The Family of Ernest Albert Pettit (1864 – 1945) of Hargrave, Cowlinge and Newmarket

Family Chart

I am grateful to members of my immediate family for information on this page.

Ernest Albert Pettit was born 13 August 1864 at Hargrave, Suffolk, a son of John Pettit and Eliza, formerly Birch. He was baptised 4 November 1864 at Hargrave.

In the 1871 census he was aged 6 and living with his family at Great Knowles Green, Hargrave, where his uncle, Jeremiah Birch, unmarried, farmed 185 acres and employed 8 labourers and 6 boys.


In the 1881 census he was aged 16, a farm labourer indoor at Knowles Green, Hargrave where his parents and siblings were living with the head of the household, Jeremiah Birch (his uncle), an unmarried farmer farming 310 acres and employing 9 men and 8 boys.


Ernest Albert Pettit married Annie Challis, 13 June 1889, at The Parish Church of Depden, Suffolk.  He was a bachelor and farmer from Hargrave (father John Pettit, farmer) and Annie was from Depden (father George Challis, farmer).  The witnesses were George Challis (X) (father) and Susan Challis (sister).  Reported in the Bury Free Press of 29 June 1889 the couple were described as the eldest son of the late Mr J. Pettit of Knowles Green Farm, Hargrave and the fourth daughter of Mr G. Challis of Depden Green.


Pratts Farm would appear to have been their first home, at Depden where their first two children were baptised.


In the 1891 census of Pratts Farm, Great Green, Depden, all was occupied by Ernest Albert Pettit aged 26, a farmer and employer, born at Hargrave.  His wife was Annie Pettit aged 22, born at Ousden, and their children were John aged 1, born at Depden and Ethel Eliza, aged 3 months, born at Depden.


The Hargrave entry in Kelly’s Directory 1896 gives Ernest Pettit as a farmer at Little Knowles Green.


On 22 April 1899, at the court at Bury St Edmunds a receiving order was granted on the petition of Ernest Albert Pettit of Knowles Green Farm, Hargrave, who had declared himself bankrupt.  The public examination was 9 May at11.45 am at Shirehall, Bury St Edmunds and the first meeting was on the same day at 2.00 pm at the Angel Hotel, Bury.  William Messent of 8 Willoughby Road, Ipswich was appointed the trustee on 13 May.  The last day for receiving proofs was 10 June and the first and final dividend was paid on the 21 July at 8 Willoughby Road, Ipswich, at the rate of 3s. 3½d in the pound.  The trustee was released from his appointment on 28 September 1899.


In the public examination held on Tuesday 9 May at the Bury Bankruptcy Court at the Shire Hall, Ernest Edward Pettit, of Knowles Green was said to owe £1212.7s.8d to 18 creditors, including his mother who was owed £700 and the Foresters Friendly Society £27 which he had collected as its treasurer.  His assets of crops and tenants rights amounted to £276 so there was a deficiency of about £960.  The figures were challenged and later found to be neared £1,600 with £800 owed to his mother.  He was unable to give the court a satisfactory explanation for the scale of the debts and had not kept proper books other than a labour book and his bank book.  He worked three farms with a total acreage of 223 acres (he owned 49 and rented 174).  He owned Guiles Farm, which was advertised for sale on 3 May and rented two others.    He had started farming on his own account in 1895, but without capital, and had realised two years ago that he was in trouble but had nevertheless continued to amass debts.  Although he was stated to be very honest and upright and fully intended to meet all his debts, the explanation for the deficiency was considered unsatisfactory by the court leaving about two thirds of it unaccounted for and the examination was adjourned until 20 June when a complete list of creditors and an amended account was to be presented.


At the resumed examination on 20 June the court heard that Ernest Albert Pettit had still not provided a complete list of creditors or an amended account.  He disputed some of the sums he was said to have owed and Eliza Pettit (his mother) had said that it was £835 that was due to her.  There were additional creditors not previously mentioned such as the West Suffolk Friendly Society.  He was a director and owed them £10.19s.10d.  There was no more information about his affairs that Ernest Albert Pettit could provide.  The hearing was adjourned to 11 July.


Finally, on 11 July the examination was closed as there was no new information.  Ernest had attended the Official Receiver’s office and had done his best.  On the same day in a different court the West Suffolk Friendly Society applied to be preferential creditors of Ernest Pettit, as he was a director.  For the estate it was claimed that he wasn’t a bona fide director as he hadn’t been appointed yearly, according to the rules, but the judge said this was a mere technicality and allowed the application.


In the report of the auction of Guiles Farm on 2 May 1899 which was sold for £530, it was described as a small slated farmhouse, a garden and well-stocked orchard, cart stable, lodge with granary over, piggery, cart shed etc and a double thatched cottage and garden.


The 1901 census of Hargrave shows the family living on Chevington Road.  Ernest was aged 36, a horseman on farm and a worker, born at Hargrave.  His wife, Annie, was 32, born Ousden and his children were John 11, Ethel E. 10, both born at Depden and Mabel S aged 5, Florence K aged 2, and George aged 1, all three born at Hargrave.


At some point after 1901 and before 1904, the family moved to Cowlinge, to Shardelow’s Farm, New England Lane.  This was the last farm that Ernest ran.  They were there until at least 28 April 1912 when Frederick was baptised at Cowlinge.


In 1911, living in 9 rooms at Cowlinge, Ernest Albert was aged 46 a farm bailiff born at Hargrave.  His wife, Annie, was aged 42 and was born at Hargrave.  She had been married 23 years and had had 8 children of whom 1 had died.  Their children were John aged 21 a labourer born at Depden, Florence Kate aged 12 and George aged 11 both born at Hargrave, and Dorothy May aged 6 and Albert Ernest aged 4, both born at Cowlinge.


The family had moved to Dalham by January 1913 and then to Newmarket (5, Ditton Lodge) at some point before 1921.  Later, they moved to 29 High Street, Woodditton and finally to Kia-Ora, Centre Drive, Newmarket, to a bungalow that George bought for his parents to live in (possibly about 1927 or 1929).  There, each year, Florence Kate with her children, would go on holiday, from Cutthorpe, Chesterfield.  Annie Pettit made a lot of wine, from parsnips and other vegetables and fruits (and was known as ‘Granny with the chickens’).


In the 1939 register, at Kia Ora, Centre Drive, Newmarket, Ernest A Pettit was a farm labourer, birth date 13 August 1864 and Anna (sic) had a birth date of 11 July 1868, unpaid domestic duties.  With them was George’s wife and son, Mary E. Pettit birth date 1 November 1909, and Geoffrey G. Pettit, date of birth 1 March 1934 and at school.


Ernest Albert Pettit and Annie Pettit were buried in the same grave in Newmarket Cemetery.  He was buried 29 March 1945, plot no. N 289A NG.  It is a rectangular grave with kerbstones on all four sides and no headstone.  The inscription, running around the four sides reads “In loving memory of   Ernest Albert Pettit died 26 March 1945 aged 80 years   At Rest   Also his wife Annie who died 11 June 1954”.

Ernest Albert and Annie's children were:

  1. John, born 1 August 1889 at Depden
  2. Ethel Eliza, born 12 December 1890 at Depden.
  3. Mabel Sarah, born 24 March 1896 at Hargrave.
  4. Florence Kate, born 15 April 1898 at Hargrave.
  5. George, born 16 September 1899 at Hargrave.
  6. Dorothy May, born 21 May 1904 at Cowlinge.
  7. Albert Ernest, born 4 February 1907 at Cowlinge.
  8. Charles Frederick (1911 – 1913), born about December 1911 and baptised 28 April 1912 at Cowlinge. He died 25 January 1913 at Dalham of chronic bronchitis and anaemia, aged 13 months.
  9. May, twin to Charles, possibly still-born.

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Posted December 2016