Pitt, William, the Elder biographical name
(born Nov. 15, 1708, London, Eng.died May 11, 1778, Hayes, Kent) British statesman and orator, twice virtual prime minister (1756–61, 1766–68). He entered Parliament in 1735 and provoked controversy with his maiden speech, which criticized the ministry of Robert Walpole. With the outbreak of the Seven Years' War, he was named secretary of state and became virtual prime minister. His leadership brought many British victories that greatly extended the British Empire. His wide popular appeal led to the nickname the Great Commoner, though he was disliked by many in government for his high-handedness. He resigned in 1761 when the cabinet refused to declare war on Spain. Although ill with gout, he became a champion of liberty and spoke in favour of American colonial resistance to the Stamp Act. He formed another government in 1766, in which he served as lord privy seal, but he resigned in 1768 because of ill health. Widely mourned on his death in 1778, he was buried in Westminster Abbey.
Variants of PITT, WILLIAM, THE ELDER
Pitt, William, the Elder later 1st earl of Chatham
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