The Fitch Family of Westbury, Tasmania
C H I L D R E N   O F   S A M U E L   &   S A R A H   F I T C H

created 2004   *   last updated 9 September 2004

by Greg Harling & Bruce Eames

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James Fitch (1877 - ?)
Peter Paul Fitch (1879 - ?)
Mary Jane Fitch (1881 - 1884)
Henry Patrick Fitch (1883 -1947)
Elsie May Fitch (1884 - 1943)
George Fitch (1887)
Ada Mary Fitch (1890 - 1967)

BERTIE FITCH -  ADOPTED??????????????????

James Fitch (17 Jan 1877, Westbury - ?)
married Annie Louisa Holmes 1900 Devonport?
issue -
Annie Louisa  (1900, Devonport - )

Peter Paul Fitch (29 June 1879, Westbury - ?)

Mary Jane Fitch (6 July 1881, Westbury - 27 April 1884, Westbury)
Died as a result of extensive burns, aged 2 1/2 years.

Henry Patrick Fitch (27 June 1883, Westbury - 1947, Ulverstone)
Henry married Louisa Burr in 1911 and 4 children are known : William (1911-1980), Harold Patrick (1916-1941), Colin John (1924), and Betty (1927-1995). Harold was a newborn babe only 4 weeks old when his father enlisted on 1 June 1916  and served as a Private in the 12th Battalion. Several cousins had already joined up : Cyril Day enlisted on 12 April 1915 in South Australia ; brothers Percy and Ronald Deakin (who had come to Devonport with their mother Ellen before the war) enlisted on 16 June and 19 July 1915, respectively.

Percy, always known as Pat, joined the 26th Battalion. He was wounded and taken prisoner in France on 29 July 1916, and died in a POW camp 4 weeks later (28 Aug). Several anxious months passed before his family learned his fate in December, and at about this time Ellen and her sister Sarah submitted photographs of Pat and Henry to the Weekly Courier, which had invited readers to send in photographs for publication of those serving their country (7 Dec 1916).

Henry and Ronald fared better.

Ronald fought in France (in the 26th Battalion like Pat) and was wounded in Oct 1916 and Oct 1918. On the latter occasion he was hospitalised at Exeter, England, which he left in Dec 1918 and was back in Devonport by late Jan 1919. In the early 1920s he moved to Melbourne. Ronald died in 1967 at Heidelberg.

When Henry joined up, he  was described as being 5’ 6’ tall, with brown hair and a fair complexion, and he had a tattoo on each arm. His religion is described as Catholic. On 8 Aug 1916, he boarded the ship Ballarat at Hobart, headed for England. Henry finally reached France on 30 Dec 1916. He was sick quite a lot with trench fever, gastritis, bronchitis, and influenza, for which he spent long periods back in England recovering, and as a result his actual combat in France was scattered over the period 1917-1918. In May 1919, he got influenza ; once recovered he came straight back to Tasmania, and arrived on 1 Aug.

In the first half of the 1920s, Henry took up land offered to returned soldiers by the Closer Settlement Board and leased 121 acres at Legerwood. During this period, they had a new child, Colin, who died aged 3 months on 24 June 1924 (and was buried at Carr Villa Cemetery, Launceston). Henry struggled on for a few years but the difficulties which beset most ex-soldiers in this situation overcame him and the land was relinquished by 1926. The family returned to Devonport, where in mid-1927 they lived in Rooke Street, and their first daughter (Betty) was born. About 12 weeks later, however, on Monday 14 Nov, Louisa suddenly died : while going about domestic tasks, she complained of feeling ill and by the time her mother had got the doctor, Louisa had suffered a fatal heart attack.  She was was buried on Wednesday 16 Nov in the now abandonned Bluff Cemetery.

With 3 young children to bring up, Henry then moved to Ulverstone, where he stayed for the rest of his life ; he died in 1947 and was buried at Ulverstone Cemetery. Sons Harold and William went to Victoria, while Betty remained in Tasmania (never marrying, and ending her days on 7 Jan 1995 at Latrobe). Harold was in Melbourne by 1941, staying with his aunt, Ada Floyd, in Newry St, Prahran. He tried to enlist in July of that year but was turned down. About a week after this, Harold and a friend, Arthur, were out drinking and stole a truck in order to get home. The owner chased them in another car as they sped along Point Nepean Rd. at 50 m.p.h., and Harold believed it was the police. He jumped from the car, leaving Arthur – who could not drive – at the wheel, and the car crashed. Arthur survived unhurt but Harold did not, and an inquest on 28 Aug 1941 brought in a finding of accidental death.  William married, and he died in Sept 1980 at Mount Waverley, Vic. and was cremated at the Necropolis, Springvale.

Elsie May Fitch (3 Dec 1884, Westbury - 20 Aug 1943, Caulfield, Vic.)
While still living in Westbury, Elsie bore a child when she was 17 years old (in 1902). The birth registration does not record the name of the child or the father, and the child’s fate is unknown. Several years later, in 1906, Elsie married Frederick Simpson Offer (1878-1959), from Launceston. A son, Frederick Vincent, was born in Jan 1912 but died on 19 May and was buried at Carr Villa Cemetery. Sometime in 1913-1914, Elsie & Frederick moved to Victoria, living initially at 25 Stanhope St, Malvern (ca 1915-1918), then at 18 Willis St, Armadale (ca 1919-1940). They had 2 daughters, Edna (1915- ) and Betty (? - ?), and also provided a base for relatives moving from Tasmania to start a life on the mainland. This included Elsie’s sister Ada, who came to Victoria in 1939 and rented a house a short tram journey away down Malvern Rd. By 1941, however, the Offer’s shifted house to 25 Fallon St, Caulfield, and not too long after – on 20 Aug 1943 – Elsie died. Frederick lived until 22 Sept 1959, and was interred with his wife at St Kilda Cemetery.

George Fitch (20 July 1887, Westbury - 26 July 1887, Westbury)
Died from convulsions, aged 6 days.

Ada Mary Fitch (8 June 1890, Westbury - 20 May 1967, Corio, Vic.)
After marrying John Floyd at Devonport in 1908, Ada raised 6 children – Elsie, Claude, Phyllis, Elizabeth, Reginald, and Laurence (Mick) - and also took in a “farm baby”, Ivan. They lived at various dates in Madden St, William St, Griffith St, and Wenvoe St, (probably often sharing with Ada's mother), but John travelled around the country looking for work. In the 1930s they moved into 47 Nicholls Street with Sarah Fitch. This was the scene - on 23 April 1935 - of Sarah Fitch’s death, and she was buried at Devonport General Cemetery. Two years later, Ada’s husband John also died (on 11 July 1937) and  was interred at the same cemetery. Most of the family ended up in Victoria : Claude had already made the move in 1936, followed by Elizabeth in 1939 and Ada later that year, bringing young sons Reginald and Mick with her. Elsie stayed a few years longer, living with her husband's Appleby relatives in rural Northdown, probably ariving in Melbourne ca 1944. Phylliss and  Ivan remained  in Tasmania.

By late 1939, Ada lived at 61 Newry St, Prahran, where she remained until ca 1955, subsequently living with Mick and his wife Beverley at 6 Peterson Ave., Coburg (ca 1956-1961), and then 5 Howqua Crt, Corio, Geelong. On 20 May 1967, Ada died suddenly. A requiem mass was held at St Thomas’, Plume St, Norlane, and Ada was buried at Altona Memorial Park.


© 2004