Robert Pennell and Hannah Hyandson

Robert Pennell and Hannah Hyandson lived in Balderton, a village in the plain of the river Trent, in Nottinghamshire. The tall spire of St. Giles Church was visible from anywhere in the village. Robert’s ancestors had worshipped at St. Giles for generations, and Robert and Hannah were married there in February 1665/66.1 They would turn away from the Church of England to become Quakers and would leave Balderton for the new colony of Pennsylvania.

Robert was probably the son of another Robert, who wrote his will in Balderton in 1663, leaving children Anne, Nicholas, Henry, Robert and Elizabeth (married to Richard Owlatt). His wife’s name is unknown. It is sometimes said to be Isabell, but no marriage record has been found for them.2

The younger Robert married Hannah Hyandson in February 1665/6.3 Their first child, Ann, was born in 1668; she was followed by five more, all born in England. At some point Robert and Hannah became Friends. In 1684 they got a certificate of removal from the meeting at Fulbeck and emigrated before 1686 to Chester County, where they were members of Middletown Meeting.4 Robert was a constable in 1687 and in 1690 served as a supervisor of Middletown.5 In 1688 he signed a petition against selling liquor to the Indians.6

“The Pennell homestead stood a short distance northwest of Howellville…one of the windows has the small leaden lights of Queen Anne’s time.”7 Howellville is now called Gradyville and is just west of Ridley Creek State Park. In 1685 Robert bought 100 acres from Richard Crosby. In 1711 Crosby sold the remainder of his 370-acre tract to William Pennell, son of Robert and Hannah.8 In 1691 Robert bought land in Edgmont township; in 1705 he bought more land. In 1716 he gave a tract of 200 acres to his son Joseph, and a tract of 218 acres to his son William.9

Hannah died in 1711. Robert survived her. He wrote his will in 1727; it was proved in February 1728/29.10 He called himself a yeoman of Middletown. He gave 200 acres to his grandson Joseph, who only survived him by eight months. He named several other grandchildren, his daughter Ann, his son-in-law John Sharpless, and his daughter Jane Garrett and her husband. The residual legatees were sons Joseph and William. The inventory of the estate was taken in 12th month 1728/29. It included money owed on bonds, clothing, bedding, two chests and a box and a warming pan, for a total of £278.  Robert was obviously living with one of his children when he wrote it.11

The children of Robert and Hannah were all Friends.

Children of Robert and Hannah:

Ann, b. 1668, d. 1749, m. 1689 Benjamin Mendenhall at Concord Meeting. They eventually owned over 1500 acres around Concord. He was active in Concord Meeting, where he became an elder, and served as delegate to Quarterly and Yearly meetings. He served one term in the Provincial Assembly but was not active there.12 He wrote his will in 1736, naming his wife Ann, five living children and several grandchildren. He died a few years later. His estate was valued at £760. Ann also wrote a will, proved in 1749.13 She left cash legacies to her children and grandchildren. Children: Ann, Benjamin, Joseph, Moses, Hannah, Samuel, Rebecca, Ann, Nathan, Robert.14

Elizabeth, b. 1670, d. 1700, m. 1690 Josiah Taylor under the care of Chester Meeting.15 Children: Phebe, Hannah, Robert.

Hannah, b. 1673, d. 1721, m. 1692 John Sharpless, son of John and Jane, at the house of John Bowater Children: Caleb, Jane, Hannah, John, Phebe, Rebecca, Margaret, Ann, Daniel.16 John died in 1747, leaving a will.

Joseph, b. 1674, d. 1756, m. 1701 or 1702 Alice Garrett, daughter of William and Ann. They settled in Edgmont. Children: Hannah, Robert, Joseph, Alice, Ann, Mary.17 Joseph died in 1756 at Edgmont; Alice died in 1748.18 Their son Joseph died in 1728, soon after his grandfather Robert. Joseph Jr wrote a will leaving his land to his father Joseph and a walnut chest to his friend Ann Hoopes. “There is a suggestion in his legacy to Ann Hoopes, of a romance never to be fulfilled.”19

James, b. 1676, died young.

Jane, b. 1678, d. 1736, m. 1698 Samuel Garrett, son of William and Ann. Samuel served in the Assembly but was more active in Darby meeting, as an overseer and delegate to quarterly and yearly meetings.20 Children: Mary, Joseph, Hannah, Samuel, Nathan, James, Thomas, Jane.21

William, b. 1681, d. 1757, m. 1710 Mary Mercer at Concord Meeting.22 Lived in Middletown. Children: Thomas, Hannah, James, Phebe, Ann, Robert, William.23 William left a will, proved in 1757; his estate was valued at £696.24

  1. Roger Heacock, The ancestors of Charles Clement Heacock, 1851-1914.
  2. The marriage register of Balderton is exceptionally complete for the right time period, between 1620 and 1640, with a few Pennell or Pennel marriages, but not Robert. (William Phillimore & Thomas Blagg, Nottinghamshire Parish Registers, vol. 3, 1898, p. 9-11, on Internet Archive) Other volumes of the parish registers were searched. (There are ten volumes available in the series.) A few scattered Pennell marriages were found in surrounding parishes such as Syerston and Holme Pierrepont, but no concentration except in Balderton, where even there the Pennells were not numerous. A few early Pennell marriages were found in Lincolnshire parish registers, but not in the parishes adjoining Balderton in Lincolnshire, but instead in South Kelsey, north of Lincoln.
  3. Her name was mistakenly given as Elizabeth Hyandson in one source, which led people to assume that Robert married twice. Since her name in the Nottingham marriage transcripts was Hannah, not Elizabeth, there is no reason to posit a second marriage to an unknown Hannah. (Phillimore & Blagg, p. 17) Nothing is known of Hannah’s parents. Her surname is sometimes suggested as Ianson or Janson and has many variants. (See a list of spellings at: http://ianson.one-name.net/name.html, accessed May 2019.)
  4.  Russell Newlin Abel, Mendenhall-Newlin Alliance, 1989, p. 157.
  5. John Futhey and Gilbert Cope, History of Chester County, 1881; Chester County Court Records, vol. 1, p. 215.
  6. Chester Monthly Meeting minutes, 5th month 1688.
  7. Henry Ashmead, History of Delaware County, 1884, chapt. XLIII on Edgmont.
  8. Carol Bryant, Abstracts of Chester County Land Records, vol. 1, p. 148.
  9. Chester County Land Records, vol. 1, p. 176, 192.
  10. Chester County wills, vol. A1, p. 293.
  11. Chester County estate papers, #336, 1729, Chester County Archive.
  12. Horle, Craig and Wokeck, Marianne, editors, Lawmaking and Legislators in PA, volume 1, 1682-1709, 1991.
  13. Chester County wills, Book C, p. 149.
  14. In 1754, the heirs of Ann Pennell Mendenhall signed a release for a tract in Edgmont owned by Robert Pennell at the time of his death. A total of 50 (!) heirs signed the release, granting the land to Joseph Pennell. (Chester County Land Records, vol. 4, 1754)
  15. Chester Monthly Meeting minutes, 1st month 1690, their first intention. The parents “being present” consented.
  16. Futhey and Cope, p. 722; George Smith, History of Delaware County, 1862, p. 500.
  17. Mary was not listed in Futhey and Cope, but was named in the will of her grandfather Robert.
  18. Joseph’s will in Chester County wills, Book D, p. 60.
  19. Jane Levis Carter, Edgmont Township, 1976.
  20. Horle and Wokeck, vol. 2.
  21. Nathan’s grandson Thomas Garrett was a noted abolitionist and friend of Harriet Tubman.
  22. Chester Monthly Meeting marriages, 8th month 1710.
  23. Futhey and Cope.
  24. Chester County wills.

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