Hester Wilshire and family

Hester, the youngest of the Pitt siblings, married James Wilshire on 12th February 1805 at St Phillip’s church in Sydney. Wilshire had arrived in the colony as a free settler in 1800 and at the time of his marriage he was working both as acting deputy commissary and running his own tannery in Brickfield Hill. He also owned land in Lane Cove.

Hester and James lived in Sydney and produced eleven children, two of whom died in infancy. Their son Austin Forrest Wilshire married his cousin Eliza Pitt, Thomas’ daughter; their daughter Matilda Pitt Wilshire married William Jenkins, Jemima’s son by her second husband Robert, and their son Thomas Matcham Pitt married Helen Faithfull, daughter of William Faithfull by his second wife, Margaret. All of which suggests firm family ties.

James Wilshire was a successful businessman and as deputy to the commissary John Palmer he held a position of some authority. Following the Rum Rebellion of 1808, when Governor Bligh was deposed by members of the New South Wales Corps, Wilshire was asked by Bligh to accompany him back to England to act as witness on his behalf.  (Bligh did not himself go back for some years and James did not accompany him.)

Hester died in 1836, aged 49, and her husband four years later in 1840. The Wilshires’ eldest son, also called James, became the 2nd Mayor of Sydney in 1844.


Descendants of the Wilshire, Pitt and Jenkins families, 2009


10 thoughts on “Hester Wilshire and family

  1. I am researching Mary Matchman & the Wilshires. I am a product of the marriage of Francis Lord & Alice Emily Wilshire. I believe I am the 7 th generation from Mary Matchman. Any information concerning Mary & the Wilshires would be of great help to me in my compiling the family history. Can you help?

  2. Hi I am a descendant of Austin Wilshire and my information says that James Wilshire married an Esther Pitt, whereas you (and some others) name James wife as “Hestor”, Can you shed any light on this? Thanks
    Michael Cooper (descended via the Wilshire line)

  3. Hello Michael. Good to hear from you. I believe Hester/Esther Pitt was baptised Hester but appeared as Esther on her marriage certificate. So I am assuming the names were interchangeable. If I can find any further references to her on official documents I’ll let you know.

  4. Hi! My names Caitlin and im a 9th generation from Mary descending from her son William Pitt. I cant wait to pick up your book, ive only heard about the family briefly from my great grandfathers journals and am excited to fill in any blanks i can on my family tree. Id love to know of any little story tidbits you’ve come across in your travels, ive always wanted to road trip round nsw to pit stop at all the distant family locations. I also have a couple of famliy heirloom-y things that i havent been able to place names too, so if anyone from the line has a inkling id love to know,,
    There are several small pencil sketches of areas of early sydney that are gorgeously done, they are labelled only as ‘oaks beach’, ‘Jibbon from The Oaks’, ‘Gunamatta Bay’ and ‘Gitche gumee.’ Theyre very pretty but havent figured out the artist behind them. Same deal with a portrait of captain cook, maybe theres an extremely goodartist hidden in our blood aha!
    Cheers for all youve done, i’ll look forward to reading your work!

    • Thanks for your very interesting comments Caitlin. When you say William Pitt I assume you’re referring to Mary’s grandson, Hester and James’s son? Mary did have a son William but he vanished to America and has never been heard of again, more’s the pity. If you’re able to scan and email me those pencil sketches I could put them up on the site and see if anyone can identify them.

      The idea of a ‘Pitt stop’ tour of NSW is very appealing, not to mention good pun…

      I hope you enjoy the book, and if you have any more info to add to the family pot let me know!

      Best regards

      • Gosh your right, my bad. My notes are awful aha~! and ill send them to your gmail in the near future,
        Thank you for your kind reply!

  5. Hi all – I’m writing up story of my 4th great grandfather – James Wilshire. I saw that the Australian Historical Records Register [part of the National Library of Australia] has been disbanded. They had a record of material held in private hands for Wilshire as follows:

    “Lena Cooper Wilshire: watercolour portraits of Hester Pitt of Pittwater NSW, and her fiance James Wilshire, later Deputy Commissary General of NSW, 1803 (2 paintings)”

    “Lena Cooper Wilshire: letters, cuttings, certificates of and documents of James Wilshire and his descendants, 1792-1960 (1 large box)”

    Would anyone know where this material is? Particularly interested in the painting of Hester Pitt if anyone has a photo of it…

    Kind regards,

    Stephen Carroll

    • Stephen – I was just scrolling through the comments on this site and wondered if you ever had any response to your quest to find those Wilshire papers? I too would be really interested to see the portrait of Hester Pitt -it would be the first known portrait of any of that Pitt generation. I’m interested to hear how your book is going too. I’m about to fly back to Australia for more research for mine.

  6. Hi
    I am interested in the Wilshire family via Henry Austin Wilshire (1860-1923), youngest son of James Robert Wilshire, and grandson of James Wilshire and Hester Pitt. (Henry was an architect, and designed the house I live in. See Wikipedia entry on him for more info.)

    Lena Cooper Wilshire (1889-1970) was Henry’s daughter. I’m not sure from the entry above if there was an earlier Lena who did the paintings, or whether the papers etc belong to this Lena. Lena married Mervyn Skinner in 1914. The National Library of Australia has a number of documents related to her in the ‘Papers of Betty Rowland’, National Library of Australia, MS 6772

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