Thomas Pitt was born 5 July 1653 in Blandford Forum, Dorset, England, United Kingdom to John Pitt (c1610-1672) and Sarah Jay (c1620-1664) and died 28 April 1726 Swallowfield, Berkshire, England, United Kingdom of unspecified causes. He married Jane Innes (-1727) 1680 .

Thomas Pitt

President of Fort St George (Madras)
In office
7 July 1698 – 18 September 1709
Preceded by Nathaniel Higginson
Succeeded by Gulston Addison

Thomas Pitt (5 July 1653 – 28 April 1726), born at Blandford Forum, Dorset, to a rector and his wife, was a British merchant involved in trade with India.

He at first came into conflict with the British East India Company, however this was settled and the company appointed him governor of Fort St. George, Madras. He is known as "Diamond" Pitt for his purchase of and profit from an extraordinary diamond. He was the grandfather and great-grandfather of the Prime Ministers William Pitt the Elder and William Pitt the Younger.

In India

In 1674, Pitt went to India with the British East India Company, however he soon began trading for himself as an 'interloper' in defiance of the East India Company's legal monopoly on Indian trade. Upon his return to England he was fined £400 for his actions, although by that time Pitt was already very wealthy and could easily afford the fine. He then proceeded to buy the manor of Stratford and its surrounding borough Old Sarum. With that acquisition he gained a seat in the House of Commons, as that was a rotten borough. It was a purchase that would have a significant effect on British history, as the seat would pass to Pitt's rather influential descendants.

Pitt returned to India, and eventually was hired by the British East India Company. He bought out the Nawab of the Carnatic region, in order to save Madras, his base of operations.

As the President of Madras

Thomas Pitt became the President of Madras on 7 July 1698 and remained in his post till 1709.

In 1698, a new Company called English Company Trading to the East Indies was floated by English merchants with Tory affiliations with a capital of 2 million pound sterling. In August 1699, one John Pitt arrived at Madras and claimed that he had been appointed as the Governor of Fort St George by the new Company on behalf of the Stuarts. However, the Government in England passed a stern order that the authorities were to receive orders from no one save those appointed by King William III of Orange.

On 4 December 1700, the Government of Fort St George banned cock-fighting and other traditional games regarding it as the foremost reason for the poverty of the inhabitants of Madras.

His term of office is known as the 'Golden Age of Madras'. He fortified the walls of Black town and organized an accurate survey of the city. Pitt is best known for the acquisition of the Five New Towns: Tiruvatiyoor, Kathiwakam, Nungambakkam, Vyasarpady and Sathangadu.


He was married in 1679/80 to Jane Innes. He had at least four sons and two daughters. His eldest son, Robert, was father of William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, often called "Pitt the Elder". His second sons were twins, based on an entry to the baptismal records of St. Lawrence, Stratford sub Castle, Salisbury, Wilts records, Thomas Pitt, 1st Earl of Londonderry and William. No other record of William can be found so he probably died in infancy. His third son John was a distinguished soldier. His second daughter, Lucy married James Stanhope, 1st Earl Stanhope. Thomas Pitt also had a grandson, by his older son Robert, named Thomas Pitt. But perhaps Thomas Pitt's most famous descendant was his great-grandson (through William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham) - William Pitt the Younger, who went on to become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the early 19th century.


Offspring of Thomas Pitt and Jane Innes (-1727)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Robert Pitt (1680-1727) 1680 21 May 1727 Harriet Villiers (c1569-1736)
Thomas Innes Pitt, 1st Earl of Londonderry (c1689-1729) 1689 12 September 1729 England, United Kingdom Frances Ridgeway (c1693-1772)
William Pitt (c1689)
Lucy Pitt (1692-1723) 1692 24 February 1723 James Stanhope, 1st Earl Stanhope (c1673-1721)
Essex Pitt (c1694-aft1725)
John Pitt (1698-1754) 1698 9 February 1744 Mary Belasyse (c1695-1744)

Pitt's diamond

Pitt is most famous for his purchase of a 410 carat (82 g) uncut diamond acquired from an Indian merchant named Jamchund in Madras in 1701. The merchant had purchased the diamond from an English sea captain, who had, in fact, stolen the diamond from a slave. The slave found the diamond in one of the Golkonda mines on the Kistna River and had concealed it inside a large wound in his leg. According to another version, the diamond had formed an eye of some Hindu idol and was stolen therefrom.

Pitt bought the diamond for 48,000 pagodas or £20,400, and sent it back to England in 1702 with his eldest son. For two years from 1704-1706, the jeweller Harris labored in London to hew a 141 carat (28.2 g) cushion brilliant from the rough stone. Several secondary stones were produced from the cut that were sold to Peter the Great of Russia. After many attempts to sell it to various European royals, including Louis XIV of France, Pitt and his sons went with the diamond to Calais in 1717. With John Law acting as agent, it was sold that year to the French regent, Philippe II, Duke of Orléans for £135,000, becoming one of the crown jewels of France. Today, "Le Régent" as it came to be known, remains in the French Royal Treasury at the Louvre, where it has been on display, since 1887.


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With the money received for his famous diamond, he now began to consolidate his properties. Besides Mawarden Court at Stratford Sub Castle and the Down at Blandford, he acquired Boconnoc in Cornwall from Lord Mohun's widow in 1717, and subsequently Kynaston in Dorset, Bradock, Treskillard and Brannell in Cornwall, Woodyates on the border of Dorset and Wiltshire, Abbot's Ann in Hampshire (where he rebuilt the church) and, subsequently his favourite residence, Swallowfield Park in Berkshire, where he died in 1726.


  • Moore, Gloria. The Anglo-Indian Vision, 1986.
  • Palmer, R.R., et al. A History of the Modern World, 2004.
  • Edward J. Davies, “Jane Innes, Wife of Governor Thomas Pitt”, Notes and Queries, 253(2008):301-03 [1]

External links

Parliament of England
Preceded by
Thomas Hoby
Giles Eyre
Member of Parliament for Salisbury
With: Thomas Hoby
Succeeded by
Thomas Hoby
Sir Thomas Mompesson
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Robert Pitt
William Harvey
Member of Parliament for Old Sarum
With: William Harvey 1710–1713
Robert Pitt 1713–1716
Succeeded by
Robert Pitt
Sir William Strickland
Preceded by
Ralph Bell
Thomas Frankland
Member of Parliament for Thirsk
With: Thomas Frankland
Succeeded by
Thomas Frankland
William St Quintin
Preceded by
Robert Pitt
Sir William Strickland
Member of Parliament for Old Sarum
With: Robert Pitt 1722
George Morton Pitt 1722–1724
John Pitt 1724–1726
Succeeded by
John Pitt
George Pitt
Political offices
Preceded by
Nathaniel Higginson
President of Madras
7 July 1698–18 September 1709
Succeeded by
Gulston Addison

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Thomas Pitt. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.

Footnotes (including sources)