Recording Uttlesford History 

Genealogy of Uttlesford Families - The Pavitt Family


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The Pavitts were connected with Clavering and Little Hallingbury and connected to the Mumford, Hawkes, Rayment, Archer, Burton, Spencer, Overall and other families, covering a wide range of parishes in Uttlesford and beyond.

The Pavitts came to Clavering through the Nottage family, who owned property including a shop here in the 18th century. When Thomas Nottage died in 1803 with no family, his property was inherited by his nephew, James Pavitt from Little Hallingbury. James Pavitt married Lydia Hawkes  and had 9 children: Edward 1804, Emma 1805, Mary 1806, Martha 1809, Jane 1811, Lydia 1813, Sarah 1815, James 1816, Ann 1818. Their mother died 1820 and he married a second wife, Jane who gave him another 4 children: Louisa 1825, Elizabeth 1827, Hannah 1829, Henry 1831.

Mr Pavitt was an important man in Clavering, owning the principal shop next to the Fox & Hounds, one of the mills, a number of houses including what later became the post office in Middle Street, where he lived after his second marriage. He was also lessee of the Roast Farm. Like his uncle before him, he was a deacon of the Congregational Church.

In the census of 1841 James Pavitt snr had  lived at Bury Gate (now the Old Post Office) in Middle Street, and his trade was given as miller. His eldest son also James, married with one child was then the shopkeeper at the Water lane premises which was also the post office. Also in 1841 another Pavitt was living at The Old House, she was Mary Cooper, nee Pavitt, widow of John Cooper who was also a shopkeeper. The records of Saffron Walden workhouse in the 1830s show Pavitt and Cooper supplying flour, rice, pork, Dutch cheese and country cheese, yellow soap and candles. In 1841 Widow Cooper had a large family and two spinster sisters living with her. In the local Directory Mary is listed as one of the two sextons for Clavering. In the census of 1851 there were no Coopers or Pavitts at The Old House. Mary Cooper died at Hertford in 1855 but is buried in the Clavering Congregational churchyard. Her two sisters, Nancy and Elizabeth also died at Hertford and are buried here. James Pavitt of Bury Gate died in 1845 but his second wife Jane and some of his children were still living there at the census of 1851. James and his two wives are buried in the Congregational churchyard too.

The will of James Pavitt snr was complicated because under the will of old Thomas Nottage he was still bound to provide money for several cousins and he also wanted to provide money for all his ten children. This must have made things very difficult for his eldest son James, who inherited the business. It is interesting to note that at the census of 1851 some of the cousins who had an interest in the will were living at the shop. The deeds show that James jnr had to raise a mortgage and he moved away to Battlebridge near Wickford, although he still owned the shop and also his strips in the open fields when they were enclosed in 1861 and perhaps other property. James sold the shop in 1878 and it seems likely that he sold the other property then. The Pavitts were Congregationalists as probably the Nottages were before them. The Congregational Chapel and the manse were set in the middle of land belonging to them. They married into other Nonconformist families. The Hawkes, Rayments and Mumfords were traders like the Pavitts, although Stephen Hawkes, nephew to James snr was the doctor (living at Piercewebbs). In 1851 Louisa Pavitt married Robert Spencer, son of the biggest tenant farmer at Clavering Hall, renting 530 acres and employing 30 men and several house servants. In the 1851 census they are living at Mill end and Robert Spencer is the miller at the mill owned by his father in law.

There are various Pavitt letters in the Clavering Collection: a letter from Martha to Elizabeth, her sister: ‘I am very pleased to hear you are comfortable in your present situation and I sincerely hope you will continue to be so. persons are generally happy when they are usefully employed. I trust your present occupations will promote your future advantage. May you, dear, be in early life devote yourself to God, you are aware that this alone can render you truly happy, and fit you so much all the ranging circumstances of life. I must not tell you any news as you will hear from Mama all that has transpired since you have left us. I dare say you would like to peep at my old man and myself in our new abode as much as we should like to see poor old Billy do so. I hope you will one day have an opportunity of doing so. Mr Archer desires his love to you, but I think he will write you a lien or two if he can find time. Accept, dear, the love of your affectionate sister Martha. Clavering, bury, November 1841.

Another from Martha to Elizabeth: will you have the kindness to see that my little girl [Lydia Pavitt Archer’ wears the enclosed tomorrow or I should say the accompanying cape. Her Spencer must I am sure by very shabby. Francis happened to call so I thought it a good opportunity for sending it. I am in haste. Yours sincerely Martha Love to all.

Another letter from Clavering Nov 25th 1842: My dear Sister, Mamma is quite surprised that you have not written to us, to tell us how you got home, and how Sister Jane was after the ride. You will be pleased to hear that Mr Archer has a very nice plump little Daughter, I have been nursing it. Sister Sarah and Harriet have also been to see her, it was born on Tuesday morning, the day we had company to dinner. I have some bad news to send you. Mrs Laird was taken very ill last Thursday week , and she died on Wednesday last, about one o’clock in the morning. Mr and Mrs Burton came the day you left us they went to Beeches to dinner. Mr Burton returned home that night, and she said with us till Monday afternoon that she might hear her dear Mr Bromley preached the sermons at a Missionary meeting at Berden on Wednesday evening E Cooper went by herself there and came home in a Cart with the Misses Hawkes. I did not go, as it rained and was a dark night. Edward Cooper drunk tea with me, and EC said it was very unkind of me not to let him go – Papa has just had a Letter from Louise she is very comfortable. We shall be glad to know when you are coming home, and whether we are to send for you. Mind and write as soon as you can.’ 

Another letter written 1841 by Martha from Clavering Bury (=Bury Gate, now Old Post Office) to young stepsister Elizabeth Letter, and another probably from Hannah at Clavering 1842 to another sister reporting birth of Martha’s baby Lydia. Note from Martha to step sister Elizabeth with whom Lydia appears to be staying.

The letters were donated to the Clavering Collection by descendants of Martha, daughter of James Pavitt snr who emigrated to Canada c1843 with her husband James Archer of Newport and baby daughter Lydia Pavitt Archer. There is also a newspaper report of Lydia’s death in Canada 1922. Note the letters which were obviously treasured by Martha were all written before the Archers went to Canada and were found among Lydia’s possessions when she died 1922. 


Notes by the late Eileen Ludgate