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Pettet Family Thornleigh - Everbody has a Story
The Pettet Family of Thomleigh were not necessarily an overly remarkable family yet researching their story reveals an interesting insight into our local history and family life from around the 1880s and into the 1900s including the Great War. The Pettet’ s were a large family of thirteen children, not unusual for the time. They were by all accounts a law abiding Christian family who followed the Methodist faith.
Thomas Crick Pettet, son of Robert and Sophie Pettet, was born in 1840 in Suffolk England. Mary Ann Foster, daughter of William and Sarah Foster, was born in 1853 in Northamptonshire England. Thomas and Mary Ann were married in London in 1873, had their first child, Thomas Arthur, in 1874 in Hampstead Heath and by 1875 immigrated to Australia where their second child, Edith was born. Initially they established themselves in the Redfem area of Sydney but by around 1881 had settled in The Esplanade Thomleigh where they raised their large family and lived out their days.
Back in England, Thomas Crick Pettet had been a wine cooper by trade however, his occupation in Australia was listed as a labour bureau overseer. The Pettets had a reputation in the district of being a talented sporting family. Thomas and Mary Ann’s eldest child Thomas (known as Arthur), went on to marry Emily Chant and became the foreman/manager for P.A. James Sawmill and Timber Yard at Epping. P.A. James was Homsby Shire President for thirteen years and also owned the saw mill in Jersey Street Homsby.
Arthur and Emily Pettet lived at “Heathmount” 101 Midson Road Epping, a property which came with the job. Arthur continued to work at the saw mill until a year before his death in 1959. Second child Emily Pettet, died as an infant in 1875 in Sydney. Maud Mary Pettet, married salesman Clarence Morris and lived on the North Shore. Maud and Clarence had five daughters, sadly their first two daughters died before reaching their first birthdays. William Frank (known as Frank) Pettet, was a miner who married Enid Eyles. Frank and Enid had five children before Enid’s death in 1908. Frank then went on to marry Alice Jackson in 1924. He spent most of his adult life living in Croydon Park before moving to the ACT in his later life. Ada Marion Pettet, married well known local farmer/builder/wood and coal merchant George Wesley Hewett.
The Hewett family had settled in the district in 1863 on thirty —two acres from the Home grant. Ada and George had six children and lived most of their adult lives living in Narembum and Normanhurst. In 1972 at the centenary of Normanhurst Public School, Ada Hewett was the oldest living ex—pupil. She planted a tree in the grounds of the school to commemorate the occasion. Sydney Foster Pettet, a labourer, married Jessie Corby and spent his adult years living and working in Temora. Harry Martin Pettet, became a Major in the Salvation Army. He married Margaret Petersen in Queensland in 1913 and together with their two children who also became Salvation Army ofﬁcers, travelled and lived in many NSW towns such as Armidale, Chatswood, Maitland and ﬁnally DeeWhy with the Salvation Army church. Frederick John Pettet, was employed at the Thomleigh Brickworks as a brick burner. He enlisted on December 9, 1915 at Thomleigh, serving with the 7th Brigade, The Field Artillery. He left Australia on May 11, 1916 landing in England on July 10, 1916. He was killed in action, aged 30, on September 23, 1917 during the Battle of Pacshendale in Belgium. He has no known grave. Frederick was unmarried. Ernest George Pettet, was the stationmaster at Martin’s Creek, a small town located between Dungog and Maitland. He was a good cricketer and sportsman. He died in Dungog Hospital from pneumonia at the age of 32. Ernest was unmarried. Stanley Robert Pettet, was employed as a shop assistant at Anthony Hordems. He enlisted on January 4, 1915 at Thomleigh, serving with the 2nd Battalion, Australian Infantry. Stanley died aged 25 on the night of August 6/7, 1915 while taking part in a charge towards the Turkish lines at Gallipoli. He was listed as Missing in Action and has no known grave. Stanley was unmarried. Alfred Edgar Pettet, was a locomotive ﬁreman. He married Sylvia Shields in 1914 and they lived in the Sutherland Shire and then the Thirhnere area, a district popularly known for its railway origins. Alice May Pettet, married local electrician George Henry Martin in 1914 at the Thomleigh Methodist Church. They spent their married years living in Thomleigh before Alice died in 1930 age 37 years. Thirteenth and youngest child Albert Gordon, (known as Gordon) Pettet, came to a horrific end at the age of 9 when in 1906 he was murdered with a tomahawk in Pennant Hills by a market gardener/cook named Charlie John Tye. Charlie Tye, a Chinese man, had gone on a rampage between Thomleigh and Pennant Hills stations injuring one man and killing a 16 year old youth named Horace Aiken as well as young Gordon. Members of the Chinese community sent their sincere sympathy and regret to both mothers of the deceased boys and offered financial assistance if that would ‘tend in any way to relieve the distress occasioned by this terrible affair’. Gordon is buried in Pennant Hills Wesleyan Burial Ground (now the Chenybrook Uniting Church). Thomas Crick Pettet spent his last years in ill health and in 1916 at the age of 76 died of a stroke. Mary Ann Foster Pettet lived until 1936 and passed away at the age of 83. Thomas and Mary Ann lived through good times and bad, they saw many changes in the district and no doubt were very proud of their large family. They lost two sons tragically during WWI, an infant daughter, a son and a daughter in their thirties through illness and the tragic senseless murder of their 9 year old son Gordon no doubt was unbearable to cope with. Yet despite all the sadness, work, school, church, life had to go on, and the Pettet family, like other local families, continued to contribute to the culture and prosperity of the Homsby Shire. Today there are still many descendants of Thomas and Mary Ann living in the Homsby Shire.
Postcard sent to Ada Hewett from her brother Stan Pettet in June 1915 before his death in Gallipoli in August 1915