The Twickenham Museum
People : Lawyers and Clergy

Nathaniel Pigott
Catholic lawyer of Whitton
1661 - 1737

Catholic barrister

Nathaniel Pigott was a barrister but as an avowed Catholic debarred from university or appearance in any court of law. He appears in Cosin's list of non-jurors of 1715, refusing to take the Oath of Loyalty to King George I, which cost him £50.

Pigott came to live at Whitton that year, buying the house built by John Belasyse, Baron Belasyse of Worlaby in 1687, opposite the mansion (then known as Whitton House) lately constructed by Sir Godfrey Kneller. Also this year he was acting as one of the lawyers defending the Lords accused of taking part in the Jacobite rebellion of 1715. Moving to Whitton put him at a useful distance from London at this time.

Pigott was connected with the 9th Viscount Fairfax of Gilling, in Yorkshire and acted as his lawyer. His son Ralph (d1730) married Alathea, Fairfax's daughter and their grandson Charles Gregory inherited the Fairfax estates, assuming the name Fairfax.

Friend and advisor to Pope

Pigott advised his friend Alexander Pope during his long dispute with Lady Kneller about the siting of Sir Godfrey's memorial in St Mary's Church. Living, as he did, at the entrance to Whitton House, greetings may not have been exchanged during this time.

The dispute was concluded in 1725 and the enormous memorial, designed by Michael Rysbrack installed in Westminster Abbey in 1730.

In September 1726 Pope suffered injury when the coach in which he was travelling plunged into the river Crane and was taken to his friend's house nearby for treatment.

The memorial to Nathanial Pigott in St Mary's church, Twickenham

Pope's memorial to his friend

When Pigott died, in 1737, he was buried in St Mary's churchyard. His son Edward asked Pope to write an inscription for his memorial tablet carved by Scheemakers and erected on the south wall of the gallery in St Mary's Church:

To the Memory of
NATHANIEL PIGOTT Barrister at Law:
Who Gave more Honour to his Profession,
than he derived from it.
Possessed of the highest Character,
By his Learning, Judgment, Experience, Integrity,
Depriv'd of the highest Stations,
Only by his Conscience and Religion.
Many he assisted in the Law,
Many he preserved from it

Friend to Peace, Guardian of Property, and Protector of the Poor.
A Servant of God, and Lover of his Country.

He died July 5 1737. Aged 76 years.

In 1744, when Pope was dying, Edward administered the last rites at his bedside.

Further reading:

George Sherburn, The Correspondence of Alexander Pope, Oxford, 1956
DNB (for Nathaniel Pigott, astronomer & grandson)
John Burke, Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland (vol II, p116, Fairfax), 1830

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