The Australian Raitts

As yet I have not really looked too deeply into various Raitt families in Australia, despite the fact that three of my cousins (children of one of my father's sisters, Alice Raitt, who married Peter McAneny) emigrated there many years ago and their children and grandchildren were either born or grew up there. This is something that I will get around to doing more on.

There are a couple of Raitts in Australia who are currently buried in other pages on this site. On the Lyttelton Raitts page, the mysterious Hallaine Raitt is discussed. Ostensibly the daughter of James Raitt and Helen MacDonald who emigrated to New Zealand from Arbroath in 1874, she moved with her husband William Luff to Queensland, Australia about 1910.

Then on the Raitt Anecdotes page there is quite a long piece about James Rait born in 1808, possibly in Edinburgh, where he was convicted of house-breaking by the Edinburgh Court of Justiciary on 19 July 1837. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison - not in the Edinburgh city jail, but instead the penal colony on Van Diemen’s Land (or Tasmania as it is known today).

However, there is also quite a lot to be found about a brother, John William Raitt, who emigrated from Angus to Australia before the 1st World War, and his sister, Elizabeth Ann Raitt, who emigrated just after. Their story has now been moved to its own page - Raitt Siblings in New South Wales. John died in 1955 in Sydney and, together with wife Mary, is buried in Woronora Cemetery, Sutherland, NSW.

It is interesting to note that there are two other Raitts buried in the same Woronora cemetery: James Raitt, who died 4 April 1954, aged 62, and his wife Ann Peters Steel Raitt, of Glen Road, Ourimbah, who died on 25 August 1972, aged 83. James Raitt had married Ann P. D. Ramsay in 1923, in Hurstville, NSW. She was born on 25 November 1888 in Carnoustie, Barry (where other members of John William Raitt’s family lived!). Her father was Andrew Ramsay, a mercantile clerk, and her mother was also Ann Ramsay - they had married in Barry on 29 July 1887. Her death announcement in the Sydney Morning Herald noted that she was the dearly beloved sister of several siblings - all deceased - whether these were in Australia or Scotland is unclear. James may be the James Raitt, of 27 South Road, Lochee, Dundee, a joiner aged 30 who emigrated to Australia on 19 September 1922 from London aboard the Themistocles. If so, he may be the James born 15 October 1891 in Arbroath, Angus to James Raitt, and Margaret Walker Ritchie, who married in St Vigeans on 6 May 1887 (he was 22, she was 25.) James was aged 22 and a joiner journeyman and his mother was named as Isabella Raitt, spinner in a flax mill, deceased. Margaret was 25, a cabinet maker’s polisher and her parents were William Ritchie, seaman in the merchant service; and Mary. It turns out that James was illegitimate and born on 6 August 1864 in Arbroath to Isabella Rait, flax mill worker, spinster, illiterate - no father is named. In the 1871 census for 13 East Mill Wynd, St Vigeans, grandson James Rait, 6, scholar, born Arbroath is living in the household of Ann Rait, widow, 54, born Aberdeenshire; and her two daughters Isobell, 30, flax mill spinner (i.e. James’s mother) and Christina, 16, canvas power loom weaver - both born St Vigeans. Ann’s husband was Alexander Raitt, a flax dresser, born about 1817 in Arbroath. They had at least five children. It would appear that James and Ann Raitt are not related to John and Mary Raitt - though they may have known each other. I will follow up on this family.

And I have also been looking fairly extensively into another Raitt who emigrated to Australia. Charles Henry Raitt was born in St Petersburg, Russia in 1869, attended school in England, and arrived in the State of Victoria in 1891. His grandfather, Charles Robert Raitt, spent some time as a military officer in Australia and had children born there. The family ancestry (and Charles Henry's parents and siblings) will be found mainly under Hampshire Raitts, but Charles Henry Raitt himself will be found on his own page.