Thomas, 1854

1854 (Tewkesbury) – 1922 (“at sea”)

Thomas Pitman was born in Tewkesbury in 1854, the third of eleven children of George Pitman and his wife Elizabeth (née Dibble). In the 1861 census, aged just 7, he was living with his parents (both framework knitters) and worked in a stocking factory. Ten years later, he was still at home, and listed as a brewer, but by 1875 he had emigrated to Australia, apparently the only one of his family to do so at this time, although three of his younger siblings joined him in 1881. In December 1875 he married 18 year-old Ellen Brown in Fitzroy, Victoria, describing himself as a bootmaker, a trade in which he was to continue until his death. Thomas and Ellen had seven children, several of whom followed their father into the boot manufacturing business.

Thomas must have set up in partnership with with Smally & Yates very early in his time in Victoria, as in 1878 the partnership was dissolved. He then established his own factory in Fitzroy, before forming a partnership with his eldest son (also Thomas) and Richard McGan. Richard McGan parted company with the Pitmans in 1902, and the two Thomases established the boot manufacturing firm of “Pitman and Son” with premises in Collingwood, another area of Melbourne. Over time two more sons, Herbert Lincoln and Alfred, joined the firm, and by 1922 Thomas senior had retired.

Pitman & Son, application for trademark (Victoria Government Gazette, 20 May 1903)

Thomas died in 1922, sadly on what was intended to be his second return visit to England (the previous one having been in 1890). He left Sydney, Australia on 11th July on board the P & O Royal Mail Ship Narkunda, and died on board the ship on 24th August, just 10 hours away from his destination of Plymouth, and was buried at sea. Newspaper reports and a letter from his brother Charles to the Tewkesbury Register, give the cause of death as apoplexy.

Narkunda, the ship on which Thomas died
(courtesy State Library of Victoria, photographer Allan C Green)

Ellen Brown     24 December 1875     Fitzroy, Victoria (Condell Street)

Thomas                 1876 – 1937
Robert Joseph      1878 – 1879
Alfred                     1879 – 1956
Winifred                 1881 –
Gavin Brown         1884 – 1945
Herbert Lincoln    1886 – 1952
Ethel May               1889 – 1964