William Pitt (the Younger)
When and Where was William Pitt (the Younger) Born?
28th May 1759, Hayes, Kent, England.
William Pitt was the son of William Pitt (The Elder) a statesman and former Member of Parliament for Old Sarum who later became the Earl of Chatham.
Educated at home by his father as he suffered from poor health.He was given lessons in oratory. Pembroke Hall, Cambridge under his tutor the Reverend George Pretyman.
Chronology/Biography of Pitt the Younger:
1776: Received his MA from Cambridge.
1778: (7th April) His father was making a speech in the House of Lords and Pitt who was in the gallery rushed down to help carry his dying father home.
1780: Called to the Bar. Failed to win a seat at Cambridge in the General Election.
1781: With the help of Sir James Lowther, Pitt became the Member of Parliament (MP) for Appleby-in-Westmoreland. His maiden speech was described by Lord North, later to become Prime Minister, as the best speech he had ever heard. Pitt then became influenced by Charles James Fox the Leader of the Whig Party and he joined in the move to establish peace in the American Colonies and described it as an unjust war. Pitt was also critical of the way that the monarchy influenced who should become MP's and insisted that parliamentary reform was necessary if Britain was to preserve liberty.
1782: He supported a motion which would shorten the hours worked in Parliament and measures which would reduce the chances of government ministers being bribed. Lord North's government fell in March and was replaced by Rockingham's Whig Government. Fox was appointed Foreign Secretary but left the government in July as he could not work with the new Prime Minister Lord Shelburne. Short of people to appoint Shelburne made Pitt Chancellor of the Exchequer at the tender age of twenty three replacing Fox. Fox took the fact that Pitt accepted the post as an act of betrayal and the two became bitter enemies for the rest of their lives.
1783: Pitt resigned and declared that he had no connections with the party whatsoever. He could now turn back to seeking parliamentary reform. When Shelburne resigned the King offered the Prime Ministership to Pitt but he declined and it went to William Bentinck, Duke of Portland, instead. Pitt also opposed Charles James Fox's India Bill. King George the Third was also opposed to the India Bill which had already been passed by the House of Commons and made it clear that any Member of the Lords who supported it would be his enemy. (19th December) The Lords duly voted against it bringing about the fall of The Duke of Portland's Government. The King now asked Pitt himself to form a new government. At the age of Twenty-four he became Britain's youngest Prime Minister. The news was received with derisive laughter in he House of Commons and he had difficulty in getting enough people to serve beneath him. Charles James Fox led the attacks on him but although defeated in several votes Pitt refused to resign.
1784: Pitt had now built up a reputation in the country and called a General Election. Pitt stood for Cambridge University and Fox duly lost 160 of his supporters when the vote came around. Now with a majority in the House of Commons he passed a series of Acts including one to curb the powers of the East India Company.
1785: Pitt proposed a Bill to remove thirty six rotten boroughs, i.e. places which had MP's but little population to represent and which were in the gift of the local landlord. He proposed seventy two seats in areas were populations were rising.The Commons, not thinking he was serious on this issue, voted against the reforms and Pitt was never again to try such radical measures.
1790: (October) At the General Election Pitt increased his majority and he now turned his eyes towards France. He had seen the Revolution of the previous years as an internal matter but he now became concerned that reform groups in Britain were in touch with the French revolutionaries. He passed an Act preventing seditious writings.
1791: The Canada Act established a division between the English and the French.