Nicholas Pitts

Nicholas Pitts was born in Stokenham, Devon, in December 1799 and baptised on the 19th December of that year. There is also a record of the public baptism of Nicholas on 14 March 1805. He died of apoplexy (stroke) in Lower Knowle, Devon on 28 February 1870.

The Pitts family have a private plot at St. Sylvester church cemetery, Chivelstone, and a plaque inside the church.

For the purposes of the early Census data collection, South Allington House was in the civil parish of Chivelstone, the registration district of Kingsbridge, and the sub-registration district of Blackawton. In both 1839 and 1841 Nicholas was recorded to be living at South Allington, Chivelstone. In White's Directory of Devonshire of 1850 he appears in the Chivelstone entry as Nicholas Pitts Esq of South Allington House. In a more detailed description of the parish White writes: "Thos. Newman Esq is lord of the Manor, but a great part of the parish is freehold, belonging to N. Pitts Esq .... Mr Pitts has a handsome mansion at South Allington.”

The name "Pitts" has evolved from the Norman French. The family came across from Normandy in northern France in the late 12th century. Commencing with Gervase de la Puette, born about 1160 in Normandy followed by Thomas de la Pitte who was born about 1200. Simon de la Pitte was born about 1230. Thomas Ithe Pitte was born around 1260.  Robert Ithe Pitte was born about 1284 and died 1361. Then Simon Atte Pitte. followed by Richard Pyts, who married Johanna de la Poole. Johannes (John) Pitts born in De Curvyard, De La Pyrne, and married a Dorothia, and died in 1438. William Pitt was at Stoke, married Katherine Broughton and died some time after 1400. Sir Edward Pitt married Elizabeth Nicholai Willford, and died in 1455.  William Blythe Pitte was born in 1477 in Dorset and died in 1528. So "de la Puette" had evolved by the early 13th century into "de la Pitte"; then forms of the name spelt Pyte, Pytte, Pytts and finally either Pitt or Pitts. Bearing in mind that these names were written down at a time when there was no spelling conformity. This coupled with spelling a name as it was pronounced in a local dialect would have resulted in many forms of the name at any one time in history. However, for those who would rather align with their perceived Saxon forbears rather than the Norman invaders, the following alternative derivation is here presented. Pitt (or pytt) is, I am assured, a Saxon name, meaning dweller by the pits, or hollows.


In the 1851 census Nicholas was described as "Land proprietor and farmer, occupying 350 acres, employing 14 men 11 boys 3 women."

In the same census Elizabeth’s father, Thomas Harris, was present at South Allington House and was described as "father-in-law" and "widow of 68 years of age, land proprietor of Aveton Gifford"

In the 1861 census Nicholas was recorded as “landowner farming 344 acres, employing 9 labourers”.

Other than the Pitts family, others living in South Allington House at this census collection were a cook and dairymaid, a widow aged 36, an unmarried housemaid aged 26, a kitchenmaid aged 17, a farm bailiff aged 29 and two ploughboys aged 12 and 14.

Nicholas Pitts Part Two
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