountain and tomb[edit]

After his death, his wife and friends built a memorial fountain in his name in 1862 or 1863, at the south end of Bryanston Square in London; the fountain is still in existence and is a Grade II listed monument.[8] The fountain has an associated plaque.[9]

He was buried in St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery at Kensal Green in London.[4]


  1. ^ "Byrne, William Pitt (BN824WP)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  2. ^ a b Charlotte Dacre. Kim Ian Michasiw, ed. Zofloya: or The Moor (Oxford World's Classics). Oxford University Press. pp. xi–xii. ISBN 0-19-954973-7. 
  3. ^ a b "Charlotte Dacre c. 1772-1825?". enotes.com. Retrieved 2011-03-01. 
  4. ^ a b c "Drinking Fountain, Bryanston Square: erected in memory of the late William Pitt Byrne, M.A.". The Builder. 21: 653–654. 12 September 1863. Retrieved 2011-03-03. 
  5. ^ "Julia Pitt Byrne". jss.org.uk. Retrieved 2011-03-01. 
  6. ^  Sidney Lee, ed. (1901). "Byrne, Julia Clara". Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement​. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 364–365. 
  7. ^  Cooper, Thompson (1884). "Byrne, Mrs. William Pitt". Men of the Time (eleventh ed.). London: George Routledge & Sons. p. 202. 
  8. ^ "William Pitt Byrne Memorial Fountain, Paddington". British Listed Buildings Online. Retrieved 2011-03-01. 
  9. ^ "William Pitt Byrne". Plaques Of London .co.uk. Retrieved 2011-03-03. 
  • Obituary in The Times, 10 April 1861, cited in Venn, Alumni Cantabrigienses.