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Collection Scope and Content Notes


Many of the letters in this collection are from the Pitt family to a longtime friend of the family, Alexander Hood. The remaining items include a scattering of documents pertaining to the political activities of William Pitt and his son.

The letters to Hood, most of which date from the 1770s, reveal the family's financial concerns. Hood, an officer in the British Royal Navy who fought in the Seven Years' War (known as the French and Indian War in America) and American Revolution, loaned the family money in times of economic instability. Hester Grenville Pitt wrote many of the letters, as her husband's illness left him at times unable to hold a pen. Aside from financial matters, other recurring topics include James Pitt, a son who sailed on a ship under Hood's command, plans for social visits between the two families, and accounts of visits to the coastal town of Lyme Regis. Political subjects are occasionally broached, most notably in a 1787 letter from William Pitt the Younger, which mentions plans for the arming of a fleet.

The remaining documents, most of which concern the political activities of William Pitt and his son, are a diverse assortment dating from the latter half of the 1700s. The earliest item in the collection is a letter from Pitt the Elder, as Secretary of State, to Governor William Denny of Pennsylvania. The document, dating from 1757, outlines plans for reinforcements to be sent to the colonies to aid in the war effort against France. The letter implores the governor to raise troops locally as well. Other documents reveal Pitt the Elder's interest in the North American colonies. A letter from the London Common Council praises Pitt for a speech he gave proposing a plan to resolve the differences between the colonies and Britain. In July of 1776, Pitt, fearing he would not recover from his long illness, recorded his opinions on the war with his doctor. In the memorandum, Pitt clearly states his opposition to the war, and raises concerns that it might leave England open to an attack by France.

The documents relating to William Pitt the Younger include an acceptance of the King's invitation to attend an event at the Queen's House, letters addressed to Cambridge University requesting that he continue his term as their representative, and notices sent to other members of Parliament encouraging their attendance at various sessions.


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