Pitt Surname Genealogy

derives from the Old English word pytt,
meaning a pit or hollow. The name is usually thought to be
topographical, describing someone who lived near a pit or hollow.
However, an
alternative occupational origin
has been suggested.
Before 1500, the surname spelling was generally Pytt. After 1500,
both Pitt and
Pitts emerged as surnames
. Pitt is more common in
England today, Pitts in America.

Resources on

Pitt Ancestry

Pitt has been mainly a west country name, to be found on a line running
south from Staffordshire through Worcestershire and Gloucestershire to
Dorset and Hampshire on the coast. Pitts has cropped up in Devon
(the Pitts of South Allington) and in Yorkshire.

The best-known of
these Pitts have been the Pitts from Blandford in
Dorset. The line there traces back to Nicholas Pitt in the early
1500’s. Thomas
, the son of a vicar, was a merchant in India known as
“Diamond” Pitt for his purchase of and profit from an extraordinary
diamond. Stratfield Saye House in Hampshire was built on its
proceeds. Pitt was the grandfather and great grandfather of two
British Prime Ministers, William Pitt the Elder and William Pitt the
Younger. Their family history was covered in Sir Tresham Lever’s
1947 book The House of Pitt.

The direct line ended at that time as William Pitt the Younger died
without legitimate issue
. The line through his cousin
Thomas Pitt
of Camelford in Cornwall also did not continue.

“During a short but adventurous life,
Lord Camelford ran away from school to join the Navy at the age of
fourteen, was shipwrecked, flogged, and court-martialled. He
travelled secretly to France planning to assassinate Napoleon and was
finally killed in a duel at the age of twenty nine.”

But there were earlier branches of the family which established
themselves via Thomas Pitt on the Isle of Wight and via Christopher
Pitt in Bermuda.

Other west country Pitts have been:

  • Henry Pitt, a wool merchant from Bushbury Hill in Staffordshire
    who built the Moseley Old Hall (with its hiding places for Catholics)
    in the 1580’s
  • John Pitt, a Dorset merchant and alderman of Melcombe Regis in
    the early 1600’s
  • Laurence Pitts, born in 1660, the forebear of the Pitts of
    Stokenham in south Devon
  • John Pitt, a clockmaker in Tetbury, Gloucestershire in the early
    1800’s. He was born in Brokenborough in 1776.
  • Joseph Pitt, a developer from Cheltenham who built the Pittville
    estate there in the 1820’s. The Pump Room and the gardens are his
    main legacies.

Bermuda. Christopher Pitt
came to Bermuda in the 1650’s and the Pitts have remained on the island
since that time. Pitt’s Bay near Hamilton is named after them and
the Pitts have been supplying Bermuda residents with tobacco for the
past five generations. A branch of the family under William Pitt
moved to Charleston, South Carolina in the 1780’s.

America. William
Pitt was onboard the second ship (after the Mayflower) to arrive at the
Plymouth colony, the Fortune
one year later in 1621. He was an armorer by trade.
However, there is no record of him after 1627. He had either died
or departed by that time.

One Pitt who stayed was Richard Pitt, convicted of coining in England
and transported to the American colonies for life in 1774. He was
stationed in Rockland county, New York during the Revolutionary
War. His descendants are to be found in the Ramapo
mountains. William Pitt, meanwhile, was a British deserter of the
War of 1812. He married and settled down to farm in Canton, New

Pitts in the South
The surname Pitt is outnumbered approximately six to one by Pitts in
America. Pitts has been particularly strong in the South, notably
in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Texas. Sometimes the
name changed from Pitt to Pitts in America. For instance, the son
of Phlilip Pitt of Dorchester county, Maryland who died in 1698 was the
sea captain John Pitts.

William Pitts came to North Carolina in the early 1700’s. A
descendant Captain John Pitts was a soldier in the Revolutionary War
who was then murdered by Tories along the Ogachee river. His son
Hardy Pitts migrated to Georgia. A later Hardy Pitts, born there
in 1821, was married three times and was the father or adopted father
of 26 children. His son William was married four times but had
fewer children. He moved his plantation to Texas in 1854.
The town that grew up around the plantation came to be known at Pittsburg.

Other 19th century Pitts in the South were:

  • Hiram Pitts who departed South Carolina for Pontotoc county,
    Mississippi in 1823
  • and Philip Pitts who left Virginia to grow cotton in
    Alabama in 1835 (his son Philip became a prominent Selma

William Irby Hudson Pitts was born in
Waverly Hall, Georgia in 1862. He turned his father’s small
general store there, along with an astute early investment in Coca Cola
stock, into a multi-million dollar fortune.


Robert Pitt, a shoemaker from London, and his wife Lucy and son Robert
were among the original 1820 British settlers to the Cape colony, part
of Sephton’s party on the Aurora.
George Pitt was a plasterer who came to Port Elizabeth as a single
young man in 1856. He soon found a wife and they settled in
Grahamstown, Cape colony. Descendants of this family today are

Richard Pitt was one of the
first free settlers in Tasmania. He had come out from Tiverton in
Devon on the Ocean in
1803. He farmed and later became chief constable of Hobart
Town. His tombstone in St. David’s burial ground was among those
preserved to mark the jubilee of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1951.

William Pitt and his wife Jane arrived in Melbourne in 1855 and ran
various hotels and cafes in town, including the Cafe de Paris at the
Theatre Royal which William decorated with his own
paintings. Their son William, known as Billie, grew up to
be a well-known Australian architect.

Pitt Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Select Pitt Names

Pitt the Elder
was the British Prime Minister who led the
country to victory over France in the Seven Years’ War from 1756 to
1763. He was known as the Great Commoner because of his
long-standing refusal to accept a title. The city of Pittsburgh
is named after him.
William Pitt the Younger was at
twenty four Britain’s youngest Prime Minister. He held office
from 1783 to 1801 and again from 1804 until his death in 1806.
David Pitt came to Britain
from the Caribbean island of Grenada in 1933. He became a
British civil rights campaigner and Labor politician and was ennobled
as Baron Pitt of Hampstead.
Brad Pitt, brought up in
Missouri, is one of the most popular actors around today.

Select Pitts

  • 17,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Gloucestershire)
  • 17,000 in America (most numerous
    in Texas)
  • 11,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia).




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