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Birth of William Pinley: Shredicote Bradley Staffordshire England

Our Medieval Pinleys before 1618

Our Medieval Pinleys

PenleyPearls now concludes that the William Pinley who immigrated to Maryland in 1638 descended from the Pinleys who took their name from the Village of Pinley, now in the city of Coventry, St. Michael’s Parish, Lichfield Diocese, Warwickshire, England, as proven by evidence to be provided herein. Richard Scherer found the 1618 William Pinley baptismal record in Bradeley, Staffordshire, England, about 50 miles from Coventry.  This should not be perceived as besieging anyone’s genealogy except my own. Names and dates of Penley/Pinley ancestors found in numerous locations throughout England will be provided. There is no conclusion here as to whether the various families were related in ancient times. Fellow researchers should study the information and reach their own conclusions.

Though more details that led PenleyPearls to this conclusion are available at the end of this chapter, after years of research, it is believed that Walter Broadhurst, Edward Hill and Hannah Boyle all came to America from the English county of Shropshire. Thomas Gerrard owned Bryn, an estate in Shropshire before moving to Maryland. Closer analysis of Shropshire led us to Lichfield Diocese, and on to the ancient but abundant Pinley names in the adjacent counties of Warwick and Worcester. Reality began sinking in when it was noted that the literate William Pinley consistently spelled his name PINLEY throughout his short life in America, it was only after the death of his literate mother-in-law, Hannah Mountney that our name morphed in a dozen directions.

A rough list of Pinley variations found in the Midland counties of Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire before 1650 is linked here.

Summary of New Conclusions

By the year 1237, Richard de Pinley and William de Pinley already had existing leases on land in Warwick County, England, today found as Pinley Fields, near Stoke Aldermoor in the city of Coventry. They are documented as the “principal tenants” of Geoffrey de Langley. In the year 1268, John de Pinley held a lease ten miles away at Warwick Castle. In 1290, a William de Pinneleye is cited as a parish sub-deacon in nearby Worcestershire. The “de Pinleys” acquired more leases as time marched. Tenant leases in this era were continuous and hereditary.

Sometime after 1280, a subsequent William de Pinley provided leases for his mother Alice, charging very specific fees, and seemingly left the area to pursue an education. By 1311, possibly the same William de Pinley is found buying land in Warwick County. Sometime after 1311, a wealthier William Pinley provided additional leases to his mother, Alice, and a sister Katherine, this time charging only a gilly-flower as rent for even more extensive holdings. By 1332, William Pinley died or again left the area, as he is not listed as a tenant or landowner in the Sowe area. A Simon de Pynneleye is found at Newbold-on-Avon in 1332, along with other interesting names still in Warwick County and adjacent Worcester County.

After 1332, Pinley name variations in Coventry and Warwick County are scarce, but records re-emerge in large numbers beginning in 1542. The 200 year gap in the Warwick area could prove an absence of Pinleys, but more likely a gap in of local records, work in that area continues, documents have been ordered. There are Pinley families near Warwick in the 1630’s that meet qualifications as William Pinley’s parents. In the following pages, documents and references are provided

At about the time that Pinley records in Warwickshire become rare, Pinley and Penley variations of unknown origin become more prevalent in other areas around England. A list of these various later finds will be provided so that reader may reach their own conclusions.

Possibly Relevant Historic Events

  • On a list of knights accompanying William the Conqueror in 1066 was one Raoul Pinel, however, no proof of French ancestry is found for the Warwick Pinleys. The Pinleys may have used the “de” with their name due to French influence in the area, or the Latin influence of the Catholic Church.
  • England’s Hundred Years War with France began in 1337 and lasted until 1453.
  • The conflict caused many descendants of the Norman Invasion to drop the French soounding “de” from their surname. There is no positive “de Pinley or de Penley” found after 1342.
  • 1348: The Bubonic Plague killed between 30% and 50% of England’s population, and plunged the entire country into economic depression. Survivors were insufficient to raise crops for the remaining population, food prices skyrocketed.
  • “The Black Prince”, Edward, Prince of Wales inherited the Cheylesmore manor in Coventry, Warwick from his mother, and was well received in the area on his frequent hunting expeditions. In 1356, he led 8,000 English soldiers at the Battle of Poitiers to a most magnificient victory over the French. The Black Prince may have recruited heavily from Warwick. References hint that Sir Richard Penlegh jousted at Poitiers, but no documentation is found.
Original Pinley and Penley Names

The earliest found uses of surnames bearing any similarity to the spellings of Pinley or Penley all appear to be derived from geographic locations in England.

The Oldest Found Pinleys
Richard and William de Pinley 

In 2007, a small site northeast of Pinley Fields near Stoke Aldermoor is still called Pinley. Today, both Pinley and Stoke Aldermoor are mere suburbs of the city of Coventry, West Midlands, England. It is here in the village of Pinley that the oldest document yet found of men bearing the name of Pinley is located. Just as in the twelfth century, the Village of Pinley lies between the Rivers Sherbourne and Sowe, south of Shortley and Stoke, and north of the old London road, now called Abbey Road at Whitley. The modern line of London Road crosses Pinley north of the old road. The ground rises from the western bank of the River Sowe to two low hills, on one of which stood Pinley Hill Farm. It is said that until recently the area was more routinely referred to as Pinley instead of Stoke Aldermoor, although in Medieval times it was composed of the two separate villages.

The most ancient found Pinley contracts refer to numerous medieval estates and locations at Pinley Fields, though later land leases in the Pinley and Pynneley name variations were eventually scattered through much of County Warwick, England. At search Maps for Pinley Fields, UK and enter the names of the settlements from the contracts on the following pages, and you will see why Pinley Fields is certainly the location of the found Pinley leases from the 13th century.

The long anticipated package of a newly discovered resource has arrived! English historian Peter R. Coss used Langley’s conflicts with his principal tenants, William and Richard de Pinley as a case study for his book on medieval English society. PenleyPearls bows in awe of Peter Coss’ incredible knowledge of the town of Coventry and the surrounding countryside in the Medieval era. Although sections of his book will be referenced here, you may also read parts of the book at

Lordship, Knighthood, and Locality: A Study in English society c. 1180 - 1280,
by Peter R. Coss, Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

In the year 1236, Richard and William de Pinley were described as the principal tenants of Geoffrey de Langley. Geoffrey de Langley inherited two estates from his father: Pinley at Coventry and Siddington at Gloucestershire. By 1232, he was active in assarting (clearing forest land for agriculture) and enclosing his estate at Pinley, which brought certain conflict with the local freeholders and peasants.

1086: The Domesday Survey mentions Coventry, and the Village of Sowe, but does not list the nearby Village of Pinley,
1132: The earliest found references to a Pinley location in Warwick county regard a Cistercian nunnery. The Priory of Pinley was founded by Robert de Pilaruinton (aka Pillarton) shortly after the Norman Conquest in 1066, and numerous bequests followed, such as one dated in the year 1132 by Waleran de Beaumont, the fourth Earl of Warwick.
('Houses of Cistercian nuns: Priory of Pinley', A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 2 (1908), pp. 82-3. URL: Date accessed: 30 September 2007.)
Before 1237: No earlier record has been found documenting the Pinleys before 1237, but extant documents after 1237 refer to previously existing leases. Leases were perpetual and hereditary during this era. The contract signed in 1237 stated that Richard and William Pinley relinquished previous agreements regarding ditches, enclosures and purprestures which Walter de Langley, Geoffrey’s father or Geoffrey himself had made prior to September 21, 1237 (Coss, p. 104). According to Coss, the enclosure dispute between the Pinleys and Langleys “goes back a generation, perhaps twenty years before the dispute between Geoffrey and his tenants”. (Coss, p. 105)

1236/7: Freeholders Richard and William Pinley, Langley’s chief tenants, quitclaimed all right to common pasture, easement, egress and ingress in the ward and moor of Pinley and in the entire furlong between that wood and the Withybrook estate at Shortley (Coss, 103 -104). Intricate details of this contract are provided by Mr. Coss, divulging clues of the Pinley lifestyle for later analysis.

By the agreement commoning of pasture was still to be allowed after the harvest, and there was provision that stubble should not deliberately be left standing in the fields to make grazing difficult.

"The demesne fields and woods of Pinley and some other land were inclosed by an agreement of 1236-7 between Geoffrey de Langley and his principal tenants, Richard and William de Pinley.”
('The City of Coventry: The outlying parts of Coventry: Pinley, Shortley, and Whitley', A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 8: The City of Coventry and Borough of Warwick (1969), pp. 83-90. URL: Date accessed: 30 September 2007.)

March 27, 1247: According to Coss, the 1247 contract restated and extended the 1237 agreement. Richard and William Pinley were allowed grazing near Biggin between Michaelmas and Candlemas whenever that land was fallow. Right to common was quitclaimed to Langley at the following locations: wood and alder grove at Pinley, the wood between Pinley and Shortley, at the new furlongs of Woodcroft and Alderford, Biggin next to the River Sowe, Hallemede, Slaberie. (Coss, 106)

1247: Later in the same year, Richard of Pinley won a suit against William of Whitley, seeming to rule against the creation of embankments to enclose common pasture land. This 1247 document also refers to the moor which had been previously held by Ranulf, son of Ralf of Pinley. The following places were specified in the later legal proceedings of 1247 (Coss, 107).
* the moor which had been held by Ranulf son of Ralf of Pinley;
* Alderford furlong;
* the furlong called long assart;
* Geoffrey's entire wood and moor of Pinley;
* the moor which Nicholas de Withybrook had given him.

1268: Only ten miles away, on the demesne of Warwick Castle (castle lands retained by the Earl of Warwick for his own use), a vineyard is mentioned next to the house of John of Pinley. The castle at Warwick was begun by William the Conqueror in 1068 as part of a plan to guard the midlands before advancing against the northern rebels. He left it in the custody of Henry de Beaumont. In 1088 William II rewarded Henry's loyalty by creating him Earl of Warwick, and added lands from Turchil of Arden, now Bickenhill and Solihull.

('The borough of Warwick: The castle and castle estate in Warwick', A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 8: The City of Coventry and Borough of Warwick (1969), pp. 452-75. URL: Date accessed: 30 September 2007.)

1279: On the Hundred Rolls of 1279, the alignment of Langley lands at Pinley is given, proving consolidation of his assets at the expense of previous freeholding tenants.

“The only free tenant of any significance now [1279] was William of Pinley, who held an half virgate and three acres at a rent of 2s 4d.”

“In addition there were several tenancies said to be held of Robert de Stoke, most, if not all, of which represent the erstwhile holding of Richard of Pinley.”

“Richard of Pinley’s half virgate was, however, a matter of contention. He[Richard] appears to have left three heirs. One third share, that of the Beletestes, was purchased by Walter de Langley in return for 20s and a maintenance agreement.” (Coss, p. 109)

“Geoffrey de Langley’s two principal free tenants, however, had certainly not been negligible figures. William of Pinley, in particular, like his son of 1279, was a local man of some importance with scattered interests in a number of vills.”

“It seems certain that these men had themselves enjoyed the opportunity of assarting (clearing forest land) from the wastes before they were confronted with a more vigorous Langley overlord.” (Coss, p. 109)

1242: “Hence the lease by which William of Pinley took on the land of Ranulf de Stivichall for nine years from Lady Day 1242 is particularly instructive. The agreement is precise and detailed. It was, in effect, a share-cropping agreement, but one which also revealed the mixed nature of William’s enterprise. The lease comprised Ranulf’s hall in the vill of Stivichall, with a small curtilage and garden and free access through the gate to the hall itself, indicating, seemingly, that the hall was part of some larger building complex. Three furlongs (culture) of Ranulf’s demesne were then described and located; William was to work these ad medietatem and to place at least 100 sheep each year in a sheep-fold. He was to work the lands with his plough at the same time and hour as the other men did, according to the custom of the vill. He was to find half the corn for sowing and perform half the services, except ploughing and hay-making. Ranulf was to find the other half of the seed-corn, and provide the rest of the services. Most interestingly, the lease goes on to include twelve cattle and two oxen in their enclosures and to specify that William will, in effect, have complete control of Ranulf’s pasture. The latter undertook to allow no cattle on to his common pasture unless going to his sheep-pin, whilst William could stock the pasture with as many oxen, cows, horses and sheep as he could profit from.” (Coss, p. 145)

1275: The jury which extended the ‘manor’ of Coventry following the death of Robert de Montalt [Cheylesmore ? ]in September, 1275 consisted of twelve men, including Ranulf de Pinley, and Robert de Stoke. “They [the jury] include substantial freehlders and minor lords, administrators of various kinds, and men operating from an urban as well as a rural base.” (Coss, p. 311)

1279: "It will be recalled that Geoffrey de Langley when reconstructing his manor of Pinley had encountered the interests of two Pinley families, headed at that time by William and Richard respectively. By 1279, Richard’s holding had dissolved among heiresses, although much of it seems to have passed to William son of William de Pinley whose family thus held two Pinley interests, together with property in Coventry and at Sowe. In neither family is there a Ranulf mentioned, and it may be that the extent is in error here."

1279: “It is often pointed out that scattered holdings of this nature must, in practice, have been sublet, either short term or for lives. Sometimes leasing must have taken place within families. This seems to have happened in the case of the Pinley family’s holdings at Wyken and Sowe. In 1279, a John of Pinley held an half virgate at Sowe of the freeholder Simon Joilyn for 2s and a further four acres at Wyken for 8d. It must surely be identical with the interest, described as his entire messuage and land in Sowe and Wyken, which William son of William de Pinley leased to his mother, Alice, for her life, probably during the early 1280’s.” (Coss, p. 144-145)

1279: “Study of the 1279 Hundred Rolls, of the eyre rolls and of local charters, shows the existence of a broad class of fairly prosperous freeholders, numerically stronger in some vills (such as Sowe) than in others (such as Pinley and Wyken), and reveals something of their conveyancing, their quarrels and litigation with one another and sometimes with their lords, and their activities as jurors, pledges and attornies. Rarely, however, do we learn much in detail of the sort of enterprise a thirteenth-century freeholder of this locality might actually be running. There are a few exceptions to this, one of whom is a figure we have met already, William of Pinley. William is first encountered in those extensive agreements over enclosure and pasture which Geoffrey de Langley imposed on him and his fellow tenant, Richard of Pinley, c. 1237 and in 1241." (Coss, p. 143 - 144)

"In practice William seems to have reached an accommodation with his lord, and is found as a witness to many of Geoffrey de Langley’s local charters. Clearly, though, his activities were somewhat circumscribed at Pinley and, like a number of the more prosperous local freeholders, he held rather scattered interests.” (Coss, p. 144)

“It is a feature revealed clearly by the Hundred Rolls of 1279. At that point William de Pinley, son or possibly grandson of the above William, held an half virgate and three and an half acres of his overlord at Pinley together with an additional holding derived from the land of the late Richard of Pinley. William was one of Richard’s three heirs, but he appears to have been holding the greater part of Richard’s half virgate by then. At Whitley he held another half virgate of Ralph of Whitley for 6s and a further four acres for 8d. At Ernesford he held a meadow of the abbot of Combe for 8d and suit of court. Additionally, he held property in Coventry, namely a burgage of Walter Bacon for 20d, a third of a burgage of the prior for 4d, and a cottage of the lady Agnes de Busherville for 18d.” (Coss, p. 144)
“Before leaving William of Pinley, however, there is one further item of interest. The lease by William son of William of Pinley to his mother Alice, of his messuage and land in Sowe and Wyken, had a further purpose. She was to pay his 16s at four terms of the year. The money seems to have been intended to see him through school, for in addition she was to find him food and drink during the vacation when he had returned from the schools (esculenta et poculenta sicud sib (ab) imis tempore vacationis cum a scoliis rediero). Perhaps his sale of a messuage in Well Street, Coventry, to Henry Baker and his wife in the early 1280’s was for the same purpose.” (Coss, p. 148)

[a Well Street is today located less than three miles from Pinley Fields according to Google Maps, about 1,000 feet from the former St. Michael’s Church, now Coventry Cathedral]

“Was the realization there that one can only go so far in the life on agrarian enterprise alone? For although a free tenant dould do quite nicely as a priary producer with demand for food and other commodities as high it was, the key to advancement beyond a certain level un doubtedly lay in service and administration, and this increasingly required literate and legal skills. It was thus that a mere prosperous free tenant could come to cut a real figure.” (Coss, p. 148)

“What use the young William of Pinley was to make of his education, supposing he was succcessful in acquiring one, is unknown." (Coss, p. 149)

"Since the head of the family was invariably called William it is virtually impossible to defferentiate between individuals." (Coss, p. 149)

“In 1311, William de Pinley of Sowe paid out sums of £20 and 20 marks for property not only at Sowe, but also at Long Lawford, Church Lawford, Barnacle, Stockingford and Ansley.” (Coss, p. 149)

“What is clear, however, is that they remained as major freeholders of the locality until the second quarter of the fourteenth century, and in the meantime, acquired further land. In 1332, however, all the property lately of William of Pinley in Pinley, and a croft in Whitley, were conveyed to his overlord, and it may be that their property there had passed to the Jabet family.” (Coss, p. 19)

By 1332: Unfortunately after 1332, current sources lose track of de Pinley and his heirs. The lease of William de Pinley’s land near Sowe to his mother provided by author Peter Coss is undated, so the exact time of his departure for schooling is unknown, though Coss estimates that lease to be from the early 1280’s.

Outside of Peter Coss’ book, other references have been found, some undated, but they obviously pertain to existing Pinley land near Sowe.

1290: William de Pinneleye is found in nearby Worcester as a sub-deacon in Episcopal Registers, Diocese of Worcester: Register of Bishop Godfrey GIFFARD, page 374.

The Coss reference to the lease to William’s mother refers to his “entire messuage and land in Sowe and Wyken” and was apparently land which had been previously leased by John of Pinley from the freeholder Simon Joilyn, and very specific rent fees are stipulated, probably to cover his tuition.


Rolls of a Tenth and Fifteenth Granted to the Lord King Edward the Third After the Conquest in the Sixth Year of his Reign at Michaelmas:
In Warwick County; 1332

Robert Saunder, Knave 1s 6d at Tamworth
Simon de Pynneleye 1s at Neubold Paunton (now Newbold-on-Avon)
John de Brochurst 4s at Longa Lalleford
Richard de Pynneleye 2s 4d at Claverdon

Warw[ick].] B. 1882.[this is a reference number, not a date]
Grant by William de Pineleye (or Piveleye) of Sowe, to Alice his mother and Katherine his sister, for their lives, of lamí-, tenements, wood, Ac., in Long Lalleford [Lawford], Churche Lalleforde [Lawford], Sow [Sowe]. Berhnngel [Barnacle] and Stockiford [Stockingford], rendering for the same a gilly-flower; and further he grants to the said Alice all the trees ia the wood called ' Netlebeddesmoor ' in Stockiford.
Witnesses :—Robert de Stoke, Hugh de Stivechehale, Robert de Schireford, and others. Fragment of seal. [Warw.] B. 1883. Counterpart of B. 1882.

A Descriptive Catalogue of Ancient Deeds in the Public Record Office ... By Great Britain Public Record Office, 1894, p. 240.

In the same reference book of ancient deeds, a Pinel’ reference is again made to Joylin/Joilin of Sowe. The apostrophe after Pinel appears to be an indication that the remaining letters were not legible.

B. 3349. Grant by Simon son of Joylin of Sowe, to Alice daughter of Robert de Pinel', of land in Sowe. paying 2s. yearly. Witnesses :—Viel de Folkishull, Robert de Paris, and others (named). Seal.
A Descriptive Catalogue of Ancient Deeds in the Public Record Office ... By Great Britain Public Record Office, 1894, Page 393

Collectively, the Pinley transaction with Simon Joilyn in 1279 and the undated “Simon son of Joylin” transaction may well indicate a marriage between the Pinleys and Joylins, especially in view of the 1332 location of Simon de Pynneleye at Newbold on Avon. Impressive also is the 1546 marriage record for Joice Pynleye in Solihull, near Birmingham, and another marriage record for Jois Penlee in Cheshamm, Buckinghamshire in 1572. Peter Coss noted that the Pinley line may have merged into the Jabet line through heiresses, as he concluded that the Pinley name is not found near Sowe by 1332. “The Jabets were increasing their holding at Sowe during the early fourteenth century. They were probably related to the Pinleys.” (Coss, p. 149)

Pinley, Warwickshire, England
The Village of Pinley, near Coventry, Warwickshire, England
Pinley Nunnery, Rowington, near Claverdon, Warwickshire

Sources concur that Pinley Village derived its name from local geography, “pinn” being the ancient Saxon word for slope or peg, and ley or leah indicating a woodland clearing. The hamlet of Pinley is located in the Arden Forest, the part of Warwickshire northwest of the River Avon. The woods greatly depleted by the industrial revolution, it is now often referred to as "the old Forest of Arden". Pinley is located in "the heart of England", the lush rolling countryside of the English Midlands. The nunnery ruins are in the parish of Rowington, in County Warwick, near Claverdon. Hundreds of locations or businesses in Warwickshire still bear the Pinley or Pindley name. Travel only ten miles south to William Shakespeare's birthplace at Stratford-Upon-Avon, or twelve miles north to Lady Godiva's estate at Coventry, or a northward trek of only 40 miles will take you to Robin Hood's legendary hunting grounds, Sherwood Forest. Road trip, anyone?

Other Penley and Pinley Locations in England
Penley, Wales

A famed decoy for most Penley/Pinley genealogists in the eternal quest for roots is the Welsh hamlet of Penley, named after King Penda, the ancient pagan Saxon King of Mercia who died in battle in 655. This appears to be the only found Penley/Pinley location named after a particular person. Ironically, PenleyPearls fell into this trap again when it was discovered that Ellesmere, Edward Hill’s birthplace in Shropshire is less than five miles from Penley, near Wrexham, Wales. Alas, there are no discovered Penleys whose roots trace back to Penda or the village of Penley. Surnames were chosen after the Christian conquest of England, and choosing the identity of a pagan warrior would have been inconsistent during the era of the Crusades.

Pendley, Hertfordshire:

The village of Pendley, now in Tring, Hertfordshire is the only known Pinley variation found in the 1086 Domesday survey, but no early Penley variations have been found living there. A new source recently divulged a William de Pinle listed as Rector of the Parish Church of St Mary in Shenley, Buckingham in the year 1241.
"The History and Antiquities of the County of Buckingham" by George Lipscomb. Recently acquired information regarding a Sir Richard Penlegh, aka Penley refers to Hertfordshire, Berkshire and Wiltshire. Since the settlement was there before surnames became fashionable, it is likely the earliest residents took their name from the village. Further documents on Sir Richard Penley have been ordered.

Penley, County Cornwall, England

Penley genealogists have long looked at 'Penlee Point' in the County of Cornwall as the likely origin of the Penley name. In the Cornish language, a pen means 'a small point of land'. It has been thought probable that the Penly, Penley, Penlie, Penleye, Penlye, Penla, Penlee families of Cornwall took their names from this place. Often cited is the baptism of John, the son of John Penly, on April 21, 1560 at St. Mellion's in Cornwall. After extensive research, PenleyPearls has again found no reason to differ with their wisdom. Indeed, an even earlier Penley has now been located in Cornwall County. A mutual descendant of William Pinley all the way down to Epp Penley, fellow genealogist Richard Scherer of Kansas, recently located a 1410 reference to "Thomas Penleys son of John Penleys, in Tregeauwen [Cornwall]" at UK National Archives.

The Penleys of Gloucestershire

Early Penleys have also been found in Gloucestershire, but there is no known village named by a Penley/Pinley variation. Gloucestershire is located smack between the Pinley cluster at Warwick and Worcester and the Penley cluster at Wiltshire. Pinley variations from either county could have populated Gloucestershire, but the PENLEY spelling absolutely dominates the spelling there. If the spelling clues mean anything, Gloucester was settled by medieval men from Wiltshire or Berkshire.

The Shropshire Connection

Jim White of Missouri recently supplied information on Edward and Hannah's birthplaces and marriage. Sparks flew on the realization that Hannah Boyle, Edward Hill, and Walter Broadhurst were all from Shropshire, in the Lichfield and Coventry diocese. A file previously thought irrelevant on ancient Pinleys in the Lichfield Wills and Administrations came to mind. Research was found explaining the meaning of the term "alias" in ancestral names (Pinley alias Saunders, Saunders alias Pinley). Searching for Pinley variations in the towns included in the Lichfield diocese divulged numerous hits reaching back to Medieval times. Although lack of literacy remains a valid factor in spelling variations, loading the names, dates and locations into a data base and sorting by various priorities proved to be very enlightening, and some incredible patterns emerged.

Why Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire?
Back to Basic Facts

Truth #1: Shropshire, Diocese of Lichfield and Coventry

Only one found document ties William Pinley to any location in England, and that one place is Shropshire: his 1638 arrival in Maryland as the servant of Walter Broadhurst of Lilleshall, Shrophshire.

(Maryland State Archives. Land Office, Patent Record. Volume AB and H pp. 61, 83, and 101)

The Broadhurst family has solid documents in Shropshire and Warwick dating from the 1200’s through the 1600’s. Pinley records are found in Shropshire in the 1500's.

The parents of William Pinley's wife (Elizabeth Hill) were both from Shropshire:

Edward Hill (1587 - 1625), Born: 1587, Ellesmere, County Shropshire, England
Hannah Boyle (1599 - 1659), Born: 1599 in Chirbury, County Shropshire, England
Marriage: August 17, 1619, Edward Hill and Hannah Boyle, at Chirbury Priory,
Chirbury, Shropshire, England.

(This information graciously provided by Jim White of Missouri,,

Coincidence? Doubtful...

It is possible that William Pinley and Hannah Hill’s families in England were known to each other. We have numerous examples of colonists in general, and Penleys/Pinleys in particular adhering to people in their ‘comfort zone’ from allied families or old neighborhoods in England. Fear of the unknown was rampant in the colonies in the absence of England’s strict social structure.

Truth #2: William Pinley was born circa 1620

Only one found document indicates William Pinley’s age and birth date.
“The dep:[osition] of Wm Pinley aged about 28 years Sworne & Exaied [examined] this 15th of Decembr 1647”
(p. 265, Northampton County Virginia Record Book, Orders, Deeds, Wills & c, Volume 3, 1645 - 1651, Edited by Dr. Howard Mackey and Marlene Alma Hinkley Groves, CG. Picton Press, Rockport, Maine, 2000.)
Some genealogists have attempted to bend documented dates to find the parents of William Pinley, on the supposition that illiterate colonists frequently lost track of dates. Though that fact is accepted in general, it is not tenable to accept that an articulate and literate man lost or gained 8 - 10 years between his birth and age 28.

Truth #3: Literacy

William Pinley and his mother-in-law Hannah consistently spelled the name beginning with Pi. William Pinley was literate, he created legal documents for American colonists. Hannah Mountney was literate, she kept accounts for the Northampton Court. The spelling variations emerge after Hannah's death. Though previously viewed as random results of illiteracy on the American frontier, the frequency of distinct Pi-nley and Pe-nley spellings found in specific areas has multiplied to the extent that obvious patterns are now visible.

Truth #4: Pinleys in Coventry

There is redundant documentation for multiple Pinleys near Coventry dating back to the 1200's, with continued habitation there long after William Pinley’s death in 1650.

Though a scientifically perfect system was not available, the names were gathered from Rich Scherer’s files, PenleyPearls files, the Mormon and sites, as well as fresh internet searches, and laboriously imported to a data base. In the search for habitation patterns, trends were emphasized over secondary documentation of each name. Generic hits without documentation, specific dates, or exact locations were purposefully omitted from the data base, as were all obvious duplicates. Some duplicates may remain because one may have been kept because of a documented date, and another kept due to a documented specific location.
* Birmingham is only 35 miles from Lilleshall, Shropshire
* Birmingham is 75 miles from Gloucestershire
* Birmingham is 125 miles from London.
* Birmingham is 250 miles from Cornwall
Within a 30 mile radius of Covington, over 90 spelling variations of Pinley/Penley are found before 1650. Only six examples begin with Pe. As the Pinleys came out of the caves and woods and began to use hereditary surnames, the desire not to be associated with the pagan King Penda’s village of Penley just across the border in Wales may have inspired the consistent Pi trend in Warwick and Worcester.