About Me
Terms of Use

Generation II: Thomas & Elizabeth Pinley

Orphan Thomas of Virginia & Maryland

News Flash: A Thomas Pinly has been located as a soldier in King Philip's War, listed as part of the militia at Mendon, Massachusetts, near Lancaster, on October 19, 1675.

The date is appropriate for our Orphan Thomas, he would have been 25 years old at the time. The Massachusetts location is not is not a predictable find, but neither is it excludable. There is a gap in our knowledge of the Orphans from 1671 until 1680, and it is entirely possible that Thomas Pinley spent some time in the Massachusetts militia. There were other known Penleys in Massachusetts before and after 1675, and this finding makes them more credible. This document is being added to the chronology of the Orphan Thomas' life found below (at 1675) as a possibility that the reader may judge for themselves. (

Our Orphan, Thomas Pinley

Our Orphan, Thomas Pinley, was born in Virginia about 1650, the third child and second son of William and Elizabeth (Hill) Pinley. The Virginia birthplace is assumed since Will Crump claimed headrights for him in Maryland, and no headrights were ever claimed for him in Virginia. The Pinley home was probably located at or near the Town Fields section of Northampton County where Alexander and Hannah Mountney ran the Common Store and trading post.

Upon the death of William and Elizabeth Pinley, the inventory of William’s estate was recorded and his estate settled in Northampton County Court. The court granted administration and guardianship to Hannah Mountney, Elizabeth’s mother, grandmother of the orphans. At some point before 1657, Hannah and the orphans moved across the Chesapeake Bay to Lancaster County, Virginia. where Hannah owned land near the head of the Corratoman River. No court appearances have been found for any of the orphans during Hannah’s guardianship.

When Thomas Pinley was about nine years old, in 1659, Grandmother Hannah died. Guardianship of the orphans was transferred by Lancaster County Court to Will Crump, who had married Hannah’s daughter Frances Mountney. In 1662, after nearly three years of guardianship by Will Crump, Will Jr. and Dorthy appeared in court to request a new guardian because of abuse at the hands of Crump. Crump assaulted Will Jr. “in the face of this court” and was sent to jail, fired from his job as constable and forced to post a bond for his good behavior.

Will Jr., and sister Dorothy were assigned Nicholas Porquoy as guardian. It is concluded that Porquoy was the husband of Hannah’s daughter Mary Spelman. According to the law of the day, if guardianship over the orphans was given to someone outside of the family, indentured contracts would have been assigned specifying the responsibilities and time limits, therefore Nicholas Porquoy must have been a relative to the orphans.

Thomas did not appear in court with Will Jr. and Dorothy on May 14, 1662. The court does refer to young Thomas on that date, however, as a complaint was filed against him for hiding a hog. Judgement was granted AGAINST Thomas in his absence, and he was ordered to appear before the court to choose a new guardian as William and Dorothy had already done. No record of Thomas’s appearance to answer to these charges is found, but it is obvious from a later entry that he did choose Nicholas Porquoy as a guardian also. On September 9, 1663, Orphan Thomas told the court that Nicholas Porquoy had abused him, and the court returned Thomas to Will Crump’s guardianship.

Shortly after that court appearance, the records indicate that Orphan Thomas and his sister Dorothy moved to Maryland with Will and Frances Crump and their three children.

Two full years later, on September 14, 1665, Nicholas Porquoy appears in Lancaster court to record that the cattle belonging to Thomas and Dorothy Pindley have been “given in”. The wording indicates that the cattle were turned over to the court, which could indicate continuing legal battles within Hannah’s family. Crump again used headrights for Thomas and Dorothy Pinley to claim land in Maryland in 1671, though such action may not have required their presence at that time. No further record of Thomas’s residence has yet been found in Maryland after 1671. By that year, Thomas would have been 21 years old, and free from any control by Will Crompe or Nicholas Porquoy.

Only a few records have been found documenting Thomas’ adult life. Research is impeded by the wide variations in the spelling of Penley. The decision to identify the documents which follow as records of Our Orphan Thomas Pinley is based on a combination of factors including the phonetic pronunciation of the name, a known connection of Thomas to that location or other names in that document or nearby documents, and naming patterns. Seventeenth century genealogy is not an exact science.

Possible Chronology of Orphan Thomas Penley’s Life

1650: Northampton County, Virginia
Estimated birth of Thomas, both his parents died in the same year. Grandmother Hannah Mountney was assigned guardianship.

1659: Lancaster County, Virginia
Hannah Mountney died, Will Crump became guardian for the orphans in Lancaster County.

1662: Lancaster County, Virginia
Orphans Will Jr. and Dorothy complained of abuse by Crump, Crump assaulted Will Jr. in tahe court room. Nicholas Porquoy was declared guardian. Orphan Thomas was court ordered to answer judgement concerning hiding of a hog, and Porquoy was assigned as his guardian.

1663: Northumberland County, Virginia: Thomas Penning
One Thomas Penning was used as a headright by John Hughlett in order to earn property. Thomas Pinley would have only been about thirteen years old at this time. This spelling of Penley might have been ignored if not for the name of John Hughlett, found on two later Northumberland County Penley records. John Hughlett, a probable descendant of the 1663 Hughlett, was a witness to the 1740 John Hartgroves will which left property to Sarah Penly, the documented wife of the Orphan Thomas’ grandson.

John Hughlett’s last will and testament in 1742 was witnessed by William Penley, the documented son of Orphan Thomas and Elizabeth Penley, and Tellif Alterson. William Penley’s land in Northumberland County was bounded by the property of Teliff Alterson Jr. There was an obvious connection between Hughletts and Penleys, as neighbors, friends, or relatives by marriage.

The use of headrights by this time was a revolving door. If this document refers to our Orphan Thomas Pinley, he may or may not have been present at the time of his headright's use to gain land for Hughlett.

Jno. Hughlett, 900 acs. N’thumberland Co., 3 June, 1663, p. 205 (103) N. by E. upon 1200 acs. formerly patented by Col. Jno. Mattrom, dec’d., Ely. upon land of Jno. Hainye, Sly & S.Wly. upon a branch dividing this from his own land and land of Tho . Salisbury &c. to a tree upon a branch of Chikacone Riv., N.N.W. & W.S.W. upon land of Adam Yarrett & Rich. Eaton. Trans. of 8 pers.: Robert Lawson, Tho. More, Jacob Willoughnir, Ed. Roe, George Slitham, Edw. Mills, Mary Doughty, Thomas Connaway, An Leech, Wm. Foster, Robt. Hutson,Tho. Penning, Edw. Goodlin, Tho. Moby (?) Ann Clayton, Edw. Cordin, Mary Yates, Wm Murry. (Nugent, Vol. I, p. 460, 461)

Headrights were used and abused by Virginians and Marylanders alike. Will Cromp may have sold Thomas’ headrights to Hughlett before leaving for Maryland, it was often not necessary for the persons named as headrights to be present. Crump may have sworn that Thomas was born in Maryland while in Virginia, and sworn that Thomas was born in Virginia while in Maryland, a common practice. This record is included due to the Hughlett reference and the Northumberland location.

1663: Lancaster County, Virginia
Orphan Thomas appeared in court to complain of abuse by Nicholas Porquoy. Thomas chose Will Crump as his guardian.

1663: Talbot County, Maryland
The Crumps moved to Maryland, and Will Crump claimed headrights for Dorothy and Thomas Pinley.

1665: Lancaster County, Virginia
Nicholas Porquoy delivered the cattle belonging to Orphans Dorothy and Thomas Pinley to the Lancaster court. It is assumed that Dorothy and Thomas were in Lancaster at that time to receive the cattle.

1670: Talbot County, Maryland:
Orphan Dorothy Pinley, Thomas' sister, gave a power of attorney to Michael Miller to arrest and prosecute William Crump. No mention is made of Thomas at this experience, but the transfer of Power of Attorney to Michael Miller is somewhat curious, as he does not appear to hold any special office in the community. This power of attorney may have been an indication that Dorothy was planning to leave the area where Crumpe's abuse had taken place.
1670 July 14 Talbot County Dorothy Pynty to Michael Miller - Power of Attorney to arrest and prosecute William Crump.
Wit: Margaret Macklin, Martha Peters.
(Talbot Land Records, Vol. I-p. 113) [Crump Family Research]

1671: Talbot County, Maryland
Will Crump again claimed land in the names of Dorothy and Thomas Pinley, even though Thomas was over the age of 21 and there was a 1670 warrant for his arrest for a crime against Dorothy. The orphans may or may not have been present in Maryland at this time, and Crump may have sold their headrights to others.

Penleys in Massachusetts:

One Thomas Pinly is located with the Massachusetts militia on October 19, 1675 at Mendon, near Lancaster, Massachusetts. This could be a significant find, as there have been other documents of possible Penleys found in Massachusetts, and the credibility of those connections would certainly be enhanced by the finding of Our Orphan Thomas with his "boots on the ground" in Massachusetts.

Is this Our Thomas? This research is currently swaying toward accepting this Thomas Pinly in Massachusetts as Our Thomas. Nothing is written in cement on this website, and the research here is continuously open to new facts as well as new reasoning based on old facts.

My reasons favoring adoption of this Thomas Pinly of Massachusetts as our Orphan Thomas:

1. There is a ten year gap in our records. We find no other footprints for Our Orphan Thomas in Virginia or Maryland in the era of 1670-1680.

2. I have long held knowledge of "stray Penleys" in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. These areas were scrutinized during the years of failed search when it was believed that Hannah Mountney was the mother of our William Pinley. Eventually, I abandoned this research because I could find absolutely no connection between the Penleys found in Maine and Massachusetts to our documented Penleys in Virginia and Maryland. This Thomas Pinly could be that long sought connection.

If our Thomas Penley did travel to Massachusetts in this era, he may have joined his brother, Orphan William Pinley and other cousins from England. The Thomas Pinly found at Mendon, Massachusetts may eventually lead us to his brother William and his descendants, and may eventually connect us to the Penleys at Falmouth, the Penleys of toothpick and clothespin fame in Maine, who all connect to the Penley Clan in Cornwall.

3. Long ago I located a John Penley (different sources interpret the name as Penley, Pevrely or Peverly) found at the Newfoundland fishing settlement by 1634. Documents refer to these fishermen returning to England each winter, and returning in the spring.

4. There was a Sampson Penley (son of a John Penley of Cornwall) who settled permanently near Falmouth, now in the state of Maine by 1658; he was a fisherman and prison keeper at Falmouth. Various documents refer the the residents of Falmouth traveling to the lower Massachusetts colony during some winters and during Native uprisings. (Maine belonged to the Massachusetts colony at this time.)

5. Sampson Penley's will in 1676 mentions only his wife Rachel (Pavey) and three daughters, but in 1692 there is located in Boston a Sampson Penley, a mariner, captain of the ship Marygold, who was sued for rent of a dwelling rented by his wife. This Sampson could be the son of Sampson Penley of Falmouth, or a nephew of the same family from Cornwall.

6. One Abigail Turner and her sons Benjamin and Samuel Stockbridge of Scituate, on 1 August 1700, requested John Bryant, William Pendy, and Zachariah Damon to value the estate of Benjamin and Samuel, "that is to say All the Housing & Land and meadows corne mill and saw mill near or upon ye first Herring Brooke in Scituate aforesaid which by the settlement of ye Estate of their father Charles Stockbridge, deceased". I believe the first reference to this William Pendy in Massachusetts was found by Peggy Crane or Joyce Comer.

7. In scrolling through Massachusetts records, there are numerous family names that are later found in Richmond and Northumberland County in Virginia, including the Jefferies, Bryant, and Rice names.

8. While of no technical value to this research, an observation is yet made that Elizabeth Penley Rice gave several of her children names not common to Virginia naming patterns, but which were prolific in Massachusetts at the time: Lydia, George, Susan, Charles. The triple naming of her son, William Pinley Rice was not a Virginia habit of the day, but was becoming acceptable in Massachusetts.

These findings could eventually indicate that our Orphan Thomas married an Elizabeth from Massachusetts who brought new naming patterns into the family, but at this point this is only conjecture.

1680: Northumberland County, Virginia: Thomas Penry
Although there are records found in Northhampton County for a Thomas Pendrey, Pendry, and Penntly in 1681 and 1683, the following Northumberland record is the most credible as an indication of residence because of the location in Northumberland County, the name of Richard Rice in the immediately preceding record, and the location of several known Penley accomplices there from both the previous and next generations of Penleys. Our Orphan Thomas died in Northumberland County; in 1698 Elizabeth Penley is described in a court document as the widow and relict of Thomas Penley. The child and grandchildren of Thomas and Elizabeth lived there continuously until about 1749.

Whereas Christopher Bryerley petitioned this court & did therein declare that he had served Mr. Thomas Matthew five yeares, and (whereas per the deposition of Mr. Tho: Penry ) who sold the sd Byerley to Mr. Tho: Matthew but for fower yeares & no longer type, the Court that the sd Mr. Tho: Mattthew pay unto ye sd Byerley for his last yeares service one thousand pounds of Tob & Caske w’th costs. (Order Book 1678-98, Part I, 54.)

The entry above this Penry reference in Records of Indentured Servants and of Certificates for Land Northumberland County, Virginia, 1650-1795, Compiled by W. Preston Haynie, is the land certificate for Richard Rice, granted 300 acres on the same day in the same court session as Thomas Penry’s deposition above. The son of Richard Rice, also Richard Rice, married Elizabeth Penley (supposed granddaughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Pinley; the Rices named a son William Penley Rice.

It is not surprising that Thomas Pinley returned to the Northumberland/Lancaster County area after reaching adulthood and independence from Will Crump, as the Kent Islanders had settled the area. Almost every documented William Pinley associate from Maryland ended up claiming land in Northumberland County. Disenchanted Kent Islanders began settling in the area that would become Northumberland County while it was still land reserved to the Native population; in fact, the Native uprising of 1644 was caused largely by English incursions onto their promised land. England opened up the area for settlement after William Claiborne’s army delivered a resounding defeat to the Natives along the York River.

Out of gratitude to Claiborne and his men, and to compensate Claiborne for supposedly giving up on his claim to Kent Island, Claiborne received generous land grants along Virginia’s new frontier. William Claiborne claimed land in Northumberland, using his loyal army of men from Kent Island as headrights, and those men in turn claimed Northumberland acerage for themselves, often using each other as headrights. Suffice it to say that with William Claiborne as Virginia’s Secretary of State and chief surveyor for the colony, Claiborne took care of the men who had taken care of him.

Thomas Sturman, his son Richard and sons-in-law Thomas Youell and William Hardidge settled in Northumberland. John Hallowes, at whose home William Pinley was arrested for his “seditious and reviling” speech about oysters in 1650, claimed 1800 acres in Northumberland in January of 1651. Both Walter Broadhurst and Thomas Gerrard seated plantations in Northumberland County in 1650, as well as Andrew Munrowe. And Hannah Mountney patented land in 1657 in Lancaster County, which was created from what had originally been Northumberland County.

It is frustrating to find no land patent for the Orphan Thomas Penley in Northumberland or elsewhere, just as no land ownership was ever documented for his father in Maryland or Virginia. Early Pinley land grants and headrights may be buried forever in the myriad of misspelled names and spelling variations, further obscured by very old and weathered documents being transcribed years after the original document was damaged.

The above referenced Northumberland document refers to Thomas Penry as "Mr.", a title signifying importance in that day, and land ownership was usually at the foundation of a reputation. Alexander Mountney was often referred to as Mr., though he lived on leased land in Northampton County, ran the local trading post, and had several servants. The center of town was often land reserved by the colony for the public good, and not eligible for purchase.

Thomas may have likewise lived on leased land and operated a similar business. If he ran trading ventures between the various settlements, this could account for his random court appearances in Northampton County as Thomas Pennley and Thomas Pendrey.

1681: Northampton County, Virginia Thomas Pennly

February 10, 1680/81

“Recorded ye 10th of Feb’y 1680 The deposition of Thomas Pennley aged 28 or thereabouts. Saith that he heard Thomase Moore say Mr. Jn. Souers ordered him to take up a horse. Hee did take ye horse up and kept him all night, and in ye morning hee saw Edmund Allens marks upon ye same horse. He turned him loose again for he said he could find no other mark but Edw’ Allens upon him. Further saith not.

The 1st of Feb’y 1680 sworn in open court Thomas Pennley

(Northampton Orders, Deeds, etc., Volume 13, p. 135)

This photocopy of this manuscript is much clearer and more legible than the next court document, but the Penley signature on this one does not appear to this reader to be Penn(tt)ley as found in abstracts of this document. The Pe __ ley is perfectly clear. The letter(s) in the middle could be N, but in no way resembles TT as interpreted in found abstracts. What someone has interpreted as TT is only half the height of the L which follows, and could certainly be an N.

A concern with this manuscript relates to the indication of a signature instead of a mark, whereas the next court appearance indicates the deponent was not able to sign his name, and make his mark instead. If he was literate in 1681, he should have still been literate in 1683. This could indicate that two different men gave these depositions, but it more likely reflects the typical problems of trying to interpret a very old and blurred copy which was transcriped long ago by a court clerk who was attempting to read and copy an even older blurred transcript.

1683: Northampton County, Virginia Thomas Pendry
This entry begins near the bottom of page 275, but the copy of this page is impossible to decipher. The area by the name and age is particulary blurred, which complicates another concern between this document and the previous one. Only two years elapse between the two court appearances, but the age of the deponent advances four years. In the book, Colonial Residents of Virginia's Eastern Shore Whose Ages were Proved Before Court Officials of Accomack and Northampton Counties,the author interprets this to be the deposition of:

“PENDREY, THOS Age 32 Feb 1682/83 N X111 275”.

(by William R. M. Houston, M.D. & Jean M. Mihalyka: Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1985: Northampton Co. Orders Deeds & Wills Vol. 5)

Thomas Pendry’s testimony on the following page is more legible, but this should not be considered a perfect transcript. The testimony relates to an injury to someone named Warren by a Mr. Garr, repeated reference to “blood spilled”, and a Mr. Corbin who was involved in caring for Warren.

“for cutting him in the Arme and spillinge of his blood. And Mr. Garr did then bid the D..... Corbin that the said Warren should lack for nothinge and hee the said Garr would pay him for it to his the said Corbin's ----- did in Garr did imploy Wm Baker to look after the said Warren and hee would pay him for it and -- Garr did --- keepe --- much and Thomas --- of sorrow for it and Corbin after that sent to Mr. Garr for a pair of stockins that the said Corbin need not mind ye price for hee he said Garr should be more in his debt and Mr. Garr did further say also afore said time at Mr. Corbin's to him the said Corbin that he would pay him the said Corbin for his caringe of the said Warren and for whata charge hee should bee att and ...
Thomas X Pendry (Northampton Orders, Deeds, etc., Volume 13, p. 275-276:)

Thomas appears to be a witness to the facts regarding the care of Warren after his injury. Thomas Pinley’s son William eventually lives adjacent to Esquire Henry Corbin in Richmond County beginning in 1707, and this Corbin could be related as several families left the Eastern Shore and moved to the Northern Neck counties after tobacco “wore the land out” in Northampton County.

1683: Somerset County, Maryland Thomas Pedley
Although most of the found Pedley records in Virginia have been deemed as not relevant to this research, this document may refer to our orphan Thomas Pinley. Somerset County is the Maryland county which adjoins Virginia’s Accomack County, which was formed when Northampton County was split in half.

If Thomas Pinley was involved in running trade between settlements, as indicated by his court appearances in Northumberland and Northampton Counties, it is conceivable that he would have business deals across the line in Maryland as well, just as his father did. This document is also referenced here because of the Whittington name. The Whittingtons had holdings in Maryland and Northampton County, and when William Pinley was given permission to return to Virginia after his beating for “reviling and seditious speeches” shortly before his death in 1650, one of the men with him in court was “Arthur Whittington’s man, the Welshman David”.

Maryland Archives: Volume 90 Somerset County Court (Judicial Record) November 13, 1683 - March 11, 1683. Volume 90 Source Documents SOMERSET COUNTY COURT (Judicial Record) 1683-1684, MSA CM 962-5, Accession No.: CR 45,670-2.

Entries returnable y Second Tuesday in March Ao Do 1683 Caps: agt: Thomas Pedley to answr to answr unto Andrew Whittington of a plea of Debt

September 16, 1698: Northumberland County, Virginia: Thomas Pinley

The Orphan Thomas Pinley, died in 1698 in Northumberland County at the estimated age of 48 years. Except for the notice of his death, no further documents reflecting his life have been thus far realistically identified as referring to the Orphan Thomas Pinley.

In Virginia Colonial Abstracts, Series II, Vol. I by Lindsay O Duval for Northumberland Co, 1678-1713, page 837 the following abstract indicates the 1698 death of Thomas Pinley.

25 Sept 1698, motion of Elizabeth Pinley, Widdow and Relict of Thomas Pinley.

At this time, the maiden name of Elizabeth is not known. Their marriage may have taken place in Talbot or Somerset County, Maryland, or Northampton or Northumberland County in Virginia, the counties where probable Thomas Pinley records have been found. Thomas and Elizabeth Pinley may have had other children, but William Pinley is the only child thus far documented in found records. Without hard evidence, family research estimates William’s birthdate as 1680, indicating a marriage between Thomas and Elizabeth before that time.

Sometime after 1698 and before 1707, Elizabeth married again, to Robert Harrison, who sold 100 acres in the adjoining County of Richmond to her son William Pinley in 1707, their relationship well documented by the land deed. In this document, prepared at the behest of Elizabeth, the spelling of the family name is the same as used by the Immigrant William Pinley. The deed also clearly documents Elizabeth Pinley Harrison and her son as residents of Northumberland County. At the bottom of the deed, Elizabeth makes her mark, indicating that she was not literate.

KNOW ALL MEN by these presents that I ELIZABETH HARRISON, Wife of ROBERT HARRISON of the Parrish of St. Stephens in county of NORTHUMBERLAND in Virginia do by these presents appoint my well beloved friend SAMLL CHURCHILL of NORTH FARNUM in county of Richmond to be my lawful Attorney to acknowledge all my right and title of a parcel of land wch my husband sold to my SON, WILLIAM PINLEY. it being 100 acres of land as by the Deed of sale may appear as Witness my hand and seale Janry ye 27 1706.

This deed of sale is remarkable due to the manner in which Elizabeth Pinley Harrison is included in the transaction. At the top of the document, Elizabeth Harrison appoints Samuel Churchill of Richmond County to be her attorney. There is no specific mention of relinquishing dower rights, but she appoints her attorney “to acknowledge all my right and title of a parcel of land wch my husband sold to my SON”, and she makes her mark on the deed on January 27, of 1706/7.

Yet at the bottom of the document, when the deed is recorded in Richmond County, Robert Harrison appeared in person, but Elizabeth did not make the trip to the Richmond County Court to record the deed. A different attorney, William Humphries represented Elizabeth in Richmond County, even though Samuel Churchwell was present when the deed was recorded.

Acknowledged in Richmond County Court by ROBT. HARRISON personally and WILLIAM HUMPHRYS ATTo. of ELIZABETH HARRISON the 5th day of Febry Ano Dom 1706 & recorded the 12th day of ye same month & same yeare........

Signed Sealed and Delivered in the presence of us with TURFE and TWIGG.



Acknowledged in Richmond County Court by ROBT. HARRISON personally and WILLIAM HUMPHRYS ATTo. of ELIZABETH HARRISON

the 5th day of Febry Ano Dom 1706

& recorded the 12th day of ye same month & same yeare........

It appears that Samuel Churchill was her attorney when she signed her mark to sell the property, but a second lawyer represented her when the deed was recorded in the adjacent county. It is a bit strange for a wife to require two separate attorneys in order to approve a husband’s sale of land to her son. It could be that the sale was more complicated than ordinary, perhaps complicated by exchanges of other property.