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Henry James Pitt


Henry James Pitt was born on 5th September 1856, the son of John Pitt and Sarah Pitt (nee Davies).



James married Mary Ann Arnold, a Glascoed girl, at Pontnewydd, Cwmbran in 1879. James was active in union and chapel life, working as a shearer at the Foundry. James was a deacon and trustee at Zion Hill Baptist Church, in Pontnewynydd. Later on they became entrepreneurs, opening a grocer’s shop at Mill Road and then at Fowler Street, Pontnewynydd. James also worked as an insurance agent, which involved weekly trips on the steamer to Weston-Super-Mare to travel to the insurance office.

James and Mary Ann had eight children.

The first, Annie was born in 1880, married Fred Brown and moved away to the Rhondda and then Bargoed. By the time their youngest son, Ernie, my grandfather, reached secondary school age, they were doing well enough in life to send him as a day pupil to West Mon school in Pontypool. He went on to become the first Head teacher of Grofield Secondary Modern school in Abergavenny.

The family lived at Panta House, Glascoed, and I believe later in the mid-1860s, moved to Rose Cottage. James, as he was always known, is my Great-Grandfather.

James’ father John Pitt, a master stone mason, died of smallpox in his mid-forties on 9th August 1865 at Glascoed. I  believe now that this was probably Rose Cottage, although could have been Panta House. James’ mother, Sarah, re-married three years later. Her new husband, James Williams, was a labourer from Glascoed. The family lived at Rose Cottage - with the Pitt children all keeping their surname.

James had a little cameo court appearance as an 11 year old, where he gave evidence in a colourful case from May 1868, which involved his mother’s lodger, who by this point may well have taken on a step-father role – James Williams. “James Pitt, son of Sarah Pitt, a widow, said he saw Mrs. Lewis pelting Williams with clots, &c., from her meadow, on which occasion Philip Lewis went to fetch a shovel with which he threatened to strike Williams. The latter had not a gun.” James Williams was to marry Sarah Pitt later in the year (October) and had already fathered her soon to be born child.


They must always have considered Glascoed to be home. Their two children, Eva and Stanley, who had died in infancy, were buried at Mount Zion Baptist chapel in the village.


Their grave, first used when Eva died as a baby in 1885, became the final resting place of their parents. James died in 1929, and Mary Ann six years later, in 1935.


Added here are two recollections of James and Mary Ann from people who remembered them:



NOTES FROM CONVERSATION WITH EDITH CLYDE PURNELL (nee Brown): 19/03/1994


Clyde was brought up by James & Mary Ann Pitt, of Pontnewynydd. She was sent to them originally, as a baby, because she had a medical condition, that required treatment at Pontypool Hospital. After she recovered, she was wanted back by her parents (Fred & Annie Brown - Annie was James & Mary Ann's eldest child) - at this point I believe her parents lived in the Rhondda valley. There was a disagreement about this - eventually James & Mary Ann won the day and brought Clyde up themselves.


Clyde remembers working in her grandparents' grocery shop. She remembers her Grandparents with great affection & love. She described the Pitt family as a very GOOD family. She idolised James Pitt - he was described as a lovely, good man - she recalled how in his work as an Insurance Agent, he had to go to Weston-Super-Mare every Wednesday on the "Steamer" - and took Clyde with him every week. She kept telling me how Mary Ann was "the most beautiful girl in the Glascoed" - and a very kind, good woman.


She recalled that her Great-Grandfather, Richard Arnold, was in fact a farmer in his own right, and NOT a Labourer - he had to give up the Farm after going blind. She remembers visiting him - every time he met her, he would beckon her over, feel her head, face & shoulders and say "My, how you've grown", and comment on the rate of her growth. She commented how everyone in Glascoed seemed to be related to each other!


Other things she said to me were that Mary Ann's sister, Aunt Nell (Ellen), lived at the first farm on the way into Glascoed - she married Reg Perrott - they were buried next to James & Mary Ann - also that Mary Ann's (four) sisters were buried in a vault by Mary Ann's grave at Glascoed.]


Census Records:

1861 – Panta House, Glascoed

1871 – Rose Cottage, Glascoed

1881 – The Tump, Panteg.

1891 – 5 Mill Road, Pontnewynydd

1901 – 5 Mill Road, Pontnewynydd

1911 - 5 Mill Road, Pontnewynydd