Pennington Surname Genealogy

The Pennington surname derives from the place-name Pennington found
near Ulverston in Cumbria and in the parish of Leigh in
Lancashire. The root of the name is the Old English word penny and tun meaning “enclosure” or
The Cumbrian family who took the name dates from
the late 12th century. The spelling was first Penington (a form which recurred), but
Pennington began to come into use in the 14th century.
Pennington Resources on

Pennington Ancestry

The Pennington family pedigree in Cumbria went back to Gamel de
in the late 12th century. His family became
Sheriffs of Cumberland, a title and position that was handed down from
father to son for centuries. The home and stronghold of Sir John de
and later descendants was
Muncaster castle on the mouth of the Esk river.

Their Pennington descendants spread through the Furness section of
Lancashire towards Preston and Wigan and towards the populous areas of
Manchester and Liverpool.

line in Lancashire came from the Pennington (originally Pininton)
near Leigh. The forebear of these
Penningtons was said to have been Adam de Pennington who died there in
early 1300’s. Penningtons of Aston-by-Sutton in
Cheshire, some 15 miles from
Leigh, have been traced back to 1585.
Sometimes the name here was Pinnington.

At the time of the 1891 census,
Lancashire accounted for over 60 percent of the Penningtons in England.

London. A
Pennington line from Muncaster reached London, via Henham in

  • from
    William Penington came Sir John Pennington, the Royalist Lord High
    Admiral, and the Philadelphia Peningtons in America
  • and from his
    brother Robert, a wealthy fishmonger and merchant in London, came Isaac
    Penington, the Lord Mayor of London in 1642 and a prominent Puritan
    of Oliver Cromwell’s Government.

However, Isaac
lost out after the Restoration and died a prisoner
the Tower of London. His son Isaac was an early and
influential Quaker. Step-daughter Gulielma became the first
wife of WIlliam Penn.

America. It was
Edward Penington, born in Buckinghamshire and the youngest of the six
children, who came to Philadelphia in 1698 as a Quaker and established
family name in the land of his relative William Penn. His
grandsons Isaac and later Edward Pennington were prominent sugar
and merchants in Philadelphia for forty years after the Revolutionary

New Jersey.
There was another Pennington line that had arrived earlier in America,
with Ephraim Pennington coming to New Haven, Connecticut around
1643. His son Ephraim was one of the first settlers of Newark,
New Jersey
in 1667 and later Penningtons became a politically influential family
there. William S. Pennington was Governor of New Jersey in 1813
and a subsequent William was Governor in 1837. Another
line went via Nathan
to Atlantic county, New Jersey.

Also descended from Ephraim was Elijah Pennington, a Revolutionary War
veteran who received land in Virginia as compensation. His eldest
son Elias headed west:

“It was said that Elijah equipped Elias
with a horse, saddle, rifle, and dog and a patrimony of $2,100 to begin
his adult life.”

He and his family migrated first to Tennessee and then to Texas and
Arizona. Larcena Pennington was in fact a member of
the first American family to set foot in Arizona, surviving many
hair-raising moments:

“She was abducted by Tonto Apaches in
1860. Unable to keep up with her captors, she was stabbed 18
times and left for dead in Madera Canyon. Larcena then crawled
through the desert for more than 16 days before finding help and being
rescued. The first thing she asked for was a chew of tobacco.”

Pennington Street in Tucson, Arizona was named after her. However, her father
and brother both later died at
the hands
of the Apaches

Elsewhere. Other
Penningtons migrated west and south:

  • Edward Pennington had moved to the frontier in Kentucky
    in 1773 and become
    friends there with Henry Clay. He then headed further west in
    1802 to what was at that time Indiana territory, His son Dennis
    was one of the founders of Indiana as a state.
  • while Thomas Pennington of North Carolina had received a land
    grant in
    Georgia as a result of his service in the Revolutionary War. His
    son Samuel built his home there in Morgan county. The house is
    still owned by the Pennington family and is used as a conference and
    training center for Pennington Seed Inc. and Pennington

Canada. James
Pennington from Liverpool was a British soldier taken prisoner during
the American Revolutionary War. On release after the war,
he was granted land in New Brunswick and settled there.
One son William, a Baptist minister, made his home in Maine; another
James, a farmer, moved to Minnesota in the 1850’s.

Australia. Captain Rowland Pennington from Westmorland
fought with the British army during the Napoleonic wars and was
afterwards stationed in Canada. His son John, born there,
emigrated to Australia in 1850 and settled with his family in Adelaide. Ten years later John was
unfortunately drowned when his boat Unique
capsized at the annual port regatta. His son John, known as
Rowley, was a surveyor and the Adelaide suburb of Pennington appears to
have been named after him.

Pennington Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Pennington Names

Gamel de Peninton who lived in the 12th century was the forebear
of the Cumbrian Penningtons.
Sir John Pennington was Lord
High Admiral of King Charles’s fleet in the 1630’s.
James Pennington, born James
Pembroke in Maryland, was a fugitive slave who became a leading African
American orator and abolitionist in the years prior to the Civil War.  Basil Pennington was an
American Trappist
monk whose best-selling 1980 work Centering
sold more than a
million copies.
Michael Pennington, a comedian
from Lancashire, is better known by his stage name Johnny Vegas.

Select Penningtons Today

  • 7,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lancashire)
  • 14,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 1,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)



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