Search billions of records on Ancestry.com
   

Transcribed by James Cookman, a descendant.

Transcribed true copy of an article sent to me by Carolyn McDaniel, who received it from Marilyn Kucera. Photocopied from a file in the possession of the Chester County Historical Society.

OLD PHILADELPHIA FAMILIES XLVII Penington

Conducted by Frank Willing Leach

Published in the North American Philadelphia Sunday April 26, 1908

The family of Penington (formerly spelled Pennington) of Henham, County Essex, and of Amersham, County Bucks (Buckinghamshire) in England, and afterward of Philadelphia, begins with one Penington who was buried at Henham before 1557: a cadet of the ancient family of Pennington of Pennington, Lancashire, and of Muncaster, County Cumberland, which had held those manors since the time of Gamel de Penington, of Penington and Muncaster, who flourished in the reign of King Henry II, and who were created Baronets in1676, and Barons Muncaster in 1783. The connection with the main stem of Muncaster is alluded to in the will of this Penington of Henham’s great grandson, Admiral Sir John Pennington who mentions therein his cousin, William Pennington of Muncaster, and who was buried at Muncaster as a relative of that family.

This first Penington of Henham had, among other children, three sons, Thomas Pennington, of Tottenham High Cross, County Middlesex, Gentleman; William Pennington of London (ancestor of the Philadelphia Peningtons,) and Robert Pennington, of Plegedon, in the Parish of Henham, County Essex. The latter, whose will was dated August 20, 1557, and who was buried at Henham August 28 of the same year, was grandfather of Admiral Sir John Pennington, whose father, also named Robert, purchased land in Henham and Elsenham in 1567, and was buried at Henham November 22, 1612. The Admiral’s mother was Margaret Barfoot, whose family held Lambourne Hall in Essex. She was buried at Henham September 22, 1579. Robert and Margaret Pennington’s eldest son was another Robert, who married a kinswoman of Dean Newell; the Admiral was the second; and there were other children, a son Josias, and several daughters.

Admiral Sir John Pennington, of King Charles I’s Fleet, was also Treasurer of His Majesty’s Navy, and one of the Gentlemen of His Majesty’s Privy Chamber in Ordinary, Captain of Sandown Castle; knighted on board H.M.S. Unicorn April 14, 1634. He was baptised at Henham, January 30, 1568, and died unmarried in September 1646.

William Pennington, elder brother of the Admiral’s grandfather, was born at Henham, County Essex; was a citizen of London in 1557, and was buried at St. Benet’s, Gracechurch Street, London, November 11, 1592. His widow, Alice Pennington was interred at the same place, October 9, 1607, the burial notice speaking of her as "an ancient householder." The children of Alice and William Pennington were eight in number, to wit: Jacob, Robert, Arthur, William, Mary, Thomas a daughter, name unknown, who married Daniel Shetterdon, and Anne.

FATHER OF THE LORD MAYOR

The second of the above mentioned Children, Robert Pennington, resided in London, where he married Judith Shetterdon, daughter of Isaac Shetterdon, who was living as late as 1622. Robert Pennington died April 18, 1628. By his will, dated December 24, 1622, to which a codicil, bearing date March 17, 1624-25, was attached, he directed that he should be buried in the Church of St. Andrew. He bequeathed 100 Pounds to the Company of Fishmongers, of which he was a member, for an increase of the building of their almshouses at Newington, County Surrey, and desired of his executor to provide a dinner at his funeral for the Master of Christ’s Hospital. His house in West Cheap he left to his son Daniel.

Robert and Judith (nee Shetterdon) Pennington had issue: Isaac, of whom hereafter; Robert, who died in November 1645, survived by his widow Anne; Daniel, who married Elizabeth Risby, and died shortly after January 26, 1664-65, the date of his will, which was proved in 1665; Mary who became the wife of Robert Robinson, and Judith, who married a Claxton, first name unknown.

Isaac Penington, the eldest of the children of Robert and Judith Penington, was born in 1588, as he was 40 years old at the death of his father in 1628. Isaac Pennington succeeded to all this father’s lands and tenements in the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk, and also followed in the elder Pennington’s footsteps as an extensive London merchant.

Being possessed of large means, Isaac Pennington devoted much of his time to civic and political affairs. He was first chosen an Alderman. In 1638 he was made High Sheriff of London. In 1640 he was elected Member of Parliament for the City, and became a leader in the House. He was made Lord Mayor of London in 1643 , and subsequently was appointed Lieutenant Governor of the Tower. Having been Knighted by the Speaker of the House of Commons, he was commissioned, in 1649, a member of the Council of State.

Of Sir Isaac Pennington’s remarkable career under the Protectorate, an English writer has said:

He represented the City in the Long Parliament, and was the Rothschild of the Roundheads. When money was wanted in the early years of the war, application was generally made to the city through Alderman Pennington. If the Houses were showing courage and faithfulness to the Cause, the Alderman promised money, and once offered a guard of 300 citizens, but when compromise about Stafford was in the air, the money was withheld.

Penington was Lord Mayor the year the war broke out, and when there seemed danger of peace being made in 1643, it was he who as Lord Mayor helped to organize mob violence to terrify the peace party. When the House found it necessary for its safety against Army Plots to have the Tower in trusty keeping, Alderman Pennington was made it’s Governor.

He was a member of the High Court of Justice who tried the King. He was knighted by the Speaker and became a member of that Council of State which undertook the difficult organization of the infant Commonwealth. He was what was called a "Parliament Grandee," one of the revolutionary nobility for twenty years.

As stated in the above quotation, Isaac Pennington was one of the Commissioners of the High Court of Justice for the trial of Charles I, but did not sign the warrant for the King’s execution. He was, however, recognized as one of the "Regicides," and, following the Restoration, he was, in 1660, arrested and committed to the Tower, and his estates were confiscated. He was sentenced to death, but, before the decree could be carried out, Pennington died in the Tower, from ill usage, December 17, 1661.

Sir Isaac Pennington was twice married, first, February 7, 1614-15 to Abigail Allen, daughter of John Allen, a London merchant. It is written of her that her desires were "for the religious welfare and the establishment of the Christian character of her children," Sir Isaac’s second wife was Mary Young, daughter of Matthew Young. His children, however were all by his first wife, and were, as follows: Isaac, Arthur, William, Daniel, Abigail, Bridget, Judith and Anne. Of these, Isaac, the father of the emigrant to America, will be mentioned hereafter. Arthur was a Roman Catholic Priest. William, who was a merchant in London, became, like his elder brother, a member of the Society of Friends, and died April 3, 1689. Daniel, who was godson to his uncle Daniel, married, but we have no information concerning him, beyond mention of him by his brother Isaac, in 1667. Of the four daughters, we only know that Anne became the wife of Richard More, of More and Larden, County Salop, who was a member of Parliament.

Like William Penn, who departed widely from his father, Admiral William Penn, in religion and mode of life, the younger Isaac Penington—who dropped an "n" from his name, which orthography will be hereafter followed in this article—seems to have possessed none of the worldly ambitions and tastes of his militant parent. Born about 1616 in the City of London, his life in the metropolis was spent amid strenuous surroundings. But, having married in 1654, he removed from London—this was prior to the Restoration—and made his residence in the country, probably in Berkshire.

Thomas Ellwood, the eminent English Quaker, wrote of visiting Isaac Penington and his wife, at Dachet and at Causham Lodge, near Reading. In 1658 he removed to the Grange, in the parish of Chalfont St. Peter, Buckinghamshire, a property which his father had given him upon the occasion of his marriage. The latter, however, had neglected to execute a deed for the premises, and when Sir Isaac’s estate was confiscated, under Charles II, the Grange went with balance of the property remaining in his name.

DEVOTED TO RELIGION

Though he had great opportunities for worldly aggrandizement during his father’s political career, Isaac Penington followed rather his mother’s ideas, and devoted himself to religious pursuits, though he did not altogether ignore political questions, as some of his earliest writings were on political subjects. He seems however, to have been an ardent religionist from an early period. Writing in after years, he said:

My heart from childhood was pointed towards the Lord, whom I feared and longed after from my tender years…I could not be satisfied with the things of this perishing world, which naturally pass away, but I desired true sense of, and unity with, that which abideth forever.

His conversion to the Quaker Faith did not come until several years after his marriage, in 1654. The bride of Isaac Penington was none other than Lady Mary Springett, widow of Sir William Springett, and daughter of Sir John Proude, Knight, who had been a colonel under the Prince of Orange, in the service of the United Netherlands, and was one of the officers killed at the siege of Grell, in Geulderland. She was born about 1624, and married for her first husband, Sir William Springett, Knight, a native of Sussex, where he was born about 1620. He was a gallant soldier in the Cromwellian army, holding a commission as colonel. He died February 3, 1643-44, of a fever contracted at the siege of Arundel Castle, in Sussex, during which he had been wounded. Of Sir William, a writer has said:

He had been an upright and a very generous man, having served without pay, equipping and maintaining the soldiers of his detachment at his own expense, and he died as a brave warrior for the sake of his religion.

The only child of Sir William Springett, by his wife, Mary Proude, was Gulielma Maria Springett, who became the first wife of William Penn, the Proprietary of Pennsylvania.

It was about ten years after the death of Sir William when the widow, Lady Springett and Isaac Penington were married. The circumstances of their conversion to the principals of the Friends we find in the words of Mrs. Penington herself, having written her memoirs for the benefit of her grandson, Springett Penn. She said:

One day, as my husband and I were walking in a park, a man that had for a little time frequented the Quaker’s meetings saw us as we rode by in our gay, vain apparel. He spoke to us about our pride, at which I scoffed, saying "He is a public preacher indeed, preaching on the highways!" He turned back again, seeing grace in his looks. He drew nigh to the pales, and spoke of the light and grace of God that had appeared in all men. My husband and he having engaged in discourse, the man of the house coming up invited the stranger in. He was but young, and perceiving my husband was too able for him in the fleshly wisdom, said he would bring a man the next day who would better answer all his questions and objections.

This was the beginning with Isaac and Mary Penington. Commenting on the processes of the latter’s conversion to Quakerism, a writer of that sect has said:

She had a terrible time, but she dare not but obey. Here came in the glorious and sufficient reward for her previous spiritual wrestlings. She was already a trained spirit, and fell into the word of command when it was plainly heard. But for many months the struggle lasted. Her duty called her, apparently to abandon her social habits and her friends, and cross the wishes of her relations. These things however she did, and then she received strength to attend some meetings of the despised Friends. "I found they were truly of the Lord," she wrote, "and my heart owned them and honored them."

With Isaac Penington, it was a tremendous struggle, nor did he capitulate until he heard George Fox, at the famous Yearly Meeting at John Crook’s, in Bedfordshire, at Whitsuntide, 1658. Penington thus refers to his own conversion:

I felt the presence and power of the Most High among them, and words of Truth from the Spirit of Truth reaching to my heart and conscience, opening my state as in presence of the Lord. Yes, I did not only feel words and demonstrations from without, but I felt the dead quickened and the seed raised, inasmuch as my heart (in the certainty of light and true clearness) said "This is he, this is he, there is no other, this is he whom I have waited for and sought after from my childhood, who was always near me, and had often begotten life in my heart, but I knew him not distinctly, nor how to receive him, or dwell with him." And then in this sense (in the melting and breakings of my spirit) was I given up to the Lord.

It was not long after Isaac Penington’s conversion that troubles came thick and fast to him and to those dear to him. Oliver Cromwell died that year- September 3, 1658; in due time Charles II came to the throne; the elder Isaac Pennington was thrust into the Tower as a prisoner, where he had once been governor; he was tried and sentenced to death, but, as stated, the former Lord Mayor died of his infirmities before the day of his execution rolled around; the latter’s estate was confiscated, among other pieces of property taken being Chalfont Grange, the home of the younger Isaac Penington, which he supposed to be his, but which was, nevertheless, given to the Duke of Grafton, the illegitimate son of Charles II; though Penington was not finally dispossessed until 1666.

But other and more serious troubles came to Isaac Penington, and as the direct result of his conversion. By the military order of the Earl of Bridgewater, Penington was sent to Aylesbury jail because he would not address him as "My Lord" and say "Your humble servant." At this particular time the plague was raging in the prison. Once afterward, he was incarcerated by order of the Earl of Bridgewater. These two imprisonments lasted, respectively, nine and eighteen months. But this was by no means all. Between 1661 and 1672 he spent four years and three quarters in jail, usually at Aylesbury, but once at Reading.

Upon one occasion he was arrested while in attendance at meeting; once while walking upon the street in a funeral procession, the coffin being thrown to the ground; at another time when in bed; again upon the occasion of the birth of one of his children; and it was while he was in prison that his family was turned out of Chalfont Grange.

But none of these things moved either Isaac Penington or Mary, his devoted wife. While in confinement, as well as the intervals between his numerous persecutions, Isaac Penington spent his time in writing pamphlets and books upon religious subjects, mainly in explanation and defense of the tenets of the Quakers. The list of his works occupies twenty-six pages in Joseph Smith’s Catalogue of Friends’ Books.

After being dispossessed from the Grange, and during one of the intermissions between Isaac Penington’s imprisonments, the family lived at Bury House, near Amersham, Buckinghamshire, and it was here that William Penn came courting Mrs. Penington’s daughter by her first husband, Gulielma Maria Springett, who had been brought up in the family of Isaac Penington as one of the latter’s household. After the daughter’s marriage to Penn, April 4th, 1672, the Penington Family removed to Woodside, in the Parish of Amersham, near their former residence. Here Isaac Penington spent his remaining days in peace, dying finally October 8, 1679, at Goodnestone Court, in the Parish of Goodnestone, County Kent, where he had gone upon a visit—Goodnestone Court being the property of his wife, which she had inherited from her father, Sir John Proude. His widow survived him three years, her death having occurred at Worminghurst, Sussex, William Penn’s home, September 18, 1682, a little more than a fortnight after her distinguished son in law had sailed out of the Downs, in the Welcome, for his new world on the banks of the Delaware. Both husband and wife were buried at Jordans, near their old home, Chalfont Grange. Beside them were laid to rest the remains of the daughter Gulielma Maria Penn, who died February 22, 1693-94. In the next grave, at due time, was buried the Founder himself. The four simple headstones side by side, can be seen at Jordans today.

Isaac and Mary (nee Proude) had six children, as follows: John, Mary, Isaac, another son, name unknown, who died young; William and Edward. The eldest of the six children, John Penington, was the author of several Friends pamphlets, two of which, relating to George Keith’s schism, were published in London in 1695. His "Testimony" concerning his father is published in the collected works of the latter. He died unmarried May 8, 1710.

Mary Penington, the only daughter, was born February 10, 1657-58, married November 4, 1686, Daniel Wharley, a London merchant. Some Wharleys, among the early settlers of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, were probably related.

Isaac Penington, the second son, was drowned at sea in 1669, when a young man, on his return from a voyage to Barbadoes.

William Penington, born August 3, 1665, was a merchant in London, was married and had issue. He died May 5, 1703.

It was Edward Penington, the youngest of the six children, born in the Parish of Amersham, Buckinghamshire, September 3, 1667, who came to Pennsylvania and established the family name in the domain of his brother-in-law, the founder of the province.

Educated at Edmunton, he followed in the footsteps of his parents as a devout, zealous member of the Society of Friends. To some extent, he wrote upon current religious subjects. He published, in London, 1695 "The discoverer Discovered," "Rabshakeh Rebuked," and a "Reply to Thomas Crisp" and, in 1696, "Some Brief Observations upon George Keith’s Earnest Expostulations" and "A Modern Detection of George Keith’s (Miscalled) Vindication of his Earnest Expostulations." He was appointed, April 26, 1698, by his kinsman William Penn, Surveyor General of Pennsylvania, and he embarked not long afterward, for that province, arriving at Philadelphia November 30 of that year. Penington filled that post until his death.

The year following his arrival in America, Edward Penington married—November 16, 1699—at Burlington Friends Meeting, New Jersey, Sarah Jenings, daughter of Samuel Jenings. William Penn is said to have been present at this wedding; but this could not have been, as he did not arrive at Philadelphia from England until December 3, 1699, seventeen days after the nuptials.

A few words about Edward Penington’s father-in-law would not be out of place, as he was a remarkable man. Samuel Jenings, an acknowledged minister among the Friends of London, the author of several pamphlets mentioned in Joseph Smith’s "Cataloge of Friends Books," and "a man of education, standing, influence and prominence" was sent, in 1680, by Edward Byllinge, the nominal Proprietor of West Jersey, as Deputy Governor of that province. He arrived at Burlington, in October 1680, and served as Governor until 1684, having, in 1683, been elected to the position by the Proprietors on the ground, who had purchased the actual soil from Edward Billinge.

In 1685 Jenings was elected a member of the Assembly of West Jersey. Two years later, in 1787, when the Council of Proprietors was organized,, his name headed the list of its eleven members. This organization is still in existence, and holds its meetings annually for the election of officers and the transaction of any other business which may present itself.

Jenings removed to Philadelphia in 1689, and the following year, July 15, 1690, was made Receiver General of Pennsylvania, in which office he was succeeded by Robert Turner , June 1 1693.

Returning to Burlington, in 1697 or 1698, he took up his residence at "Green Hill," a short distance from town. When the Provinces of East and West Jersey were united in 1702, with Lord Cornbury as Governor, Jenings was appointed a member of the latter’s Council. While still a Councillor, he also served in the Assembly, being Speaker of that Body. He died in 1708. His wife, to whom he was married at Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, January 7, 1674-75, was Sarah Ollive, daughter of Richard Ollive.

Edward Penington Died in Philadelphia November 11, 1701, just three years after his arrival in the Province. His widow, Sarah Penington, Married, in 1704, Thomas Stevenson, Jr. of Bucks County, son of Thomas Stevenson, Sr. of Newtown, Long Island, and grandson of Thomas Stevenson, born in 1615, who coming from London, England, had settled in New Haven Colony (afterward Connecticut) about 1643.

Thomas Stevenson Jr. was an extensive landed proprietor in Burlington County. New Jersey; in Maryland and in Bucks County Pennsylvania, his home being in the latter county and province. He was a justice of the Bucks county court, and represented the county in the Pennsylvania Assembly from 1710 until his death in 1719. For a portion of this time, by his election in 1712, he was also a member of the Council of Proprietors of West Jersey.

The only child of Edward and Sarah (nee Jenings) Penington was Isaac Penington, who was born in Philadelphia November 22 1700. His mother having remarried when he was only four years of age, he became a member of the family of his stepfather, Thomas Stevenson, Jr. and thus a resident of Bucks County, with whose history he was associated throughout his life, though also identified, to a more or less extent, with events in Philadelphia. He was commissioned a justice of the bucks County Court, September 14, 1725 and was re-commissioned September 13, 1726, September 12, 1727, December 1, 1733, November 22, 1738 and April 4, 1741, being on the bench at his death. He became sheriff of the county named, October 4, 1731 and served two terms, until October 4, 1733, , his successor being John Hall. He was undoubtedly a man of education, and had inherited the literary and scholastic taste of his immediate progenitors, as we find him one of the handful of men—Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Hopkinson and Thomas Cadwalader being among his colleagues—who, November 8, 1731, organized the Philadelphia Library Company, which was the parent of all American Subscription Libraries, and is still in existence. That Isaac Penington was a man of considerable wealth, as well as one of prominence and influence, is evidenced by the fact that he was an extensive landholder, chiefly in Bucks county.

Isaac Penington married, November 5, 1725 Ann Biles, daughter of William Biles 2nd, and grand daughter of William Biles the first, one of the most noted characters identified with the colonial history of Bucks County. He was a Provincial Councillor, , many years a member of the assembly and a member of the Bucks County Court.

The younger William Biles, Ann Penington’s father, was sheriff of Bucks County 1704-1707, coroner 1717, justice of the county court, September 6, 1718, and recommissioned several times; member of the Assembly one half the time between 1710 and 1737, and speaker of that body 1725, etc.

Ann Penington’s mother, and the wife of William Biles, Jr., was a daughter of Thomas Langhorne, founder of another prominent Bucks County family, and sister of Jeremiah Langhorne, Chief Justice of Pennsylvania, Speaker of the Assembly, etc.

The death of Isaac Penington occurred July 5, 1742; that of his widow, nee Ann Biles, who was born February 4, 1702-03, took place February 22, 1748-49. They had four children, to wit: Edward, of whom hereafter; Mary, born June 5, 1732, married Isaac Smith of Trenton, N.J.; Sarah, born June 10, 1734, married ______ Bressonet; Thomas, born April 1, 1738 and died January 4, 1739-40.

Edward Penington, the eldest child of Isaac and Ann (nee Biles) Penington, was born in Bucks County Pennsylvania, December 4, 1726. Upon reaching manhood he removed to Philadelphia, where he engaged in business as a merchant, and in time, became one of the leaders of the local commercial world. In 1765, he erected a handsome house, built of red and black bricks, the prevailing style at that time, on a large lot which he owned at the corner of crown and Race Streets. The house, with its stable and extensive back buildings, occupied the ground to Fifth street. During the British occupancy of Philadelphia, September 1777 to June 1778, the property was occupied by Colonel Henry Johnson, of the Twenty-eighth Regiment, British Army, who as Brigadier-General, commander Stony Point at the time of its capture by General Anthony Wayne, July 16, 1777.

Watson, in his Annals, thus refers to Penington’s house, which he incorrectly indicates as having been built "about the year 1760""—and also incorrectly spells Penington’s name:

Edward Pennington’s great house at the northwest corner of Crown and Race streets, was one of the most respectable and substantial of its day—built for Edward Pennington about the year 1760. When erected, it was so far out of town, as to have the chief of its adjacent fences of plain post and rails; --and on being on the most elevated part of the town—which gave rise to the name of Crown Street, as the crowning or topmost elevation, it was a very conspicuous object. From the closer built parts of the then-city;-- it having also before it, a street, falling into low wet meadows—down the western side of Fourth Street, until it reached the head of Dock Creek, then terminating near the corner of Fourth and High streets.

Edward Penington was admitted to membership in the Historic Colony in Schuylkill—still in existence—May 1, 1748. In 1755 and 1757 he was a signer of provincial paper money. He was commissioned a justice of the Court of Common Pleas, etc, of Philadelphia county, February 28, 1761. Later in the same year he was chosen a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly. In the following year, under a newly passed Act of Assembly, placing the custody of the State House and other public buildings in a board of trustees, Penington was named as a member of the same. He was admitted to membership in the American Philosophical Society November 25, 1768. In 1770 he was chosen Treasurer of the Society for the Cultivation of Silk, organized that year. From 1778 to 1779, he served as a manager of the Pennsylvania Hospital.

With the beginning of the controversy between Great Britain and the American colonies, Penington was confronted with the same serious problem which perplexed the other members of the Society of Friends. Devoid of all other considerations, it seemed to be a question of devotion to religious principles, on the one hand, and love of country, on the other. A majority of the Quakers determined the engrossing problem from the religious standpoint, and opposed all movements looking to revolution through a resort to arms. Others, known as the fighting Quakers, took the contrary course, and aligned themselves with the militant revolutionists.

ARRESTED BY COLONISTS

At the beginning Edward Penington evinced a disposition to contest the arbitrary action of the mother country. To this end he attended the Provincial Conference of May, 1774, at the Coffee house, which created the Committee of Correspondence, and he was also a delegate to the Provincial Convention, held in July, of the same year. But that is as far as he was willing to go. Anything further meant war, and to war he was conscientiously opposed. He became classed among the "disaffected," therefore, and in 1776, was ordered under arrest, but was subsequently liberated. In September of the following year, however, upon the approach of the British Army from the Chesapeake, Penington was again arrested , by order of the Supreme Executive Council of the State, confined for a time in Freemason’s Lodge, and then, together with nearly twenty others, mostly Quakers, was sent to Virginia, under guard, where he was compelled to remain eight months, until released by order of the Continental Congress. During this memorable exile, under date of March 25, 1778, Penington thus wrote to Thomas Wharton, Jr. President of the Supreme Executive Council:

Thee may remember that in the winter of 1776, I and my son Isaac were dragged before the President and Council of Safety, upon no other authority than the Will and Pleasure of a drunken Sergeant and His Guard. On my return Home I was very much affected with the thought That a person that I was formerly agreeably connected, should be in a Situation, the most degrading of any I could conceive, It being evident Thou wast under the influence of this Military Guard. The next day I wrote Thee a letter on the occasion—whatever then influenced thee not to return an answer, I dare say Thou art now convinced, it would have been right to have done it. Hadst thou thought it worthwhile to have heard what I could have said on the occasion; it is probable I could have been useful to thee.

With regard to our case, who have been Condemned and Banished without Tryal, Those in Authority have either not Judged at all, leaving it to Congress to Judge for them, or they have Judged most unrighteously.

Thou signed the unjust, the Cruel Decree, without giving us an Opportunity of being heard, on our own Defence. As it is impossible this conduct could proceed from the Love of Justice, so I think it is not possible thou canst Enjoy Peace, in thy own mind, until Thou Sincerely repents, for the great Injury thou hast done us, and makes us all the Reparation in thy power. That thou mayst through the Assistance of Divine Providence, be enabled to witness a Sincere repentance and Amendment of Life, is the desire of one, who when that event takes place may with propriety subscribe himself

Thy real friend Edw’d Penington

In Anna Rawle’s pen picture in her diary of the happenings of Philadelphia upon the arrival of Colonel Tench Tilghman, with the news of the surrender of Cornwallis, she makes these incidental references to the mob’s visit to Penington’s residence:

Uncle Penington lost a great deal of window glass… Juliet says all Uncle Penington’s fine pictures are broken; his parlour was full of men, but it was nothing, he said, to Nancy’s illness who was for an hour or two out of her senses and terrified them exceedingly.

Penington was elected a member of the Common Council in 1790, and in the following year the Legislature designated him as one of the trustees authorized to distribute the funds payable to the French refugees living in Philadelphia.

Edward Penington married, November 26, 1754, Sarah Shoemaker, daughter of Benjamin Shoemaker, Provincial Councillor, and Mayor of Philadelphia, by his wife Sarah Coates, and sister of Samuel Shoemaker, also Mayor of Philadelphia. She was born April 3, 1729, and died November 3, 1797, one year after her husband, his death having occurred September 30, 1796.

Edward and Sarah (nee Shoemaker) Penington had the following children: Isaac, Anne, a second Anne, Sarah, Mary, Benjamin, Edward, a second Sarah, John and a second Mary. Of the ten, four died in infancy as follows: the first Anne, both Sarahs and the first Mary. The other six, all of whom reached maturity will be referred to in due order.

The eldest of these, Isaac Penington, was born October 30, 1756. Like his father, he was among the "disaffected" during the Revolution. As set forth in his father’s letter to President Wharton, Isaac Penington had been placed under arrest in 1776—being twenty years of age at the time—and was again arrested in 1778, as we learn from the diary of Elizabeth Drinker, who had gone to Valley Forge to intercede with General Washington in behalf of her husband, who was one of Edward Penington's companions in exile in Virginia. She writes under date of April 6, 1778, after her interview with Washington:

After dinner, as we were coming out of the room, who should we see but Isaac Penington and Charles Logan, who had been captured at Darby. They are to be sent back to the city, the general giving them a pass.

After the war Isaac Penington and his brother Edward entered into business in Philadelphia as sugar refiners and merchants, which they conducted for years with success. When President Washington lived in the Quaker City, he frequently dealt with the Peningtons, his private account books showing various entries like these: "Pd I. & Ed. Penington for sugar, $80.20." P’d I. & E. Penington in full for sugar, $135.59."

Isaac Penington died without issue, April 28, 1803.

His eldest sister who survived infancy, the second Anne Penington, born April 28, 1760, married Robert Smock, a Philadelphia Merchant and died August 15, 1791.

Edward Penington, the third son, the only one who left issue, will be considered presently.

The fourth son, John Penington, born September 29, 1768, graduated from the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania, was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in 1791, contributed to the Columbian Magazine; published in 1790, "Chemical and Economical Essays to Illustrate the Connection between Chemistry and the Arts," and "Inaugural Dissertation on Phenomena, Causes and Effects of Fermentation." He died unmarried September 20, 1793, having lost his life in devotion to his professional duties during the disastrous yellow fever scourge of that year.

Mary Penington, the youngest of the ten children, born March 17, 1771, married, in September 1797, Benjamin Smith Barton, M.D., son of the Reverend Thomas Barton, by his wife, Esther Rittenhouse, sister of David Rittenhouse, the famous astronomer. Dr. Barton, who was bron February 10, 1766, and died December 19, 1815 was not only a distinguished physician, but was also a noted botanist, filling the chairs of natural history and botany, of materia medica and of the theory and practice of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Fuller particulars regarding Dr. Barton will be given in an article on the Barton Family, to appear in these columns at some future time. Mrs. Barton, nee Penington, died December 24, 1819.

Edward Penington, the only son of Edward and Sarah (nee Shoemaker) Penington who married and left issue, was born May 8, 1766. He was associated in business with his eldest brother, Isaac Penington, as already indicated. Like his ancestors, he was possessed of literary tastes, and was the owner of a library comprising over 6000 volumes. In 1834 he was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society. From 1805 to 1820 he was a manager of the Pennsylvania Hospital. He married, September 27, 1798, Helena Lawrence Holmes, and died March 16, 1834; his widow, January 28, 1852. They had six children, all sons, as follows: John, Edward, William Le Conte, Lawrence, Henry and George.

The eldest of the six sons, John Penington, had a national reputation as a scholar, antiquary and bibliophile. He was born August 1, 1799, and died March 18, 1867. The Nation, of March 28, 1867, spoke of him as "the last, if not the only American bookseller who represented the old traditional bookseller," and added:

A scholar of fine parts, thorough in his knowledge of bookselling, with judgement and skill, a biographer in its broadest and best sense he was an honor to the craft, and he took pride in it. He was a man of fine taste, of large reading, and of exhaustless service to all who were curious in scholarship or earnest in the study of letters... His shop became the gathering place of scholars and men with taste for letters, and one generation after another grew up almost under his eyes in the various branches of literature which he supplied…The trade of bookselling in his hands was elevated to the dignity that it really acquires in the hands of competent men. Such men are rare everywhere.

The children of John Penington, who married Lucetta Davis, were Edward, Mary Lawrence, who became the wife of Commodore John Roberts Goldsborough, United States Navy; Elizabeth Davis who married the well known writer on political economy, Henry Carey Baird, of the Waynewood, Wayne, with whom resides his only daughter, Mrs. William Howard Gardiner, one of the few surviving descendents of Edward Penington, the emigrant ancestor; and Margaret Roberts, who became the wife of Horatio Paine, M.D., a leading physician of New York.

Edward Penington, the next younger brother of John Penington, was born December 6, 1800, and died January 16, 1868. He married Elizabeth Lewis, and had seven children. The eldest of the seven who survives is Mrs. Wharton Griffitts, 2208 Pine Street, with whom resides her only surviving child, Mrs. James deWaele Cookman. The second of the seven children is Mrs. Franklin Peale Griffitts, these sisters having married brothers. Another sister married Phillip Francis Chase.

William LeConte Penington, brother of John and Edward Penington, was born April 13, 1803, and died August 16, 1863, married Anne Harding and had four children, none of whom married. One of the four, a son, Lawrence Penington, Jr. was killed in battle at Cold Harbor, Va., June 2, 1864.

The fifth of the six brothers, Henry Penington, was born September 19, 1809, and died without issue, November 11,1858. He was admitted to the Philadelphia Bar October 21, 1828, and published, in 1847, an American edition of Holthouse’s Law Dictionary.

The youngest of the six sons, George Penington, who was born July 17, 1809, died in infancy, November 10, 1809.

Very few descendants survive of this notable family of distinguished ancestry, offspring of the doughty old Lord Mayor of London, the friend and follower of Cromwell.

HOME SITEMAP