Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pittis, Thomas

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PITTIS, THOMAS (1636–1687), divine, son of Thomas Pittis, a captain of militia in the Isle of Wight, by his wife Mary, was born at Niton, where his family had lived for several generations. He was baptised on 28 June 1636. In 1652 he entered as a commoner at Trinity College, Oxford, but migrated to Lincoln College, whence he matriculated on 29 April 1653, graduating B.A. on 15 June 1656, M.A. on 29 June 1658, B.D. in 1665, and D.D. in 1670. Wood says he was ‘esteemed by his contemporaries a tolerable disputant; but, his speech being disliked by the godly party of those times, he was expelled from the university in 1658.’ He was presented, before March 1660, by John Worsley of Gatcombe, to the rectory of Newport, Isle of Wight. In 1665 he was presented to the living of Holyrood, or St. Cross, Southampton, where his strong royalist sympathies brought him into conflict with the mayor and corporation (cf. A Private Conference between a Rich Alderman and a Poor Country Vicar made Public, 1670). He was appointed one of the king's chaplains and lecturers at Christ Church, Newgate Street, about 1670, and in 1677 was also presented by Charles II to the rectory of Lutterworth, Leicestershire, but was removed in 1678 to the rectory of St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate. Here he remained until his death, on 28 Dec. 1687. He was buried at Niton. A slab was placed in his memory in St. Botolph's chancel by his wife, who survived him. He married, on 4 Feb. 1661, in Gatcombe church, Elizabeth, daughter of William Stephens of Newport, and sister of Sir William Stephens, knight, of Burton, Isle of Wight. By her he left two sons: Thomas, born in 1669, vicar of Warnham, Sussex, and William, noticed below; with two daughters: Elizabeth, who married Zacheus Isham [q. v.], Pittis's successor at St. Botolph's; and Catherine.

Besides separate sermons Pittis published: 1. ‘A Discourse concerning the Trial of Spirits wherein Inquiry is made into Men's Pretences to Inspiration for publishing Doctrines, in the name of God, beyond the Rules of the Sacred Scriptures,’ London, 1683, 8vo; the other ‘A Discourse of Prayer,’ London, 1683, 8vo.

William Pittis (1674–1724), the second son, entered Winchester School in 1687, matriculated at New College, Oxford, on 14 Aug. 1690, graduated B.A. 1694, and was fellow of his college 1692–5. He was afterwards a member of the Inner Temple. On 27 April 1706 he was ordered by the court of queen's bench to stand in the pillory three times and to pay a fine of one hundred marks for writing a ‘Memorial of the Church of land,' apparently not extant, but examined and partly defended by Charles Leslie [q. v.] in 'The Case of the Church of England's Memorial fairly stated' (in 'Collection of Tracts,' 1730). On 3 Dec. 1714 he was again in custody for writing ‘Reasons for a War with France.’ He died at his chambers in the Inner Temple, over the crown office, in November 1724. He was author of an epistolary poem ‘To John Dryden on the death of James, Earl of Abingdon,’ 1699; an elegy ‘On the death of Sir Cloudesley Shovel’ (1708) is in manuscript (Addit. MS. 23904, f. 516). He also wrote: 1. ‘The History of the present Parliament and Convocation, with the Debates on the conduct of the War abroad,’ &c., London, 1711, 8vo. 2. ‘The History of the Proceedings of the Second Session of Parliament,’ London [1712?], 8vo. 3. ‘The History of the Third Session’ [1713]. 4. ‘Memoirs of the Life of John Radcliffe, M.D.’ [q. v.], 1715, 8vo; 3rd edit. 1716; 4th edit. 1736. 5. ‘The Proceedings of both Houses of Parliament … upon the Bill to prevent Occasional Conformity,’ London, 1710, 8vo, signed ‘W. P.’

[For the father see Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Hearne's Collections, i. 100; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. iv. 220; Wood's Fasti, ed. Bliss, ii. 192, 214, 282, 320; Kennett's Register, pp. 920, 925; Newcourt's Repert. i. 313–14; Westminster Abbey Registers (Harl. Soc.), 279; Registers of St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate, published in Hallen's London City Church Registers, pt. i. pp. 499–502, pt. ii. p. 271; Nichols's Collections for Leicestershire, pp. 494, 1141; Woodward's Hist. of Hampshire, Suppl. (Isle of Wight), pp. 59, 67n, 68n. For the son, Kirby's Winchester Scholars, p. 208; Hearne's Collections, ed. Doble, i. 235, 237.]

C. F. S.