POLITICAL INTEREST: A late-18th century Old Sheffield Plate oval tray
unmarked circa 1790 Oval form with bead rim, on four tapering fluted bracket feet, the centre with engraved crest for the Pitt family, length 46cm.
The crest recorded for the PITT family.
Although there are records of three other families whose crest was a crane with its foot on an anchor it is only the Pitt crest whose anchor is specifically defined as cabled.
The Pitts descended from a Pitt family of Dorset and Cornwall who were influential from at least the reign of Queen Anne, and who used a crest of a crane, however omitting the use of an anchor.
It is likely that the anchor came in after 1766 when William Pitt the Elder was made Earl of Chatham. The cabled anchor was shown in Debrett 1790 for John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham who was born 1756, made a KG, General in the Army, High Steward of Colchester. John Pitt married in 1783 but died without children in 1835 and as a result the crest died with him. It is likely that he would have encircled his crest with a Garter and/or ensigned it with an Earl's coronet.
The inclusion of the coronet excludes all the regular descendants except the 1st Earl's second son William Pitt the Younger 1759-1806, who had no title or heraldic honours to show with his crest and left no descendants to use it.
William Pitt the Younger (1759-1806) was the second son and fourth child of William Pitt and Hester Grenville. He studied at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge from 1773 aged only fourteen. Upon completion of his studies Pitt entered Lincoln's Inn where he studied Law for two years. In January 1781, now twenty-one, Pitt took a seat at the House of Commons.
Under Shelbourne's government, Pitt was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, however he resigned some months later after Shelbourne's departure following a concentrated onslaught from Lord North and Charles James Fox. Pitt returned to parliament on 19 December in the same year after the collapse of the new North-Fox coalition, this time as Prime Minister.
Over a parliamentary career spanning twenty-five years, Pitt would spend nineteen of them as Prime Minister, during which time he managed the nation's finance during the French Revolution and oversaw the French Wars that followed. He also supported William Wilberforce and his Anti-Slave Trade cause.
In 1784 he was made Freeman of the City of London and won one of the seats at Cambridge University - a constituency which he represented for the rest of his life. In 1792 Pitt accepted the Wardenship of the Cinque Ports.
Despite being heavily in debt for most of his life, Pitt was championed by his peers. At the Lord Mayor's banquet on 9 November 1805 he was toasted as 'The Saviour of Europe' and upon his death it was decided that his debts would be paid by the nation and a pension awarded to his three nieces. A public funeral was held on 22 February 1801 in Westminster Abbey.