Seeing your family immortalised in street names

Pitt Street in Richmond, at the RAAF Base end, is named after Patsy Trench's ancestor.
Pitt Street in Richmond, at the RAAF Base end, is named after Patsy Trench's ancestor.

ENGLISH author Patsy Trench has some of the Hawkesbury’s earliest settlers as her ancestors, through her Australian mum. On a recent visit here she noticed all the street names in the area with historic origins.

With a family name like Pitt it is tempting to claim that important parts of NSW are named after our family.

In fact there are relatives who declare, without any evidence, that we are related to the William Pitts who were successively Prime Ministers of Great Britain.

Pitt Town is named after the prime ministers, as is Pittwater, though not Pitt Street in Sydney, which was originally named Pits’ Row I believe, after the pits that were formed by the Tank Stream that flowed through the city in its early days.

We can however lay claim to three Pitt Streets: in Richmond, named after my three times great grandfather Thomas, an early Richmond settler; likewise in Badgerys Creek, where he was granted land; and Pitt Street Kirribilli is named after my great great grandfather George Matcham Pitt, one-time mayor of East St Leonards (now North Sydney).

The more you discover about your own family history the more parts you realise are named after them or people closely connected to them. Travelling through the Hawkesbury recently I noticed Inalls Lane and Crowleys Lane, off Castlereagh Road and flanking our old family property Bronte.

I’d seen them before without realising that Inall was, presumably, named after Edward Inall, who married Margaret Scott, who once worked for the Pitt family and whose brother William fathered four children with my three times great grandmother Elizabeth Pitt (nee Laycock) – after her husband Thomas died, I hasten to add.

Crowley was named after John Crowley, who married my great great aunt Mary Ann Johnson, sister to Julia (my great great grandmother).

Names connected to Admiral Horatio Nelson crop up all over the place, not least on the Richmond property Bronte, named by my great great grandfather George Matcham Pitt in honour of Nelson, Duke of Bronte, who was connected to the Pitt family by marriage.

In Richmond alone there are streets named Bowman, Faithfull, Dight and Onus, all named after early Hawkesbury settlers. In Windsor there’s another Pitt Street (that I don’t think we can lay claim to), and streets named after First Fleeter and surgeon Thomas Arndell, William Cox, who built the first road through the Blue Mountains, and John Palmer, the colony’s first commissary (in charge of stores).

  • Patsy Trench’s first book about her ancestor Mary Matcham Pitt, ‘The Worst Country in the World’, is available at Hawkesbury Museum and Wiseman’s Books.