Thomas, 1735

1735 (Longhope) – 1784 (London)

Our 1st cousin 7xremoved, Thomas Pittman, was the third child of Richard Pitman and his wife Martha (née Jones). He was presumably born in Longhope, where he was baptised on 16 September 1735, but spent his working life in London. We know that Thomas was in London in 1757, when he was 22 years old: he was said to be of the parish of St Martin in the Fields when he married Hannah Blewett there in December that year, and their first two children were baptised at St Giles in the Fields. In 1761, Thomas and Hannah were living in Dean Street in the parish of St Anne, Soho, which would remain Thomas’ home until his death over twenty years later.

The tools needed by a farrier, as shown in 'Markham's Masterpiece', a book on the care of horses first published in 1610, but still in use in the late eighteenth century.

The tools needed by a farrier, as shown in ‘Markham’s Masterpiece’, a book on the care of horses first published in 1610, but still in use in the late eighteenth century.

Thomas did not follow his father and grandfather into the blacksmithing trade, but combined those skills with a knowledge of horses to become a farrier. He had at least five apprentices from 1761 to 1783, the third of whom, John Pittman, was his younger half-brother, who later went into partnership with Thomas and carried on the business for twenty years after Thomas’ death. As a farrier, it is, perhaps, no surprise that Thomas took a keen interest in horse racing. We have found that he was a subscriber to the “Racing Calendar”, and it seems likely that he was the farrier referred to in a short report which appeared in newspapers around the country in April 1775:

“A Farrier in Dean-Street, Soho, undertook to run his Horse 22 Miles in one Hour, for a considerable Wager; which was performed Yesterday in 59 Minutes and a Half, on the Rumford Road, with Ease. The Horse is upwards of 20 Years old.”

Thomas married three times. Hannah Blewett, his first wife, died after less than seven years of marriage, having borne Thomas five children, only one of whom lived beyond childhood. Thomas’ second marriage, to Mary Arscott, took place within four months of Hannah’s death, understandable as he had two young sons to look after. Twelve years and five children later, Mary died, in December 1777.

Ann Kirby was Thomas’ third wife, marrying in July 1778. Ann bore Thomas three children before his death in February 1784 at the age of just 48: he was buried at St Anne, Soho. He was survived by Ann and five children, ranging in age from 23 years to 9 months. It was twelve years before Ann married again, her husband being Stephen Geary, a ‘housekeeper’ at Westminster School. The birth of twins to the couple was widely reported, on account of the ages of both parents: Ann was said to be 49, and Stephen 84. One of the twins, Sophia, died when she was a baby. Her brother Stephen went on to become known as an architect and entrepreneur, being one of the founders of Highgate Cemetery.

St Anne, Soho, where all but two of Thomas' children were baptised, and where he was buried. (painted by George Shepherd in 1828, courtesy London Metropolitan Archives)

St Anne, Soho, where all but two of Thomas’ children were baptised, and where he was buried.
(painted by George Shepherd in 1828, courtesy London Metropolitan Archives)

Marriage:
Hannah Blewett     28 December 1757     Westminster (St Martin in the Fields)

Children:
Richard          1757 – 1761
Thomas         1759 – 1768
William          1761 – 1813
Elizabeth       1762 – 1764
George          1764 – 1764

Marriage:
Mary Arscott     12 January 1765     Westminster (St Marylebone)

Children:
James            1766 – 1770
Mary              1770 – 1770
Susannah     1771 – 1835
Elizabeth       1773 – 1773
Samuel          1775 – 1775

Marriage:
Ann Kirby     16 July 1778     Westminster (St James)

Children:
Ann              1780 –
Elizabeth     1781 –
Richard        1783 – 1871