To the website dedicated to the history of the Pitt family descended from Mary Pitt (nee Matcham).
This site has been set up by me, Patsy Trench, great great great great granddaughter of Mary through her son Thomas. I have been looking into the Pitt family history for some years in order to write a book called The Worst Country in the World (published in 2012 and available as an ebook on Amazon and elsewhere), and this website is a basic outline of what I discovered in the course of my research.
I am interested to hear from anyone who has anything to add to the information contained in this site (or to correct it), especially anyone who knows anything about Mary’s two elder sons, who went to America at some point and died there. As time goes by I will be adding more to the site as helpful relatives get in touch with more information about various branches of the family. To them I say a huge thank you, and please keep the information coming!
I am currently researching and writing the sequel to Worst Country, about my great x 2 grandfather GM Pitt, Mary’s grandson. If anyone has any information on him, or on the stock and station agency he founded called Pitt, Son & Badgery, please do get in touch.
Mary Pitt emigrated to New South Wales from Fiddleford in Dorset, England in 1801. The new colony, set up as a penal settlement, was not yet 14 years old, and of a European population of less than 6,000 fewer than 40 of them were free settlers.
At the time of sailing Mary was a widow of 53 and she travelled with five children aged between 14 and 27. It was a huge and brave undertaking: the colony was struggling to survive at that time and its future was very uncertain. Mary cannot have known much of what she was travelling to – it was the 21st century equivalent of settling on Mars.
No one really knows why she went there, but the assumption is that her husband Robert, who died in 1787, had left her short of money; and with four daughters, two of whom were of marriageable age with no dowries, her prospects in her home country were not promising.
Mary’s first cousin George Matcham, who was married to Admiral Horatio Nelson’s youngest sister Catherine, had always taken a keen interest in the colonies, and it was he who arranged her migration. Unlike most people George saw New South Wales as a land of opportunity, despite the fact that it was a penal colony. As we now know, he was right.
Mary sailed from Portsmouth to Sydney on HMS Canada with her five surviving children:
- Susanna, aged 27. Susanna went on to marry William Faithfull.
- Lucy, aged 23. Lucy married John Wood, third mate on Canada.
- Thomas, aged 20. Thomas married Elizabeth Laycock.
- Jemima, aged not quite 18. Jemima married first Capt Austin Forrest and then Robert Jenkins.
- Hester, aka Esther, aged not quite 15. Hester married James Wilshire.
If you have any queries or would like to add anything to the website please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.