About Hugh Pigot
Admiral Hugh Pigot (28 May 1722 – 15 December 1792), of Wychwood Forest in Oxfordshire, was a British naval leader who rose from the ranks to become an admiral. He also served as a Member of Parliament (MP).
Pigot joined the navy in 1734 as an able seaman. He was commissioned as a lieutenant in 1742, promoted to Commander in 1745 and Captain in 1746, serving in the West Indies and at Louisbourg. At the same time Pigot's brother, George, was making a success of his career in India, being appointed Governor of Madras in 1755, and eventually meriting a peerage.
By 1768, Pigot was a friend of the Prime Minister, the Duke of Grafton, and this connection was cemented the following year when Grafton married Elizabeth Wrottesley, sister of Pigot's second wife, Frances. Pigot entered Parliament in 1768 as MP for Penryn, a government-dominated borough which frequently chose distinguished naval officers as its MPs. (Pigot succeeded Vice-Admiral Sir George Rodney as Penryn's MP; he was later also to supplant Rodney as commander-in-chief.) He represented Penryn until 1774, but did not contest the general election that year. However, following the death of his brother, Lord Pigot, he was elected in 1778 to fill the seat his brother had held as MP for Bridgnorth.
Pigot was promoted to Rear Admiral in March 1775 and Vice Admiral in December of the same year. By this period he was a consistent opponent of Lord North's government (he was a gaming crony of the Whig leader Charles James Fox), and seems to have been denied commands for political reasons. When Sheridan attacked the government in the Commons in February 1782 for driving the most distinguished naval commanders out of the service, it was Pigot who rose in answer to the invitation to give instances of the First Lord of the Admiralty's conduct towards officers who were his political opponents.
With the fall of the government the following month, Pigot was appointed one of the Lords of the Admiralty in the Rockingham administration, and in April was promoted to Admiral and appointed to supersede Admiral Rodney as Commander-in-Chief in the West Indies. But news of Rodney's great victory at the Battle of the Saintes reached England on the very day that Pigot sailed, emphasising that his was a purely political appointment. He returned to England once peace had been concluded, but was defeated at Bridgnorth in the general election of 1784.
Pigot's younger son, also called Hugh, followed him into the navy and rose to the rank of Captain, but proved to be a tyrannical commander and was murdered by the crew of his ship, HMS Hermione, in the most notorious British mutiny of the French Revolutionary Wars. His older son, by contrast, Sir Henry Pigot, joined the army and reached the rank of General. Admiral Pigot brothers were George Pigot, 1st Baron Pigot and Sir Robert Pigot, 2nd Baronet.