George Pitt, 1st Baron Rivers

George Pitt, 1st Baron Rivers (1 May 1721 – 7 May 1803) was an English diplomat and politician.

Background and education

He was born in Geneva, the eldest son of George Pitt of Stratfieldsaye, Hampshire, and his wife Mary Louise Bernier from Strasbourg. General Sir William Augustus Pitt was his younger brother. He was educated at Winchester in 1731, and matriculated on 26 September 1737 at Magdalen College, Oxford, being awarded an MA on 13 March 1739 and a DCL on 21 August 1745.[1] He then traveled on the continent from 1740 to 1742.


Soon after returning from Europe, he was elected Member of Parliament at a by-election for Shaftesbury that followed the death of Charles Ewer, and sat as a Tory.[2] He voted with the opposition during the War of the Austrian Succession against the employment of the Hanoverians. At the 1747 election, he stood for Shaftesbury, largely on his own interest, although Lord Shaftesbury endorsed him a few weeks before the poll. He also stood for the county of Dorset,[2] a Tory stronghold,[3] and was returned for both constituencies, choosing to sit for Dorset. In his electoral survey of c. 1749, John Perceval, 2nd Earl of Egmont, examining political support for Frederick, Prince of Wales, considered Pitt "not proper" for the Prince.[2]

He represented Dorset continuously until 1774, becoming an independent, supporting the government from the accession of George III. Upon the formation of the Dorset Militia under the Militia Act 1757, Pitt was commissioned colonel of the regiment,[1] and served until his resignation in 1798.[4] In 1760, he was appointed a Groom of the Bedchamber to the King, in which office he served until 1770, when he was asked to resign to make way for Sir George Osborn, 4th Baronet, a cousin of Lord North.


From 1761 to 1768, he served as Envoy-extraordinary to the Kingdom of Sardinia at Turin, although he went on leave in 1764 and never returned.[1] In 1770 he was appointed Ambassador to Spain, but was superseded the following year.[5]


On 20 May 1776, he was raised to the peerage as Baron Rivers, of Stratfield Saye, Hampshire. [1] In 1780, he was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, but was replaced in 1782, when he became a Lord of the Bedchamber. He was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Dorset in 1793. On 16 March 1802, he obtained a new patent as Baron Rivers, of Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire, with special remainder, in default of male issue, to his brother Sir William and his issue male, failing which to his daughter Louisa's son Horace Beckford and his issue male. He died on 7 May 1803 at Stratfield Saye and was succeeded by his only son George.[6]


On 4 January 1746, at Oxford Chapel, Marylebone, he married Penelope, daughter of Sir Henry Atkins, 4th Baronet, of Clapham, Surrey.[6] They had four children:

Their marriage was unhappy and they separated in 1771, living mostly in France and Italy until her death on 1 January 1795 in Milan. She was buried in the Protestant Cemetery in Livorno, Italy.[6]


Rivers Inlet, a fjord on the Central Coast of British Columbia, was named by Captain George Vancouver for George Pitt.[7]


  1. 1 2 3 4 White, Geoffrey H., ed. (1949). The Complete Peerage, Volume XI. St Catherine's Press. p. 30.
  2. 1 2 3 Lea, R. S. "PITT, George (1721-1803), of Strathfieldsaye, Hants.". The House of Commons. The History of Parliament Trust.
  3. Lea, R. S. "Dorset". The House of Commons. The History of Parliament Trust.
  4. The London Gazette: no. 15038. p. 616. 3 July 1798.
  5. J. Haydn, Book of Dignities (1851), 82–3.
  6. 1 2 3 White, Geoffrey H., ed. (1949). The Complete Peerage, Volume XI. St Catherine's Press. p. 31.
  7. "Rivers Inlet". BC Geographical Names.
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Charles Ewer
Peter Walter
Member of Parliament for Shaftesbury
With: Peter Walter
Succeeded by
Cuthbert Ellison
William Beckford
Preceded by
George Chafin
Edmund Morton Pleydell
Member of Parliament for Dorset
With: George Chafin 1747–1754
Humphry Sturt 1754–1774
Succeeded by
George Pitt
Humphry Sturt
Military offices
New regiment Colonel of the Dorset Militia
Succeeded by
The Earl of Dorchester
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
James Mackenzie
Minister at Turin
Succeeded by
William Lynch
Preceded by
Sir James Gray, Bt
Ambassador to Spain
Succeeded by
The Lord Grantham
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Duke of Chandos
Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire
Succeeded by
The Duke of Bolton
Preceded by
The Earl Digby
Lord Lieutenant of Dorset
Succeeded by
The Earl of Dorchester
Peerage of Great Britain
New creation Baron Rivers (of Stratfieldsaye)
Succeeded by
George Pitt
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Rivers (of Sudeley)
Succeeded by
George Pitt
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