Hayes (Kent) History

Hayes (Kent) History

William Pitt the Younger ( Kadwell Portfolio, Bromley Historic Collections)

28 May 1759 – 23 Jan 1806
Prime Minister 1783-1801, 1804 – 1806

William Pitt was born in ‘the best bedroom’ at Hayes Place, the fourth child of William Pitt (later Earl of Chatham) and Lady Hester Pitt.  He was their second son and was baptised in Hayes on 3 July  1759.

Much of his childhood was spent at Hayes or at Burton Pynsent in Somerset. He was tutored by Revd Edward Wilson, showed early promise and was nearly 14 years old when he went to Cambridge University.  His health during his childhood was often a cause for concern so fresh air and riding were recommended.  It  was said by John  Mumford, an old retainer, that William used to stand on one of the mounting blocks and practise his debating skills. From an early age he had   decided that he intended to be a William Pitt in the House of Commons.  It is recorded that he said to his mother “I am so glad that I am the second son, for I shall be able to speak in the House of Commons like papa.” He was 19 when his father died and his mother moved to Burton Pynsent.  His elder brother John inherited his father’s title but was serving in the army and therefore it was William who mainly supported his mother in the selling of Hayes Place which finally happened in 1785.

When both his sister Hester  and brother James died in 1780 he hurried to Somerset to comfort his mother and persuaded her to move to Hayes for the time being so that she might be more accessible from London. She was there when he successfully entered parliament in January 1781 at the age of 21. He became Chancellor of the Exchequer at the age of 23 and in December 1783  the youngest British Prime Minister.  After Hayes Place was sold in 1785 he bought in nearby Keston the Holwood estate on which he lavished much time and attention,

Further Information

  • The making of a great Prime Minister, William Pitt the younger,   Bromleage June 2006  (bblhs.org.uk)
  • The Journey from Blandford to Hayes, Anne Manning, Bromley Local Histories 5