Nicholas William Prettejohn Pitts

Nicholas William Prettejohn Pitts was born on 30th April 1834 in Chivelstone, Devon. He was baptised on 28th May 1834. His death was registered at Kingsbridge, Devon on 24 January 1915. He married Mary Jane Pearce in Kingsbridge in the second quarter of 1857. Mary Jane Pearce was born in 1832 and died 18 February 1891.

He and Mary had three children, two at least of whom pre-deceased their father. The first was Nicholas Alfred Pitts who was born in the second quarter of 1858 in Churchstow, Devon. In the 1881 Census he was living at home at Whympstone House near Modbury and was described as an undergraduate. His death was recorded on 22 June 1883. The cause of death is not known. The second child was Bertha Elizabeth Harris Pitts. She was born on 25 September 1862 in Modbury, Devon (the BMD register shows her birth recorded in Q1 1863). She died on 20 May 1914 in Kingsbridge, Devon. There is no record of her having married and therefore there is no issue. The last was Nicholas William Harris Pitts about whom almost nothing is known. The only fact that has emerged is that contained in his his father's will was a bequest to Nicholas William of his great uncle's organ.

Nicholas William Prettejohn Pitts was at school in Lee in Kent and was recorded there at the time of the 30 March 1851 Census when he was 17 years old. He appeared to have enlisted in the local militia and in 1854, when he was 20 years old, there was a report in The United Service Magazine (January-April 1854) that he was to be an Ensign. By the time of the 7 April 1861 Census he was managing one of the family farming properties at Whympstone, near Modbury in Devon. The farm was described as being 360 acres and he employed 3 men and 3 boys on the farm. In addition they had four servants, a cook, housemaid, gardener and carter. Whympstone House and the farm had been left to his mother Elizabeth by her uncle, Walter Lamble Prettejohn in 1850.

On 28th February 1870 N.W.P. Pitts's father, Nicholas Pitts, died in Kingsbridge. N.W.P. Pitts and his brother Thomas Harris Pitts were co-executors of their father's estate. His parents had drawn up a marriage settlement at the time of their own marriage in 1833. At that time a jointure was established as part of that marriage settlement to provide for Elizabeth after the death of Nicholas. This jointure was designed to provide for Elizabeth at a later time and to acknowledge the marriage dowry and subsequent property, real and personal, that she brought into the marriage from the Prettejohn family (see the wills of Walter Prettejohn - her grandfather - and Walter Lamble Prettejohn - her uncle). The will provided for Elizabeth in the first instance and then imposed upon the entire Pitts estates annuities for the benefit of her and the other children. The property that was inherited by N.W.P. Pitts was described in the will as follows:

.".........I give devise and bequeath unto my eldest son Nicholas William Prettejohn Pitts all those my messuages farms and lands called Stubston situate in the parish of Modbury in the said county and Great Gate Vitlidge and Reveton and parcels of Blackdown situate in the parish of Loddiswell in the said county with all manorial rights privileges and appurtenances to the said premises respectively belonging. And all other lands tenements and hereditaments of which I am seized or possessed situate in the said parishes of Modbury and Loddiswell or either of them to hold the same with the appurtenances, subject nevertheless and charged with the payment of the clear yearly rent charge or annual sum of seventy five pounds to my said wife during her life on or towards part payment of her jointure as hereinafter mentioned and also subject to and charged with the payment of the sum of two thousand seven hundred and fifty pounds in part payment of the legacies hereinafter given to my daughters and to be raised and paid at the times and in the manner hereinafter mentioned unto and to the use of my said son Nicholas William Prettejohn Pitts his heirs executors administrators and assigns according to the nature and quality thereof respectively for ever or for and during all my estate and interest therein respectively."

".......And for the purpose of securing to my said wife the payment of an amount equal to the said annuity of one hundred and fifty pounds to which she is entitled by virtue of my said settlement. I hereby expressly charge all and singular the lands and hereditaments hereby given and devised unto and to the use of my said son Nicholas William Prettejohn Pitts with the payment of the annuity or yearly rent charge of seventy five pounds per annum to be paid to my said wife and her assigns for her life as hereinafter mentioned." See the Will of Nicholas Pitts.

By virtue of his father's will, N.W.P Pitts inherited Whympstone (see below) , Great Gate (which was the Harris estate) and other properties in the vicinity of Modbury. At the time of the 2 April 1871 Census, N.W.P. Pitts is described as a farmer of 356 acres, employing 9 men and 2 boys. At the time of the 3 April 1881 Census he describes himself as a Magistrate farming 260 acres and employing 6 men and three boys; two of his children, Bertha Elizabeth Harris Pitts and Nicholas Alfred Pitts are still living at home.. He was referred to as Mr N. W. P. Pitts of Modbury in the South Hams Gazette account of the Queen's Jubilee celebrations, on 24 June 1887. The 5 April 1891 Census records that he is a magistrate and farmer. His wife Mary had died shortly before the Census, in February. His daughter Bertha is still living at home at Whympston House. They have three servants, a cook, a housemaid and a groom.

At the time of his death, Nicholas had no surviving issue and as a result left most of his property to his nephew Charles Hugh Harris Pitts, the eldest son of his brother Thomas Harris Pitts of South Allington and some to his nephew Arthur Edward Seaton, the second son of his sister Ellen Clarke Seaton (née Pitts), and his great nephew, son of Charles Hugh Harris Pitts, William Nicholas Charles Harris Pitts.

Contents Page
The Next Generation

"The manor of Wimpston, or Wymston," (now Whympstone) "was granted by King John to John Fortescue in 1209, and appears to have been the first residence of that ancient and noble family in the county. It was alienated, not long before the year 1600, and in 1620 was in the family of Trobridge. It was afterwards successively in the families of Champernowne and Ourry. Paul Treby Treby, Esq., (some time Ourry,) sold it to W. L. Prettyjohn, Esq., who has built a new house on the estate, and is the present proprietor."

From: Magna Britannia by Daniel and Samuel Lysons 'Parishes: Maker - Musbury', volume 6: Devonshire (1822), pp. 326-360.

Whympstone then passed to Elizabeth Prettejohn Pitts and thus to Nicholas Pitts and in 1870 to his son, Nicholas William Prettejohn Pitts. (See Above)