William Pitt the Younger

William Pitt
OlderPittThe Younger.jpg
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom[a]
In office
10 May 1804 – 23 January 1806
MonarchGeorge III
Preceded byHenry Addington
Succeeded byThe Lord Grenville
In office
1 January 1801 – 14 March 1801
MonarchGeorge III
Preceded byHimself (as Prime Minister of Great Britain)
Succeeded byHenry Addington
Prime Minister of Great Britain
In office
19 December 1783 – 1 January 1801
MonarchGeorge III
Preceded byThe Duke of Portland
Succeeded byHimself (as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom)
Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
10 May 1804 – 23 January 1806
Preceded byHenry Addington
Succeeded byLord Henry Petty
In office
19 December 1783 – 1 January 1801
Preceded byLord John Cavendish
Succeeded byHenry Addington
In office
10 July 1782 – 31 March 1783
Preceded byLord John Cavendish
Succeeded byLord John Cavendish
Personal details
Born(1759-05-28)28 May 1759
Hayes, Kent, England
Died23 January 1806(1806-01-23) (aged 46)
Putney, Surrey, England
Resting placeWestminster Abbey
Political partyTory
ParentsWilliam Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham
Hester Grenville
Alma materPembroke College, Cambridge
SignatureCursive signature in ink
William Pitt by Joseph Nollekens, 1808
The huge monument to William Pitt the Younger by J. G. Bubb in the Guildhall, London faces an equally huge monument to his father, William Pitt the Elder in a balanced composition

William Pitt the Younger (28 May 1759 – 23 January 1806) was a prominent British Tory statesman of the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. He became the youngest UK Prime Minister in 1783 at the age of 24. He left office in 1801, but served as Prime Minister again from 1804 until his death in 1806. He was Chancellor of the Exchequer for all of his time as Prime Minister.

Pitt's prime ministerial tenure, which came during the reign of George III, was dominated by major events in Europe, including the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. He is known as "the Younger" to distinguish him from his father, William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, called William Pitt the Elder or simply "Chatham", who had previously served as Prime Minister.

Pitt, although often referred to as a Tory, or "new Tory", called himself an "independent Whig" and was generally opposed to the development of a strict partisan political system. He led Britain in the great wars against France and Napoleon.

Pitt was an outstanding administrator who worked for efficiency and reform, bringing in a new generation of outstanding administrators. He increased taxes to pay for the great war against France and cracked down on radicalism. To engage the threat of Irish support for France, he engineered the Acts of Union 1800 and tried (but failed) to get Catholic emancipation as part of the Union. He created the "new Toryism", which revived the Tory Party and enabled it to stay in power for the next quarter-century.

The historian Asa Briggs argues that his personality did not endear itself to the British mind, for Pitt was too solitary and too colourless, and too often exuded superiority. His greatness came in the war with France. Pitt reacted to become what Lord Minto called "the Atlas of our reeling globe". His integrity and industry and his role as defender of the threatened nation allowed him to inspire and access all the national reserves of strength. William Wilberforce said that, "For personal purity, disinterestedness and love of this country, I have never known his equal."[1] Historian Charles Petrie concludes that he was one of the greatest prime ministers "if on no other ground than that he enabled the country to pass from the old order to the new without any violent upheaval ... He understood the new Britain."[2] For this he is ranked highly amongst British Prime Ministers.

Early life and education

William Pitt, second son of William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, was born at Hayes Place in the village of Hayes, Kent.[3] Pitt was from a political family on both sides. His mother, Hester Grenville, was sister to former prime minister George Grenville.[4] According to biographer John Ehrman, Pitt inherited brilliance and dynamism from his father's line, and a determined, methodical nature from the Grenvilles.[5]

Suffering from occasional poor health as a boy, he was educated at home by the Reverend Edward Wilson. An intelligent child, Pitt quickly became proficient in Latin and Greek. He attended Pembroke College, Cambridge, being admitted on 26 April 1773,[6] a month before turning fourteen. He studied political philosophy, classics, mathematics, trigonometry, chemistry and history.[7] At Cambridge, Pitt was tutored by George Pretyman, who became a close personal friend. Pitt later appointed Pretyman Bishop of Lincoln then Winchester and drew upon his advice throughout his political career.[8] While at Cambridge, he befriended the young William Wilberforce, who became a lifelong friend and political ally in Parliament.[9] Pitt tended to socialise only with fellow students and others already known to him, rarely venturing outside the university grounds. Yet he was described as charming and friendly. According to Wilberforce, Pitt had an exceptional wit along with an endearingly gentle sense of humour: "no man ... ever indulged more freely or happily in that playful facetiousness which gratifies all without wounding any."[10] In 1776, Pitt, plagued by poor health, took advantage of a little-used privilege available only to the sons of noblemen, and chose to graduate without having to pass examinations. Pitt's father, who had by then been raised to the peerage as Earl of Chatham, died in 1778. As a younger son, Pitt the Younger received a small inheritance. He received legal education at Lincoln's Inn and was called to the bar in the summer of 1780.[11]

Other Languages
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Ўільям Піт (малодшы)
български: Уилям Пит-младши
Cymraeg: William Pitt
Esperanto: William Pitt
euskara: Pitt "Gaztea"
Bahasa Indonesia: William Pitt yang Muda
मराठी: धाकटा पिट
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: William Pitt-kichik
Simple English: William Pitt the Younger
српски / srpski: Вилијам Пит Млађи
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: William Pitt Mlađi
اردو: ولیم پٹ
Tiếng Việt: William Pitt Trẻ