Pennington Surname Meaning, History & Origin
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 late 12th century. The spelling was first Penington (a form which recurred), but
Pennington began to come into use in the 14th century.
- Pennington Research Association. Pennington genealogy.
- English Penitone to American Pennington
The line of Ephraim Pennington.
The Pennington family pedigree in Cumbria went back to Gamel de
Peninton 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
Penington 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.
Pennington line from Muncaster reached London, via Henham in
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.
Penington 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 War.
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,
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
Pennington 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:
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
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
of the Apaches.
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
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
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.
Gamel de Penitone. Gamel de Penitone, who lived during the reign of Henry II (1154-1189), took his name
from the place-name Penington in Cumbria where he had his manor. His bore an Old Norse first name, suggesting
He was described as a great
benefactor to Conishead Priory, to which he gave the churches (with all
appurtenances) of Penington
and of Muncaster
twenty miles to the west,
Whitebeck and Skeroveton in Lancashire and Cumberland.
Gamel had four sons,
Benedict, Meldred, Gamel and Joslyn.
Sir John de Penington and the Luck of Muncaster. During the War of the Roses, King Henry VI became lost after the Battle of Towton in
1464. Sir John de Penington rescued him near Muncaster. In
gratitude the King presented Sir John with a fragile glass cup called
“Luck of Muncaster” and a blessing that the family would never run
out of male heirs so long as the cup remained unbroken.
the cup still survives, the last male
Pennington of this line died in 1917.
The Penningtons of Aston-by-Sutton in Cheshire. These
Penningtons, sometimes Pinningtons, were yeomen farmers of Aston from 1635 to about 1850.
At the time of the restoration of the
Monarchy in 1660, John
Pennington of Aston, yeoman, was indiscreet in voicing
his opinion that he hoped the young king’s head would come to the block
as his father’s. There were consequences
for opening his mouth at such a time.
John was put in the stocks and whipped until the blood ran. He was then chased out of town and put in
jail until his fine could be paid.
Isaac Penington in Good Times and Bad. Isaac Penington
represented the City in the Long Parliament and proved to be the Rothschild of
the Roundheads. When money was wanted in the early years of the
application was generally made to the city through Alderman
the Houses were showing courage and faithfulness to the cause, the
promised money and once offered a guard of 300 citizens. But when
compromise about Stafford was in the air, the money was withheld. Isaac later sat on the tribunal which
convicted Charles I of treason and executed him.
Those were the good times.
The bad times came at the time of the
Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660.
Isaac was thrust as a prisoner into the Tower where he had once
governor. He was tried and sentenced to
death, but died of his infirmities before the day of his execution came
around. His estates were confiscated. These included Chalfont Grange, the home of
the younger Isaac Penington, which was given to the Duke of Grafton,
illegitimate son of the King.
Isaac Penington had by this time become a Quaker and was to suffer six
imprisonments for his faith between 1661 and 1672.
Upon one occasion he was arrested while in
attendance at meeting; once while walking upon the street in a funeral
procession; at another time when in bed; and again upon the occasion of
birth of one of his children. It was
while he was in prison that his family was turned out of Chalfont
Nathaniel Pennington of Atlantic County, New Jersey. The first of the Penningtons to come to Atlantic
County was Nathan Pennington, great grandson of the Ephraim Pennington
first settled in New Jersey. Nathan was a
soldier in the Revolutionary Army who had volunteered at the age of 19.
During the Revolution he was taken prisoner
and sent to Quebec in Canada where he suffered very much, nearly dying
starvation. He managed to escape with
some of his comrades, one of their number mounting to the top of the
standing on the shoulders of the others, and the others being pulled up
means of their bed clothing, which being tied together, then lowered to
Nathan was stationed in
Atlantic county later, being in charge of property captured from the
enemy. He and his wife Margaret resided
in Mays Landing, in a part called Pennington’s Point where was located
shipyard in which he carried out his business as shipbuilder. Nathan died in 1810. His
son John was born in 1791, lived at Mays
Landing and was a sea captain, vessel owner, and for a time sheriff of
Pennington Deaths at the Hands of the Apaches. Larcena Pennington had survived a murderous attack on her by Apache Indians in Arizona in 1860. Nine years later her father Elias Sr. and
brother Elias Jr. were not so fortunate.
Both men were killed by Apaches while
working on their farm fourteen miles south of Fort Crittenden. Elias the father was plowing, with his rifle
slung to his plow handles, while Elias the son was repairing an
some distance away. Just after the
father had turned his back on his land, Apache Indians in ambush shot
His son remained to fight
off the Indians. In so doing he was
mortally hurt, but finally managed to reach the ranch house. There he remained until rescued by cavalry
from the fort. Eight days later the
young man died.
This account appeared in
Robert Forbes’ 1919 book The Penningtons:
Pioneers of Arizona.
Pennington and Sitting Pretty. The Pennington
name has a long history in New Jersey. It
was given a new lease of life in 1924 when the musical Sitting
sixth and last collaboration of Jerome Kern, P. G. Wodehouse, and Guy
came out. Sitting Pretty
not only introduced many song hits, but it was also
said to have done much to lay a foundation for modern musical comedy.
Act One of Sitting Pretty started with the
friends of Bill Pennington
convening for a coaching party and picnic at the summer home of uncle
Pennington in Far Hills, New Jersey.
Bill’s chorus girl friend, Babe, questioned young Bill about his
prospects. But Bill was later to be
by his uncle.
Act Two began six months
later, at Mr. Pennington’s winter estate in Florida.
A lavish costume ball was in progress,
celebrating May’s “coming out.” The
guests, dressed in the period of the 1850’s, danced polkas, lancers,
waltzes. Bill sought out May and
proposed and they lived happily ever afterwards.
- 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
Prayer sold more than a
- Michael Pennington, a comedian from Lancashire, is better known by his stage name Johnny Vegas.
Select Pennington Numbers Today
- 7,000 in the UK (most numerous
- 14,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
- 1,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)
Select Pennington and Like Surnames
Many surnames have come from Lancashire. These are some of the noteworthy surnames that you can check out.
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