To the website dedicated to the history of the Pitt family descended from Mary Pitt (nee Matcham) in Australia.

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 two books about the Pitt family: The Worst Country in the World (published in 2012), and A Country To Be Reckoned With (published 11 August 2018). 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). 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!



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.



Illustrated London News

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.

Barbara Lamble (my aunt), who devoted years to researching so much of our family history, wrote a booklet called The Pitts of Dorset and Richmond.  It contains the fruits of her meticulous investigation into the Pitt family going back to the 14th century. She never published it, so in response to many requests here it is:

The Pitts of Dorset and Richmond NSW

If you have any queries or would like to add anything to the website please email me at patsytrench@gmail.com.

Patsy Trench




31 thoughts on “Welcome

  1. Hi Patsy. I hope the website goes well. What a great idea. I have often wondered whether one of the reasons Mary decided to come to Australia was because of Thomas and Jane Rose. As you know the Rose family came to Australia in 1792 – part of the first group of free settlers who came here. Mary was related to the Roses, as was Robert, and they all came from Sturminster Newton. Jane Rose wrote to family in Dorset and I have no doubt that Mary would have heard about how well they were doing and may have decided to try her luck here as well especially as she had encouragement from George Matcham as well. I have no proof of this but it does seem logical and might explain why she was prepared to come half way around the world to what was still a primitive penal colony.

    • Thanks Jeanette and yes, that is a possibility, except the Roses had a terrible time of it when they first arrived, before they moved to the Hawkesbury district (after Mary and Co got there, I believe). I also wonder whether George Matcham arranged for the Roses’ migration too as in a letter written earlier he mentioned sponsoring a family of farmers to migrate to NSW. I haven’t managed to establish whether that was the case or not.

      • George Matcham may well have done so. I vaguely remember reading somewhere that the Rose family were either known to Phillip or to someone who recommended them to Phillip. That their arrival here wasn’t as random as one might think. Sorry for the vagueness but I can’t lay my hands on the document that I think had the information. Regardless of Mary’s reasons for coming,I’m really glad she did.

        Do you know that I am also descended from Elizabeth Fish, niece of the Rose family, who came outon the Bellona with them. She married Edward Powell who was also on the Bellona. Their Gt Granddaughter married my Gt Grandfather John Thomas Matcham Pitt – thus linking the two lines from Sturminster Newton her in Australia. As a result I am twice descended from Benjamin Belbin. Isn’t that co-incidence?

      • Hi Jeanette – sorry to take so long to respond (I’ve been whizzing around Tasmania, a truly amazing place). That is extraordinary, that you are also descended from the Roses. If you have any further info on the Rose family I’d be delighted to hear it.

      • I don’t have a lot on the Rose Family, although they are well documented and have a lot of information published on them because of a very active Rose Society. I am actually descended from their niece, Elizabeth Fish, who travelled to Austalia with them. She had a child which died on the journey over, so she may have been involved in some sort of scandal requiring her removal from Sturminster Newton. She married Edward Powell and I do have a lot on their descendents in Australia. I’m happy to do up a disk and send it to you if you would like.

        Did you visit the Laycock’s old properties while you were whizzing around Tasmania? It is a lovely island isn’t it with so much history.

        I’m wondering whether the disgraced Police Officer named Laycock in the news lately is a distant relation. Hope not.

        Have a great Easter.

  2. I didn’t know about the Laycock properties in Tassie, but we did stay overnight at Bronte Park, which was named by Lt Arthur Davies – again in honour of Nelson. He was married George Matcham’s daughter Elizabeth and they migrated to live in Tasmania. Family history follows us everywhere.!

    I tried to contact the Rose family society once to try to establish a possible connection with George Matcham but received no reply. I got the impression then they were no longer active.

      • i need to know her age when she moved to australia the place of her birth her occupation prior to arrival and after arrival and details of family life such as family freinds,loved ones, crimes and sentences may have already have thx :3 🙂

  3. As you can see from the site Mary was 53 when she emigrated. Her place of birth is unknown but believed to be somewhere in Ireland. It is doubtful she had an occupation before or after arrival – though helping to keep the farm going would have taken all her time. Details of her family etc are on the site – I’m afraid I have no information about her friends. She was a free settler, not a convict.

    Do you have a connection with the family by the way?

    • No she was just a choice we could use and that is perfect i shall put it in my own words thank you for your help

  4. HI Patsy,

    I really enjoyed reading your book, but until now didn’t get a chance to tell you so. Well done. I still haven’t finished mine, I’m very ashamed to say. Somehow grandchildren and life seem to get in the way.

    Cheers, Salli

  5. Hi

    May House is on Zoopla for sale, and has some nice internal photographs and floor plans of the building that you may be able to download for reference purposes. I went looking for the house after reading your book. I am a descendant of Jemima Jenkins, and have nothing but admiration and awe for Mary.


    • Natalie, thanks so much for getting in touch. Really interested to see May Cottage is up for sale – if it still is when I get back to England in three weeks’ time I will try to get to see it, which I haven’t yet been able to do. It would be fun to buy it, if only …

      It’s good to make the acquaintance of another Pitt relly!

      All the best

  6. My gg grandmother was apprenticed to George Matchem Pitt from the Parramatta orphanage in 1840. Her name was Jane Bidden. She was 16 years old at the time. Any information you may have about her service would be greatly appreciated. Look forward to hearing from you. Yours sincerely Sue Austin.

    • Hello Sue

      That is so interesting about your g g grandmother. I haven’t come across her yet – do you know anything more? I would love to hear if you have, and likewise I will try to find something myself. There should be records of the orphanage at that time.

      Do stay in touch.l

      Best regards

  7. Her name was Jane Bibben, not Bidden as previously stated. I have the state records folio numbers for a letter sent from George to orphanage and folio number which is meant to be a list of applications for apprentices, date 1840. She was the one that was recommended as being most suitable. Certified by S. North, JP and Henry Stiles. She married Thomas Groves, aka Hornery. That is about all I have about her association with your ancesters.

    • Hi Patsy and Sue, I have enjoyed reading all the comments Patsy. I have been in contact with you in the past but lost your email address. As far as I know I am the great-granddaughter of W P Wilshire through an illegitimate liaison with Margaret Hornery. So, you see I am a Hornery descendant on my mother’s side. Thanks, Carol Roberts.

      • Hello Carol – I am delighted to hear from you, and intrigued to hear about the family connection. My email address is patsytrench@gmail.com. As it happens I have just embarked on my second family history book, about my g-g-grandfather GM Pitt, Mary Pitt’s grandson. I received a small grant from the Royal Australian Historical Society to investigate his farming activities in the Gwydir River area and this time last year I was out there researching, both there and in the Hawkesbury and Sydney libraries. I’ve been trying to garner info on early Richmond and in particular on the schools. I’d love to pick your brains but don’t want to be a nuisance. I will no doubt be out there again either later this year or early next, it would be great to meet you.


  8. Sue – I’d be interested in the state records folio numbers for George’s letter if you have it. It’s not easy to check these things from here (London) but it’s not impossible either.

    • State records number for letter is 40/4342. Another one is 4/2504.2 and 40/4350. All of these are meant to be April 1840’s.

  9. Hello Patsy, the earliest arrival of my direct ancestors in the Australian Colony was Peter Brett Adnum under his alias William Chapman per the Neptune in 1818, sentenced to life for “picking pockets”. On 26 April 1824 he was sent as a Government servant to take charge of the grazing run of Jemima Jenkins near the Shoalhaven River. He must have proved quite trustworthy as Jemima later sent him to run a property of hers in the Hunter Valley of NSW. Toodles, Bett Gleeson.

    • Hello Bett – Good to hear from you, and very interesting to hear about your ancestor. If you dig up anything about his time working for Jemima I’d love to hear about it. ‘Toodles’, Patsy

      • Hello Patsy, Will pass on anything relevant to Jemima when found. Toodles again, Bett.

  10. Hi Patsy I am descended from Thomas Matcham Pitt and Elizabeth Laycock and attended the 2009 Reunion. St Peters Anglican Church, Richmond conducted its 175 anniversary on Sunday. I learnt that the marriage of Jemima Matcham Pitt and Captain Austin Forrest is the first recorded for the church in 1810. I hadn’t known that. I visit our ancestors in the St Peters graveyard several times a year, as i live in Richmond, not too far from Mary’s farm. I drive past the farm many times a week and cannot help but think of Mary and her family every time.
    Craig Laffin

  11. I am a resident of Putty NSW and have been researching the early settlers of Putty for some time now. Each month a short story appears in the Putty Community Association newsletter. This chapter may be of interest to the Pitt family.


    Chapter 2 – Marriage, family and securing the land.

    It was July 1826 and Hannah Laycock wrote to Governor Ralph Darling, Governor of NSW from 1825 to 1831 requesting permission to rent a further 1000 acres at Putty. In October the same year she lodged an application to purchase the same land stating that her cattle had been ‘depasturing’ the area and that she was already in possession of 100 acres, 20 of which were cleared. She also stated that she had 5000 pounds sterling to her credit. The application must have been unsuccessful as in July 1828 she applied again to rent it with a view to purchase.

    Hannah Laycock and her husband Thomas had six children. Sarah, William, Thomas Jnr., Samuel, Rebecca and Elizabeth. Hannah died in 1831 and the 100 acres promised and taken up at Putty then allegedly ‘devised’ to Samuel. But Samuel died the following year.
    Hannah’s son Thomas Jnr. joined the NSW Corps in 1795 and as a soldier, served in Sydney and on Norfolk Island. In 1806 he was sent to Port Dalrymple in the north of Tasmania. He and his party were the first to traverse the island, north to south. The aim of the expedition was to obtain relief for the famine stricken northern settlement. However, on reaching Hobart Town, it was found that the south of Tasmania was equally short of food.

    He returned to Sydney and in 1809 married Isabella Bunker, the daughter of Captain Eber Bunker, a man considered to be the father of Australian Whaling. With the NSW Corps, the couple returned to England the following year and Thomas was promoted to Captain in the 98th Regiment, serving with that rank in the American War.

    While Thomas was stationed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1815, their son, who they named Thomas William Eber Bunker Laycock, was born. Thomas and Isabella with their daughter Margaretta and baby Thomas returned to Sydney in 1817 but two months later, Isabella died in childbirth.

    Thomas Jnr. was later re-married to Margaret Connell, daughter of John Connell, a merchant. Thomas and Margaret became parents to two more children and the family of six lived on Thomas’ estate at Bringelly. There he set up a store, opened a hotel and soon became a large supplier of meat to the commissariat. He was also one of the leading citizens applying for trial by jury in the colony. Sadly Thomas died on his estate in 1823 at the age of 37 years.

    Thomas W.E.B. was only eight years old when his father died. By 1824 he had arrived at Putty Farm, living and working on the property with his Uncle Samuel. When Samuel died, this left Thomas W.E.B, at the age of seventeen years, responsible for running the farm. In 1833, very soon after assuming the role of caretaker of the property, he made application for the land to be surveyed.

    Thomas W.E.B. Laycock married his cousin Mary Matcham Pitt in 1835. Mary was the daughter of his Aunt Elizabeth who had married Thomas Matcham Pitt. While Thomas W.E.B. and Mary were residing in Richmond, their children Thomas, Elizabeth, Robert, Henry and Andrew were born.

    Thomas W.E.B and Mary set up residence on the Putty farm in 1845 where four more children, Isabella, Emily Jane, Mary and George made their family complete. After Hannah, these nine brothers and sisters were the third generation of Laycocks in Putty.


    COURT of Claims Office, March 17 -Notice is hereby given, that the following Claims for Deeds of Grant of Land and Town Allotments will be ready for the examination of the Commissioners at the expiration of two months from this date, before which day any caveat or counter claim must be entered at this office. Due notice will be given of the days appointed for the hearings: –

    1236. Thomas William Eber Bunker Laycock, of Putty on the Bulga, by his solicitor, Francis Baddek, Esq , 100 acres, County of Hunter, at Putty, near the Bulga Road. This land was located on an order of Governor Macquarie, dated 30th October, 1813, in favour of Hannah Laycock, deceased, who, it is alleged, devised to Samuel Laycock, deceased, with remainder to applicant.

    His claim was granted and the property transferred into his name on 30th July, 1845. Finally, after more than thirty years, the original 100 acre grant actually belonged to a member of the Laycock family.
    Margaret Ferguson © 2016

  12. Hi Margaret, I am also a Pitt descendant (through Esther and James Wilshire). I really enjoyed reading your post and found it very interesting. I am Secretary of Colo Shire Family History Group, a group formed in Nov 2015 to record and preserve the history of families in the old Colo Shire – the boundaries of which originally joined Patrick Plains and Cessnock Shires. Just wondering if part of Hannah’s original Putty grant would have been in Colo Shire? We are looking for contributions to our newsletter ‘Family Ties’ if you have any interesting stories from the Colo side. We have a Facebook site called Colo Shire Family History Group if you are interested and you can also contact me on info@hawkesburytours.com.au. regards, Carol Roberts.

  13. Hi Patsy, I am told I am a descendant of the George Matcham featured in your book. It’s a coincidence, I’m sure, that my father and brother are both George’s too. I arrived here in 1977 from England and have now retired to Mooney Mooney as I love the Hawksbury and often ride west tracking the river to Richmond. I found your book a fascinating and enjoyable read and it has given me a wonderful connection to the river. I had already learned something of the history of Mary Pitt after being contacted by a John Matcham Pitt some years ago but you bring it alive in the book. I naturally bought and distributed a number of copies to my family and I look forward to the sequel.

    Best Wishes,

    David Matcham

    • Hello David, thanks so much for getting in touch. It’s always a pleasure to come upon a member of the Matcham family. George – the original George who married Nelson’s sister- is a fascinating character in himself and worthy of his own biography (not written by me however!) Thanks also for the kind comments about the book, it means a lot. I’ll let you know when the current book is published, hopefully in 2018, though George doesn’t feature so fully in it as I’m moving on a couple of generations.

      Best regards

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.