Elizabeth Prettejohn Pitts (née Harris)
Elizabeth Prettejohn Harris was born in 1812 near Loddiswell, South Devon. She was privately baptised there on 19th October of that year.
Her parents were Thomas Harris and Elizabeth Prettejohn. Both the Harris and Prettejohn families were of considerable consequence in the region. Thomas Harris was born at Great Gate about 1783, and he died in 1855. He was residing at South Allington House during the census of 1851. Great Gate is a farm on the outskirts of Loddiswell Village. Her mother, Elizabeth Prettejohn, was born in 1781 and died in 1839.
Elizabeth is descended on her father’s side from Sir Thomas Harris of Chantry House, Aveton Gifford in South Devon. Sir Thomas was a prominent land-owner in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. He was buried at Cornworthy church, near Totnes, where there is, in the chancel, a monument in the form of a canopied tomb, with effigies of Sir Thomas Harris, sergeant-at-law, in his lawyer's robes, with his wife and four children. The figures are under a low tester supported by walls jutting out half-way from the back wall and three short columns in front. The monument was erected about 1610. The Harrises originally acquired land at Aveton Gifford in the 1550’s, though the family itself can be traced back to the early 15th century.
Elizabeth is descended on her mother’s side from William Pretyjohn of Dunstone born about 1557 in Stokenham, Devon and Elizabeth (surname unknown) also born in Stokenham about 1561, who died there on 7 February 1619. William’s grandson, Nicholas, married Margaret March of South Allington during the early to mid 17th century. The predecessor of South Allington House and about 200 acres of land were owned by the March family and it was at this time that the property passed into the hands of the Prettejohn family. The Prettejohns had been land-owners in the South Devon region for centuries. The property passed into the control of the Pitts family by virtue of a marriage settlement when Nicholas married Elizabeth Prettejohn Harris on 28 May 1833. They were married by licence with consent of her parents, as Elizabeth was under 21. At the time of the marriage Nicholas was of Chivelstone, and Elizabeth of Loddiswell.
Elizabeth, having already inherited wealth in the form of real property through the Prettejohn family about the time of her marriage, inherited further real and personal property when her mother died in 1839 and the remainder of the property left to her mother in the will of her grandfather, Walter Prettejohn, flowed on to her. But it did not stop there. Her uncle Walter Lamble Prettejohn, having only two close relatives, his nieces, still living at his decease in 1850, left all of his substantial estates in Devon, and other wealth, equally to those nieces, Elizabeth Prettejohn Pitts and her cousin Ann Prettejohn Pearce. The entire estate amounted to £20,000 – a great deal of wealth.
Elizabeth died of heart failure on 28 August 1877, aged 64. Her death was registered at Kingsbridge, Devon, and she is buried in the Pitts family plot in the church graveyard at Chivelstone.
The Pitts Family Plot St Sylvester's Church Chivelstone