The Pettits

George Pettit b1822

A bit of background

I would like to add a bit of context to my stories about various family members wherever I can, starting with George. He is my great  great grandfather and son of William born 1772.   George was William’s third child and second son, born in 1822.  To give you an idea of what was going on, here are some of the events from that year.

On the 23rd May HMS Comet was launched at Deptford dockyard, the first ever steamboat commissioned by the Royal Navy.  A massive leap into the future took place on the 3rd July, as Charles Babbage published a proposal for a difference engine, effectively producing a platform for the modern computer.  The Government sponsored the production of a working version, but it would never be completed.

An early piece of legislation giving protection to the rights of animals was passed on the 22nd July, to regulate the treatment of cows, horses and sheep, and the last public whipping took place in Edinburgh on the 31st July.  King George IV visited Scotland, becoming the first monarch to go there since 1651.  I bet the Jacobites were pleased!

On the 22nd August the English ship Orion landed at Yerba Buena, now called San Francisco, The New Observer became The Sunday Times on the 20th October, No doubt one of the early stories they carried concerned the opening of the Caledonian Canal on the 23rd – 24th of the same month.  The canal linked the east and west coasts of Scotland through the Great Glen.  Finally William Reading became the last man hanged for shoplifting on the 27th November, outside Newgate Prison in London.

This was the world that George was born into.

George’s story

After finding details of George’s father’s marriage to his mother Lucy in Pallott’s Marriage Index I carried out a search of Pallott’s Baptism Index online and found a number of children born to the couple.  I have yet to conduct a seach of the parish records for the birth of all William’s children, but that will be carried out soon as I have access to the CDs that contain the information I need.Nevertheless, I am confident of the accuracy of my findings and have William as being born in 1822 to William and Lucy (Buckingham), in Woodbridge.


I have no further information until the 1841 census.  This record doesn’t contain very much data at all, and can make life difficult for those carrying out family history research as it rounds up or down the age of an individual to the nearest five years.  That’s not very helppful, but it does give enough information to establish the identity of a family.  In the 1841 census George is shown as being 15 (he would have been 18 or 19 in reality), with his mother Lucy, sister Elizabeth and step-sisters Sarah and Emily.  Father William is not shown, I believe him to be deceased by that time, something you can read about if you look at father William’s story.  Elder brother John and sister Jane are also absent from the family group, who are shown as living at ‘Cottage’ in Boyton.  Given father William’s line of work I am guessing that it was a tied cottage to the farm on which the family worked, and this is reinforced by George’s occupation which is shown as agricultural labourer.


At the time of the next census in 1851 George had married – more details about that below – and was living in Woodbridge, still working as an agricultural labourer.  He had two daughters, Amelia and Susannah, both born in Boyton.  Amelia was shown as being four years old and Susannah two, but I think that the census enumerator mixed them up as later research shows that Susannah was the elder.


There is a gap until 1861 until the next census, when George appears as head and still married to Mary.  The family is shown as living in Boyton Street, Boyton, with two daughters, one son and a nephew.  When I first read this census I was a little confused, but the facts soon became clear.  Amelia was not shown, and seems to have vanished.  Furthermore, Susannah was written as Hannah, but that is not as strange as it seems.  The census enumerator would have written what he heard the head saying to him, and if George had a strong Suffolk accent Susannah could very easily be heard as Hannah.   George’s only son also called George was shown as seven years old, and his youngest daughter Elizabeth as aged two.  The mystery was William Pettit, the nephew.  He was seventeen and a jorneyman bricklayer, born in Nacton.  Later research revealed him to be the illegitimate  son of his sister Elizabeth, who was born in the Union Workhouse in Nacton.  We are going to go back to that place again in the next story, but it would be safe to say that William will have his own story told soon.


Forward another ten years and nothing much has changed.  George is still working as an agricultural labourer and living in Boyton Street, Boyton with his wife Mary.  With them are Susannah, showing as Anna not Hannah so George’s Suffolk accent must have been very strong; son George following in his father’s footsteps as an agricultural labourer; daughter Elizabeth now twelve and a scholar; and finally three new members to the family, sons William and Herbert aged nine and six respectively and grandson Horace aged one. Who was the mystery Horace?  All would be revealed after additional research and is part of Susannah’s story which will be told very soon.


Researching the 1881 census was one of the first things I did when I started looking into my family history.  There was very little availble online at the time, certainly not at the level and standard of today.  I do not currently have the original census record for this year, but I do have a narrative report and it shows much the same as ten years before.  George is in the same job in Boyton and is aged 58, with wife Mary aged 56.  Susannah is still with her parents, though hr name is spelt differently again as Annah. You’ve got to love that Suffolk accent of George.  Sons George, William and Herbert are with him.  Sadly this would be Herbert’s last appearance in a census, but that’s a tale for another day.  Two grandsons are also present in the house, Horace who we met in the 1871 census and John aged 4 and born in Pettistree.  Who is John?  That will be revealed when Susannah’s story is told.


A major change occurred in the 1891 census.  George had moved from Boyton to Ufford Road, Eyke, with wife Mary and grandson John.  Both males were shown as agricultural labourers, so were probably working at a different farm.  With them in the house were three boarders, all scholars and with no family connections as far as I can see.  George was aged 67, and this was to be his last census.

The marriage of George and Mary Ling

I have a copy of George’s marriage certificate with Mary Ling, so I have no doubt about the accuracy of my research.  It shows him aged 22 as a bachelor, a labourer from Boyton, marrying Mary Ling aged 21 and a spinster, resident in Butley at the time of the marriage. They were married in the parish church at Boyton on the 12th May 1845.   All of that is good, but the rest of the information on the certificate raises a few questions.  I believe that George’s father William had long been dead by the time of the marriage, but there he is shown as the father of the groom as a seaman.  The word deceased is what I wanted to see as well, but it is not there.  Had that word been shown I would have had solid proof that Lucy Buckingham’s last two daughters were illegitimate, but that proof is missing.  The two winesses to the wedding provide no help either, they were Emma Daniels and Samuel Barker, individuals I have not yet been able to connect to the family.  As I also suspect William Ling, Mary’s father, to be deceased too, I wonder if George and Mary had some friends as witnesses.  That could be something I will never find out.

George’s death

I am always a bit sad when it comes to viewing death certificates, but in this case not as much as I am with some other family members.  George died at a good age of 78, a fair innings for a man used to manual labour over many years.  He was still being sohwn as a farm labourer on the certificate.

The document shows that he died on the 27th December 1900 which must have been shatering for his family members as it was only a couple of days after Christmas.  The cause of his demise was senile dementia, something I think is the sign of a hard life.   The informat was Annie Pettitt, daughter-in-law, who was the wife of George’s son George.  She was present at the death which was registered on the 31st December 1900.  It was not the best start to the new year.

Family Tree – one generation up and down

If you are viewing on a desktop or laptop you will see a small family tree for George, showing one generation up and one down. This might help you view and understand his immediate familly a bit better.  Sadly, due to size restrictions, this view is not available on a mobile phone.

Descendants of William Pettit 1771 and Lucy Buckingham

Records held

Pallott’s baptism index entry

Marriage Certificate to Mary Ling

Death certificate

1841 census

1851 census

1861 census

1871 census

1881 census

1891 census