Maclean Family Tree
George Pyman

my 3x great grandfather

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The patriarch of the Pyman family is George Pyman, born in Sandsend, North Yorkshire in 1822. The family appears to have been quite humble - George's father James (1785-1861) was a fisherman. George went to sea at the age of 10 in the family "coble", a sort of small traditional fishing boat common to the area. Later he was apprentice on the brig Endymion, and was master of the vessel Nameless by 1843. That same year, he married Elizabeth English (1821-1893), the daughter of Thomas English and Elizabeth Haigh, at Whitby Parish Church.

Their first child, Thomas English Pyman, was born at the end of the year, and was followed by Jane Pyman (1845-1870), George Pyman (1848-1921), James Pyman (1850-1887), John William Pyman (1852-1929), Francis Pyman (known as Frank) (1854-1941), Frederick Haigh Pyman (1856-1932), Walter Herbert Septimus Pyman (1858-1931) and Elizabeth English Pyman (1861-1927).

The family moved to West Hartlepool in 1850 where George started out as a ship chandler and grocer in partnership with his brother-in-law Francis English. In around 1854, he left that business, and set up a new partnership with Thomas Scurr as shipbrokers and coal fitters (or agents) for the local collieries. Pyman & Scurr became part-owners of a number of brigs and other sailing vessels used to export coal. Upon the death of Thomas Scurr in 1861, the firm became George Pyman & Co. He launched the first wholly owned steamship of his own (named the George Pyman) in 1865, exporting to Europe and the Baltic. In 1868, George joined forces with William Gray, Hartlepool's most successful shipbuilder, to launch the East Coast Iron Steamship Association, a marine insurance company. Firms were later established in other important ports. Thomas Bell, an employee from Hartlepool, was sent to open a branch of George Pyman & Co in Newcastle, and became a partner in the renamed Pyman, Bell & Co in 1873, along with James Pyman. (Thomas Bell's son Walter later married Jane, another daughter of Thomas English Pyman. However Pyman Bell operated as an independent company from around 1885). In 1874, John William Pyman established Pyman, Watson & Co of Cardiff, in partnership with Thomas Edward Watson, another Hartlepool associate of George Pyman. In 1881, Pyman Brothers was established in London by sons Francis and Frederick to act as an agent for the three shipowning companies. 

George was appointed Vice-Consul for Belgium in 1879, and in 1888 was elected as the newly incorporated borough of West Hartlepool's second Mayor (succeeding William Gray). In 1895 George was made a Freeman of West Hartlepool, and later that year he resigned from the Town Council. He died on 22 November, 1900 at his home, Raithwaite Hall, a couple of miles from his birthplace. Raithwaite Hall still stands. The entire estate was put up for sale in 2006 with an asking price of 4.7m. It was converted into Raithwaite Estate luxury hotel and spa.

His will was as follows, according to a newspaper clipping of the period: "The will of the late Mr George Pyman, of Raithwaite Hall near Whitby, has been proved in the District Probate Registry at York. It is dated January 9th, (unreadable) and his sons, George Pyman and Walter Herbert Septimus Pyman, are the executors and trustees. He leaves one moiety of the plate, plated articles, and linen which he died possessed to his daughter Elizabeth English Fry absolutely, and other moiety to his three grand-daughters in equal shares (children of his late daughter Jane). To his daughter Elizabeth English Fry he gives the large screen containing the photographs of himself and his late wife and family and descendants. To his son, George Pyman, he gives his two marble statues, the silver casket given to him with the freedom of the borough of West Hartlepool, and all the illuminated and other addresses presented to him. All the freehold and leasehold messuages, lands, &c., go to his son Walter Herbert Septimus Pyman. He bequeaths all his real and personal estate not otherwise disposed of to the use of George Pyman and Walter Herbert Septimus Pyman. The personal estate is sworn at the amount of 134,733; real estate, 60,707; affidavid duty, 8,891." (In modern money, the estate would have been worth around 6m, but in those days the notional amount would have been much higher).

George Pyman & Co continued until 1918 when the company was liquidated as a result of heavy war losses. In 1916, Pyman Brothers of London sold its 16 ships to Pyman, Watson & Co of Cardiff. It resumed shipowning in 1928 with two ships, but sold these in 1940. 

For more on the Pyman family, see Nicola Roberts' Pyman Family website, and especially Peter Hogg's book, The Pyman Story

  Do you have any further information on any of the other people mentioned on this page? Please contact me at My full family tree, which contains almost 1500 individuals, is posted at GenesReunited and Ancestry. Contact me for access.