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William Witt, by grandson James Martin, c.1910

James Martin (1831-  ) wrote the following about his grandfather William Witt (1776-1856) in the family bible
-  transcribed by Verity Baylis, a great-granddaughter of James Martin


 

"My Great Grandfather, a DeWitt, came over from Holland with William III and settled in the Isle of Wight where my grandfather William Witt was born.  He fought under Lord Howe off Cape St. Vincent and was presented with the Freedom of the City of London where he commenced business as a Wine Merchant in Skinner Street, Bishopsgate Within.  The De was dropped when going into business.  Lord Howe was created an Earl after the battle which was fought in June.  My father married Mary, I believe the eldest daughter of William Witt.  He was educated at a Military College, I think Addiscombe, at the expense of his uncle, Lieut.Colonel Francis Pitney Martin, his uncle dying, he left the College and went into business after selling out a reversionary interest on a large estate in Wiltshire.  My Uncle William died in Tasmania a few years hence aged 91.  A sister of his, a clergyman's Widow died there aged 84.  My grandfather died at Winchmore Hill near London at about 85 or 86 after three days illness"

 

James Martin's Uncle William Witt died on 19 Aug 1902, aged 88.  If James wrote the above account 'a few years hence', then it was probably written around 1905 to 1910, by which time James would have been nearly 80 himself.

Much of James Martin's account corresponds exactly with previous research findings (i.e. before the bible surfaced), and surely provides confirmation of such previous research, and vice versa.  It is also obvious that some of James Martin's account is nonsense!  This is hardly surprising, as James was only 7 when his family departed England for a new life in Australia (1838).  Most, if not all, of his knowledge of his grandfather's life would have been second-hand, and such stories have a habit of getting mixed up along the way.  My observations are -

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Page last updated: 15th February 2004, e-mail: martin@hagger.org