About Samuel Pytts, MP
Family and Education b. c.1674, o. s. of James Pytts of Wick, Worcs. by Catherine, da. of Henry Cliffe of Malvern, Worcs. educ. New Coll. Oxf. matric. 17 Apr. 1689, aged 15. m. (1) 20 Jan. 1690, Frances, da. of Samuel Sandys† of Ombersley, Worcs., sis. of Edwin Sandys*, 2s. (1 d.v.p.); (2) Catherine (d. 1702), da. of Sir James Rushout, 1st Bt.†, of Maylords, Havering atte Bower, Essex and Northwick Park, Blockley, Worcs., sis. of Sir James Rushout, 2nd Bt.*, and Sir John Rushout, 4th Bt.*, 1da.; (3) 24 Nov. 1720, Catherine, da. and h. of Bridges Nanfan† of Birtsmorton, Worcs., wid. of Richard Coote*, 1st Earl of Bellomont [I], and Rear-Adm. William Caldwell, s.p. suc. cos. James Pytts† at Kyre Park 1685.1
Sheriff, Worcs. 1704–5; freeman, Worcester 1714.2
Ld. of Trade 1713–Dec. 1714.
Biography Although Pytts succeeded to the title of Kyre Park on the death of his cousin, and thus united his cadet branch of the family with the main line, he did not acquire full possession until 1715, for it was a condition of his cousin’s will that the widow should retain a life interest unless Samuel married her sister, a recommendation which either he or his nominated wife declined. He was still wealthy enough, however, to purchase the manor of Stoke Bliss in Worcestershire in 1690; possibly to serve a turn as a director of the Old East India Company in 1698; and then to stand for Parliament. The Kyre estate straddled the Worcestershire–Herefordshire border, and after canvassing at Leominster before the 1698 election (when Robert Price* called him a ‘good man’), Pytts was returned for Hereford the following year at a by-election caused by the death of Paul Foley I*. In effect he was little more than a stop-gap, for in the following general election Foley’s son Thomas II* was returned for his father’s old seat, although Pytts put up a stiff challenge. At the next general election, in November 1701, Pytts tried again, only to ‘give up the poll’ after a disastrous first day.3
Pytts’s political ambitions now switched to Worcestershire. Already, in September 1701, he had been considered and rejected as a possible candidate for the county. Clearly he was of sufficient status, having been appointed to the lieutenancy in March 1701. In April 1702 he attended a meeting of gentry in Worcestershire aimed at healing the divisions between the two Whig candidates, William Bromley I* and William Walsh*, although he himself was known to be backing the Tory, Sir John Pakington, 4th Bt.* In the 1705 election he played a key role, as sheriff, in thwarting Whig manoeuvres to hold a snap poll while Pakington was otherwise engaged at Aylesbury. Pytts’s somewhat ambiguous position in Worcestershire, as a Tory with many friends among the moderate Whigs, was exposed at the by-election held in 1707 on Bromley’s death. Not only did some of Bromley’s friends refuse to support him, but his opponent, Sir Thomas Cookes Winford, 2nd Bt.*, was able to win over some Tories. Faced with such a concerted opposition, Pytts withdrew, preferring, as he said, ‘not [to] give his friends and the county the trouble of a poll’. Although mooted as a possible candidate in 1708 on a joint interest with Pakington, he had to wait until the Tory landslide of 1710 to gain election as knight of the shire. He was recommended to the voters as a man of ‘an ample fortune, a family and so much compass of mind as to be for preserving the constitution and transmitting it to posterity’. It was perhaps fortunate that he faced no opposition, as he spent much of October 1710 infatuated with the widow of Sir Henry Every, who subsequently married Sir John Guise, 3rd Bt.* Despite this romantic quest, he still found time to oppose his old adversary at Hereford, Hon. James Brydges*, Brydges’ agent reporting that there was ‘no dealing’ with Pytts.4
Pytts was classed as a Tory on the ‘Hanover list’ of the new Parliament, but in Commons proceedings he is not always easy to distinguish from the various members of the Pitt family, although his attitudes to questions of the day are often illuminated by his letters to Lygon. Further, on 19 Jan. he outlined the ministry’s financial programme as relayed to the House the previous day by William Lowndes*, the chief proposals being a lottery and various funds to service it. Pytts predicted success for these plans ‘because otherwise you must raise all the money within the year, which here is impossible without such excises as the people of England will never bear’. So shocked was Pytts at news of Guiscard’s attempt to assassinate Robert Harley* ‘that the night it was done I could have given you no particulars’. In March and April he reported from committees on two private bills for the benefit of men with estates in Worcestershire, one of whom was the Earl of Plymouth. It is not clear whether or not he was the ‘Mr Pytt’ who was a teller on 17 Apr. in favour of passing the bill to prevent bribery and corruption at elections, but his membership of the October Club would make his involvement a strong possibility. His letters in April and May 1711 concentrate upon the expected return of Harley to business and the consequent settlement of outstanding questions of finance. On 9 May he was able to explain the small imposition on the ‘chair men’ (the licensing of hackney coaches) in terms of social order, ‘rather to bring those unruly gentlemen under some regulation than for the sake of the reply’. May also saw him report on the withdrawal of Benjamin Pearkes’s election petition against ‘cousin [Thomas] Wylde*’. Two lists of the 1710–11 session help to place him politically: he was a ‘worthy patriot’ who had exposed the mismanagements of the previous Whig ministry and a ‘Tory patriot’ who was in favour of peace.5
In the first week of November 1711 Pytts was making arrangements for his journey to London for the new session. His letters to Lygon continue to reveal his opinions on the issues of the day. Thus, on 19 Jan. 1712 he expanded upon the Queen’s message to the Commons two days previously concerning the negotiations at Utrecht,
that what is done in relation to the peace is upon the most just and reasonable foot, and that we shall never come in to any one that is not safe and honourable to us and all the alliance, and I hope it will put a stop to those floods of lies and scandal that her Majesty so justly complains of. I am one of those that believe we shall have a peace and I do believe it will be such a one as I mention above, and then it can never come too soon. Advice to wait and see, ‘as time will explain it more to us’, was no doubt useful in mollifying men, like Lygon, of a Whiggish slant. A similar missive was addressed to Lygon on 25 Jan. concerning the Tory attack on the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†). Although Pytts’s name was on Harley’s lobbying list for an attack on Marlborough, moderation again predominated: ‘though I am one of those that do and did wish it had never come before us, I must tell you the matter by his own confession was so borne upon him and the proof of the usage of it in others so small that it was impossible not to censure it.’ The proof would follow. Meanwhile Lygon was enjoined not to ‘prepossess yourself with the great things the great man hath done for us’. In March Pytts’s letters were full of the minutiae of supply, chiefly those duties to be imposed to fund a lottery. He felt that plans to raise a further £700,000 within the year were unrealistic, given the great hardships the country laboured under. He also demonstrated his opposition to taxes which hit Worcestershire hard: ‘we have battled the Court so hard on the leather tax that they promise to drop it unless the utmost necessity makes them resume it’. Given the studied moderation of his letters to Lygon, which suggest a temperament akin to Harley’s ideal of avoiding extremes, it is conceivable that Pytts was regarded as a likely ministerial auxiliary in the Commons. Certainly, in the next session, he was seen as a proponent of the Court line.6
The arrival of a signed peace in London rendered Pytts euphoric. On 4 Apr. 1713 he shared his news with Lygon, adding, ‘in the meantime I congratulate with you upon the prospect we have of once again seeing some ease from our burdens and a return of plenty among us’. At the beginning of the parliamentary session he was pitchforked into prominence on the Court side when he moved the Address on 9 Apr. 1713. According to Lord Hervey (John*), ‘he made such work . . . that the nonsense of it makes it worth reading’. Another witness felt he spoke ‘with more sharpness than usual, he having formerly been a moderate Tory’. Subsequently, Pytts reported the Address to the House. He was able to inform Lygon on 23 Apr. that the land tax would be no more than 2s. in the pound and that, together with the malt tax and other subsidies, this was a sufficient fund to circulate £1,200,000 more Exchequer bills. The result would be ‘an abatement of some taxes and no new ones, nor the expense of one new office this year’. Pytts was particularly busy in proceedings arising from the French commercial treaty, a foretoken of his preferment to the Board of Trade in the following autumn. He was a teller, for instance, on 14 May against a Whig motion to read the petitions from merchants and associated papers, and on 14 July moved for an address to the Queen to issue a proclamation against the export of wool. In the crucial division on 18 June he voted in favour of the bill confirming the 8th and 9th articles of the treaty. He was also a teller for the Court on 15 May, against the committal of the place bill. By late July he had received ‘favour and consideration’, if not a promise of employment, from Lord Treasurer Oxford (Robert Harley) to whom he reported from Worcester assizes ‘so perfect a satisfaction in most of our gentlemen with the good things that lately have been done for the public as hath discouraged our enemies from giving us any disturbance in our election’. However, to Lygon he expressed considerable concern that his former brother-in-law, Sir John Rushout, 4th Bt., had made an interest at the assizes, remarking that ‘it shows the zeal of a party that makes all ties of no signification’. Rushout did not pursue his challenge, so Pytts was returned unopposed with Pakington. Oxford made good his promise, making Pytts a lord of Trade in September with a salary of £1,000 p.a., taking especial care that the warrant was passed before his re-election in Worcestershire.7
Pytts was back in London by early November 1713. Lygon’s attitude did not change towards him despite Pytts’s acceptance of office: ‘I cannot quarrel with a man for his principles while he approved himself sincere by actions’. Indeed, Pytts became a useful conduit for patronage requests from Worcestershire. He was less active than he had been in the preceding session, possibly owing to his new administrative burdens, and though named to several drafting committees, usually on local or trading matters, he was not involved in the management of any bills. Only one tellership can be attributed to him, on 12 Apr., against a petition from Lord Athenry for repeal of an act of the Irish parliament. However, in his official capacity he did present information and papers on trade. His speech on 15 Apr. on the danger to the succession was described as that of a ‘courtier’, and a speech in the debate on the peace on 22 Apr. may well have been his, but only the bare fact of an intervention was recorded. In the Worsley list he was marked as a Tory.8
News of the Queen’s death obliged Pytts to return to London. He began early to solicit votes for the forthcoming general election. By 26 Aug. 1714 he had received the endorsement of the Duke of Shrewsbury and was looking forward to a joint interest with Pakington. However, by September his campaign faced problems since his chief agent at Kyre was ill while he himself was stranded in London awaiting the new King’s arrival. By the time of the election in February 1715 Pytts had been removed from office, and he was defeated by Thomas Vernon†, a Whig standing singly. He did not stand again. He died, intestate, on 15 Jan. 1729, and was succeeded by his only surviving son and heir, Edmund†.9
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715 Authors: D. W. Hayton / Stuart Handley Notes 1. Kyre Park Chs. ed. Amphlett (Worcs. Hist. Soc.), pp. xiii–xiv; The Gen. vii. 105; IGI, Worcs.; Williams, Parlty. Hist. Worcs. 56; Nash, Worcs. ii. 71–72. 2. Williams, 56. 3. Kyre Park Chs. pp. xiii, 134; Williams, 56; Add. 38871 (unfol.); 70019, f. 301; Bath mss at Longleat House, Thynne pprs. 24, f. 331; Huntington Lib. Stowe mss 26(2), James Brydges’ diary, 5–6 Jan., 25 Nov. 1701. 4. Hereford and Worcester RO (Worcester, St. Helen’s), Cal. Wm. Lygon letters, 27, Lygon to [?William Bromley I], 6 Sept. 1701; 352, 358, Pytts to Lygon, 26 Sept., 13 Oct. 1710; CSP Dom. 1700–2, p. 256; Northumberland mss at Alnwick Castle, 21, i. ff. 147–8, Walsh to bp. of Oxford, 15 Apr. 1702 (Speck trans.); Hereford and Worcester RO (Worcester, St. Helen’s), Hampton mss 705: 349/BA4657/i. 87, Lady Pakington to Pytts, 4 May 1705; i. 89, Pytts to Lady Pakington, 4 May 1705; v. 5, [Sir] Charles Lyttelton to Pakington, 7 Apr. 1708; Surr. RO (Kingston), Somers mss 371/14/L29, Walsh to Ld. Somers (Sir John*), 18 Aug. 1707; HMC Portland, iv. 437; Beaufort mss at Badminton House, Coventry pprs. Cookes Winford to Ld. Coventry, 24 Nov. 1707; Williams, 56–57; Stowe mss 58(6), p. 113. 5. Cal. Wm. Lygon letters, 391, 399, 405, 414, 421–2, Pytts to Lygon, 3, 19 Jan., 10 Mar. 1710–11, 7 Apr., 1, 9 May 1711. 6. Ibid. 451, 462–3, 466, same to same, 5 Nov. 1711, 19, 25 Jan., 11 Mar. 1711–12; Add. 70331, lobbying list. 7. Cal. Wm. Lygon letters, 471, 477, 513, same to same, 4, 21 Apr., 26 July 1713; NLS, Advocates’ mss Wodrow pprs. letters Quarto 7, f. 125; Add. 70204, Pytts to Oxford, 24 July, 19 Sept. 1713; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxviii. 136; Bolingbroke Corresp. iv. 295. 8. Cal. Wm. Lygon letters, 541, 558, Pytts to Lygon, 10 Nov. 1713, 16 Mar. 1713–14; 541b, Lygon to Pytts, c.10 Nov. 1713; Hervey Letters Bks. i. 355; Wodrow pprs. letters Quarto 8, ff. 95–96; Douglas diary (Hist. of Parl. trans.), 22 Apr. 1714. 9. Cal. Wm. Lygon letters, 602, 615, Pytts to Lygon, 10 Aug., 11 Sept. 1714; 638, Pakington to same, 5 Nov. 1714; Hampton mss 705: 349/BA4739/1/iii/7, Charles Goodere to [–], 26 Aug. 1714; Kyre Park Chs. p. xiv.