Pigot, Hugh (1769-1797) (DNB00)

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PIGOT, HUGH (1769–1797), captain in the navy, son of Admiral Hugh Pigot (1721?–1792) [q. v.], was baptised in the parish church of Patshull in Staffordshire on 5 Sept. 1769. He entered the navy in May 1782 with his father on board the Jupiter, followed him to the Formidable, and from October 1783 to August 1785 served on board the Assistance on the North American station, with Sir Charles Douglas. He was afterwards in the Trusty, flagship of Sir John Laforey, on the Leeward Islands station, and passed his examination on 31 Aug. 1789. On 21 Sept. 1790 he was promoted to be lieutenant of the Colossus with Captain Hugh Cloberry Christian [q. v.], in the Channel, and in 1793–4 was in the London with Captain (afterwards Sir) Richard Goodwin Keats [q. v.] On 10 Feb. 1794 he was promoted to the rank of commander and appointed to the Swan sloop on the Jamaica station; from her, on 1 Sept. 1794, he was posted to the Success frigate, and in July 1797 was moved to the Hermione of 32 guns. He is said to have been already known as a man of harsh and tyrannical disposition, and the crew of the Hermione, with many Irishmen and foreigners in it, was one peculiarly apt to be affected by the wave of mutiny which swept over the service in 1797. The story afterwards told, which there is no reason to disbelieve, was that on the afternoon of 21 Sept., when they were reefing topsails, Pigot called to the men on the mizen-topsail yard that he would flog the last man down. Two of them, in the hurry to avoid the promised flogging, lost their hold, fell on the quarter-deck, and were killed; on which Pigot exclaimed, ‘Throw the lubbers overboard.’ The same night the crew rose, cut down the officer of the watch, killed Pigot by repeated blows and stabs, killed or threw overboard all the officers, with the exception of the master, gunner, carpenter, and a midshipman, and took the ship into La Guayra. There they handed her over to the Spaniards, who fitted her out as a ship of war under their own flag. In the following year she was gallantly recaptured after a most determined resistance [see Hamilton, Sir Edward]. In the course of the next few years many of the murderers were hanged and gibbeted. The several courts-martial did not err on the side of mercy.

[Brenton's Naval History, ii. 436; Schomberg's Naval Chronology, iii. 75; Passing Certificate, List-books, and Minutes of Courts-martial (especially vols. 83, 85, and 86) in the Public Record Office.]

J. K. L.