The Family of John Pettit (1840 – 1883) of Hargrave

Family Chart

I am grateful to Judy Marsh for much of the information on this page.

John was born 19 May 1840 and baptised 4 October 1840 at Wickhambrook. He was a son of George Pettit and Mary (formerly Bye).

In 1841, at Wickhambrook and living with his parents, John was aged 1 and born in Suffolk.


In the census of 1851, of Baxters Green, Wickhambrook, John was with his family and aged 10, born at Wickhambrook.

In the 1861 census of a farm at Knowles Green, Hargrave, he was an agricultural labourer, in the household of Eliza Birch, an unmarried farmer, living with her father, Robert Birch. He married Eliza Birch 11 November 1861 at Hatcham, Greenwich.

John Pettitt married Eliza Birch 11 November 1861 in the Parish Church of Hatcham, Greenwich, after banns.  John was of full age, a bachelor and labourer, of Dennetts Road (father George Pettitt, labourer) and Eliza was also of full age, a spinster of Dennetts Road (father Robert Birch, labourer).  The witnesses were Jacob Birch (brother) and Thirza ----(?).  The marriage was at Hatcham probably because Isaac Birch, Eliza's brother was lodging at 45 Railway _?, Deptford (district of St James, Hatcham) and they may have gone to visit him.

Eliza Pettit appeared at the Borough Petty Sessions, Bury on 15 December 1864, charged with assaulting George Sparrow on Saturday 10 December.  On that day she had appeared as a witness for her brother, Jeremiah Birch, who was defending a charge of debt brought by George Sparrow, who obtained a judgement in his favour.  After the court case she happened to meet him at the top of Guildhall Street where she exclaimed “Don’t you think you are a nice sort of man, you nasty, skinny-faced devil”, and struck at him with a basket she was carrying.  She then tried to scratch his face, and then attempted to shove him down.  He thought he was doing her best to provoke him so he made his way as best he could into the Free Press Office.  Eliza, in her defence, said she had suffered verbal abuse from George Sparrow and his boy during the last 15 months, and when she accused him of taking a false oath on Saturday, he had called her an ugly name as he had frequently done.  She pleaded guilty and was fined 2s. 6d. With 17s. 6d. costs or 14 days in prison.  She refused to pay and was locked up.  In a short time she was released as the fine had been paid for her.  On passing through the court she bade the magistrates good morning and expressed a hope that the next time she came there she would receive justice.

In the 1871 census of Great Knowles Green Farm, Hargrave, Jeremiah Birch was head of the household. He was a farmer of 185 acres and employed 8 labourers and 6 boys. John and Eliza Pettit were living with him, with their children Jeremiah, Phoebe, Ernest, Herbert, Robert, Mary Ann and Alice.

On 19 December 1877, John Pettit, farm bailiff of Hargrave, caught Arthur Newman, labourer of Hargrave, trespassing after game in the day-time on land of Jeremiah Birch, at Ousden.  At Newmarket Petty Sessions held on Tuesday 8 January 1878, Arthur, who pleaded guilty, was fined 10s with 10s 6d costs.

In the 1881 census of Knowles Green, Hargrave, Jeremiah Birch was farming 310 acres and employing 9 men and 8 boys. John (farm labourer indoors) and Eliza were also there with their children Ernest, Mary, Alice Maud, Samuel, Jessie, Charles, Edith Ellen, Kate Sophia, Ethel and Oliver.

Jeremiah Birch died 4 May 1882 and was buried 11 May 1882 at Hargrave. In his will, he left everything to his sister Eliza Pettit.

At Tuffield’s Farm, Whepstead (where son Herbert Pettit was head of the household in 1881), Friday 28th September 1883, there was a sale of the live and dead farming stock, comprising 8 horses, 6 homebred heifers and 30 head of fowls, together with an assortment of agricultural implements, by order of the executrix of the late Mr Jeremiah Birch, Eliza Pettit.

Just over a year later, John Pettit died, of pulmonary tuberculosis, 2 November 1883. He was aged 43 and a farmer. He was buried 10 November 1883 at Hargrave, next to Jeremiah Birch. In his will dated 26 June 1883 he left everything to Eliza.

Eliza then ran the family farm(s) assisted by Ernest Albert. In addition to Great Knowles Green Farm (Pluck Hall Farm), she seems to have run Little Knowles Green Farm, Hargrave, Frogs Farm, Hargrave, Pratts Farm at Depden, Broad Green Farm at Chevington and College Farm at Chevington.

In the census for 1891 of Knowles Green Farm, Hargrave, Eliza Pettit was a widow and head of the household, aged 52, an employer born at Barrow.  With her were her children Jessie D, aged 18, a dressmaker, Charles E. an employee and Farmer learner, Kate S. 14, Lillie E. 13 and Oliver 10 all scholars and all born at Hargrave.  Also present were Eliza’s granddaughter Maude E. Ball, aged 2, born at Stepney, London, visitor Florence Ling aged 11 a scholar born at Chevington, and employee lodgers (farm servants) William Stiff 17, and George Stiff 15, both born at Chedburgh.


Whites Directory, 1891/2: for Hargrave gives Mrs Eliza Pettit as farmer at Knowles Farm, and for Chevington states that she (farmer) amongst others ‘has an estate here’ but (probably) lives at Hargrave.  Kellys Directory, 1896: for Hargrave, Mrs Eliza Pettit, landowner and farmer, and Ernest Pettit, farmer, Little Knowles Green; Chevington, Mrs Eliza Pettit, landowner and farmer; Depden, Samuel Pettit, farmer.  Then, between 1896 and 1900 Eliza moved to Broad Green Farm, Chevington.  Kellys Directory, 1900: Chevington, Mrs Eliza Pettit, landowner and farmer; Depden, Samuel Pettit farmer.


In 1896 there was a fire in some of the outbuildings of Broad Green Farm.  It was thought to have started by a child being careless with some matches.  It was on Friday at about 11.30 am and reported in the Bury Free Press, 1 August.  Fortunately it had already been extinguished by the time the fire services arrived but had destroyed 4 piggeries, a cowshed and a small cart shed.  The farmhouse was unoccupied at the time, and the farm was one of the farms occupied by Mrs Eliza Pettit.


A possible reason for the move from Knowles Green Farm to Broad Green Farm may be that there was no mains water at Knowles Green.  In a newspaper report of 9 September 1899 it was said that at Knowles Green there was a farmhouse and three cottages that had no water at all and on chalk, pumped water may have run dry from time to time.  July 1899 seems to have been dry and warm in the east of the country.

In the 1901 census Eliza had moved to Broad Green Farm, Chevington, with her daughters Edith and Kate.

Later on, possibly between 1901 and 1904, Samuel moved to Chevington.  Kellys Directory, 1904: Chevington, Samuel Pettit, farmer.  Kellys Directory, 1908: Chevington, Samuel Pettit farmer.


In 1911, at Pratts Farm Depden, Eliza Pettit was aged 72, a widow born at Hargrave.  With her was Oliver Pettit, her son, single and aged 30, a labourer in gardens and born at Hargrave.  Also there was Reg Wright, her grandson, aged 19 and a labourer on farm and born at Risby.

At some point after 1911, Eliza moved to London and lived near her daughter Jessie (see below).

Eliza died 9 March 1923 whilst she was in the High Street, Lower Clapton, London, of a cerebral thrombosis and heart failure. She was buried at Hargrave 15 March 1923, near her brother, Jeremiah and husband, John. She was aged 85.  Her headstone is inscribed “In loving memory of Eliza Pettit who died 9th March 1923 aged 86 years Also of Edith Ellen daughter of John and Eliza Pettit who died 6 Jan 1911 aged 35 years.  We deeply mourn the loss of those we did our best to save.  Beloved on earth, regretted gone, remembered in the grave.  Thy will be done”.

John and Eliza's children were:

  1. Jeremiah (1862 – 1880), born 20 April 1862, at Hargrave and baptised 13 September 1863 at Chevington, with Phoebe).
  2. Phoebe Ann born 18 or 20 July 1863 at Hargrave and baptised 13 September at Chevington, with Jeremiah).
  3. Ernest Albert born 13 August 1864 and baptised 4 November 1866, at Hargrave.
  4. Herbert John born 20 September 1865 and baptised 4 November 1866, at Hargrave.
  5. Robert George born 18 September 1866 and baptised 4 November 1866, at Hargrave.
  6. Mary Jane baptised 9 February 1868 at Hargrave.
  7. Alice (1869 – 1869), baptised 19 March 1869 and buried 26 March 1869 at Hargrave.
  8. Alice Maud baptised 4 April 1870 at Hargrave.
  9. Samuel baptised 10 September 1871 at Hargrave.
  10. Jessie Delilah born 10 January 1873 and baptised 8 June 1873 at Hargrave.
  11. Charles Edwin baptised 8 March 1874, at Hargrave.
  12. Edith Ellen (1876 – 1911), baptised 16 January 1876 and died, unmarried, 6 January 1911 and is buried at Hargrave.
  13. Kate Sophia baptised 11 February 1877 at Hargrave.
  14. Lillie Ethel, born about 1878 at Hargrave.
  15. Oliver, born about November 1880 at Hargrave. In 1901.

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Posted December 2016