Pennington Research Association

Names, Religions and Migrations

of the Penningtons

By Robert E. Sloan


This is one of the most informative articles I've read to help me understand the history of the Pennington surname, the Pennington Research Association and our Family Groups.

The reader is cautioned to remember this article was written in 1978 and therefore some of the information may have changed and may no longer be accurate.  As with all genealogical research, it is the researchers' responsibility to verify all sources themselves.  The reader may also find some of the information in this article conflicts with other information on this web site or in more recent publications of the Pennington Research Association.  I encourage the reader to learn how the information in this article compares to the latest results from the PRA's DNA Study.  Click here to read the most recent update report.

Click here to see a copy of the original article that was published in the Pennington Pedigrees, Vol. 10, No. 2, pages 1 - 15.*

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Gene Pennington, Research Director

The name Pennington is one of the oldest in England. Surnames did not exist before the Norman Conquest (1066 AD). The population was so low that names of neighbors were not duplicated often enough to pose problems. With the conquest, surnames began to be taken by the nobility. By 1200 most families used two names, though the second name was not always hereditary. The name Pennington started, as so many English surnames did, as a place name. It is a manor, parish and village in the old land of Cumbria, later called North Lancaster and now in the new county of Cumbria. The Cumbrians are of mixed Brigantes tribe of Celts and Viking ancestry, with a strong mixture of Saxon, Danish and Irish blood as well. The manor is exactly the same size as the parish which formerly belonged to the Cistercian Abbey of Furness, and includes 4,160 acres or six and one-half square miles. The parish was the smallest in Lancashire. The village was composed of 50 houses and 284 people in the mid-nineteenth century, and is about the same size today. The name was spelled Pennegetun in the Domesday book of 1086 AD, the first census of England initiated by William the Conqueror, when all of England and Wales had only about one and a half million people. The name apparently arose either from the British word pennig (little hill) or from pennaig (prince) and the Saxon word ton (town).

The oldest Pennington we know of, Gamel de Peninton or Penitone, bore an Old Norse first name, indicating Viking ancestry. He held the manor during the time of King Henry II, count of Anjou and a Plantagenet, who reigned from 1154 to 1189. The grass covered ruins of the original manor house and castle still stand, but in about 1242 the lord of the manor moved to Mulcaster, now Muncaster castle at the mouth of the river Esk, some twenty miles to the west. The lord of Muncaster was generally a knight until 1676 when he was made a Baronet.

In 1783, his descendant was made a Baron. During the War of the Roses, Holy King Harry, Henry VI, became lost after the Battle of Towton in 1464. Sir John Pennington rescued him near Muncaster. In gratitude, King Henry presented Sir John with a fragile glass cup called the "Luck of Muncaster" and a blessing that the family would never run out of male heirs so long as the cup remained unbroken. Though the cup still survives, the last male Pennington of this line died in 1917. The present lord, Sir William Pennington-Ramsden, is descended from the family of the mother of the last Lord Pennington. (1)

The oldest male Pennington given names are those of the lords of Pennington and Muncaster. Gamel’s sons were Benedict and Meldred. Alan was lord in 1208, followed by Thomas (d. 1240), Gamel, and many Alans, Johns, and Williams. The various cadet (younger sons) branches in the area had such names as Allen, Christopher, Edward, George, Gilbert, Henry, Rowland, Thomas and William from 1500 through 1627. The female names from this period were Agnes, Alice, Allys, Catherine, Elizabeth, Isable, Mabell and Margaret. (2) By 1250 the Pennington names were all in Norman form. In general, Old English (Saxon) and Cymric (Welsh or British) names were a minority in the population. It may well be that other inhabitants of the village of Pennington took the town name as a surname during the 1100’s and 1200’s, yet since it was a very tiny village, it is very likely all were closely related anyway. Gamel de Peninton can with very great confidence be called an ancestor of all the Penningtons today.

Due to normal increase, the descendants of Gamel spread throughout the entire Furness section of Lancashire from the seacoast to the tops of the highest of the Furness Fells (Map 1), spread throughout the scenic Lakes district of old Cumberland and Westmoreland and spread across Morecombe Bay to Preston and to Wigan and Radcliffe in southern Lancashire between Liverpool and Manchester. They also spread south along the old Roman road Ermine Street, the site of which today is generally occupied by main highway A-1, into Yorkshire and on down south to London. The earliest Pennington we know to have reached London was Ralph, who died there in Shoreditch in 1444. Most of the London Penningtons were spread out along Ermine Street halfway to Cambridge, or crammed in the 677 acres (about 1 square mile) of the City of London (as opposed to suburbs) centered around London Bridge (Map 2) and included within the Roman wall and the medieval wall built on its ruins. (3)

In 1526, Sir William Pennington of Muncaster (1486-1533) bought land near Chigwell in Essex, on the northeast side of what is now metropolitan London. His descendants spread throughout the London area north of the Thames, particularly near Henham. Some of his descendants, notably Thomas of Radcliffe, moved back to Lancashire. Most of them had typical Norman names such as John, Richard, Robert, Thomas and William. Such names were repeated over and over along with one Clement. Female names for this time and place were Alice, Anne, Dorothy, Elizabeth, Jane, Joane, Katherine, Mary, Maria, Margaret, Priscilla, Sara and Susanne. At about that time (1530) London had 60,000 people compared to three million people for all England and Wales. Only one out of ten Englishmen lived in towns.

There was a sudden change in style of names in the children of Robert and Judith (Shetterden) Pennington, grocer of London, married in 1581, grandson of Sir William. They gave their son, later Sir Isaac, fishmonger and Lord Mayor of London, who lived 1587-1661, the earliest clearly Old Testament name I have found other than his uncle Jacob. Two of Sir Isaac’s sons Daniel and Isaac the Quaker had Old Testament names. Arthur had a British name, William a Norman name, Abigail and Judith were named for their mother and paternal grandmother, and the last child was named Bridget. Many lines of Penningtons in the United States continue to have this mixture of Old Testament and Norman names, in particular Groups 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11 and 13.

The question immediately arises, why the abrupt change in style of names and how many times did it occur? The Old Testament names appear to be associated with the Protestant sects that were proliferating in the mid-1500’s to 1600’s. Martin Luther of Germany made his break with Roman Catholicism in 1517. Henry VIII began the Church of England (Episcopalianism) in 1531. The movement to Congregationalism began in London in 1565 from a Church of England base as a part of the Puritan movement which had begun as early as 1539. Presbyterianism was the other part of the Puritan movement. St. Stephens Parish, London, home of Sir Isaac, was a Presbyterian parish. In 1560 the Geneva or "Breeches Bible" appearedundefinedthe first printed bible available to the masses. As a result, biblical names began to become widespread in England, particularly among the Puritans who refused to adhere to the liturgy, ceremonies and discipline of the established church.

By 1600, the Baptists arose from English Congregationalists under the leadership of John Smith. Baptists of course are noted for their use of Old Testament names, a tendency perhaps inherited from their Puritan ancestry. George Fox founded the Society of Friends or Quakers in 1647. One of his early supporters was Margaret Fell, wife of Thomas Fell, Vice Chancellor of Leicestershire, who let Fox use their home, Swarthmore Hall near Ulverstone, two miles from Pennington, as a meeting place. She married George Fox after 1658. The Quakers of course use Old Testament names. Not too surprisingly, some of the local Penningtons became Quakers. One, Joseph of Hawkshead, went to Cecil County, MD between 1706 and 1710, dying there and leaving a widow and two orphans. Another, William of Sunbreak, came to PA in 1718 with five children and is the ancestor of Group 3. Sir Isaac’s son Isaac became a Quaker when mature and had a son come to PA. While he has been thought to be ancestral to Group 3, so far as we can tell he has no living descendants.

The last major religious sect of concern to Penningtons are the Methodists, which arose from the Church of England under the direction of John Wesley, starting in 1729. While most Methodists are not noted for Old Testament names, but some of our Methodist lines such as Rev. Ephraim of NC-GA (Group 1) do have such a tradition, probably derived from their Puritan CT-NJ ancestry.

By 1696, the population of greater London had risen to 530,000, almost ten times the 1530 figure, that of England and Wales to six million people, twice that of 1530, and one in four Englishmen lived in towns. Water power was the major source of energy other than human and animal power and heavy transportation was by ox-cart or ship. The canals were to come later. Steam power and railroads were a century away. Population pressure in England was heavy and the colonies were the place to expand. Colonists moved to the New World, rich ones paying their own way and poor ones or convicts by transportation. The mortality rate among early colonists was very high at first. Penningtons moved to the New World with the rest of England. We presently know of only thirty-one male Pennington immigrants between 1609 and 1776. There were surely others that have thus far gone unreported and may only be represented in early deeds or wills in the colonies.

The first few immigrants are not likely to have left any descendants. Robert of London and John were part of the Virginia colony of 1607 composed of 490 people. All but 60 died the first winter: Robert died August 18, 1607 and John apparently returnedundefinedhe may be the famous Sir John the Admiral. William died 13 days after his arrival in Virginia in 1634: his widow was still in England. John Pennington of Symon Ward, aged 40, sailed from Plymouth for St. Christophers in the Antilles in 1633. Another William sailed for Bermuda from London in 1635. It is possible that some of their descendants came to the mainland but none are known to have done so. Christopher Piddington (a name often confused with Pennington) reached Virginia in 1638 and may supply an ancestor.

Ephraim, who came to New Haven, CT in 1643, is the earliest we know to have descendants. He founded Group 1 and clearly was a Puritan since there were only 6 non-Puritans in the colony at that time. We can reasonably suppose he came from a middle class London family of Congregationalists since that was the state religion and the leaders of the colony came from St. Stephens parish. Ephraim is clearly related to the Muncaster and London Penningtons since his arms differ only slightly from the Lords Muncaster and Sir Isaac: the mountain cat has a different pose. (4) Ephraim is also the probable ancestor of Groups 4, 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, and Flora Smith’s Simeon Group which we shall call 16. (5)

Over the twenty years from 1650 to 1670, three Henry Penningtons were transported to MD, two as servants. A William went to VA and another William to MD. A John Pennington (b. 1674) from Yorkshire went to VA, MD or the Carolinas in 1699. Another Henry Pennington was transported to Somerset County, MD from VA where his father was Henry Peddington (1605?-1697?) of Accomack County, VA. A John Pennington appears in a Westmoreland County, VA deed in 1654 and probably represents a new immigrant. In 1675 a Frances Pennington, a Roman Catholic Jesuit priest came to MD, another John, also a Jesuit, came to Calvert County, MD in 1685: it is unlikely they left any descendants. The others are likely ancestors for Groups 2, 6, 9 and 10, and possible, although less likely, ancestors for the other groups. I reiterate that it is by no means certain that any individual in this list is ancestral to any group. There were surely other immigrants whose records have not survived or not yet been found. An Edward Pinton was present in VA in 1658, a Richard was present in Accomack County, VA in 1667, James was present in Calvert County, MD, dying in 1678, and Jeter Pennington was in Rappahannock County, VA in 1688.

The Quaker colony, Pennsylvania, was founded in 1681. We have three known Quaker immigrant families. The first, Joseph of Hawkshead, Furness, Lancashire, England, came to Calvert County, MD after 1706, dying there in 1710 and leaving a pregnant widow and a son.

The widow died in childbirth a few days before 26 Aug 1711, and the child lived. The son was 4 years old and indentured as an orphan apprentice to William Baldwin, Quaker of Pennsylvania. At that point we lose track of the children. Edward (son of Issac the Quaker of Amersham, Buckinghamshire, England, grandson of Sir Isaac) went to Philadelphia in 1698, married and died there in 1701, leaving one posthumous child Isaac. The latest known male Pennington of this line and the only one who could have Pennington descendants is John, born in Philadelphia on May 16, 1758. William of Sunbreak, Aldingham, Furness, Lancashire, England, son of Paul immigrated in 1718 as the third Quaker family, bringing wife Margaret Halle and children Elizabeth (b. 1688), Paul (b. 1691), Daniel (b. 1694), Thomas (b. 1697) and Margaret (b. 1705). (6) They remained here and are ancestors of Group 3, not Sir Isaac as we have thought for the past decade. (7)

Seven remaining Pennington men came to the New World before the Revolution. George (b. 1700), groom from Yorkshire was indentured to Nathaniel Wilson of MD for 4 years in 1733. (8) Another George came from Burton Leonard, Yorks. to MD in 1739; and still another George was transported as a convict to MD in 1741. Josias was born about 1741 and came to Baltimore from an unknown place before 1771, dying in 1810. (9) A pair of Johns, one from Staffordshire and one from Hertfordshire who came in 1775 have not yet been connected to descendants. Vacil Kalinoff’s James came to Houlton, ME before the revolution. He was a loyalist during the war and afterward settled just across the line in St. John and Southampton, New Brunswick, Canada. His sons later migrated to MN and ND. We can call Vacill’s family Group 17. (10)

In Pennington Pedigrees 6-2 there were important stories on migrations of Penningtons and allied families by Penny Floyd and Bee Holmes. These stories tied many of our families together in time and space and summarized much of the evidence for our groups. The rest of this story is a sequel to that of Penny and Bee and if you have it, you ought to reread it. I will repeat some but not all of their evidence.

Ephraim of Connecticut, 1643, appears to be the progenitor of a very large number of Pennington groups, although we are missing records of about two generations to prove this.

Group 1 has a tradition of naming sons, usually eldest sons of eldest sons, Ephraim. (11) Other known early names in this line are Judah, Elijah, Jonathan, Timothy, Aaron, Nathan, and Samuel. Groups 1 Ephraim; 4 Richard; 5 Rev. Charles of PA (Baptist); 7 Benejah and Micajah 1743 of NC-VA; 11 Abel of NC, SC, GA, and MS; 12 Samuel of Ashe County, NC, VA; 13 Timothy of NC and 16 Simeon of NC, VA, and KY all share common names; six members of these groups fought together in a single company in the Revolution and the groups were closely associated from at least 1760 to 1800 and later. They either moved together or rejoined after a few years separation, all or part of them moving from PA to NC to VA to KY, TN or GA. Centers of association of these groups were Salisbury, Rowan County, NC; Ashe County, NC and adjacent Grayson County, VA; Lee and Russell Counties, VA and adjacent Harlan County, KY; and the area west of the Appalachian Mountains along the Cumberland and Caney Fork rivers from Tompkinsville, KY to McMinnville, TN.

We know of Ephraim 2 and 3, residents of NJ, who were the eldest son of Ephraim and his eldest son. A postulated Ephraim 4, brother of Timothy of NJ, his will 1749 has an estimated date of birth of 1689 - 15 years, is of appropriate age to be the grandfather of Richard of Group 4 or of Micajah 1743 of Group 7. (12) Louise Throop found a mature Ephraim in York, York County, PA in 1775 who might be Ephraim 4 or the son by that name of Timothy of will 1749 of NJ. (13) Richard Bailey found that he served as coroner, as a Captain in the Revolution, and is known to have been in York through 1786. A Presbyterian Ephraim, this one or his son, died in York at the age of 76 in 1816.

Groups clearly not associated with this cluster include Group 2, Robert of MD and PA; (14) Group 3, William of Lancashire, England; and Group 9, John of Cecil County, MD. (15) Old Testament names are missing or scarce in these groups and they do not appear to have ever been in the same places as the cluster. There are weakly associated groups such as Group 8, Abraham-Isaac-Jacob, (16) which followed the same route from near Philadelphia to central VA, then separated; Group 10, Thomas of Sussex and Surrey, VA, not associated except for David and sons who showed up in Salisbury when the others were there, and finally Group 14, Edmund of PA which begins near Philadelphia. (17) Group 15, William Thomas Pennington of TN may well be descended from Micajah 1743. (18) Map 3 shows the migrations of these groups to about 1830.

Groups 5 and 14 stand a better than fair chance of originating from Group 3. The founder of Group 5 was Reverend Charles Pennington, Baptist, born June 6, 1758 in New Britain township, Bucks County, PA. He served in the PA militia as a teamster during the Revolution, although his pension request was not granted. He moved from PA to NC in 1787 and thereafter moved with or close to Groups 4 and 7 to VA, TN, IN, dying in IL on 5 Sep 1845. It has long been rumored that Charles had a (twin?) brother named Edmund.

The founders of Group 14 are Edmund and Mary (Wilson) Pennington, Baptist of Montgomeryville, Montgomery County, PA (less than 5 miles from the center of New Britain township). Edmund was born in 1753 and died 23 Apr 1813. He is the only Edmund to be found in PA during his lifetime. According to tax records, Edmund spent his life within a 10 mile radius in Montgomery County from 1776 to his death. Edmund’s daughter Elizabeth married John Dance who paid the tax on an estate of Charles Pennington in the township of Moreland (in NE Philadelphia, 15 miles from Montgomeryville) which had previously belonged to Thomas P., son of William P., founder of Group 3. Thomas had a son James, b. 1725, who married Jane Palmer out of unity and ceased to be a Quaker as a result. We know James and Jane to have had sons Charles and Paul at least. On the basis of tax lists, Charles was in Tredyffrin township Chester County (15 miles SW of Montgomeryville) from 1774 to 1781, then in Moreland in 1782 and 1783, and in Buckingham, Bucks County in 1785 to 1787. He is not found later in PA.

Charles and Edmund are the only Baptist Penningtons we know in PA in the 1770’s and 80’s. A Charles drops out of sight in PA the same year a Charles from PA appears in NC. It is very tempting to think that Charles (Group 5) and Edmund (Group 14) were brothers, although not twins and that they were great grandsons of William, founder of Group 3. It appears reasonable to tentatively consider Groups 3, 5, and 14 to form a cluster of groups.

Group 10 is well documented, all descending from Thomas and Sarah (George Lewis) Pennington of Surry County, VA. Thomas’s father was probably named Edward. Their descendants moved southwest into Sussex, Dinwiddie, Brunswick and Mecklenburg Counties, VA and Wake, Halifax and Montgomery Counties, NC before spreading west and dispersing.

John Hensell by a great leap of imagination connects the London and Essex Penningtons with Edward and Henry of Accomack County, VA and further connects them with Thomas of Surry County, VA. (19) There appears to be little evidence for this pair of connections. Lillian Stamps instead points out that an immigrant Edward came to York County, VA as servant to Nathaniel

Bacon before 1650. (20) Bacon and Edward then moved across the James River estuary to Isle of Wight County, VA by 1652. This is immediately adjacent to Surry County, VA. This Edward would appear to be a far more likely candidate for father of Thomas and Group 10 than Hensell’s hypothesis. In any event, Group 10 is derived from a different immigrant Pennington than any other group.

During the 1750’s there was a major migration to the southern colonies. The Morgans, Bryans, Boones, Osbornes, and Plumleys, all associated with Penningtons in NJ and southeast PA, all moved southwest. They crossed the Potomac near Harper’s Ferry, went up the Shenandoah, out into the foothills east of the Blue Ridge and down to the Yadkin River near the Trading Ford and the Shallow Ford. This was the main area of eastern battles in the Civil War and many old records were destroyed at that time.

The next Ephraim we know is listed in the Rowan County, NC tax list for 1761 in "Caleb Osbon’s district". (21) On 28 Apr 1762 he was exempted from paying taxes or doing public duties, probably for age or infirmity, which would make him about 70 with a birth date about 1692. (22) He might be Ephraim 4, 5, or even 6--without more records, we will not know.

In the 1768 tax list, an Ephraim is listed in Morgan Bryant’s district on the Shallow Ford of the Yadkin River (see map 4), near Hannah Boone Stewart and her parents. Presumably, this is the son of the previous Ephraim (5 or 6). At about the same time Group 7 shows up, with Benejah’s crop mark listed when the county was formed in 1753, Levi and Benejah in 1759 and Levi, Micajah (1743), and Benejah in 1764. Group 4 Richard (1748, PA) was present at Shallow Ford and married Hannah Boone Stewart in 1777. Group 10 David and sons Kinchen and Ned were in Salisbury district at the time.

We suspect, though it is by no means proved,, that Benejah Sr. was the father of Benejah Jr., of Micajah (1743-1813), of William Sr., of Levy (Levi), and of Abel (b. before 1755 to 1818-Group 11) and possibly Andrew (b. 1745). We also suspect that the first Ephraim who appeared in the Rowan County record in 1761, two years after Benajah Sr., was his brother and that this Ephraim had sons Ephraim, Richard (1748-1813-Group 4), Joshua, Timothy (175?-182?, Group 8, and Robert b. 1763). These two families were very close from 1761 to 1820. On the basis of tax and census records, clearly some of Benejah’s sons named sons Ephraim. This suggest that Benejah and Ephraim are descendants of the CT, NJ, PA Ephraims of Group 1. The only other early Ephraim known to me is the single Ephraim of the Cecil County, MD clan, too late to be ancestral to the NC clans. With less certainty the first Levi (founder of Group 6, b. about 1714, d. about 1790) a lapsed Quaker, may be brother to Benejah. This association is much weaker.

In 1777, Lord Cornwallis was going through the coastal plain as far inland as the Blue Ridge Mountains with an army of 3000 men. Salisbury, with about seventy houses, was one of the major towns and an obvious target for his raids. Many Penningtons and other families moved about 100 miles inland behind the safety of the Blue Ridge to the banks of the New River in that part of Wilkes County, NC, that later became Ashe County in 1799 and to adjoining Montgomery County, later Grayson County, VA. Richard and Hannah moved right after their marriage to near the mouth of Grassy Creek, right on the border. In February 1778, Richard’s first son Joshua was born there and in December 1781 so was his second son Daniel.

During 1781, Richard and what were apparently brothers and first cousins enlisted in Captain Enoch Osborn’s Company of Virginia Militia from Fincastle and Montgomery Counties, VA. (23) The other Penningtons were Robert (Robert b. about 1763), Timothy (b. 1749 Group 8), (24) Joshua (these three were probably Richard’s brothers), Elijah and Micajah (Group 7). (25) Ephraim (5 or 6) was listed but had been crossed off.

In 1799 land grants on New River in Wilkes (Ashe) County were made out to Micajah, William, Levi (Group 6), Ephraim (5, 6, or 7), Elisha, Edward, Elijah and Abel (Group 11). (26). In the Montgomery (Grayson) County tax rolls of 1782, Benejah (Group 7), Ephraim (5, 6, or 7), Richard (Group 4) and Timothy (Group 13), were all listed. In June 1784 John Stuart Pennington was born to Hannah and Richard supposedly "near Yadkin" but I suspect that was an error in tradition, for Richard was still listed in Montgomery County in 1785. In the 1788 tax roll Robert was in Montgomery County but Richard had returned across the line to Wilkes County. In January of that year, Richard’s last child Abigail was born in NC. Micajah also bought land in Wilkes County that year. In 1790, Richard, Ben, Elijah, and Micajah 1743 and Micajah 1763 were all listed in Wilkes County. Earlier, Micajah and two Williams had been listed in Wilkes County in 1786. In 1790, Edward and Levi (Group 6) bought land in Wilkes (Ashe) County. Benejah got a deed for 45 acres in VA on Grassy Creek on 29 Apr 1790. In 1797, Ephraim (6 or 7) was granted land in Wilkes County, GA. (27) He is listed as being born in NC. Meanwhile, Ephraim (6 or 7) was listed in the Ashe County. NC census of 1800 as over 45, with wife over 45, daughter 20-25, son 16-20. I hope you have your Ephraims straight, I am not at all sure that I have! Between 1761 and 1815 there were at least seven and possibly ten different Ephraims in first Rowan then Ashe and Grayson Counties, of which six or seven were born in these counties. Some stayed, others moved on to KY, TN, or GA. (28) Sortin’ these out has not been done... Others listed in the 1800 Ashe County census are Benjamin (Benejah?), Micajah Sr. & Jr., William Sr. (miller on Grassy Creek), William Jr., Wells, Levi, Ephraim Sr. & Jr., and Reuben. William Jr. (1777-1838) moved on to Monroe and Bradley Counties in southeastern TN after 1813. His father William Sr. died in 1810. (29) By 1815 the mature Penningtons left in Ashe County were Micajah 1763, Levi now owning the lands where Micajah 1743 had been in 1788, "Ephron", Levy Jr., William and Aaron. At least one of the Ashe County Penningtons married a Cherokee lady, producing a Cherokee clan of Penningtons. In 1838 this clan was transplanted bodily during the March of Tears, from the mountains of western NC to Oklahoma Territory. (30)

The four Henrys who came to MD form an interesting problem. The first Henry who came as a servant in 1650 apparently settled in St. Maries County in southern MD, west of Chesapeake Bay, along St. Jerome’s Creek in St. Jerome’s Parish. He is listed there in court records from 1661 to 1674. His wife’s name was Rachel. At present I do not know of any descendants.

The second Henry Pennington was the son of Henry and Mary (later Mrs. Ambrose Dixon) Peddington of Accomack County, VA at the southern tip of the Delaware-Maryland peninsula. On 10 Mar 1663 Henry and his step-father Ambrose Dixon were granted land in Somerset County, MD, just across the line from their former county. Henry had a son Henry, who had two daughters Elenor Welch and Elizabeth (Mrs. John Hall). We probably do not need to look further for Pennington descendants of the second Henry.

The third Henry, who was transported as a servant in 1665, and the fourth Henry who immigrated in 1667, are the most likely candidates (but as yet unproven) for an ancestor of Group 2--Robert of MD, DE, and PA; Group 8--Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and Group 9--John of Bohemia River, Cecil County, MD and his descendants Benjamin, Elijah, and William Boyer. It may be that one or more of these groups is descended from a William who was transported to MD in 1664. In any event, one of these two Henrys and his wife Eliza bought land on the Sassafras River at the southern edge of Cecil County in the northeast corner of MD. This estate, on what came to be called Pennington’s Point, named "Happy Harbour", can be followed in wills and deeds of his descendants until 1736 when it became the hamlet of Fredericktown. Henry also patented the estates "Silvains Folly" and "Pennyworth" in 1680, and his descendants owned the estate "Buntington" as of 1695, all in the same area of Cecil County. Descendants of Henry (and possibly William) spread throughout Cecil County to Cecilton, to the Bohemia River, and into adjacent Kent County, MD and DE. Known descendants of Henry by 1800 include nine Henrys, eight Johns, six Williams, six Roberts, four Thomases, four Edwards, three Abrahams, and three Benedicts among others. Most if not all Penningtons in Cecil County before 1800 appear to be related on the basis of wills and deeds.

Robert Pennington (ancestor of Group 2) was born in 1754 on the "Eastern Shore" of MD (Somerset thru Cecil Counties, east of Chesapeake Bay), served in the 5th MD Regiment of the Continental Line during the Revolution, married Rebecca Benn in 1776, and left Northern DE to arrive in Northumberland County (now Centre County), PA in 1784. He had a son Henry. On location and name frequency, it is likely (although not certain) that he is descended from Henry of Cecil County, MD.

Abraham (1755 will in SC), the founder of Group 8, before migrating to SC, was an Indian trader on Catoctin Creek near Brunswick, MD from 1728 on. Earlier an Abraham (who also was an Indian trader) and his wife Mary had purchased land in Cecil County in 1714 and 1719, and still earlier had patented land there in 1695. Henry of Cecil County may well be the ancestor of Abraham and Group 8.

Elijah (b. 1756) a Revolutionary ancestor of Group 9, was a son of Benjamin (b. 1728, St. Stephens parish, Cecilton, Cecil County, MD), who was the son of John of Bohemia River, Cecil County and his first wife Sarah Beadle. John and Sarah were the founders of Group 9 and are connected by wills and deeds with the pioneer immigrant Henry of Cecil County.

Thus Groups 2, 8 and 9 apparently share a common ancestor Henry who immigrated to Cecil County, MD in 1665 or 1667.

Now going back to the cluster that we left in NC, on 7 Aug 1797 Hannah and Richard and their children left Wilkes County for Fayette County, KY, nine miles north of Lexington on Little North Elkhorn Creek. They stayed there until September 1798 when they moved to Barren (later Monroe) County, KY on Line Creek near Gamaliel on the KY-TN border (Map 4). Daniel was to stay on that farm through at least February 1853. That was the longest time any of this footloose bunch ever stayed put. The children spread up and down the Cumberland River and the Caney Fork of the Cumberland and were the pioneers of the major Pennington migration route.

The bottleneck of Pennington migrations appears to be the corridor from Ashe and Grayson to Russell Counties, NC, thru Pennington Gap in Lee County, VA, to Harlan County, KY and the head of the Cumberland River. It appears that most Penningtons who moved west funneled through here. Relatives abounded and it was one of the few areas on the Cumberland divide suitable for wagons.

Micajah’s (b. 1743) son Edward (b. 1769) moved to Lee County, VA in 1797 and founded the town of Pennington Gap close to the Cumberland divide and the KY border, dying there in 1860. The history of Micajah’s other children has been summarized in Pennington Pedigrees, (31) as has Edward’s. (32) Micajah’s (b. 1743) youngest son (b. 1782) moved on to Barren County, KY, near his (probable) first cousin once removed, Richard, on Line Creek and was there in 1813.

Micajah (b. 1763) and possibly others of Micajah’s (b. 1743) family went west over the line into Harlan County, KY. His 5th child, Margaret Parsons (b. 1799), moved there in about 1831, and his younger son Charles moved there shortly thereafter. Charles and Micajah are there together in the 1850 census. Charles is back in Lee County, VA by the 1860 census, but Micajah is gone by then. It is not known for sure whether his place of death is Harlan County or Lee County.

An older son Micajah 3 (b. before 1799) is found living in Madison County, KY in 1812. His children were living In Missouri by the 1840’s.

William Thomas Pennington (b. 1784 NC), founder of Group 1533, also appears to be a possible son of Micajah b. 1763. His children were born in Whitley County, KY just downstream on the Cumberland from Harlan County. They later moved to neighboring Scott County, TN. Group 12, founded by Samuel (b. about 1800) lived in Ashe County and for the most part stayed there and may be derived from Group 7.

Abel of Group 11 had lived in Ashe County, NC from 1779 until 1785 when he moved to SC, on to GA in 1788, and on to MS in 1812, leaving descendants behind him in most places. (34) He appears to be a younger brother of Micajah (1743). His sons Abel and William moved back toward the main stream of Penningtons and were in Clay County, KY in 1819.

Son John L. moved to Letcher County, KY in the early 1800’s where he raised a family. His early children were born in SC.

Another Abel enlisted in the War of 1812 in Harlan County, later moving to Lawrence County, KY. Their descendants gave rise to many eastern KY families. (Ed. Note: much more is now known on this lineundefinedsee Marvin Jones’ History.)

Richard’s eldest son Joshua (named for his probable uncle) moved to White County, TN between 1811-1814 and settled near McMinnville where he died in 1868. Richard’s second son Daniel stayed on Line Creek on the old homestead through 1853, dying in Jackson (now Clay) County, TN in 1865. Richard’s third son John Stewart raised a family in Tompkinsville, Barren (Monroe) County, KY and moved most of the family to McDonough County, IL in 1830. They settled in Pennington Point, named for them but founded by William, son of Moses. This was the same place his second cousin Riggs, son of Timothy, settled. Richard’s last child Abigail married William Gist, Jr., brother of Joshua’s wife Mary ("Polly"), moving to White County, TN in 1806 with Joshua and her father, and on to Jackson County, AL, where she died between 1835-1846. The later history of Richard’s descendants has been well covered in Pennington Pedigrees. (35)

Timothy’s (probable) eldest son Simeon (Group 16, b. 1775 NC) moved to Lee County in 1797 (36) and in 1799 to the neighboring Russell County, and back to Lee County in 1802. He moved on to Line Creek, Barren County, KY in March 1810, next to his (probable) Uncle Richard, where he stayed through 1821. In the 1840 and 1850 census he was in Jackson County, TN, the latter year with his son Samuel. Simeon had a brother Asa, apparently a twin, born 26 Aug 1775 in NC, who married Rachel Lane in Lee County in 1797. Their first three children Sarah, Simeon and Corbin were born there. The others, Peter, Timothy, William C., and Frances were born in TN. They moved to Barry (later Lawrence) County, MO in 1845. All the children stayed there except Corbin who moved to Coryell County, TX in the early 1850’s. Ann died 26 Sep 1853. (37) Timothy’s third son Moses (38) (b. 1776 Group 13), was in Russell County, VA in 1799 to 1802 and moved to Line Creek in Barren County, KY next to his (probable) uncle Richard in May 1809 as did Timothy and his fourth son Riggs (b. 1788 to 1790, NC). (39). Timothy was last listed on the tax rolls in 1816, and was dead by the 1820 census. Moses’ son William was the founder of the McDonough County, IL settlement of Pennington Point. Riggs moved on to Crawford County, IN by 1816; to Schuyler County, IL by 1824; to McDonough County, IL in 1825, to Knox County, IL from 1826 to 1837, to Arkansas for a few years, finally moving to Fannin County, TX where he died in 1870. He married Joanna Osborne in KY in 1815.

Joshua left Grayson County, KY for Russell County where he lived from 1798 to 1803, and joined his (probable) brother Richard in Barren County in May 1804, moving to neighboring Cumberland County in 1807 and dying after 1813. (40) He had sons Jesse (b. about 1785), Anthony W. (b. 1793), and at least one daughter by his first wife; and Timothy (1795), Judah (1797), and at least two daughters by his second wife Sarah. Anthony served in the War of 1812 and then married his (probable) first cousin once removed, Elizabeth Pennington, daughter of Simeon, son of his Uncle Timothy. This and his pension caused no end of paper work, which helps sort out the tangled web of relationships. (41) We do not know any descendants of Joshua.

Joshua (and probably Richard, Timothy, and Robert) had a sister Jemimah, born 1760, who married a Smith. She testified that Ephraim Osborn and her brother Joshua were in an expedition against the Cherokee Nation about 1780. (42)

Richard’s youngest brother Robert was born about 1764 in KY, probably near the Shallow Ford of the Yadkin River. He served with his brothers in Enoch Osborne’s company of Militia in 1781 and 1782. He was in Montgomery (Grayson) County through 1788, but next appears on Line Creek, Barren County, next to Richard and his children in 1812 and 1813. (43) His first wife was Millie Ann. A Robert married Sally Gaspen (2nd wife?) in Wayne County, KY just upstream from Richard in 1808. (44) Robert had several children including Ryley born about 1800, as well as Ruth, Pollie and Sallie born in Russell County, VA. His descendants were located in the two counties just upstream from Cumberland County, KY and in Stewartsville, MO.

To summarize, it would appear that the cluster of Groups 1, 4, 7, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16 and possibly 6 are probably descended from a single immigrant ancestor, Ephraim, who came to New Haven, CT in 1743. They were closely associated, follow similar migration patterns from 1750 to at least 1800, and share certain name frequencies and unusual names.

Groups 3, 5, and 14 form another cluster, all probably derived from the earliest Quaker convert among Penningtons, Paul of Sunbreak (near Pennington), Lancashire, England, whose son William migrated to the Philadelphia area in 1717 with his sons Daniel, Paul, and Thomas.

Still another cluster is formed from Groups 2, 8, and 9, all apparently derived from the Cecil County, MD Henry who bought land in 1671, one of the two Henrys who immigrated to MD in 1665 and 1667.

It would appear that Groups 10, 17, and 18 (new number for Sir Isaac’s real descendants) are descended from immigrant ancestors different from each other and from any of the other groups.

There are many pre-Revolutionary Pennington immigrants for whom we do not know any descendants. There are also Penningtons who have immigrated later (they share our English ancestry), and many Pennington families which either became extinct or untraceable.

As in most families we have heroes (at least one Major General who was made a general on the battlefield)--and scoundrels (one Pennington composed and played his own funeral dirge on his fiddle at his hanging)--as well as just plain folks who muddled through just doing their jobs without being either.

The spelling of Pennington varies even within families, with one or two n’s, and semi-literates often omitted g’s and occasionally substituted d’s for n’s. All are variants of the same name and the differences should not be considered too significant. I have seen Pennton, Piniton, Penitone, Penistone, Peddington, and other spellings used in error for Pennington.

There are many hypotheses in this story: ideas about relationships founded on name frequency; location in a small part of a county; common migration patterns; and cross-naming (naming sons and daughters for one’s brothers, sisters, parents, uncles, and aunts). Although these hypotheses are the simplest ones capable of explaining all the data, they are not necessarily correct! Some will probably be proven false. They are clearly marked by such words as "probably", "perhaps", or "suspect", and are proposed to be proved or disproved by further research. Our research committee is currently investigating these problems, but don’t hold your hopes too high about early proof. Records for the period around 1750 to 1776 are particularly scarce for the places where our ancestors lived. Most have already been searched.

Reprinted from Pennington Pedigrees Volume 10-2, pages 1-12, October 1978

Author’s Note:

This article was circulated as a draft to about twenty cousins. It was significantly improved by comments from Penny Floyd, Bee Holmes, Fran Laaker, June Russell, Lillian Stamps, Louise Throop, Dick Bailey, Marvin Jones, Bob Pennington of MD, Jim Pennington of VA and Jim Perkins. I hope it will serve as a summary history and annotated index to the lending copies and the first 9 years of Pennington Pedigrees.

Bob Sloan, 1978

Editor's Note: References are abbreviated PP for Pennington Pedigrees, and LC for Lending Copies.

Paul Albert Pennington, 1994


1 - PP 2-3 p. 31, 7-1 p. 79, 9-1 p. 13, and 10-2, Album

2 - PP 9-2 p. 45

3 - PP 7-1 pp. 1 & 66

4 - PP 3-2 p. 66

5 - PP 2-3 pp. 31-51

6 - PP 8-1 p. 16

7 - PP 3-2 pp. 3-4

8 - LC 6 p. 218

9  - LC 6 p. 214

10 - PP 3-1 pp. 61 & 64, 6-2 p. 21

11 - PP 2-3 pp. 31-51; 10-1 pp. 6-8

12 - PP 1-2 pp. 13-15

13 - National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 65, p. 251

14 - PP 8-1 p. 57; 8-1 p. 2

15 - PP 7-1 p. 56

16 - PP 7-1 pp. 16-35, 9-1 pp. 30-38

17 - PP 8-2 pp. 48-52

18 - PP 9-2 p. 37, 10-1 p. 42

19 - PP 10-1 pp. 31-38

20 - PP 5-2 p. 89

21 - PP 1-3 p. 17

22 - PP 1-3 p. 21

23 - PP 2-2 p. 13

24 - PP 5-1 p. 43, 6-2 p. 39

25 - PP 1-2 p. 35, 8-1 p. 44

26 - PP 1-3 p. 26

27 - PP 9-1 p. 16

28 - PP 1-1, 1-3, 6-2, 7-2, 8-1, 9-1

29 - LC 5 pp. 130-1 (33)

30 - PP 9-2 p. 42

31 - PP 8-1 pp. 44-55

32 - PP 1-4 p. 79

33 - PP 9-2 p. 37

34 - PP 7-2 pp. 64-85; 9-1 pp. 45-56; 9-2 p. 36

35 - PP 1-1 pp. 1-16 and 10-1 pp. 15-17

36 - PP 1-1 p. 13

37 - PP 2-2 pp. 20 & 25, 4-1 p. 52, 4-2 pp. 7 & 40, 5-1 p. 54

38 - PP 5-1 pp. 43-55, 8-2 p. 41, 9-2 p. 30

39 - PP 9-2 p. 58

40 - Barren County Tax Rolls in LC 5 pp. 141-143

41 - PP 1-3 p. 23, 1-4 p. 36, 2-1 p. 4, and 4-1 pp. 11-13

42 - PP 4-2 p. 22

43 - LC 5 p. 142

44 - PP 7-1 p. 13

The three words on the scroll of the Coats of Arms are "Vincit amor patriae"

"Vincit amor patriae" means "The love of my country prevails" or "Love of Country Conquers" which is the United States Army 28th Infantry Regiment's motto.   "Vincent amor patriae laudumque immensa cupido" means "The love of my country exceeds everything."

The following motto appears in English above the mountain cat of the original Baron Muncaster Crest.  "Firm, Vigilant, Active" -Virg. AEn. vi. 823 v. Muncaster b. Pennington

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