A Perambulation of Kent (in Search of our Pitcher Ancestors)
Jon Thiem with the assistance of Benji Thiem
This narrative relates the discovery of the places where our Pitcher ancestors lived and grew up, along with some of the important dates and circumstances of their lives. Often I have asked myself what the Pitchers of Bishopsbourne would have thought had they known that they were the subject of such intense interest on the part of their American descendants. Whatever the case, this narrative is dedicated to their memory.
The project arose out of a series of coincidences. In the summer of 1992, I was in England to give a paper at the University of Warwick, and I began thinking about a walking tour for June, 1993, on the old Pilgrims Way - North Downs Way from south of London to Canterbury, the route followed by Chaucer's pilgrims. In a phone conversation with Marcy Ross, who did the basic research on our great great grandfather James Pitcher the younger (d. 1863), I learned that the latter had been born in Bishopsbourne, very close to Canterbury. When I was able to confirm through transcripts of the parish records that James Pitcher had
indeed been born in Bishopsbourne, I decided to visit the village and set aside some time for archival research in Kent. Not long after, Barbara Thiem, my wife, received a Christmas card from her long lost cousin John Pinschof, who, it turns out, lives near Maidstone, seat of the Kent County Archives, and a town just a few miles off of the North Downs Way. Later, he kindly offered that I could stay with him. When my son Benji, aged 13, heard that I was planning a ramble in England he begged me to take him along and show him some castles. Thus were laid the plans for a perambulation of Kent in search of our Pitcher ancestors.
For me this project has opened up a new perspective on our pedigree and enlarged my sense of family tradition. Another bonus has been the hands-on-experience gained in the methods of biographical research. This has proved helpful to me in understanding a literary genre to which I have devoted a good deal of study: the novel of biographical quest -- that is, narratives about biographers and their personal and professional problems.
Reconstructing the Pitcher pedigree has indeed involved a number of difficulties of the sort that biographers encounter. One of the first problems confronting every Pitcherologist is the similarity between the names Pitcher and Pilcher, the latter being a much more common name in Kent. Scribes and registrars were often lazy about crossing their t's, or in their overzealousness, they would cross the l in Pilcher. Going to Kent helped me sort out some of these errors. An onsite examination of the parish records explained the puzzling marriages of George Pitcher in 1831 and Elizabeth Pitcher in 1836: it turned out that both were Pilchers, not Pitchers. Another confusion, a perennial one in the 18th and 19th centuries, goes back to the re-use, or let us say, recycling of personal names. Some favorite Pitcher names which needed to get sorted out were George (6), James (2), Mary and Maria (2 each), Elizabeth (2), and Thomas (2). How many times have I asked myself, which is which? Another problem was knowing whether a male and female of about the same age and with the same surname were unrelated, related (brother and sister?) or married. With George (d. 1828) and Elizabeth Pitcher (d. 1832), the discovery of their tombstone on the northside of St. Mary's Church, Bishopsbourne, provided the solution. They were man and wife, and our four times great grandparents.
Another problem for the biographer or genealogist arises out of the Pitcher inclination to change residence. The first Pitcher recorded in Bishopsbourne, George
(d. 1828), does not move there until 1793, a date I was able to confirm through the Land Tax Assessments held at Maidstone. Before then he lived for several years in Beakesbourne, nearby, in Fordwych and in Patrixbourne, where our thrice great grandfather James, later a carpenter, was born in 1788. At the time of his marriage in 1786, George lived in Whitstable, a parish on the coast of Kent about 5 miles north of Canterbury.
Oddly enough, the life of his son, James the carpenter, has proved more elusive than that of his father. We do know that in 1814, James married Elizabeth Wiggins from Wingham, Kent, and his brother George, also a blacksmith, was a witness. James the carpenter, like his father George, and like his son James (d. 1863), was a man who felt the need to move around. He died in1843, in Ramsgate, Kent, on the coast, and was living apart from his family. What caused him to move away from his family is not known.
A coincidence. James Pitcher the younger was born in 1819 in Bishopsbourne, about 8 miles from Dover, Kent. In 1850 he was working as a farm labourer in Dover township, Cuyahoga County, Ohio. In the 1950's and 1960's his descendants Jon and Judy Thiem, grew up about 50 miles south of the Delaware state capital, Dover, Kent county.
Two more coincidences. In our B&B in Canterbury, St. John's Court, St. John's Lane, I had breakfast with Mr. Roger Weston of Middlesex, also doing genealogical research in Canterbury. Several of his ancestors in the 19th century were also named George Pitcher, unfortunately no relation to ours. Then, while working in the Cathedral Archives, I was approached by Mrs. Joyce Davis of Sittingbourne, who had heard from one of the archivists that I was doing work on Pitchers. She it turns out was working on the Pitchers of Cheriton and Folkestone, Kent, which turn out to be distant relations of ours. For Pitcherologists, southeast England is indeed a small world. Later, Joyce discovers that she herself is related to me. She kindly sends us photos of Bishopsbourne, an expanded family tree of the Pitchers, and more genealogical information that I have used in the expansion and revision of this journal. Eventually she and her friend Alyne pay us a memorable visit at our house in the Austrian alps.
Rambles and Discoveries
Preamble. After training up from Gatwick airport, Benji and I spend a day and a half walking in the castle country of western Kent. We visit Penshurst Castle, home of the Elizabethan poet Sir Philip Sidney and his niece Lady Mary Wroth, also a poet who scandalized her contemporaries by dressing up as a male blackamoor in one of Ben Jonson's masques. We ramble through lovely hills, over field and stream, to the National Trust village of Chiddingstone, near Chiddingstone Castle. We tour moated Hever Castle, home of Anne Boleyn, and Benji runs through its labyrinth twice.
Maidstone. From Otford where we relish the hospitality of Mrs. Hold and her three course breakfast, we join the North Downs Way and walk its ridge. There we encounter few wayfarers, but do run into a fox, a pheasant, and a couple of hares. Heavy rain as we come off the ridge. Soaked, we take shelter at The Three Post Boys Pub in Wrotham. We decide to train from there to Maidstone. Here we receive a warm welcome from Barbara's cousin John Pinschof and his wife Margaret, who has prepared for us a feast fit for kings.
Next day at the Kent County Archives, I find out that our thrice great grandmother Elizabeth Pitcher died of asthma in the Bridge Union Poor house in 1836, age - mid forties. She was the mother of James Pitcher (d. 1863). Later, consulting tax records and tithe maps, I discover the exact location of her brother-in-law's cottage and forge in Bishopsbourne. He was George Pitcher, the blacksmith (d. 1844), son of George (d. 1828), and brother of James the carpenter (b. 1788). The friendly archivists persuade Benji to come in and learn how to use the microfilm machine, where he does some useful work checking through indexes.
Holingbourne to Chilham. Rejoining the North Downs Way which here runs midway up the ridge, we walk 12 kilometers through wheat and rapeseed fields to Charing, where we enjoy the hospitality and cream teas of Mrs. Rosemary Bigwood. Next day from Charing to Chilham, the Way takes us through rolling landscapes and villages, sweeps us up on the ridge and takes us down again, whence we have a view of the stately manor house of Godmersham. Jane Austen once stayed here, and the village was home to Pitchers -- distant cousins of ours? Above Soakham, while having lunch on a huge beech tree blown down in the hurricane of 1987, Benji and I engage in a memorable cherry pit spitting contest. Weary from walking, we take the short bus trip from Chilham into magnificent Canterbury, riding high in the upstairs of the double decker, far front, rocking back and forth, glimpsing here and there the great spires of the Cathedral.
Canterbury. At the labyrinthine Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies, Else Churchill, the genial head librarian, gives me a short course in the use of the collections. Although my searches here yield no new information, I do get the addresses for the Kent Marriage and Burial Indexes, which will later supply the residence of George Pitcher (d. 1828) and the surname of his second wife. From the Tyler collection I get a copy of Tyler's transcriptions (names and dates) of the tombstone of George Pitcher et al, confirming what we had discovered the day before in our excursion to Bishopsbourne (more on this later).
Benji and I tour the Cathedral, whose enormous chancel is overrun with French school children. The nave is closed for restoration. We stand in awe before the tomb of the Black Prince, his sculptured effigy clad in armor and full
regalia. Of St. Thomas a Becket's shrine there is nothing left, but the maid at our guest house in St. John's Lane did assure us that if we visited his burial place, miracles would happen in our lives. I wonder if our Pitcher forebears thought so, if they came to the Saint's tomb in the hopes that some miracle might stave off the family's declining fortunes.
In the Cathedral Archives, located in a cloister adjoining the church, the atmosphere is much more reverential than in the tumultuous chancel. Here are located the original parish records and vestry minutes of Bishopsbourne. I am one of only a few researchers. The archivists are very helpful, instructing me in the intricacies of the catalogs and helping me decipher some of the early handwriting. The original documents are leather or vellum bound volumes. They get hand carried to your desk, which is reserved for you alone. Then they are carefully placed on thick pillows on the desk so that they can't be flattened out and have their spines stressed.
After lunch Benji and I go through the Canterbury Tales Museum, which he greatly enjoys. Before the trip, we had read together three of the five Chaucerian tales dramatized in the different rooms of the museum. Each room recreates a different aspect of the environment of medieval England, its smells and its sounds.
Returning to the library with Benji, I continue to read through the Bishopsbourne vestry minutes, which yield the most important information of the trip. As I transcribe entries about James Pitcher's family and its need for poor relief, Benji sits next to me drawing swords, knights and monsters, happily oblivious to the sad events that occurred 160 years earlier, events that probably prompted James the younger (d. 1863) to emigrate to America.
Tonight Benji and I split a takeout Fish and Chips. Like a couple of seasoned bachelors, we eat it with our fingers from the greasy wrapping paper, sitting on the floor of our room. Perhaps our most memorable meal.
A Pitcher Chronicle 1724-1863
1724 William Pitcher born, my five times great grandfather
1746 William marries Sarah Boughton
1757 William marries Ann Barber (1734?-1801)
1763 George Pitcher born. Elizabeth Clayson born around this time, both probably in Kent.
1786 George Pitcher, bachelor of Whitstable, Kent, marries Elizabeth Clayson, spinster of Stourmouth. Whitstable is a parish on the northern coast of Kent, about 8 miles from Stourmouth. Like Bishopsbourne, it is close to Canterbury. Fordwych, not far away is probably the ancestral home of our Pitchers.
1787 Patrixbourne, Kent. Ann, daughter and probably first child of George and Elizabeth, born.
1788 James, son of George and Elizabeth, born in Patrixbourne. He will become a carpenter.
1791 Beakesbourne, Kent. William, son of George and Elizabeth, born.
1793 George and Elizabeth Pitcher, presumably with their small children, take up residence in Bishopsbourne. George rents a property, probably a house and garden with forge, from S. Beckingham, Esq., lord of the manor, Bourne Place. Mary (d. 1847), daughter of George and Elizabeth, born.
1796 George (d. 1844), son of George and Elizabeth, born. This is George the blacksmith who lived in Forge Cottage.
1798 Thomas, son of George and Elizabeth, born.
1800 Francis Lovet (d. 1832), son of George and Elizabeth, born.
1801 Ann Pitcher (b. 1734?), wife of William and the mother of George (b. 1763), buried.
1804 Isaac, son of George and Elizabeth, born on 25 Sept. Buried 30 Sept.
1806 Maria (d. 1838), daughter of George and Elizabeth, born.
1809 Ann Pitcher (b. 1787), spinster of Bishopsbourne, marries James Cullin, bachelor of Wingham (about 4 miles from Bishopsbourne). George is witness to the marriage of his oldest child. Ann signs her own name in the register. James leaves his mark.
1811 George (b.1796) marries Sarah Blackman from Sturry, at Wingham. His children are Charlotte (b. 1813), George (b. 1815), Lewis (b. 1817), Sarah (b. 1819), Emma (b. 1821), Richard (b. 1824), and Mary (b. 1826)
1814 James Pitcher, carpenter, marries Elizabeth Wiggins at Wingham. Brother George (b. 1796) is witness.
1815 Thomas, son of James the carpenter and Elizabeth, born. This is the first record of James the elder in Bishopsbourne.
1817 George, son of James and Elizabeth, born. In this year James is witness to three marriages and signs his name in the register. Burial of William Pitcher, aged 92 (b. 1724), resident of Birchington, Kent. This is the father of George (b. 1763), and the husband of Ann (1734?-1801).
1819 James (d. 1863), son of James and Elizabeth, born. He is my great great grandfather and will emigrate to America.
1821 Maria, daughter of James and Elizabeth, born.
1821-22 James the carpenter is witness to at least 4 marriages at Bishopsbourne in this period.
1824 Mary Anne, daughter of James and Elizabeth, born.
1825 James Pitcher not recorded as having witnessed any marriages.
1827 From the vestry minutes (Oct. 24) of Bishopsbourne (1826-1850), the first entry concerning the James Pitchers, who are getting poor relief from the parish:
Ordered ... That Pitchers rent and wood bill be paid.
1828 George Pitcher, age 66, buried (July 11).
From the vestry minutes (June 24):
Agreed to give James Pitcher Oast Timber to the amount of L 8. 11 -- but should he dispose of the Timber in any manner not agreeable to the wishes of the Parishioners, they have full power to take it from him. Also that Mr. Ladd [the overseer] should pay him 8 [shillings] but should Pitcher earn more than he usually does then Mr. L shall give him what he thinks proper.
(Oast Timber was the timber from which were made the poles to support the hops vines, hops being an important ingredient in beer.)
1829 From the vestry minutes (Feb. 25):
Agreed that James Pitchers Family shall receive 15 shilling per week for their work until next vestry.
The following entry may suggest that James Pitcher, in contrast to his family, is no longer in Bishopsbourne.
From the vestry minutes (Aug. 5):
Agreed to pay Dame Claringbold for attending the wife of James Pitcher at the rate of 4 [shilling] per day.
Elizabeth Pitcher is evidently ill, perhaps with the asthma that will prove fatal to her.
1830 Marriage of Francis Lovet Pitcher (b. 1800) of the Parish of St. John the Baptist in the Isle of Thanet, Kent, and Mary Mutton, Bishopsbourne. Witnesses are his siblings, George (b. 1796) and Maria (b. 1806).
From the vestry minutes (Oct. 2):
Paid Mrs. McFarlane 30 [shilling] for Mrs. Pitcher. Paid Mr. Shoveller his bill for Mrs. Pitcher. Agreed to pay Mrs. Pitcher any Balance for week to make up 15 [shilling].
1831 From the vestry minutes (Nov. 31):
Determined to transfer Mrs. Pitcher and family to the Work House and to endeavor to put out her two sons as apprentices as soon as possible.
James Pitcher must be gone (to Ramsgate where he died in 1843?). Are the "two sons" Thomas and George? Is James (b. 1819) the one not counted because he is still too young, age 12?
1832 Elizabeth Pitcher nee Clayson and widow of George Pitcher (d. 1828) is buried, age 71. Her son Francis (b. 1800), buried.
From the vestry minutes (March 15):
Agreed that Thomas Pitcher [i.e. brother of James (d. 1863)] when he applies for Parish relief to have an order [brought] to [for] the Workhouse and there to remain until a situation can be obtained for him, which each of the Parishioners present will endeavor to do.
This is the last entry in the vestry minutes that concerns James Pitcher's immediate family. Thomas Pitcher will eventually become a master carpenter in Canterbury.
1831-37 Other entries in the vestry minutes record that George the blacksmith (1796-1844) served the Parish as constable, member of the Board of Health, Vestryman, Overseer (of the poor), and Church Warden.
1836 George Pitcher (1796-1844) bachelor of Bishopsbourne married Caroline Woodcock, spinster. age 31, of St. Mary, Dover.
Elizabeth Pitcher, wife of James the carpenter, of the Bridge Union Poor House buried, age 45 or 48. According to the Surgeon's book she died of asthma.
1838 Maria Pitcher (b. 1806), resident of London, buried.
1841 According to the 1841 Census of Bishopsbourne, the village has a population of 334 people. The only Pitchers left in the village are George (b. 1796) the blacksmith, residing at Forge Cottage, and his wife Caroline. The rest have either moved elsewhere or are dead. The Enumerator of the census for the village was George Pitcher.
According to the Census for the Bridge Union Poor House, the only Pitcher still there is Mary (b. 1824), age 15 (she is actually 16; census figures were rounded off to the nearest 5 or 10). Elizabeth, her mother, had died in 1836. Where is her sister Maria (b. 1821)? How and when did her older brothers Thomas, George and James (1819-1863) leave the Poor House? Is our ancestor James already in North America?
1843 Death of James the carpenter, in Ramsgate, Kent.
1844 Burial of George Pitcher the blacksmith, age 48, the last Pitcher of our family to live in Bishopsbourne.
1847 Burial of Mary Pitcher (b. 1793), age 54, resident of Higham, Kent. The first of George and Elizabeth's children born in Bishopsbourne, she is the last of their children to be buried there. Except for Thomas (b. 1798), whose burial place is unaccounted for, all of the other children of George the elder who were born in Bishopsbourne are buried here. The tombstone of Francis, George, Maria and Mary are aligned with that of their parents.
1850 According to the 1850 U.S. Census, James Pitcher (b. 1819) is resident in Dover Township, Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Occupation is labourer.
1853 James Pitcher marries Emma J. Treleavan (aka Mary) on Oct. 25, 1853 in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio.
1856 Birth of George W. Pitcher (d. 1941), son of James and Emma (Mary), and my great grandfather.
1863 Death of James Pitcher, Private in the Illinois Light Artillery Volunteers, in Natchez, Mississippi.
George Pitcher (1763-1828) and his wife Elizabeth (1761?-1832) moved several times before settling down in Bishopsbourne, presumably with their three oldest children, Ann, James—our direct ancestor—and William. After their marriage they were in Fordwych, Patrixbourne, Beakesbourne, and finally they moved to Bishopsbourne, about 3 miles away, where George and Elizabeth remained the rest of their lives. We do not know why they moved in the early years of their marriage, but it is likely that George was looking for a suitable place to work. He was a blacksmith, and his son George (d. 1844) would also take up this calling.
We have a fair amount of information about his 8 surviving children. It is interesting to note that Ann, James, and George all could write, whereas it seems that most villagers were not literate. Like their father and mother, most of the children moved away from the place they were raised. Ann, through her marriage, moved to Wingham, not far away. The others probably moved out because Bishopsbourne was too small to supply work for so many young Pitchers. William moved out. He is probably the William Pitcher, blacksmith, whose son George is baptized in Canterbury in 1814. The two daughters Mary and Maria moved, respectively, to Higham, Kent, near London, and to London. It would be interesting to know what they did. Neither seems to have married, so of the three daughters, only Ann found a husband. Of the remaining sons, Thomas moved away. He is probably the Thomas Pitcher, servant of Canterbury, whose son George John was baptized in Bishopsbourne in 1829. Francis Lovet moved to the parish of St. John the Baptist, Margate, Kent.
The children of George and Elizabeth were for the most part not very long lived. Burial data on some of them I have yet to find. Maria and Francis Lovet, the last 2 born, died relatively young, both at the age of 31. The middle children, Mary and George, lived to be 54 and 48 respectively. Thus their parents and grandparents (William died at age 92) were considerably longer lived.
Only 2 of the children seem to have stayed in Bishopsbourne, James the carpenter, our direct ancestor, and George the blacksmith, whose house, now called Forge Cottage, still exists. Their lives offer an interesting contrast. For reasons that remain obscure, James and his family had to receive poor relief from the parish. It looks as if James the carpenter may have left the family in 1829, perhaps in an effort to earn more money. George, on the other hand, was clearly one of the most prominent citizens of the village, serving in a host of responsible offices, as constable, vestryman, church warden, and Enumerator of the 1841 census. George, who married twice and had a slew of children, was a prosperous blacksmith and active community official. James, on the other hand, seems to have been so little prosperous that his family landed in the Poor House in the neighboring parish of Bridge. James also engendered a host of children, at least 5, for which we his descendants may be especially thankful, otherwise we would never have been born.
James the carpenter and his wife Elizabeth seemed to have named their children, all except James the younger, after James's brothers and sisters. Hence Thomas, George (perhaps also named after James's father), Maria and Mary. Apart from Thomas and James (d. 1863), I have not been able to find out what happened to any of them. Presumably, they went into the Poor House with their mother in 1831, but by 1841 only Mary, who was 16, remained there. Did the boys become apprentices as the parish hoped? Did James the younger run away to America or Canada to escape the grinding, health-destroying routine of the Poor House? Or did he get out and stay in England a while longer? If he still had been in the Poor House at age 17, he would have seen his mother Elizabeth die of asthma. Whatever the case, it is likely that the hard circumstances of his family were strong grounds for his emigrating.
What happened to his father, James the carpenter? After 1828-29, the latter disappeared from the Bishopsbourne records—3 years before his family is consigned to the Poor House. James died in 1843, at age 55, in Ramsgate, on the coast of Kent. Did he go there to find work, in order to rescue his wife and children from poor relief? Or did he simply abandon his family? Reading the vestry reports of Bishopsbourne about him one detects a subtle hint that he was sick, or perhaps mentally unfit, and that his condition prevented him from doing full-time work.
Out of our direct line there emerges an interesting pattern of names. George begat James who begat James who begat George. A chiasmus of names. In England we go from George to James, in America, from James to George. Though other ties may have been broken, with James the younger's emigration to America, there remained a continuity of names.
On a fine Sunday morning in June, Benji and I take the double decker bus from Canterbury to Bishopsbourne, about 4 miles. From the bus stop we walk half a mile down a pretty country lane towards the picturesque village, which is nestled in the small vale of the Nailbourne, an intermittent stream. Bishopsbourne is situated in a green rolling landscape dotted with the wooly white figures of grazing sheep. This is rural England in its loveliest aspect.
We pass "Oswalds" the house and former parsonage of the church where Joseph Conrad spent the last years of his life. Next comes the churchyard and church, a fine Gothic building. On the south side of the Church of St. Mary many of the gravestones are overgrown with weeds or completely worn down. We go around to the north side where the grass is mown. Soon we discover the first Pitcher gravestone, of Mary (d. 1847). Next to hers we find those of George the younger blacksmith, Francis, Maria, and finally at the end of the row that of George and Elizabeth Pitcher. Their stone is completely split apart down the middle, with a gap you can see through, an indication of the rough treatment that Time bestows on our remains, on our memorial devices. Lichen and erosion make the incised script hard to read, but in the right light the names of George and Elizabeth Pitcher can easily be made out. This is a wonderful moment, to stand before the graves of our British forebears.
[insert here photo of split gravestone] caption: “The gravestone of George and Elizabeth Pitcher, Bishopsbourne, Courtesy of Joyce Davis”
After taking pictures (which do not turn out), we leave the church where James the younger was baptized and where his mother was buried, though without a tombstone. We pass down the main village street, holding before us a copy of the 19th-century tithe map. We orient ourselves and figure out which house must have been rented by George the blacksmith. I tell Benji to go ahead and see if it is called Forge Cottage. And so it is. Across from Forge Cottage is an actual blacksmith's forge, still in operation, the business of Mr. Len Sutton, whom I will meet in the evening. In front of the forge we meet Mr. Sutton's ex-wife and daughter. She kindly offers to call Mrs. Rosemary Elliot, a local historian of the village, and ask her to take us through the church. This we do and Mrs. Elliot gives us the brochure on St. Mary's Church, which she herself has written. Like everybody else in the village, she knows nothing of the Pitchers. They have disappeared from local memory.
[Insert here: photo of Forge Cottage] caption: “Forge Cottage, Bishopsbourne, Courtesy of Joyce Davis”
At The Mermaid, the local pub where our ancestors never tipped a pint because it was founded around 1860, I talk to some of the habitues, but get no information. Few if any of the old families still live in the village, which has become gentrified. The bar owner, however, suggests that I return in the evening to meet Mr. Roger Austen whose family goes back several generations.
Benji wants to stay at the B&B and read. He's had enough of all this Pitcher stuff, and he wonders how I can stand around talking to people for hours on end about subjects that have nothing to do with knightly adventures. Around 7:00 in the evening I take the double decker bus out to Bishopsbourne. I meet a couple of friendly working class fellows at The Mermaid and we drink some pints til Roger Austen arrives later in the evening. One of them razzes me for not drinking enough. Being able to down lots of beer is a sign of manhood among these fellows. They become much less friendly when I criticize some of the atrocities committed by the British army in the Falkland Islands war.
I meet Roger Austen and Len Sutton the blacksmith, who now runs the forge where George Pitcher once pounded the anvil. Len Sutton takes me back to the forge and shows me around. He does a lot of ironworking for historical renovations but also does some fine modern stuff. The business is thriving. The Forge itself is around 350 years old, he says, and I learn from him that in Ivy Cottage, next to Forge Cottage, there was also evidence of a forge.
Back at The Mermaid I chat with Roger Austen and learn that what had been the carpenter's house, near the church, was recently torn down for the building of a new house. The so-called carpenter's house near the church may well have been where James the carpenter lived. Its proximity to the church would explain why he was frequently a witness to Bishopsbourne marriages. What a pity it was razed.
Saying goodbye to the denizens of The Mermaid I set off by foot for Canterbury—a four-mile hike on a pitch black night. The last bus had left hours before and nobody else was heading back for Canterbury. When I get back to the B&B around 1 AM, Benji is sound asleep, his novel The Palladin lying by his bedside. I resist the temptation to wake him to tell him I'm back. I leave him to his dreams of castles, labyrinths, and magic swords. I let him sleep, this fine young fellow, this recent descendant of the line of George and James and James and George.
This family history would not have been possible without the valuable research done by Marcy Ross on James Pitcher the younger. She it was who discovered that Bishopsbourne was home to our Pitchers.
Betty Wickham, professional genealogist of Loveland, Colorado, shared with me unstintingly of her large knowledge of British sources. I am grateful for her kindness and continuing generosity.
I am deeply grateful to our Pitcher cousin Joyce Davis. She went to Bishopsbourne to take pictures of gravestones and Forge Cottage, and over the years she has done extensive research, not only on my line of Pitchers, but on the greater extended family. This revised version is indebted to the fruits of her zealous research.