The Pitfield Family Genealogical Website

Early Pitfields

Origins of the Pitfield family

In Dorset the surname Pitfield evolved gradually from that of Pitfold during the seventeenth century, with the Pitfold form staying in use until a later date in some parishes than in others, and with some individuals being referred to as Pitfield alias Pitfold. The earliest Pitfold traced in Dorset was John Pytfolde, who was taxed at Allington in 1525 and 1545. Despite lengthy research nothing else has been discovered regarding John and he appears to have no ancestors in Dorset, which seems to imply that he came from elsewhere in the country.

John Pytfolde had a contemporary in William Pitfold of Swallowfield, Berkshire, who died in 1565 leaving a will in which he named three sons. At least two of these sons married but there is no record of any later generation of Pitfolds in this part of the country. Other contemporaries of John have been found in Surrey with the christening at Dorking, in 1541, of “William Pitfold, a bastard son of Alice”, whilst in 1542 a Roger Pytfold married at Southwark, at that time part of Surrey. During the next few hundred years there are further references to this family in Southwark, with the name varying between Potfield, Petfield and Pitfield. Still earlier references exist, also in the county of Surrey, in the records of Waverley Abbey, which list a Phillip Pytfold who was ordained a subdeacon in 1459 and a priest in 1462. These references may be significant as there was a Pitfold Manor nearby at Haslemere, Surrey, which was in existence as early as the tenth century. No connection between the manor of Pitfold and the emergence of Pitfold as a surname has been proven but it is a possibility, as many surnames evolved from place-names.

The earliest Pitfold that I have come across is William Pitfold of London, who was a member of the Guild of Merchant Taylors and a Freeman of the City of London. In 1398 he is listed in the Pardon Rolls as William Pitfold alias William Self and he died in 1422.

It still seems impossible to say with any certainty who the ancestors of the early Dorset Pitfolds/Pitfields were, although a book on the origin of surnames, published during the last century, suggested that the Pitfield name came from one Ralph de Pettiville who came to England from the town of Pettiville, near Rouen in France, in 1198. There seems to be no evidence to substantiate this and I believe that the ancestors of John Pytfolde of Allington probably came from central southern England where the earliest Pitfold references have been found.

There is another Pitfield family in existence - namely the Lancashire Pitfields. This family is an offshoot of the Patefield/Peatfield families who were living in that county at least as far back as 1540. Various parts of this family changed their names from Patefield/Peatfield to Pitfield at different times, long after the name was well established in Dorset and there appearss to be no connection between the Dorset and Lancashire families. The other versions of the name also still exist in that part of the country. For further details of this family see Database Three.

14th/15th Century William Pitfold of London
Johanne ..............
Member of the Guild of Merchant Taylors and a freeman of the City of London. Listed in the Pardon Rolls in 1398 as William Pitfold alias William Self. His will was proved at the Commissary Court of London in 1422 but it has not survived.
15th Century Phillip Pytfolde of Waverley Abbey, Surrey Ordained as a subdeacon in 1459 and as a priest in 1462
16th Century Alice Pitfold of Dorking, Surrey Had an illegitimate son, William Pitfold, christened in 1541.
  Roger Pytfold of Southwark, Surrey
married 1542
Agnes Austin

Numerous references at Southwark (now part of London) to the names Potfield, Petfield and Pitfield in the next few hundred years, although no connection with the Dorset Pitfields has been proven.


William Pitfold of Swallowfield, Berkshire
Agnes ................

Left a will made in 1558 and proved n 1565 in which he named his wife as Agnes. Probably married previously. Named three sons William Pitfold the Elder, Richard Pitfold and William Pitfold the Younger. One of these was married to an Agnes and a William Pitfold was married in the nearby Hampshire parish of Wotton St. Lawrence in 1572 to Oliffe (sic) Knight
  John Pytfolde of Allington, Dorset Taxed at Allington in the years 1525 and 1545. Probably the father of Robert Pitfold (-1568) of Allington from whom the majority of Pitfields are desdended - for more information see Database One.