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Peter Pitts

Birthplace: England
Death: Died in Taunton, Bristol County, Province of Massachusetts
Immediate Family:

Son of NN Pitts and NN Pitts
Husband of Mary Hodges
Father of Samuel Pitts; Mary Hathaway; Peter Pitts; Capt. Ebenezer Pitts; Alice Wilbor and 1 other

Managed by: Eddy Jones
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Peter Pitts


Tangible, credible documentation of Peter Pitts' paternity and early life is notable in its absence. Peter Pitts first appears in the documentary records of Taunton in 1643, being duly listed on the roster of the Taunton militia. (1) Given that sixteen was considered the age of majority in colonial Massachusetts, extrapolation suggests a birth year circa 1626 / 1627. Given the notable lack of credible documentation regarding Peter's paternity and early life, a broad literary comparison can be made to John Jakes' "Phillipe Charbonneau"....... Peter Pitts first became a land owner in Taunton in Oct. 1651, approximately age 25. Per extant documentation of Oct. 17, 1651 -- "it is ordered that Peter Pitts shall be sufficiently accommodated with some convenient tract of land in lieu of 4 acres on the further side of the Great (Taunton) River, which said 4 acres is appointed to Frances Smith". (2).......Peter Pitts was also an early American venture capitalist. Soon after becoming a land owner, Peter had accumulated sufficient "capital" to become an original shareholder in the "Taunton Iron Works" in 1652. While actual production of iron did not commence until 1656, Peter's investment in the "Taunton Iron Works" proved particularly astute, inasmuch as iron ingots effectively functioned as currency in Plymouth and other colonies and yearly dividends were paid in iron ingots for many years. (3).......By his mid to late twenties, Peter Pitts was an up and coming member of the Taunton community, sufficient to come to the attention of the recently widowed Mary Hodges (nee Andrews). Married age 17 / 18 to the much older William Hodges, Mary was the mother of two toddlers at the time of her husband's demise Apr. 2, 1654. Mary notably amended her will soon thereafter, specifically providing that Peter should perform its conditions to protect her sons' interests in their late father's estate "in case I make him (Peter Pitts) my husband". (4) Peter and Mary were married soon thereafter, creating a blended family which included Mary's two sons -- four year old John Hodges and two year old Henry Hodges. Peter and Mary's first child in common, Samuel Pitts, was born "about 1655".......By 1659, Peter Pitts had accumulated 55 acres of land and was elevated to the satus of an "ancient inhabitant" of Taunton. (5) Peter later became involved in a consortium which obtained authorization from the General Court in Plymouth July 2, 1667 to purchase land on the west side of the Taunton River from the indigenous Pokanokets. (6) Whether Peter, himself, was involved in direct negotiations with the sachem Metacom ("King Phillip") and other representatives of the Pokanoket people is not clear by documentation.

Particularly interesting reference to Peter Pitts is found in a court record from Plymouth dated June 3, 1668. "In reference unto the complaint of an Indian called Powas against Peter Pitts of Taunton, for detaining of his gun from him on pretence of non performance of a bargain about breaking up of ground, the Court have ordered, that the said Indian shall break up twenty rodd of ground for the said Peter Pitts; and when that is done, he shall have his gun returned to him again in good culture". (7) As with many court records of this era, this court record obscures as much as enlightens and leaves many unanswered questions.......While the civil litigation initiated by Powas is reflective of individual grievances between Powas and Peter Pitts, Peter's response in seizing Powa's firearm is a foreshadowing of far more significant collective responses between the Plymouth Colony and the Pokanoket people. As relations between the colonists and the Pokanoket people deteriorated, rumors that Metacom was conspiring with the Dutch and / or French against Plymouth became common currency within the colony. In 1670, a delegation from Plymouth proceeded to Metacom's home village of Sowams to clarify these rumors. Metacom categorically, if perhaps disingenuously, denied the rumors and offered to surrender his firearms as a token of good faith. The firearms were duly surrendered, under stipulation that Metacom present to the Plymouth assembly meeting in June, 1670 to further clarify his position. Satisfied with Metacom's representations to the assembly, the firearms were forthwith returned after Metacom acceded to a levy of forty pounds to cover the cost of the "investigation". (8).......Whatever amity derived from Metacom's appearance before the Plymouth assembly proved short lived. In response to Metacom and his warriors "parading" through Swansea with weapons "threateningly displayed", Metacom was advised to present at Taunton on April 10, 1671. On the outskirts of Taunton, Metacom and his small retinue were surrounded by "a large group of angry Englishmen". Discretion being the better part of valor, Metacom signed a coerced confession that he had violated the terms of past agreements with Plymouth Colony and again surrendered the firearms of himself and his retinue. (9) While the sequence of events is not clearly delineated in the various sources, the "large group of angry Englishmen" is hardly suggestive of a spontaneous demonstration. Given prior knowledge of Metacom's arrival, the sequence of events suggests an orchestrated militia action against Metacom and his retinue. Lacking documentation, it can not be categorically stated that Peter Pitts participated in this orchestrated militia action. Conversely, as a prominent citizen of Taunton and member of the Taunton militia for twenty - eight years, it is highly probable that Peter Pitts was a direct participant in the events of April 10, 1671.......The escalating tensions between the Pokanoket and other Native peoples and the English colonists ultimately exploded in the early American apocalypse remembered as "King Phillip's War" in 1675. Whether Peter and his eldest son, Samuel Pitts, were directly involved in the major engagements of the conflict is unclear by extant documentation. Both, however, were actively involved in the Second Squadron of the Taunton militia in 1682, six years subsequent to King Phillip's War. (10)

Additional reference to Peter Pitts is noted circa 1687 / 1688, at which time Peter is referenced as supporting the "call of Reverend Samuel Danforth as minister" via a land grant. (11) Peter Pitts passed away in 1692, at the approximate age of sixty - five / sixty - six, of causes not documented. Peter's will was proved Jan. 12, 1693 and mentions five of his six children. (12)

Adapted from "The Pitts Family Chronicles" / Chapter 1 -- "Ye Ancient Inhabitants of Taunton"

Charles Phillip Pitts, M.A. / 2011

Y DNA Evidence

Y Chromosome sequencing has shown that descendants of Peter belong to haplogroup I-M253. The Pitts family of Taunton relates genetically and directly to the mercantile Pitt family of Bristol, a branch of which later removed to Dorset producing the prime ministers William Pitt the Elder and William Pitt the Younger. There is no relationship to the other Pitts in New England. The majority of the people in the study group are from the southeast which poses the question as how the Peter Pitts family line is primarily the sole "Yankee" line in the study group. Whatever the reason his origins appear to be Dorset and not Hingham which is the origin of the unrelated Pitts family.

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Peter Pitts's Timeline

Age 29
Dighton, (Present Bristol County), Plymouth Colony (Present Massachusetts)
Age 31
Taunton, Briston, MA
Age 33
Taunton, Bristol, MA, USA
Age 34
Taunton, Bristol, Massachusetts, United States
Age 39
Taunton, Plymouth Colony
Age 43
Taunton, (Present Bristol County), Plymouth Colony (Present Massachusetts), (Present USA)
June 9, 1692
Age 66
Taunton, Bristol County, Province of Massachusetts