Robert Pitt

I am indebted to Jeff Pitt and Deborah Hallam for the following information about Robert and Sarah Pitt.

Robert Pitt was born on 7 September 1817 at the family property in Richmond. He inherited 400 acres in Kurrajong after the death of his mother Elizabeth, and he lived and farmed there throughout his life on a property called Trafalgar – another reference to the Pitt family’s patron Horatio Nelson.

Robert, like his elder brother, was well over six feet tall, but it appears he had little of his brother’s ambition and none of his massive bulk. He married Sarah John, daughter of Kurrajong residents William and Sarah John of Summer Hill, on 6 September 1843 at St Peter’s Church in Richmond. Sarah was the granddaughter of convicts.

map-of-trafalgar-robert-pitt

Map of Trafalgar (images.maps.gov.au/pixel.htm)

Robert and Sarah had ten children, all born at Trafalgar, and lived out their days on the Trafalgar property. Most of the offspring left Kurrajong and ventured far and wide. Of the two eldest daughters, Anne went to live on a cattle station in St George with her husband (but later returned to Kurrajong) and Sarah married and went to a Narrabri property. Sons Robert and Henry went droving as young men up in QLD and western NSW but both returned to Kurrajong in the mid 1890s when their mother/father would have been ailing. Sons Thomas and George became graziers in QLD. The younger daughters Emma and Clara remained at Trafalgar and never had children.

Robert and Sarah suffered a major tragedy when their eldest son William killed himself  at the age of 24 in 1871. Then Sarah was bitten by a black snake and Robert, following the tradition of the aborigines, sucked out the poison and nearly died himself. Both lives were saved by the intervention of local aborigines and a doctor.

In 1895 a fire destroyed Trafalgar’s outbuildings and the roof of the homestead, plus most of the stock including pigs, poultry, dogs and cattle.

Sarah died at Trafalgar on 21 August 1897 of ‘senile decay’ and ‘cardiac syncope’. She was described as ‘one of Kurrajong’s oldest and most respected citizens’ and her funeral at St Peter’s Richmond was ‘very largely attended’. Two years later to the day Robert also died at Trafalgar, on 21 August 1899, of bronchitis and ‘senility’. He was buried alongside his wife and their infant daughter in St Peter’s Church in Richmond. He was known as an ‘affectionate and faithfull’ husband, and a ‘kind and hospitable’ neighbour.

'Trafalgar' original well (2)

The original well, 2017: all that’s left of Trafalgar

The Trafalgar property was passed to the children, with 100 acres each to Robert, George, and Henry and the remaining land and the house to unmarried daughters Emma (1849-1925) and Clara Elizabeth (1860-1940). Robert Essington Pitt (1855-1920) later returned to Kurrajong and lived with his sisters at Trafalgar and bought 80 acres next door to them.

map-aerial-of-trafalgar-now

Modern aerial map of Trafalgar (source Deborah Hallam)

The four 100 acre bequests were progressively disposed of by the children. George sold his share to nephew Colin WANT. Henry passed his share to his son Harry PITT who sold it to a developer prior to his death. Robert Essington’s share was passed to nephew Colin WANT. Emma and Clara’s share was passed to their grand-nephews in the WANT family. So 300 acres ended up with the WANT family until it was also sold off to developers in 1967, concluding 150 years of ownership by PITT family members. The Trafalgar homestead was destroyed by a major bushfire in 1944 but its site was identified on the corner of Peel Parade and Linksview Av in Kurrajong, as depicted in the above aerial map.

 

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