Origins of the Chitty name and family

'Clothiers' were cloth manufacturers, and the Victoria County History of Surrey notes that in 1562/3 six members of the Hooke and Chitty families were accused of having carried on the industry of kersey weaving at Thursley, Pitfold and Frensham and over the Hants border at Aldershot, Linchmere, Bramshott and Headley - contrary to the act that cloth should only be made in the market town where the trade was established, that is to say, Godalming. In 1565 members of the same families together with representatives of those of Mellersh, Wood and Chaundler and John Bradford (or Bradfold?) of Brodgate and John Allen of Farnham were charged with using various devices to stretch their cloth. Elliot, Daborne, Bridger, Bowler, Peyto and Toft were other Godalming clothiers, and most of these families were also connected by marriage with the Chittys.

The youngest son, John Chitty alias Bocher junior, moved as far as Arundel, where he died intestate in 1559. A suit between him and his wife Elizabeth and his brother Robert in 1549 was probably a friendly case to establish title rather than a serious family quarrel; in any case, Robert was appointed administrator and guardian of John's unnamed children. We can only speculate as to whether these children were brought back to Godalming or were the origin of an Arundel family which we shall consider later.
John junior had been left, with other property, a close at Fishden, but by some family adjustment this evidently came to Robert, who mentions it in his will in 1567. Robert had also been left 'Gaylandes now Cheties', believed to be 'The Square', so it is possible that the maltster Chittys of The Square many years later were his descendants. Unfortunately Robert, though his will provided for his children, did not name them. He appointed several notable local men as trustees, and it is almost certain that his sons included Matthew, founder of the most successful and only armigerous line, but as this has not been fully proved, we shall treat of that family separately.

The head of the family from 1546 until his death in 1558 was the eldest son Henry Chitty alias Bocher, mercer, variously described as 'of Broadgate' and 'de la Tanhouse'. He married Margaret, a member of the landed family of Elliot of Green Place, and by this connection held (as early as 1551) part of the Manor of Ashurst, formerly owned by Edward Brooker who died in 1486, which had been acquired by John Eliot in 1548. By 1553 he also held 'Tanhouse' of Westbrook Manor - possibly this also connects with the 1530 suit in which his father and John Westbroke were engaged, though old John had left the house at Townend 'held by exchange with Mr Westricke' to Robert. Henry was also tenant of the reputed small manor of Chesberyes, near Wheeler Street.

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Page created 29 Sept 2001 by Mike Chitty; text written 1975 by the late Erik Chitty