Cambridge & Pitt: the first connection

Happy New Year!  I hope you had a rejuvenating break.  We are now back in classes after a six week holiday.   Cambridge University calls this new eight week term “Lent Term,” and in April, we’ll have another break before the final study and exam period called “Easter Term.”  I’ll write more about how we learn and are evaluated at  Cambridge in a future blog. Today, I want to start 2022 with a few fun facts because many people ask me how Pittsburgh and Cambridge University are connected.  Well, put your seatbelts on  – we need to travel back way back to 1759 to understand more about William Pitt the Elder, William Pitt the Younger, Pembroke College at Cambridge, and Fort Duquesne in Pennsylvania.

William Pitt the Younger in Pembroke College File:William Pitt Sculpture at Pembroke College, Cambridge … (n.d.). Retrieved February 13, 2022, from,_Cambridge.jpg 

William Pitt the Younger became the youngest Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1783 when he was 24. Ten years earlier, he became the youngest student ever admitted to Cambridge University, and he still holds this record today.  Records show he never passed his final exams because he was ill, but Cambridge did create The Pitt Club to honor his many years of government service. Fun Fact: Prince Charles, Eddy Redmayne and Tom Hiddleston, among many others, are listed as members of the Pitt Club, which opened to women in 2015.   

Picture of the Pitt Club 7a Jesus lane

So how does William Pitt connect to Pittsburgh?  Well, not so fast because it’s actually his father who our beautiful city is named after.  William Pitt the Elder, born in Westminster , also had an illustrious political career and was Prime Minister twice (1756-61 and 1766-68). During the French and Indian War, which in England was called the Seven Years’ War, he treated the American colonists as equals and earned their respect. When French-held Fort Duquesne was captured by the British in 1759, it was renamed Fort Pitt in his honor. Fort Pitt became Pittsburgh.  Fun Fact: William Pitt the Elder went to Oxford but suffered from gout and had to leave.  He also studied at the University of Utrecht.  Both William Pitts and their familes are buried in Westminster Abbey,  and there are famous statues of  both Williams in London’s Guidehall, and of William Pitt the Elder in New York, Baltimore, and Charleston.

Picture of the Pitt Building at Cambridge U in town. 

So there you have it – a first degree Pittsburgh-Cambridge connection more than 260 years old!

Hail to Pitt!

Cambridge University Motto: Hinc Lucem e pocula sacra!

From this place, we gain enlightenment and precious knowledge.”

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