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Pitt, George Matcham (1814–1896)

by G. P. Walsh

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

George Matcham Pitt (1814-1896), stock and station agent, was born on 16 February 1814 at Richmond, New South Wales, son of Thomas Matcham Pitt (d.1821), farmer and Hawkesbury pioneer, and his wife Elizabeth, née Laycock. He was a grandson of Mary Pitt, née Matcham, a connexion of Lord Nelson, who had arrived in December 1801 as a free settler in the Canada and received a 100-acre (40 ha) land grant at Mulgrave Place, Richmond, on 1 March 1802. Her daughters Susannah and Esther married William Faithful and James Wilshire. Pitt was one of the first white men to explore the new country in the Gwydir District and in 1848 held the 72,000-acre (29,160 ha) Coorar station where he lived. In the 1850s he held Lower Gerawhey in the Wellington District and in the 1860s held five runs with Thomas Sullivan at Moree and later on the lower Macquarie.

In the early 1860s Pitt established a stock and station agency business with Sullivan; in 1870 it became G. M. Pitt & Son and in 1879 Pitt, Son & Badgery when Henry Septimus Badgery was admitted to partnership. In June 1888 a limited company with authorized capital of £100,000 was formed to acquire the firm's business for £40,000 and Pitt was chairman of the new company under the same style until 1896. At first Pitt had sold stock in private saleyards on the Western Road beyond Parramatta and at Homebush, Petersham and Annandale, but in February 1878 he told a Legislative Assembly committee that public yards, preferably at Homebush, were desirable to protect both the trade and the public. He also strongly opposed the country killing of meat for the Sydney market.

Pitt lived at Fairlight, Manly, for a time and later at North Sydney; he became an alderman of East St Leonards in 1878 and was mayor in 1879-83. Interested in politics, he often wrote short letters to the press on current issues. He was of the hardy stock of pioneers, with a breezy and genial disposition and reputedly 'a voice like thunder'. Largely self-educated, he had a good memory and read widely: Burns and Shakespeare were his favourite authors and he had the habit of clinching his arguments with apt quotations, especially from Burns. He was popular, generous to the poor, and in 1885 donated £100 to the Patriotic Fund for the Sudan contingent. He served on the council of the Agricultural Society of New South Wales.

Pitt died of chronic Bright's disease at his residence Holbrook, Carabella Street, North Sydney, on 12 October 1896 and was buried in St Peter's Church of England cemetery, Richmond. Probate of his estate was sworn at under £11,832. At Windsor on 22 September 1835 he had married Julia Johnson (1815-1886); of their nine sons and three daughters, six sons and a daughter survived him. A daughter, Julia Eliza, had married his partner H. S. Badgery in 1869.

Select Bibliography

  • Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, New South Wales), 1877-78, 2, 849-852
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 13, 14 Oct 1896
  • Town and Country Journal, 17 Oct 1896
  • manuscript catalogue under Pitt (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

G. P. Walsh, 'Pitt, George Matcham (1814–1896)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/pitt-george-matcham-4403/text7179, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 25 June 2019.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

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