If proud thou be of ancestors, for worth or wisdom famed,

So live that they, if now alive, would not of thee be shamed.

Couplet on an old house in Cheshire, England.

Forward of The Pittis Genealogy

The origin of the Pittis Family is unknown. It has been the claim of some earlier members who were versed in the family history that the first Pittis in England was Robert Pittis, who came from Normandy, France, with William the Conqueror in 1066 as a chaplain, and that after the Conquest he settled with his wife and two sons on the Isle of Wight. The name Pittis, in any of its variations, does not appear on the Battle Abbey Roll, a catalogue of about 630 men of the Norman gentry who came with the Conqueror as his Companions-in-Arms. This Roll is not extant in the original. The names vary with each of its ten translations and changes have been made by the monks for fees from people ambitious to claim descent from men on the Roll so that it is far from accurate.

The above quotation and following information in this narrative are all taken from The Pittis Genealogy by Margaret Birney Pittis who visited the Island in 1937 and gathered the information both there and in the United States during the 1930s and 1940s. The book spans 16 generations between 1480 and 1944. It was published and copyrighted by the author in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1945. She dedicated the book to Albert Pittis, M.D. 1873-1927, a relative who had no children but who was a collector of genealogical records of each of his parental lines, and to Margaret’s sister Sarah Belle Pittis. Sarah, also unmarried, was a traveler and writer who collected the data on the Pittis’ in Harrison County.

Hiram Worstell, son of Matthew and Rachel Worstell, was born in Philadelphia, PA, September 7, 1804. and grew up in Steubenville, Ohio, with his parents and brothers and sisters. He married Ann Pittis December 6, 1831, Tuscarawas County, New Philadelphia, where he was practicing medicine at the time.

Ann Pittis was eleven years old when she came to America with her father, John, her pregnant mother, Mary, ten siblings, one brother-in-law and one niece, having left two siblings in cemeteries on the Isle of Wight, England. The family brought with them their best furniture, horses, cows, chickens, and gold, and fourteen boys to help with the work, only two fulfilling their contract. They landed in Baltimore in July, 1819, and made their way to Wheeling, West Virginia.

The Pittis caravan of covered wagons and laden burros left Baltimore and started westward over the Cumberland Trail, a primitive road through the wilderness and unbridged streams and high mountains. They reached Wheeling in late summer, intending to go by boat to Illinois but found the water in the Ohio River too low for navigation. While waiting for a rise of water in the river Mr. Norris, a miller who delivered flour for shipping by boat to New Orleans, told them that Illinois was reputed to be lowland where malaria and ague were prevalent, and said he knew of a place on the Moravian Road. Roman Catholics from Moravia, the central valley of Czechoslovakia, just north of Vienna, Austria, became Protestants in the mid-15th century. Their church experienced a revival in Germany in the 18th century and began a far-reaching missisonary program. In 1735, Moravians came to America and settled first in Savannah, Georgia, then moved to Pennslyvania and founded the city of Bethlehem. It was their trail west that became known as the Moravian Trail. From Deersville, in the far southeast corner of Franklin Township, Harrison County, Ohio and going north-west on County Road 2 through Brownsville and continuing is called the Moravian Trail Road. East of Deersville, the Moravian Trail went through Cadis and beyond and is now called the Deersville Ridge Road.

With Mr. Norris as guide they reached Brownsville, Harrison County, Ohio. Brownsville, two miles northwest of Deersville and on the same ridge, was platted on December 20, 1815. It began with good prospects of growth. On page 140 the Pittis Genealogy records that, “the blacksmith and other craftsmen located at Deersville, which became the community center. Brownsville consisted of a few houses, a tavern, and a schoolhouse, which made it the center of a country school-district. The schoolhouse burned in February, 1921, and was not rebuilt.” Unable to obtain a house there, they lived for a while (one report says three weeks) in a tent and their covered wagons. They settled for a time in Brownsville where they kept a tavern for the stage-coach trade, providing food and shelter to weary travelers on the Moravian Trail. It is supposed that the tavern was already there and that they did not build it but purchased it along with several town lots. The bar was in a separate building close to the tavern, a still and springhouse were at the rear, and the stables and barn were on the opposite side of the road from the tavern.

It is not known when the family left Brownsville, but by 1839 John and Mary Pittis were living on one of their farms, later known as the McBeth farm, near Feed Spring. In the Pittis Genealogy, page 140, Feed Spring “became so known because the Moravian Trail travelers stopped to ‘feed’ at the ‘spring.’” The settlement comprised a few houses, a schoolhouse, a Presbyterian Church (built in 1827, rebuilt in 1856 and 1908) and a graveyard, and was the school and church center for a large agricultural community. It had a post office from 1850 to 1875. The Pittis’ raised sheep and hops; John was a hop merchant and wool buyer. The hops were baled and sent by boat down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans and loaded onto ships. By then, their daughter, Ann, had been married for eight years.

Ann’s parents, John and Mary Dore Pittis, were from a family whose earliest recorded ancestors were living on the Isle of Wight in 1480. Oral history given in the Pittis Genealogy says that the first Pittis in England was Robert Pittis, who came from Normandy, France, with William the Conqueror in 1066 as a chaplain, and that after the Conquest he settled with his wife and two sons on the Isle of Wight. It also has been claimed that a Pittis was one of the guards of the King at the time the barons forced King John to sign the Magna Charta on June 15, 1215. These guards held their swords “unsheathed,” that is, ready for business,

The Isle of Wight lies off the coast of Hampshire on the English Channel in southern England. “Hampshire, of which the Isle is a part, is properly called the County of Southampton.” It was from the city of Southampton that the Mayflower set sail for the New World. Opposite Southampton on the north shore of the Isle of Wight, at the mouth of the Medina River, is the city of Cowes. Ships leaving the continent for North America stopped there before crossing the Atlantic. In the 17th and 18th centuries, this port had an extensive trade with the Colonies. Osborne House, near Cowes, was a residence of Queen Victoria. She died there and afterward the residence was presented to the nation by King Edward in 1902.

The Island, anciently the Isle of Wyghte, is Queen of the British Islets. It excels in beauty, scenery, and climate over all the other islets that fringe the English coast. It is twenty-three miles east to west and thirteen miles north to south. To the north, the shores are low and shelving; to the east, south and southwest, they tower in precipitous cliffs. A range of chalk hills or downs runs through the Island from east to west and ends in the Needles. From the chain there branches off, about halfway along, another range which, running southward, terminates in the headlands of St. Catherine’s Point at the southern extremity; and here begins a third range, which follows the coastline to the East End. Many weird formations line the southern coast, such as the Undercliff and Blackgang Chine.

The climate on Wight is as mild and healthful as the landscape is beautiful. Shrubs, trees and flowers that are only found in more southern latitudes flourish there. The Isle was long called “The Garden of England.”

The Medina is the principal river, flowing from south to north; it ends in an estuary and forms the Port of Cowes. The river is navigable for five miles to Newport, the capital. In the twentieth century, Newport and the other country seats were composed of attractive cottages with thatched roofs and rural farmhouses replete with lawns and gardens, lending charm to the countryside.

From the 14th to the 16th century, the island was continuously under fear of invasion by the French. Yarmouth and Francheville, which were burned in 1377, made unsuccessful demands for tribute in 1419, and in 1545 the French made a formidable attack. The island was successfully defended but suffered considerable damage. As a result of this last invasion, four forts were constructed on the island. Great concern again arose during war with France in 1627 under Charles I.

The chief industry of the island is agriculture, mostly farming and sheep raising and wool. In earlier times, there were mills, salt-works, quarries, and glass making.

The Isle of Wight is divided into parishes. Niton (one of various spellings) is a village of antiquity in the Niton Parish and is about eight miles from Newport, the capitol of I.W., and a mile from St. Catherine’s Point with its lighthouse on the southern shore, in the Undercliff district. It was the Pittis family seat. At one time it was called Niton Regis, having been a royal manor from the time of King Edward the Confessor of England who ruled 1042 – 1066. The Niton Parish, along with the adjoining Whitwell Parish, was the home of the first eight generations of the Pittis family.

In the following material, the direct ancestors of Ann Pittis will be printed in bold face. Only the families of the ancestors of Ann Pittis will be included in the main text. Information about the ancestor’s siblings will be separated from the main text by “**********,” offset, and in smaller type, making it possible for the reader to skip to direct ancestors.

The first burial record in the Niton Parish register is for William Pittis. William was born in 1480 and was buried Jan. 18, 1559. He is the first generation of Pittis’ to be recorded. The Niton Church, dating from the 11th century, was dedicated to St. John the Baptist, and restored in 1864.

William Pittis had two sons, William and Arthur. The first son, William Junior, was born in 1515 and died in 1571. There is no known birth date for Arthur, the second son of William the senior. This first Arthur, later identified only as Arthur, studied at Oxford University and became registrar of the diocese and archdeanery of Oxford; he married Margaret Secoll April 17, 1546. This was at a time when the infamous Henry VIII was engaged in political machinations with Scotland, Ireland, France and Spain, in certain anti-papal efforts at religious reformation. On one occasion France attempted to retaliate and in 1545 burnt some villages in the Isle of Wight. The expedition was a failure, but there was a peace treaty in 1546. M. B. Pittis reports that between 1537 and 1540, Henry VIII built three castles or blockhouses in Cowes with funds and materials from the dissolved abbeys for the defense of the coast, of which one or two may still be standing. When Arthur died, it is said he left a “fair” estate to his then-living four sons.

The fourth son of Arthur Pittis was Thomas, the ancestor of the American Pittis family. He was named by his father to share in his estate. Thomas was born in 1555 and at age 19 he entered New College of Oxford. He married Dorothie (Dorothy) Lavender of Bridge, I.W. on May 26, 1589, at Niton.

Thomas Pittis held by copy/copyhold dated 16 October, 1595, Niton Manor and Bull Ring House. A copyhold was the only visible recording concerning any parcel of land belonging to the manor. It consisted of the court rolls containing information recorded by the steward of the manor when a tenant was admitted. The Feudal tenants held their lands for the service of escorting their lords into and out of the island, and of serving forty days at their own cost in defense of Carisbrooke Castle. The estate was held by the will of the lord, yet agreeable to the custom of the manor.

At Niton a large field near Town’s End is named the Bull Ring. In 1595, this field had a house on it known as Bull Ring. Specifically, this included a two-room dwelling, a two-stall barn, apple orchard, garden, and surrounding land. Bull-baiting was the recreation of that time. No butcher was allowed to kill a bull until it had been “lawfully baited,” that is tethered to a ring and tormented by dogs. On the feast day the Mayor of Newport, governor of the island, purchased a bull for the baiting. The first dog let loose at the bull was decorated with ribbons and called the Mayor’s dog. When the bull was killed, a portion was given to the poor. Another acre in town was known as Bear Close, meaning an enclosed field, which may have been used for bear-baiting.

In 1606, Thomas was copyholder of Niton Manor. The manor dates at least to Edward the Confessor (1042-1066), last king before William the Conqueror. Edward granted it to two freemen for services, but it was still vested in the crown. Henry I (1100-1135) granted the lordship of the island to a devoted friend and follower. At the end of 200 years, the last member of the family sold the island to the crown and the Niton Manor was reserved as crown property.


Arthur’s second son, though not an ancestor, deserves some notice. Arthur, Jr., was a chorister of All Souls’ College and a scholar of Brasenose in and before 1565. This was during the time of the religious turmoil in France. Before he took a degree he left the Oxford University, his country, and relations, and went to Douay, France, and attended English College there. Some time later, he returned to England, was arrested and put in prison. Undoubtedly, Elizabeth was keeping the troublesome Catholics in prison.

Arthur Pittis Jr. was released from prison and “shipped with other priests and Jesuits at Tower-Warf, at the queen’s charge in February 1584, was set ashore in Normandy. Whereupon retiring to Doway, (he) passed a course in divinity, became doctor of that faculty, and at length was made chancellor to the cardinal of Loraine, being then a person much esteemed for his great knowledge in the supreme faculty.”

It was during this time that Philip of Spain acquired Portugal and began to consider an armada against England. The English Catholics would not agree to support a Spanish invasion. Elizabeth was faced with plots and she yielded to her parliament and ministers for the execution of Mary Queen of Scots in 1587. This removed the only possible center for a Catholic rebellion in case of a Spanish attack.

Philip expected an uprising of English Catholics to join in with his invasion from across the channel in the Netherlands. With them and the armada, he expected to capture England. The armada was destroyed and although it was far from the end of the war, it correctly forecast the future.

James I succeeded Elizabeth in 1601, both being Protestants. James relaxed some penalties against the Catholics, but then reconsidered. It was during the reign of James that the first colony in America was established in Virginia and named in his honor. By his commission, the English translation of the Bible was published. Having financial troubles, James hoped to solve both his financial and religious problems with a marriage alliance. He had in mind the union between his son Prince Charles and the Spanish infanta, who would be accompanied with a large dowry. Prince Charles should have married in 1623 but Spain reneged. So instead Charles married the Catholic sister of the king of France. James died and Charles I became king in 1625. Dr. Pittis spent these forty years in France.

The third son of Arthur Senior was Philip. He also shared in the estate left by his father. On Sept. 30, 1585, Philip married Jhane How at Niton. This was during the time of conflict between Charles, the Parliament, and Cromwell, when Charles was held captive by the forces of Cromwell. Charles escaped to Carisbooke Castle on the Isle of Wight, where he signed a secret treaty with the Scots whereby they would invade England on his behalf. The Scots lost and Cromwell was in no mood to negotiate. Charles was found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. In the meantime, the Jhane How family had became involved with Charles I. Jhane had a younger brother named Tobias How, who was Master Gunner in Carisbrooke Castle while Charles was exiled/imprisoned there. Tobias had a son, Robert, four years old at the time, who became the King’s daily companion. “One day he appeared with a little wooden sword by his side and the King enquired what that was for? The reply was, ‘To defend your Majesty against your Majesty’s enemies.’ The King was so pleased that he at once gave him his cane or walking stick, the handle of which was ivory inlaid with silver, on the top a box which unscrewed, supposedly for snuff.’” This was handed down to Robert's daughter who married Abraham Cooke, and hence down the Cooke family line. A similar story is told in like detail, but that the “King patted him on the head and gave him his blessing and said, ‘Well, my little friend, I am just going away from here and I do not expect to return,’ and the King put up his hand and unfastened a gold ring adorned with a large ruby which held his neck-kerchief in front, and added, ‘and I should like to give you something in order that you may always remember me.’” This was given to Robert’s wife at his death. It was handed down through her family, the Wallaces. Both relics are in the Museum of Carisbrooke Castle. Information from the Pittis Genealogy.


Thomas, the copyholder of Niton Manor, was buried Sept. 24, 1612. Five children were listed in his will dated Sept. 15, 1612. It gave the first born, John Pittis, sixty pounds, and told him to “direct the family.” Their fourth born was Captain Thomas Pittis, Ann Pittis’ ancestor.

Captain Thomas Pittis was baptized March 30, 1599. He was a captain of the Trained Bands of Militia of the Isle of Wight. Many of his charitable good works were recorded during his lifetime. The variety of good works included money to the “poor of Niton,” “interest to be used in instructing the children of the poor,” and other “educational charities.”

Capt. Pittis married Mary Legg. It was a William Legg who was a personal attendant to King Charles I at Oxford and during the King’s first three months at Carisbrooke Castle where Charles was in exile from his imprisonment. William Legg was also “keeper of the wardrobe” from 1620 to 1655. Another, Colonel William Legge (1609-1670), aided in the escape of King Charles I from Hampton Court. Relationship between these people named Legg is not determined. Captain Pittis died and was buried on Nov. 6, 1681.

John Pittis, fifth born of the eight children of Captain and Mary Pittis is the Ann Pittis Worstell ancestor. John was baptized June 14, 1640, and married Alice Pedder of Kingston, I.W., Oct. 15, 1663. The Pedder name goes back at least to 1562 in the Isle of Wight. John received some inheritance from his father, Capt. Thomas Pittis, which reads, “To my son John all the six pounds or over due me out of Budell for rent, with fifteen pounds due for sheep; and him and his wife twenty shillings apiece to make them rings.” John died and was buried June 2, 1712.


Daughter, Ann, of Capt. Thomas and Mary Pittis, died before Capt. Thomas and so does not appear in his will. Their sons, Wault, Thomas, and Richard Pittis, and their wives, each received twenty shillings “to make them mourning rings.”

Rev. Thomas Pittis, third child of Captain Thomas Pittis, baptized June 28, 1636, Niton, though not an ancestor of Ann Pittis, deserves some attention. He was rector of the church in Gatcombe where he married Elizabeth Stephens on February 4, 1661. He had received multiple degrees from the Oxford Colleges and was a royalist clergyman, although the Encyclopedia Britannica says that the Isle of Wight was almost unanimous in support of Cromwell and the parliament. “He was esteemed by his contemporaries as a tolerable disputant, but the monarchal principles which he introduced into his speeches…. were held in disfavor by the University authorities, and in 1658 he was expelled from the College. After the Restoration he was amply compensated for his losses.” When Oliver Cromwell ended the Long Parliament, he declared himself Lord Protector. He ruled as a dictator until his death in 1658. When Cromwell’s forces marched from Scotland, overthrew the government and restored the Stuarts as rulers, it became known as the “Restoration.” Under Charles II, the country returned to Anglicanism, albeit keeping the Parliamentary powers it had won.

King Charles II appointed Rev. Thomas Pittis Chaplain-in-Ordinary and lecturer at Christ Church, London. At Southampton Thomas’s strong royalist sympathies brought him into conflict with the mayor and corporation, which led to his writing and publishing. On behalf of the mayor, the Chancellor of the diocese came out with orders for Rev. Pittis to follow, such as: 1) the mayor shall be constantly prayed for, and have the title Right Worshipful, 2) the election and session sermons to be preached by one of the mayor’s choice, and 3) don’t start prayers until the mayor gets there. [The preceding written in the 20th century vernacular.]


When James I (reigned 1603-1625) had a survey made of Niton Manor there were fifteen tenants. Niton was located in a district called the Undercliff. On this seaward side of the island, and below the high elevation of St. Catherine’s Hill, a kind of terrace was formed by the collapse of rocks overlying soft strata which have been undermined. The Undercliff extends along the southeastern coast for about six miles and forms a series of irregular terraces from a quarter-to-a half-mile in breadth, which gradually slope to the sea. Small streams have hollowed out steep gullies. These gullies expose geologic stratification of various colors and contain fossilized animal remains in an exceptional state of preservation. In January 1997, the curator of the Museum of Isle of Wight Geology reported the discovery of a new species of flesh-eating dinosaur that roamed southern England 120 million years ago.

The thatched roof homes in the Undercliff district were built of the native stone from the adjoining cliff. The area was famed for “its beauty, its sheltered position and mild air, and also for stormy winds and impetuous tides.” Buddle was a farm on the sea front in the Undercliff in the immediate vicinity of Puckaster (Port Castor). In mining phraseology, Buddle is “a large square frame of boards used in washing metalliferous ore.” In ancient times the tin mart was located there. “The tin mart itself was situated in a most sheltered spot in a part of the Niton fields near to Puckaster where the merchants might draw up their carts and arrange their sales with the foreigner purchasers.” Tin mining and the use of tin in England date back to Phoenician sea traders. England supplied Europe with tin in the first half of the 13th century, and tin was of major commercial value into the 18th century. Puckaster was the “landing place of Charles II in 1675 after encountering a storm at sea.”

During this period of time in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Port of Cowes on the north shore served as the customs house for the Island, which “had an extensive trade with the North American colonies. In the year 1677, over 4000 hogsheads of tobacco were imported from Virginia, in addition to other goods from the colonies.”

John and Alice Pedder Pittis had eight children. Fourth born, Richard, is the ancestor of the American line.

Richard was baptized Dec. 28, 1671, and buried Oct. 2, 1710. He married Margaret Arnold, of Freshwater, on Dec. 2, 1701. King Charles II, restored monarch after Oliver Cromwell’s rule, managed to avoid an open quarrel with Parliament and reigned for 25 years. His younger brother, James, Duke of York, for whom New Amsterdam was renamed New York, became King James II. His aim was to restore Roman Catholicism and absolute rule. When the people demanded that James II abdicate in 1688, he fled to France. The Parliament then invited his Protestant daughter, Mary, and her husband, William of Orange, ruler of The Netherlands, to become rulers in 1689. By 1707 Parliament had won controlling influence over the monarchy. The Parliaments of England and Wales, and Scotland each passed the Act of Union, which joined the two kingdoms into Great Britain.

Richard and Margaret Arnold Pittis had five children. Of the two surviving sons of Richard and Margaret Pittis, John is the American line ancestor. Although Richard and Margaret Pittis lived most of their life in Niton Parish, they lived for a time in the neighboring parish of Whitwell, where John was born. “Whitwell, or Whytewell as it was written in the year 1297, is a name which probably originated from the spring or well which Albin says ‘will produce a hundred hogshead of pure water in an hour.’” One rector served both parishes for a time, so that John’s baptism on Aug. 12, 1704, is entered in both Whitwell and Niton parish registers.

“The village, being off the beaten path, still remains a picturesque, secluded country place of green lanes and simple charm,” with thatched cottages and church-house. Since local inns came later, the early villagers enjoyed their homebrewed ales at the church-house. Most of the public business was carried on in the church-house. “The stocks for social offenders stood outside the wall of the churchyard. The pound was used not only for stray cattle, but also for animals belonging to persons in debt, where they were usually held until the debts were paid. The ‘punder,’ elected annually, had charge of the fences and of straying animals.” Whitwell Parish was the home of at least four Pittis generations.

John Pittis, hereafter known as John Pittis of Wymering, and his wife Ann were married in 1737 at Niton, but made their home in Whitwell as the baptism records of five of their six children indicate. In 1750 they moved to Wymering, on the mainland near Ports-mouth, where their last child was born. At Wymering, East Wymering Manor was their home, the estate being known as the Upper and Lower Farms. In his will, John Pittis of Wymering states that the farm called Wymering farm was granted to him by Lovlace Bigg, Esquire, and the farm called Dormers was granted to him by Charles Dormer, Esquire. Since Ann’s maiden name is unknown, we have no knowledge of any relationship between her and Mr. Bigg or Mr. Dormer. Neither name appears in the Pittis Genealogy as marrying into the family.

Wymering is just north of Portsmouth, closer to the Island than Southampton. East Wymering Manor, the Pittis estate, is a substantial red brick building with a large pond at the front. When Ann Pittis died, she was buried on Oct. 8, 1771, in Niton church. After her death, John Pittis of Wymering retired to Newport, I.W. He died May 24, 1788, and was buried with his wife. A white marble slab in the floor of Niton church bears their inscriptions.

Of John Pittis of Wymering’s six children, four died unmarried. The second of the two surviving sons from the six children born to John and Ann was Thomas Pittis, who married Mary Clarke. These are the parents of the Pittises who came to the United States.

Thomas was born in 1749, his wife Mary Clarke was born 1751. The Pittis Genealogy has this to say about Thomas: (Thomas) “was merchant and grocer at Newport and ‘had extensive connections in the southwestern counties, a highly respectable tradesman, reputed, as estimated in those days, to be wealthy.’ He was executor, with his brother Richard, of the will of his father, John Pittis of Wymering, who bequeathed the Wymering farms to Richard; to Thomas he (John) left 20 pounds in lieu of a share intended him in plate and linen, stating that he (John) had already amply provided for his son Thomas;” John Pittis of Wymering also left 20 pounds to each of his grandchildren still living at his death. The balance of his estate he left to his wife, Mary.

Newport, capital of the island, on the Medina River, is about five miles from the Port of Cowes. It is situated near the center of the Island, surrounded by downs near a point where the Medina is joined by the Lugley or Carisbrooke stream. There are numerous old houses, some of which were destroyed in airraids of World War II. The Church of St. Thomas replaced the one founded in 1172 and contains many of the old church’s relics, including the carved oaken pulpit. It is the old church with which Thomas and Mary Clark Pittis would have been familiar. The most ancient building in town is the Grammar School for Boys, built in 1619. It was the residence of Charles I at the end of his imprisonment in Carisbrooke Castle, a mile from Newport, and where he signed the Treaty of Newport with Parliament. “He was seized in his bedroom in this house at daybreak on November 30, 1648,” and later beheaded in London. John, the first son of Thomas and Mary, married his wife, Mary Dore, in the town of Carisbrooke.


Richard Pittis, elder brother of Thomas and the first of the two surviving sons of John and Ann Pittis of Wymering, was born Feb. 23, 1741. In 1770 he married Mary Hopkins, who was born in 1747. Richard inherited the Wymering Farm, the Dormer Farm, and half of all remaining property, real and personal. During his lifetime, he greatly enlarged his holdings in Wymering as well as holding onto the property in Niton, I.W. When he died on Feb. 8, 1813, it was noted that “Mr. Pittis, a wealthy yeoman of Wymering, died on Wednesday.” The meaning of yeoman in this instance is probably that of a freeholder who worked his own land, a freeholder being one whose land is his to pass it on through inheritance. Both Richard and Mary are buried in the Richard Pittis vault in the Wymering burial ground.

Richard and Mary had three children. John, who married Elizabeth Andrews, was well-known for his pack of harriers, which he kept at one of his farms. Harrier is from the hare, and was applied to any English breed of dog used to hunt hares and rabbits. His pack was called the Portsea Harriers and he hunted that part of the county twice a week. He died from a broken neck when his horse fell over a gate while he was hunting with his hounds.

The second son, Richard Junior, was born on Nov. 7, 1772, and married Anne Riddett on Feb. 2, 1793. Richard inherited the principal portion of the considerable estate of his father, Richard Senior. They had ten children. The eighth of the ten was George, and he was the last to occupy the estate of East Wymering Manor and Farms. George was famed for his hospitality and “kept open house.” “He had his own distillery, houses with huge brass coppers for brewing, and brewed celebrated old brew. He kept fast horses, fox hounds and hare hounds, was Master of the Portsdown Harriers...” His daughter, Mary Jane Pittis Letheren, had his stirrup-irons and wrote that he was a fine horseman and a good shot. He also held several offices of public service. George’s sister Jane, who never married, lived with him and his wife in her later years. It was she that “knew much Pittis history and claimed that ‘we could trace our pedigree to 1066 when we came to England with the Conqueror.’”

George’s eldest sister, Ann, married Henry How. Mrs. Letheren, quoted in the Pittis Genealogy, had the following to say about George’s elder brothers: “Richard (III) and John were gay men of the world; they and the daughters [of John], Ann and Mary, had so much in his [Richard Jr.] lifetime that when he died his estate was comparatively reduced. He left his remaining property to his four younger children – Eliza, George, Jane and Charles. Most of the land remaining in his possession was mortgaged and the greater part was sold to pay the mortgages. My father [George] then rented the home farm and remained in the old home until his death. He had always lived with his father and managed that part of the land and was the most businesslike and energetic of the family. Several little properties in the parish of Wymering, and the Island of Great Horsey between the mainland and Portsea, have been sold in my time. Now there is nothing left, though at one time a large part of the parishes of Wymering and Widley belonged to the family.”

No other record of the inheritances is given in The Pittis Genealogy. Of the many children born in that line, few married, and few sons survived. There were some female representatives of this line living in 1944.

Third born of Richard Senior (I) and Mary was Ann, who married William Dore. The Dores were a prominent family on the Isle of Wight. The relationship between William Dore and Mary Dore Pittis who went to the United States is not known. Ann and William Dore had two daughters. Richard and Mary both died young and their children were raised by their uncle, Richard Junior.


What Thomas seemed to have lacked in inheritance he made up for in business acumen and children, of which he and Mary had fourteen 14. At least nine, possibly ten, of Thomas’ children were eligible to inherit the 20 pounds from their grandfather’s will, therefore, possibly £200 accruing to members of his family. Three of the children of Thomas and Mary Clark Pittis emigrated to the United States in the following sequence: Sarah, eleventh born: Robert, fourth born: John, the Ann Pittis Worstell ancestor, 1st born. These people are discussed in the next chapter.


One of the children of Thomas, Francis I, sixth in the birth order and born June 11, 1781, was married to Jane Tucker on June 6, 1803. During his life, Francis was a merchant, grocer, upholsterer and postmaster, and later had a chemist and drug shop and auctioneer business. He had ten children and died at age 51. Of his surviving children, only four married. The eldest, Jane, married Rev. Eldridge, and of their eight children, only one lived and married and had children: two daughters who never married, and a son who became a solicitor. Francis’ third eldest was Maria, who married James Eldridge. Eldridge was a solicitor, having the firm of James Eldridge & Sons, Solicitors. This firm was in the family for three generations and most of their children and grandchildren were lawyers or reverends; four grandchildren were missionaries to India, Japan and Egypt, and a great-granddaughter missionary to Nigeria. A great-grandson served as officer on the staff of Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The fourth born of Francis I took over his father’s chemist and drug shop in Newport. When he was nearly 40 years old, he emigrated to New York City where he died of heart disease at age 52.

The second born of Francis I’s children, and not included above, was Sir Francis Pittis II. Sir Francis Pittis, born May 9, 1812, was probably the most well-known citizen of Newport from the Pittis family. Sir Pittis was eight times mayor of Newport, and presided over the visits of Queen Victoria, the Prince Consort, the Prince of Wales and for the festivities for the Queen’s Jubilee in 1887. Sir Pittis received his knighthood from the Queen on August 12th, 1887, in Osborne. Francis III succeeded his father as mayor four times, serving three terms in succession. His daughter, Mary Anne, married a physician in London. One of their sons was an engineer in Madras Presidency, India, and decorated for service in Indian Army Reserve.

Returning to the offspring of Thomas and Mary Clarke Pittis, Edward Pittis, tenth born, was born on Oct. 24, 1785. He married Elizabeth Arnold. Jane, sister of Elizabeth, married Edward’s older brother, Robert. “The story is told that at first Edward courted Jane and Robert courted Elizabeth; that Robert proposed first to Elizabeth and she said, ‘No, go and ask Jane, she will marry you.’”

Edward was not considered a successful grocer, but in June 1827, Edward took his wife and family to the “East Indias.” They returned to London where he became a prosperous East India importer and exporter. Edward and Elizabeth had two children named after themselves, Edward Arnold Pittis and Elizabeth Pittis. Edward, junior, continued his father’s import and export business in London. The company imported coffee, hides, rosewood, satinwood, ebony, coconut fiber and other fine commodities. They exported iron, manufactured hardware, earthenware, cotton, and other goods. They had two sons and ten daughters. One, Edith Frances Pittis Hogg, was recognized by parliament for her investigation of the condition of fur workers and the injuries to their health from rabbit fur. Helen (Nellie) married Arthur Donald Innes of the Scot Clan McLeod. Winifred and her husband Major F.W.G. Tothill, Royal Artillery, lived in Jersey Island. One of the Tothill’s sons, Lt. Geoffrey A.G. Brooke, had an incredible military career during WWII in which he escaped death many times by the narrowest of margins. This is a story worth reading in The Pittis Genealogy or the Cloonan abridgment.

Elizabeth, the daughter of Edward and Elizabeth Pittis, married John Anderson. John was a merchant of East India and was in India at the time of the Mutiny. The East India Company was formed in 1600 with a royal charter from Queen Elizabeth I and thereafter established trading posts and forts at Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras. Moslem rule by the Moguls (Mongols) in northern India had unified northern India, was popular, wise, and lasted from 1526 for over a hundred years. The last Mogol Emperor was intolerant and harsh. By the end of his reign in 1707, the empire began to crumble, the Maratha tribesmen conquered central India, a Persian ruler raided northern India, and the Sikhs founded their own kingdom. The East India Company took advantage of the situation and became the leading power in India by 1757. By 1774 the Company had its first governor-general of India. The Company waged war using both Indian and British troops to gain more territory. Increasingly, more Indian troops were being used as the British needed their troops in the Crimea for their war with Russia. The British introduced a new rifle using a cartridge that required a soldier to bite open the end to expose the powder. It was lubricated with a mixture of cow’s fat and lard, which became a problem for the Indian soldiers, called Sepoys. The Moslem Sepoys were forbidden to touch or eat pork; the Hindu Sepoys could not touch or eat beef. In 1857 isolated mutinies broke out and gradually were joined under the leadership of a Mahratta chief. British rule seemed in question until reinforcements arrived. The Mutiny, or Sepoy Rebellion, spelled the end of the rule of India by the East India Company. John Anderson is buried in Simla, India. The Andersons had four children. A grandson, Sir George Anderson, graduated from Oxford with honors in Modern History. He went to India as Professor of History at Elphinstone College, Bombay, and was associated with Indian educational affairs.

The twelveth son of Thomas and Mary Clarke Pittis, Richard, had a son Richard who became a wine merchant. He married Amelia Roach and he and his wife had six children. The youngest son of this wine merchant was Seymour. Seymour’s eldest son (i.e., the great-great-grandson of Thomas and Mary Pittis), Captain Charles Seymour Pittis, RA, was a hero of World War I. World War I started in the summer of 1914. By fall Turkish troops were fighting the Allies in Mesopotamia, Palestine, Sinai, and the Caucasus Mountains in Russia. In January of 1915, Russia asked for an attack that would relieve the pressure on its troops in the Caucasus. The Allies planned to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula that forms the northern shore of the Dardanelles and thereby force open the Dardanelles to the Allied fleet. They were not successful. Captain Seymour Pittis received honorable mention for gallantry at the Dardanelles and was awarded the Military Cross for his gallantry with the machine gun unit when he kept the machine-guns going unaided for 72 hours at Gallipoli. He was sent home, ill or wounded, later returning to active duty in Palestine. In 1915, a British-Indian force landed on the shores of the Persian Gulf. The Turks besieged British troops south of Baghdad. On April 29, 1916, the entire force of 10,000 British troops surrendered because of threatened starvation. By 1917 Germany, the Ottoman Empire, and the rest of the Central Powers enjoyed a relatively strong position. Then in March of 1917, Baghdad fell to the Allies. In December the Allies marched into Jerusalem. Captain Seymour was killed near Gaza on April 19, 1917, at the age of 21.


For more information on the others who remained in Isle of Wight and their ancestors, refer to The Pittis Genealogy by Margaret Birney Pittis.