About Me
Terms of Use

Birth of William Pinley: Shredicote Bradley Staffordshire England

Immigrant William Pinley's 1618 Birth: England

Our English Origin

For years and years, genealogists like PenleyPearls were unable to locate the birthplace of our first Immigrant William Pinley. Countless Englishmen were scrutinized and stalked, but each failed on background check. Every imaginable misspelling was subjected to search and seizure, but released from custody for lack of evidence. The clues, contenders and impostors were filed away for a 'better day'.  Richard Scherer had that 'better day' in 2011 when he located William Pinley's newly uploaded baptismal record at The record is now verified and posted redundantly at numerous websites, including and  Our Immigrant William Pinley was baptized as:

William Sanders alias Pinley
April 7, 1618
Saint Mary’s Church

Bradeley, Staffordshire, England
Parents:  Thomas Pinley & Dorrothie

The Parish Register was purchased for the PenleyPearls library and is now in our possession:  

Bradeley Parish Register; 

Hon. editor Norman W. Tildesley (Staffordshire Parish Registers Society)  

Published by Birmingham & Midland Society for Genealogy & Heraldry, 

Birmingham, 1989


Any good genealogist would naturally demand proof that the William Sanders alias Pinley baptized April 7, 1618 was the same person as the William Pinley who immigrated to Maryland in 1638.  Any one of these documents alone would be very interesting to us.  Matching our Immigrant’s records in Maryland and Virginia to the baptismal record of William Pinley in Bradeley in four areas caused genealogists Richard Scherer and Karen Penley to jump for joy.  Their records match on age, naming patterns, location and spelling.  We believe this is as close as we will ever get to ‘smoking gun’ proof of our lineage.  Congratulations and gratitude to Richard Scherer for his perseverance and diligence in finding William Pinley’s baptism record.



Our Immigrant William’s age was found verified in court only once, as ‘age about 28’ in 1647, Northampton County Court testimony.  That source calculates his birth to ‘about’ 1619.

(“The dep: of Wm Pinley aged about 28 years Sworne & Exaied this 15th of Decembr 1647...”)


Naming Patterns:  Thomas and Dorothy:

William named his children William, Dorothy and Thomas.  The baptismal record states that William Saunders alias Pinley was the son of Thomas Pinley and Dorrothie.  We have long speculated that William Pinley’s family probably included a Thomas and a Dorothy.


Location:  Walter Broadhurst connection:

At the age of 19 in 1638, William Pinley sailed to Maryland aboard The Charity.  He was listed as manservant to Walter Broadhurst, who was born in Lilleshall in 1616.  Lilleshall is located only twelve miles from William Pinley’s baptism at Bradeley.  We looked for baptism records under every possible spelling, and eventually focused on the English Midlands near Lilleshall, Stafford, Birmingham. 



We eventually noticed that as long as William Pinley and his literate, highly accomplished mother-in-law Hannah Mountney were living, the name was most frequently spelled with an i, Pinley.  In England, most names with the Pinley spelling appear to rise from the Midlands, areas near Coventry.  A village, and many streets, clubs, farms, businesses and estates still bear the Pinley spelling, dating back to the Pinley Nunnery established there in 1132.  


Debating the 'correct' spelling of Penley/Pinley/Pendley before literacy allowed us to own and control our name is a moot point. The literates who wrote down our name in records scribbled their own phonetic version of whatever they heard our ancestors pronounce. 


In spite of the close proximity to the village of Pinley, spelling in the 20 entries of our name in the Bradley Parish Register, spelling varies: Pinley-7, Pynley-5, Pinly-3, Pindley-3, Penley-2.  Spelling also varied between Saunders and Sanders, Bradeley and Bradley. 


For 200 years after William and Hannah died, his orphans and their descendants struggled, with no sign of literacy in PenleyPearls direct line until after the Civil War.  For seven generations in America, our family name was at the mercy of phonetic spelling. The random spellings of Pinley/Penley/Pendley/Pindley in the American colonies and along the frontier were happenstance, flukes of our own illiteracy.  


The Sanders Mystery:

New finds in genealogy often generate new mysteries, and this baptism confirms that our Pinleys emerged from the Dark Ages connected somehow to a Sanders family.  As shown in the parish register, the name varied between ‘Pinley alias Sa(u)nders’ and ‘Sa(u)nders alias Pinley’ or just Pinley or Saunders/Sanders alone.  The earliest found use of the Saunders alias with Pinley was 1547 in Warwickshire, and randomly continued to appear through the 1740s.  Surnames were new for commoners in the 1500s, the process for assigning names evolved over time based on parents, locations, appearance or occupations.  Aliases were common additions for various reasons, most often used to preserve a connection to a maternal lineage of some importance.  Aliases sometimes reflected adoptions, second marriages, even illegitimate births.  Because the Pinley name was found with the alias for over two hundred years, it is thought most probable that it preserved an important maternal lineage rather than a singular event.  Beginning in 1534, Henry VIII required the recording of full names at birth, marriage and death.  There was probably a Saunders-Pinley marriage before 1534, or in a parish whose records did not survive, or have not yet been published online.


In the Bradeley register, the Saunders alias was most often used at birth. Only two burials and one marriage included the Saunders alias.   Our Immigrant’s parents were buried as Thomas Pinly and Dorothy Pinley.  There is no indication that William Pinley ever used the Saunders combination in Maryland or Virginia.