English Political History: The two Pitts

Quick question for any Dopers familiar with English history in the 18th century. SInce Pitt the Elder accepted a Peerage (Earl Chatham) and thereby a seat in the House of Lords.

This hereditary peerage should have disqualified his son (Pitt the Younger) from becoming a member of the House of COmmons (and, by extension, Prime Minister). Obviously he was Prime Minister, so what happened? Was he able to decline inheritance of the title (thought you couldn’t do that)?

Pitt the Younger was not the eldest child of Pitt the Elder (Earl Chatham). So there was no impediment to the younger son sitting in Commons.

Further, there have been numerous members of the baronage who were Prime Minister at some point in their life, so I’m not certain that it is the impediment you suggest anyway.

It’s not. Peers can serve as Prime Minister, even though there hasn’t been a noble Prime Minister in over a hundred years. The last was Robert Cecil, the Earl of Salisbury, who resigned in 1902. (Yes, I know about Alec Douglas-Home, but he doesn’t count.)

Also, it is only that a Peer may not serve in the House of Commons, where it is expected that the P.M. must be able to speak to defend his Government’s actions. And even if a man is the son of a peer, he is not a peer himself unless ennobled by the monarch or until he succeeds to his father’s title.