The New York Raitts

This page provides some information on some of the Raitt families who moved to (from Scotland) and lived in New York, both in the city itself, as well as in other parts of the state, particularly Delaware Count. The information below is not complete, either for all members of a family or for individuals themselves, and will hopefully be added to in due course.


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Among the first of the families to arrive in New York State was the family of Thomas Raitt and Elisabeth Thoms who married in Glen Isla, Angus, Scotland in 1787. Thomas, himself, appears to have died before the family emigrated in 1817 and two daughters of his six children did not emigrated with their mother, three brothers and other sister. They seem to have gone straight to Bovina in Delaware County, though the town seems to have only been formed in 1820 and was named for its dairy cattle industry. I have now discovered much about the descendants of this particular Raitt family and their spread through America - especially California where the most famous branch is to be found - and I have created a separate page - the Bovina Raitts - for them.


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Also to be found in New York is Robert Rait of Edinburgh who arrived from Scotland in 1833 and as a silversmith, jeweller, and retailer established the firm of Robert Rait & Co. (1835-1855) (See Illustrious Raitts - The Craftsmen.) He became naturalized in 1850.  In the 1860 New York Census he is shown as a merchant, and apparently not married or head of the household, with an estimated worth of $50000. He died, a widower, of an epileptic fit, in New York City on 1 February 1869.


Robert had a son named Crichton, born on 19 February 1845 in New York. Crichton S. Raitt is listed in the Edinburgh Academy Register 1824-1914 as attending there from 1858-1861 (classes  4-6). It is noted that he was the son of Robert Rait, merchant in New York. Chrichton S. Rait married Julia Lightbowen on 21 Sep 1876 in Kings, New York. He died in Brooklyn, New York on 25 Oct 1877. There exist coins that are stamped or marked with a merchant name - these include C. S. Raitt and John/Raitt.


Robert also had a well-known elder brother, David Crichton Rait, back in Scotland who was also a silversmith and goldsmith (See Illustrious Raitts - The Craftsmen.) Both were sons of David Reat (Rait) and Anne Crichton (Chrighton) who married on 21 Nov 1795 in Carnbee, Fife, Scotland. David was christened on 25 Oct 1796 in Largo, Fife, while Robert was born in Edinburgh and christened on 15 Aril 1807. They had several siblings and it is not yet known whether any others emigrated to the United States. (See under Scottish Raitts for family details.)


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One of the sons, Edward Duncan Raitt, of my grandfather’s elder brother, David Raitt, emigrated from Glasgow to the United States in 1923. After an initial spell in New Jersey, he moved to Brooklyn, New York where he married Elizabeth Morrison who had come from Glasgow to join him in 1928. The couple had two children born in Brooklyn: Edward Duncan (1929) and Annie (1934). Edward subsequently married and moved first to New Jersey and then Florida, but Annie stayed in New York, marrying Irvine Cole in 1956 and having three daughters born there. More about these families can be found on the David Raitt’s page.


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Meska (or Moses) Rajdewski emigrated from Poland to the United States with his family in 1920 and quickly became known as Morris Raitt. Although he was intending to go to his brother David in Detroit, he decided to stay in New York where he applied for citizenship. For the time being his story is included on the Michigan Raitts page.


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John Thow Raitt was the third son of William Raitt, ship carpenter, and Jessie Napier, born on 2 December 1867 in Old Machar, Aberdeen. He married Mary Warrander on 29 December 1888 in Aberdeen and they had ten children between 1889-1921. John was a boiler maker, first in Aberdeen, then Barrow in Furness, England, and then in County Down, Ireland, and later in New York. Details about his early life and ancestors will be found on the Aberdeenshire Raitts page. It looks as though John Raitt died in Kings, New York on 30 September 1946. His wife may be Mary Raitt dying on 4 April 1946 in Brooklyn, and it may be their daughter Isabella who died on 23 June 1965 in Brooklyn and who is buried in the same cemetery.


John Thow Raitt emigrated to America at the end of 1906. He is recorded as John Riatt (sic), aged 37, married, a boilermaker, travelling in 3rd class, having paid the ticket himself. He was aboard the Sicilian sailing from Glasgow on 22 December 1906 and arriving in Boston on 2 January 1907. His last residence was given as Belfast and his final destination was Quincy, Massachusetts though he did not have a ticket to there. He had $25 in his pocket and this was his first time in the United States. He gave as the relative or friend he was visiting, his nephew John Arbuckle at 25 Claremont Avenue, Quincy. Interestingly, the person next to him on the list, John Rowan, 36, also a married boilermaker from Belfast going to Quincy, gave the same nephew!


I assume that John was going to check out the possibilities for work and living, since his family did not travel with him. It would appear from censuses that wife Mary emigrated in 1909, presumably with at least some of the children - though their departure and arrival recorded are not yet found with the exception of possibly Georgina. A Georgina Raitt, aged 22, arrived from Southampton aboard the Olympic on 10 September 1920. She was Scotch and her last permanent residence was Belfast, Ireland. She was with the Salvation Army and travelling to Brooklyn. Her nearest relative in her country or origin was her sister, Mrs Shepherd, 87 Chatolly St, Belfast - this may have been either older sister Alexandrina. And it would seem that not all the children did go, unless some had died in the meantime - for in his petition for naturalization he names only six children.


John Thow Raitt seems to have made two declarations of intention to become a US citizen. In the first, dated 4 September 1908, he gave his age as 38, and occupation as boilermaker. he was white, with a fair complexion, with dark brown hair and hazel eyes and no visible distinctive marks. He was 5ft 6in and weighed 162 pounds. he was born in Aberdeen, Scotland on 2 December 1869 (!) and was residing at 39 Dikeman Street, Brooklyn. He emigrated to the United States from Ireland via Glasgow, Scotland on the vessel Sicilian, and his last foreign residence was Belfast, Ireland. He stated that it was his bona fide intention to renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, and particularly to George V, King of Great Britain and Ireland. He arrived at the port of Boston, Massachusetts on 2 January 1907 and he confirmed that he was not an anarchist or a believer in polygamy.


For some reason, John Thow Raitt declared his intention to gain citizenship of the United States again on 24 January 1923. In his declaration he gave his age as 53 and his occupation as boilermaker. He was white, of fair complexion, 5ft 7in tall, weighed 178 pounds, had grey hair and eyes and no visible distinctive marks. He said he was born in Aberdeen, Scotland on 2 December 1869 and was residing 551 Tench? Street, Brooklyn. He emigrated to the USA from Glasgow, Scotland on the Sicilian and his last foreign residence as Belfast, Ireland. He gave his wife’s name as Mary, she was born in Scotland and resided with him. And he reiterated all the renunciation of George V and that he was not an anarchist or polygamist.


John Thow Raitt, age 60, residing at 374, 8th Street, Brooklyn had his petition for citizenship admitted on 31 December 1929 by the US District Court in Brooklyn. In his petition for naturalization he gave his occupation as boilermaker and said he had been born in Aberdeen, Scotland on 2 December 1869. His race was Scotch and he declared his intention to become a citizen of the United States on 24 January 1923. He was married and the name of his wife was Mary and they were married on 29 December 1889 in Aberdeen. She was born in Aberdeen on 28 December 1870. He entered the United States at New York on 11 March 1921 for permanent residence and he reiterated his residence. He stated that he had six children: William, born 2 April 1890, Scotland; Flora, born 12 July 1893, England; Grace, born 27 February 1895, Ireland; John, born August 1900, Ireland; Bella, born 26 September 1903, Ireland; and Georgina, born 18 October 1897, Ireland. All except the first child resided in Brooklyn (William lived in Yonkers). His last foreign residence was Belfast, Ireland and he emigrated to the United States from there. He stated that his lawful entry for permanent residence to the United States was at Boston, Massachusetts under the name of John Riatt on 4 January 1907 on the vessel Sicilian. He then went on to confirm that he was not a disbeliever of organized government or a polygamist etc and that he renounced absolutely and forever all allegiance and fidelity to George V. He had lived in the US since 4 January 1907 and in the county of Kings since 30 March 1907. [It would appear that there are various discrepancies with the dates of both John himself as well as his children! He names six children, the first John and Albert were deceased, Mary was not yet born - and possibly Alexandrina had also either died or had not accompanied her family to the US, though she would have been only 17.]


In the 1910 US census for 39 Dikeman Street, New York, Kings there is John T. Raitt, 40, married for 23 years, born in England, as were both parents, working as a boilermaker in a shipyard. He had immigrated in 1907. With him is daughter Florence, 16, a boarder, also born England. She had immigrated in 1909. Where the rest of the family is is not yet known.


In the 1915 census for Block 3, Election District 7, Brooklyn, New York, Kings, we find John Raitt, 45, married, in the United States for 9 years, an alien, born Scotland, occupied as a boilermaker in the household of his daughter Flora, 21 and her husband Neil Murphy, 23, electrician, and two young children. Where the rest of the family is is not yet known.


In the 1920 census for 241 10th Street, Brooklyn, he may be the John Raite, 54, roomer, boilermaker in a shipyard, born Scotland and immigrated in 1906. Where the rest of the family is is not yet known.


In the 1925 census for Block 1, Election District 13, Brooklyn, Kings, there is John Raitt, 52, boilermaker, born Scotland, 18 years in US and now a citizen; wife Mary, 52, houseworker, born Scotland, 5 years in the US and also a citizen; and daughters Georgina, 23, born Ireland, 4 years in the US, making electric blinds?; and Mary, 4, born US.


In the 1930 census living at 374 8th Street, Brooklyn, Kings, New York we John Raitt, 61, born in Scotland (as were both parents), a naturalized citizen, occupied as a machinist in a ship yard. He was first married at age 18 and immigrated in 1909. With him is his wife, Mary, 61, born Scotland (as parents), also first married at 18 and immigrating in 1909; and daughter Mary, 9, born New York.


Where the family was in the 1940 census is not yet known.


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There are various other Raitt families in the New York area, including Bernard Reat, aged 30, who arrived in New York in 1825, and I will be adding more information on these in the near future. In the meantime, see also under New York on the Raitts in the 1880 census page.