Select Penn Surname Genealogy

Here are some Penn stories and accounts over the years:

The Penns of Buckinghamshire

At a property division in Penn in Buckinghamshire in 1222 the manor was divided into two portions, that part obtained by James Penn retaining the name of Penn Manor.

Seagrave Manor as it became historically belonged to the Penn family.  David Penn came in possession of the manor in 1565.  His wife Sybil Penn was a dry nurse and foster mother to Edward VI and the Lady of the Bed Chamber to his sister Queen Elizabeth.  William Penn was sheriff of the county in 1624, his grandson William in 1656, and Roger Penn in 1706.  Roger Penn never married and in 1735 the manor passed to his sister who had married Lord Curzon. 

William Penn of Minety, Wiltshire

Penn of Minety must have been a person of some local importance.  When he died in 1591 it is believed that he was buried in front of the altar at Saint Leonardís church there.  A plaque commemorating his life was erected in the church.  This William Penn was the forebear of a famous family which included his namesake, the founder of Pennsylvania. 

George Penn the Spanish Merchant

George Penn, the eldest son of the Penn family, became "an opulent merchant in Spain,"  residing many years in Seville.  However, being rich and a Protestant, he was pounced upon by the Spanish Inquisition in 1643 as a heretic, despoiled of all his estate, cast into prison where for years he was subjected to torture and flagellation.  He was finally placed on the rack for four days until in his agony he renounced the Protestant faith.

He was then taken through the streets of Seville to a church where his confession and sentence was proclaimed "in the sight of thousands."  His property was confiscated; his wife, a Flemish woman, was divorced from him and ordered to marry a Spaniard; and he himself was expelled from Spain.  He was told that if he either renounced the Catholic faith or returned to Spain he would be burned at the stake.

Back in England, Charles II appointed him in 1664 as envoy to reside at the court of the King of Spain in order that he could get satisfaction for his "sufferings, loss and damage."  But before he could take up the position he unexpectedly died.

The End of the William Penn Line

Although William Penn had fourteen children, only William (his eldest son by his first marriage) and Thomas (his second son by his second marriage) had living descendants.  These derived from Christina Gulielma, a granddaughter of William the eldest son, and Sophia Margaret, the daughter of Thomas. 

Sophia Margaret's last remaining brother, who was heir to the Penn fortune, died in 1844 and left all his property to his eldest surviving son Granville John Penn.  The latter on his decease in 1867 bequeathed in turn the family inheritance to the Rev. Thomas Gordon Penn, his younger brother.  This gentle scholar, however, never entered upon the control of his possessions as the Court of Chancery held him incompetent to manage property.  He was skilled in research activities and his lunacy was of a mild type.  With his passing in 1869, the male line from Willam Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, came to an end. 

Interestingly, all Penn's descendants of American nationality were from his first marriage, i.e. his English branch; whilst his English descendants were all from his second marriage.

Penn's Store

Penn's Store in Harrodsburg, Kentucky is said to be the oldest country store in America run continuously by the same family. 

Jack Penn was the first Penn to own the store sometime around 1850.  In the 1870ís ownership passed to his Dick who was born in 1852.  He married Isabelle May and they lived in a little house next to the store. 

Dick Penn was truly a man of many talents. Among his professions were being a surveyor, dentist, druggist, and postmaster.  He was the community's first postmaster and Penn's Store was site of the first post office in the area known as Rollings, Kentucky.  Around 1910 the post office moved to Gravel Switch to be close to the train which would stop in the town to get gravel from the creek. 

After Dickís death, his son Martin became the new store keeper.  Martin Penn, with the help of his five sons, farmed while also tending to the store.  However, one day in 1933, while raking hay with a team of horses, the team got spooked and ran off with him.  Martin's legs were entangled in the reins and he was dragged along the creek bed near the store.  Shortly thereafter he died from massive injuries. 

His wife Sue, known as Mammy, became the new storekeeper. Along with all of the children she kept the store running.  She lived onto the age of 92 and died in her sleep in 1972.

The Chinqua Penn Plantation House

The Chinqua Penn Plantation House is an English manor home mansion near Greensboro, North Carolina that was built by Thomas Jefferson (Jeff) Penn and his wife Betsy in the 1920ís.  The name Chinqua Penn was derived from the chinquapin, a species of American chestnut once plentiful in the area but destroyed by a chestnut blight in the 1930's.

Chinqua Penn reflected their lifestyle of entertaining, traveling, and collecting art and furniture from around the world.  The historic landscape evolved into an exotic horticulture collection, changing with each season. The Penn's love of the beautiful and artistic was manifested in the use of both native and imported plant material at Chinqua Penn, maintained throughout the Penn's tenure by their gardener Charlie Talley.

Jeff died in 1945 but his wife Betsy continued as the mistress of Chinqua Penn for another fifteen years.  Bob Boyles, her chauffeur at that time, remembered her as a perfect lady from the old school.

"While it was my job, I never once opened a car door for Mrs. Penn that she didnít thank me.  I lost a real friend when she died."

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