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Pitman myths and miscues (Thomas Pitman, born about 1614)
Posted by: Guy (ID *****2524) Date: June 10, 2011 at 07:47:42
  of 1683

Hobson Lafayette Pittman (1899-1972) was an art teacher and a painter who had a long teaching career at Philadelphia area institutions including the Academy, where he taught 1949-1972. His nephew Donald Gordon researched his Pitman ancestry for him, creating fantasy and a lot of subsequent confusion, giving us a romanticized Thomas Pitman, born about 1614: he was from Monmouthshire; he was a Royalist Cavalier who had escaped Cromwell’s troops; he first appeared in VA records as a Captain; there was a record showing when he had arrived in VA; and he was planning a return trip to England after the death of Cromwell and the restoration of the British monarchy. Then also, of course, Hobson Lafayette Pittman was also descended from Joseph Pitman “the Quaker.”

Here are some of the resulting myths and miscues:

“According to his court testimony, Thomas Pitman arrived in Virginia in 1649.” That is not true: Thomas Pitman’s 5 Mar 1677 testimony included his age but it DID NOT say when he had arrived in VA. “The deposition of Tho: Pitman Senr aged sixty three years or their aboute . . . theire hath bin no survey of this said land this twenty & eight years youre deponent haveing liveed ever since in the same county & parrish very near to ye said land this is to ye best of you’re deponents knowledge and further saith not. Signed Tho: Pittman Senr Sworne in open Cort held for the County of Surry March ye 5 1677.” The above statement simply says that Thomas Pitman was 63 years old in 1677 (born about 1614) and that he had lived in the same county and parish “near to ye said land” for the previous 28 years (since 1649); it does not say that he had arrived in 1649 (although he certainly did arrive before 1650).

“He (Thomas Pitman) makes his first appearance as Capt. Pitman when he is ordered to Jamestown in 1650 heading a group of militia and taking three weeks provisions . . . Thomas Pitman is called a Captain from the first record in Surry County in 1651.” That is apparently not true (unless there was yet another, older, Thomas Pitman in Surry Co at the time): in Feb 1651 Lt. Pittman was ordered to send eleven named men to Jamestown “with their armes fixed and three weekes p’visions . . .” Obviously one Thomas Pitman was still a Lieutenant in 1651 (and I have not seen the 1650 record of Captain Thomas Pitman).

“Thomas, Fra., and Joseph Pittman (were) headrights to Mr. Robert Hutchingson of Accomack County on a patent dated 9 Oct 1667 . . . Joseph Pitman left a will dated 14 Mar 1678 in Accomack County . . .” There were instances in which people arrived in VA, then returned to England and then reappeared in VA as headrights, so the 1667 record should not be dismissed as irrelevant. Note also that Frances (---) Pitman, wife of Thomas Pitman, was still alive on 14 Jan 1661 and I suppose that the headright list could have included her name even if she had died by 9 Oct 1667.

“On 14 Jan 1661, he (Thomas Pitman) and his wife Frances sold his interest in this mill to William Marriott . . . He wanted to sell his share of this business in order to either make a trip or return to England.” This fits in well with the Cavalier Royalist myth but I saw nothing in that record that mentioned Thomas Pitman planning to take a trip, let alone planning to take a trip to England.

“William Pitman (son of Thomas Pitman III) was born in Surry County about 1678. He died in Isle of Wight County sometime after 4 Apr 1753. He married Mary Ray, sister of William Ray . . . . As William Pitman, Jr. he patented 240 acres in Surry County on the south side of Blackwater Swamp (9 Jul 1724, supposedly using ‘Jr’ to distinguish him from his uncle William Pitman) . . . Sometime prior to 1730, he lived for a time near his brother Thomas Pitman, based on Robert Lancaster’s testimony in Isle of Wight County court . . . Thomas Pitman (IV) mentioned in his will in 1730 that a brother had lived next to his property. The brother in question was William Pitman. As William Pitman, Jr., he had purchased 240 acres in Surry County on the south side of the Blackwater Swamp adjoining the land of Richard Hollyman, decd., on 9 Jul 1724. However, William Pitman is not mentioned by name. He lived in Newport Parish of the Isle of Wight County from 7 Jul 1726 to 3 Nov 1740.” These statements combine the records of William Pitman, Sr., with those of William Pitman, Jr., and this is why I have concluded that: 1) Crown patents, and later State grants, did not use assumed titles and if a Crown patent, or later a State grant, showed the title “junior” then that person was legally a junior (not just the nephew of someone in the same county with the same name), remembering that this Crown land patent had nothing to do with traditions in Surry Co VA where “Sr” and “Jr” were used in county records to distinguish between younger and older men with the same name, no matter what the relationship, as this was a Crown patent, not a Surry Co VA patent; 2) Thomas Pitman (IV) DID NOT mention in his will that a brother lived next to his property, but rather the testimony of Robert Lancaster was that “his brother” had lived ON or was living ON the land of Thomas Pitman IV devised to one of Thomas Pitman IV’s sons (and there was no mention of next to, beside, adjoining, etc.); 3) if William Pitman, Jr., owned 240 acres there would have been no need for him to live ON the land of Thomas Pitman IV (and indeed he was not living on that land); 4) the only logical conclusion is that William Pitman, Sr., was living ON the land of Thomas Pitman IV and that the land devised was in Newport Parish; 5) Newport Parish was adjoining Surry Co VA after 1734 but before 1734 Newport Parish was not adjoining or near Blackwater and it is apparent to me that William Pitman, Jr., was the one on Blackwater while the one in Newport Parish was William Pitman, Sr. (and there was no need for the Jr and Sr designations as they were in two different counties).

William Pitman, Sr., born about 1678, died after 3 Nov 1740 in Newport Parish, Isle of Wight Co VA, married before 1704 (---) (---) in Surry Co VA.

William Pitman, Jr., born before 1704, died after 4 Apr 1753, married (probably 1st) a sister of William Ray before 1 Jun 1731 and he married (1st or 2nd) Mary (---) before 17 Aug 1743 -- who might have been the sister of William Ray (or Wray) whom William Pitman, Jr., married (as the will of William Ray 1 Jun 1731, Surry Co VA, did not mention the name of his sister and she might or might not have been named Mary).

The biggest problem with combining the records of William Pitman, Sr., with the records of William Pitman, Jr., is that it cuts out an entire line of William Pitman, Sr., descendants (through his son James Pitman who married Elizabeth Anderson and who died in Edgecombe Co NC before 2 May 1748) as both William Pitman, Sr., and William Pitman, Jr., apparently both had sons named James Pitman (and there may have been a purposeful effort, long ago, to cut out the line of the James Pitman/Elizabeth Anderson as there was a documented illegitimate son in that line, a son of Elizabeth).

“Joseph Pitman, b. in Isle of Wight County 1 Nov 1724, m. (1) Elizabeth (---) in Edgecombe County about 1746, and (2) Hannah (---) probably Booth in Edgecombe County before 20 Apr 1764, d. in Edgecombe County after 18 Dec 1786. Joseph Pitman is the last son mentioned in the will of his father. He is best documented son because he joined the Rich Square group of Quakers in Northampton County area, North Carolina.” This combination of two different Joseph Pitmans was undoubtedly the work of Donald Gordon, nephew of Hobson Lafayette Pittman, as Gordon had to find a documented ancestry for his uncle Hobson whether it was true or not: 1) Joseph Pitman “the Quaker” probably married Elizabeth Gay in Northampton Co NC, not Edgecombe Co NC; 2) their children had documented births and because of that we know that Joseph Pitman “the Quaker” died in or before Jan 1766 in Edgecombe Co NC as his documented son Thomas Pitman, who had inherited land from his uncle, needed a guardian by that date (Jan 1766 “. . . Joseph Pitman, guardian of Thomas Pitman orphan of Joseph Pitman, dec’d . . .”). Joseph Pitman “the Quaker” apparently died landless and as a result he left no other record of his death (which apparently made it very easy for Donald Gordon to give him another identity and a second life). The documented birth of one child of Joseph Pitman “the Quaker” conflicts with the documented birth of one child of the Joseph Pitman who wrote his will on 18 Dec 1786 and most of the documented children of Joseph Pitman “the Quaker” were not in the 18 Dec 1786 will of Joseph Pitman.

What has escaped the attention of Pitman researchers (primarily because of poorly-done abstracts) is that the Joseph Pitman, Sr., who sold land to Joseph Pitman, Jr. on 14 May 1756 in Edgecombe Co NC (in a lengthy, legalistic deed posted in this Pitman forum) had a wife in that deed named Ann (“And Ann Pitman the wife of Joseph Pitman doth by these presents . . .”) -- as did also the Joseph Pitman who left a will in Edgecombe Co NC dated 9 Oct 1762 -- which his why I have concluded that the Joseph Pitman, Jr., in that deed was the son of the Joseph Pitman who wrote his will on 9 Oct 1762; and that Joseph Pitman, Jr., in that deed was the Joseph Pitman who wrote his will on 18 Dec 1786 in Edgecombe Co NC. There was no son Joseph in the will of Joseph Pitman, 9 Oct 1762, but apparently his son Joseph was a son by a previous marriage and his son Joseph had already gotten his inheritance through the land deed of 14 May 1756, Edgecombe Co NC.

5_Joseph “J” Pitman (brother of Benj Pitman), b. bef 1715 Surry Co VA, d. aft 9 Oct 1762 Edge Co NC
+(1st)(---) (---), married before 1736, probably in Surry Co VA
+(2nd) Ann (---), married before 14 May 1756 Edgecombe Co NC
__6_Joseph Pitman, born before 1736 Surry Co VA, died after 18 Dec 1786 Edgecombe Co NC
__+Hannah (Booth?)
__6_Ann Pitman, born 1752-1754 Edgecombe Co NC
__6_Jethro Pitman, born 1752-1754 Edgecombe Co NC
__6_Cloe Pitman, born 1753-1755 Edgecombe Co NC

5_Joseph Pitman (Quaker), born 1 Nov 1724 IoW Co VA, died in/before Jan 1766 Edgecombe Co NC
+ Elizabeth Gay, died 31 Mar 1761, daughter of John Gay, Sr.
__6_Faith Pitman, born 30 Oct 1747
__6_Amy Pitman, born 2 May 1749
__6_Elizabeth Pitman, born 4 Jan 1752
__6_Thomas Pitman, b orn 10 Jan 1754, died after 8 Mar 1816, Buncombe Co NC
__+ Dicey/Dicy Newton, in Edgecombe Co NC
____7_Thomas Pitman, Jr., born 1794-1800 in Edgecombe Co NC
____7_Elizabeth Pitman, born about 1796, alive in 1853, Buncombe Co NC
____7_possible daughter, born before 1800 (1810 Federal Census)
____7_Polly Pitman, born about 1805
____7_Lott Pittman, born about 1806, died 1 Feb 1885 Buncombe Co NC
____+ Lucinda Shope
____7_?William Pitman, born about 1809, died after 1870, Buncombe Co NC
__6_Joseph Pitman, born 8 Oct 1756
__6_Abia Pitman, born 12 Mar 1758
__6_Patience Pitman, born 21 Sep 1760

The Joseph Pitman who wrote his will on 9 Oct 1762 is generally-accepted as the documented brother of Benjamin Pitman (a documented brother per land deed of 27 Feb 1743, Isle of Wight Co VA).

“Benjamin Pitman first appears in the records when he buys 590 acres of land on the south side of the Blackwater Swamp in Isle of Wight County on 20 Mar 1743.” That is not true: Benjamin Pitman witnessed the will of John Halleman (Holleman) with William Pitman in Surry Co VA on 18 Sep 1736; Benjamin Pitman, Joseph Pitman and William Pitman were in the 21 Mar 1738 “Account current of Estate of Elizabeth Champion, decd . . .” in Surry Co VA; and, Benjamin Pitman’s 1743 patent was already surveyed and mentioned in another patent on 12 Feb 1742.

“Wife (of Benjamin Pitman) Ann is mentioned only in the will of Benjamin Pitman.” That is not true: the will of Benjamin Pitman (23 Aug 1755) was proved in May Court 1756, Edgecombe Co NC, and the first son in the will was Moses Pitman, probably born in or before 1736. The first daughter in the will was Patience Faulk, who was probably born before 1743. The second daughter in the will was Mary Bottom, and the second son in the will was Jacob Pitman, probably born in or before 1742. There were other children in the will, including Cela/Celia Pitman, all apparently younger than Moses, Patience, Mary and Jacob. In May 1756 there was an Edgecombe Co NC Crown Docket case, The King versus Samuel Bottom, Moses Pitman and John Faulk, probably having to do with the will or estate of Benjamin Pitman (one source transcribed Samuel’s name as “Saml Bolton”). The widow of Benjamin Pitman -- Ann Pitman -- sold Benjamin Pitman’s land to Jacob Pitman on 22 Sep 1763 (with witnesses, John Faulk and Aaron Baker); Jacob Pitman sold the same land to Samuel Longbottom on 7 Mar 1764; Samuel Longbottom sold the same land to David Pridgen on 9 May 1767; David Pridgen and his wife Mary sold the same land to Samuel Longbottom on 23 Aug 1769; and the next day, 24 Aug 1769, Samuel Longbottom and Mary Bottom sold the same land to Newit Pitman.

It appears to me from the records that William Faulk (1763-1860), Edgecombe Co NC, was the son of Patience Pitman and John Faulk and that he married a daughter of the Joseph Pitman who died after 18 Dec 1786 (first cousin of Patience Pitman), married before 12 Nov 1782 Edgecombe Co NC.

There are other things in the Pitman genealogy written by Donald Gordon, nephew of Hobson Lafayette Pittman, which are quite obviously wrong but at least Donald Gordon reported the birth years of two descendants of the Joseph Pitman who wrote his will on 18 Dec 1786 and another descendant has said that he has also seen the family Bible from which those birth years were taken.


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