Youngest recorded Prime Minister of Englandby Rit Nosotro First Published:: 2003
“ Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” 1
William Pitt the younger was born on 28 May 1759 at Hayes near Bromley in Kent. In 1766, his father, William Pitt the Elder, became the Earl of Chatham 2. This possibly led to William’s political status later in life. During his childhood, William was a very sickly boy. Due to his lack of health, William’s parents insisted that he be taught at home. His tutor, Rev. Edward Wilson, a Cambridge graduate, saw him excel in every subject. By the age of seven, William was already fluent in Latin 3.
Pitt’s father observed how much his son had excelled, and decided the time had come for young William to have a chance to go even farther with his studies. Having been to Oxford – and hating every moment of it – Pitt’s father decided to send him to Cambridge 4. Thus, in 1773, at the very young age of fourteen, William Pitt the Younger set off for Pembroke Hall in Cambridge, where he studied the classics, math, English history, and political philosophy 5.
Having been sickly all of his life, William had another attack of gout. For this, his doctor prescribed a bottle of port a day as the cure. Even though he was only fourteen, he continued to drink for the rest of his life. Several years later, after graduating, in 1778, Pitt’s father made his last speech. Less than a month after this speech, he died leaving his son an income of less than £3,000 a year. This sent Pitt into major debt, which he kept till his death 6.
While at Cambridge, Pitt met and befriended a young scholar named William Wilberforce. Their friendship is important because later, Wilberforce helped Pitt in his rise to power as the Prime Minister. In addition, Pitt also helped Wilberforce in his fight for the abolition of slavery. While they were both still in their early 20s, Pitt and Wilberforce were both elected to Parliament. This helped Pitt in his political career immensely because now he could make his opinions known to the important members of society 7.
Beginning in 1782 a series of political circumstances quickly moved the office of Prime Minister onto Pitt's young shoulders. Charles Watson-Wentworth succeeded Lord North as Prime Minister but he died only three months later. William Petty, another Whig, was appointed Prime Minister by the King. Most of the other Whigs, including Charles James Fox (a sworn political enemy of Pitt), disliked this decision and many protested 8. However, Pitt decided to support Petty and was then given the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer, second only to the Prime Minister.
Fox then joined with Lord North, and they decided to bring about the defeat of Petty. When Petty resigned in 1783, King George III, who hated Fox, offered Pitt the office of Prime Minister. But Pitt declined, knowing he would never gain the support of the House of Commons. The Fox-North Coalition rose to power, and eventually lost control of the government and resigned 9. After this resignation, the King once again asked Pitt to take on the role as Prime Minister and 24 year old Pitt gladly accepted, becoming the youngest Prime Minister on record.
Pitt appeared to have no religious status. Looking over his life, there was no sign that he was a Christian. He appeared to believe in God, but it all ends there. As far as can be deciphered, Pitt showed no interest in religion until William Wilberforce’s conversion. But even after that, all records have shown he had no interest in God or Jesus at all.
After having been Prime Minister for a few years, Pitt had gained much popularity. In 1788, Pitt advised William Wilberforce to take up the fighting for the abolition of the slave trade. After much convincing, Wilberforce finally agreed. But on the day Wilberforce was supposed to propose the resolution, he became ill. Because of this, Pitt had to propose the resolution for him. Surprisingly enough, after giving the resolution to the House of Commons, his main support came from the Fox administration, his sworn enemy. Because of this unexpected support, the resolution was passed into Parliament 10.
Then war struck. Prior the start of the French revolution, Pitt had to keep England finances alive. This was an ironic job for William due to the fact the he personally owed thousands of pounds in various debts 11. On January 1, 1801, Pitt saw the success of his work to unite Roman Catholic Ireland and Anglican England as a stand against possible French invasion. However, King George III, would not allow the additional freedoms Pitt pushed for the Catholics and Pitt resigned in protest. Following the resignation of Prime Minister Henry Addington in 1804, William Pitt returned to the position despite his weakened body from a life time of sickness. In October 1805, Admiral Horatio Nelson performed spectacularly at the Battle of Trafalgar, perhaps causing Napoleon Bonaparte to put off his French invasion into England.
The war against France was still not going well when, at only 47 years old, Prime Minister Pitt lay in his bed very sick with presumably liver failure 12. As he looked out his window he thought of England. His last words are reported to be either, “Oh, my country! How I leave my country!” or “I think I could eat one of Bellamy's veal pies 13.” At his death in 1806, he was buried at West Minster Abbey 14 and his debt of £40,000 was paid off by the country of England. Years later, when William Wilberforce died, he was buried right next to his life long friend, William Pitt.
1 1 Timothy 4:12. The Holy Bible KJV