Pigot, Hugh (1721?-1792) (DNB00)

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PIGOT, HUGH (1721?–1792), admiral, brother of George, baron Pigot [q. v.], born about 1721, served for upwards of four years as ‘able seaman’ and ‘captain's servant’ in the Captain with Captain Geddes on the home station, and in the Seaford with Captain Savage Mostyn [q. v.] For two years more he was midshipman successively in the Seaford, Cumberland, and Russell. On 5 Nov. 1741 he passed his examination, being then, according to his certificate, upwards of twenty. On 9 Feb. 1741–2 he was promoted to be lieutenant, and on 2 Aug. following was appointed by Mathews, in the Mediterranean, to the Romney with Captain Thomas Grenville [q. v.], whom in March 1744 he followed to the Falkland on the home station. On 2 Nov. 1745 he was promoted to be commander of the Vulcan fireship; on 22 April 1746 was posted to the Centaur apparently for rank only, and in April 1747 was appointed to the Ludlow Castle in the West Indies. In 1758 he commanded the York at the reduction of Louisbourg, and in 1759 the Royal William of 84 guns in the fleet under Sir Charles Saunders [q. v.] at Quebec. In January 1771 he was appointed to the Triumph, which was paid off when the dispute about the Falkland Islands was happily settled. On 31 March 1775 he was promoted to be rear-admiral of the white; on 7 Dec. 1775 to be vice-admiral of the blue. On the accession to office of the whig ministry in March 1782, he was appointed one of the lords of the admiralty, and on 8 April was promoted to the rank of admiral of the blue. A few days later he was appointed commander-in-chief in the West Indies, and on 18 May sailed in the Jupiter to supersede Sir George Brydges Rodney (afterwards Lord Rodney) [q. v.] The same day the news of Rodney's victory of 12 April reached the admiralty; and, notwithstanding the extreme bitterness of party feeling at the time, they judged the moment inopportune for the abrupt recall of the victor. A messenger was forthwith despatched with orders to stop the Jupiter's sailing. This he was too late to do, and at Jamaica, on 13 July, Pigot assumed the command. He was a man with little experience as a captain, with none whatever as an admiral, and he had neither the genius nor the force of character which might take its place. Admiral Samuel (afterwards Lord) Hood, his second in command, seems to have regarded him with mixed feelings of pity and contempt, and considered that Keppel had acted a most unpatriotic part ‘in placing an officer at the head of so great a fleet who was unequal to the very important command, for want of practice;’ Pigot, he wrote, had neither foresight, judgment, nor enterprise, otherwise ‘he might have had a very noble chance for rendering a good account both of the French and Spanish squadrons.’ His command was uneventful, and came to an end at the peace. He quitted the admiralty on the change of ministry in December 1783, nor was he returned to the new parliament. He died at Bristol on 15 Dec. 1792. He married twice. A younger son, Hugh (1769–1797), is separately noticed.

An elder son, Sir Henry Pigot (1750–1840), had a distinguished career in the army, which he entered as a cornet of the 1st dragoons in 1769. He became lieutenant-colonel in 1783, major-general in 1795, lieutenant-general in 1802, and general in 1812. He served in Holland in 1793–4, was at Gibraltar from 1796 to 1798, went to Minorca in 1800, and was in command of the blockade of La Valette, Malta, when that island was surrendered to the British (September 1800). In December 1836 he was transferred from the colonelcy of the 82nd to that of the 38th regiment, with which his uncle had been long connected [see Pigot, Sir Robert]. He was made G.C.M.G. in 1837, and died in London on 7 June 1840 (Gent. Mag. 1840, pt. ii. p. 429).

[Charnock's Biogr. Nav. v. 499; Commission and Warrant Books in the Public Record Office; Letters of Lord Hood (Navy Records Society), 133, 141.]

J. K. L.