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Generation V: Thomas & Millie Penley

Thomas Penley of Farnham...maybe

Possible Documentation of Thomas Penley:
Thomas Penley of Rutherford County, 1810

Abstract references have been located for the will of a Thomas Penley or Pendley recorded in Rutherford County, North Carolina in 1810. Notes from this abstract refer to a brother who inherited Thomas’ property. This will, located in WB B/242, needs further research. The actual will should reveal more than the abstract, and attempts should be made to obtain a full copy of this will. This inadequate information is not listed here as evidence, but as a placeholder until documents can be located.

This will was not a priority of this research at the onset, partially because Rutherford County is located so far from other known homesteads of the Penleys, down along the South Carolina border, far south and west of the area where Joshua and Epp lived in 1810. However, review of John Penley’s application for a Revolutionary War Pension includes a reference to Rutherfordton, which is located in Rutherford County. Penleys didn’t often travel about without family relations, and it is very likely that there were other Penleys, whether they be brothers, cousins or in-laws with John in the same regiment. Since there is now a documented Penley visit to Rutherford County, the Rutherford will of 1810 becomes more relevant to the research.
Captain Russell’s Company to which I belonged, marched to a place, now Rutherfordton, NC, known at that day by the name of Gilbert Town...
The full text of John Penley’s pension application will be provided later in this document. At this time, it is not certain who his father was, but John is thought to be the son of William, the eldest of the Penley Brothers from Farnham, only because William is the only one at this time who was positively a resident of Shenandoah County at the time his application states that he was born there.

This will was also discounted somewhat on the premise that it was more likely that Epp’s father would have bequested his own son, who was 21 years old and settled with a young family by 1810, rather than an elderly brother. Our Thomas Penley’s son Epaphroditus was born in 1789, and turned 21 years of age in 1810, and Epp was listed on the 1810 Personal Property Tax List in Russell County.

The recent intense scrutiny of documents weakens that premise, however. It had been assumed by this research that when Joshua arrived in Russell County in 1799, he had the ten year old orphan, Epaphroditus with him. Positive proof that Epp was in Russell County before 1810 has not been located. His name is not found until the 1810 tithable list. Epp should have become tithable wherever he was beginning in 1805, but the 1805-1809 Russell County Tax List has not been located. Epp and Temperance’s oldest child was born in 1805, indicating their marriage at the tithable age of sixteen. Again, the 1805-1809 Russell County tax lists are needed to determine when Epp first became head of a household in Russell County.

The Rutherford County will of Thomas Penley was probated in 1810, his death could have occurred earlier and he could have died elsewhere in North Carolina or Virginia. Common practice of the day was to record the will in the county where property was owned, and if Thomas owned property in Rutherford, an heir could have taken the will there to be probated.

Another possible documentation of Thomas Penley of Farnham:
Thomas Pennirey, Rockingham County, 1778

William Penley, the eldest of the Penley brothers, was born in North Farnham Parish in 1729, and lived in Shenandoah County from about 1755 until he moved to North Carolina around 1777. Rockingham County is adjacent to Shenandoah and Page counties. Our Thomas Penley, the second born of the Penley brothers, and Epp’s father, could have moved near his older brother William in Shenandoah, and this could be a reference to his service in the American Revolution. The wife Elizabeth could have been a first wife, who died before Thomas married Epp’s mother.

This entry probably documents William Penley of Shenandoah’s oldest son instead. It would have been logical indeed for William Penley to honor his father by naming his firstborn son Thomas, and the oldest son might have chosen not to move to North Carolina with his parents and younger siblings in 1777, if he was already married and settled in the Rockingham area.

'May 26, 1778: The next day a large part of the business consisted in the appointing of road masters for the new roads.......
The sum of L20 was voted for the aid of Elizabeth Pennirey, wife of Thomas Pennirey, a soldier in the army of the United States. " A HISTORY OF ROCKINGHAM COUNTY VIRGINIA, by John W. Wayland, Ph.D., p. 65.
Another possible documentation of Thomas Penley of Farnham:
Thomas Pennirey, Rowan County, North Carolina, 1778 - 1796

On the subject of Thomas Pennirey, there are additional entries found for a Thomas Pennery living along Bear Creek in Rowan County, North Carolina between 1778 and 1796. Burke County, the home of many known Penleys from the 1770’s to the present day, was formed from the part of Rowan County lying west of the Catawba River in 1777. There is incredibly well documented research ( on the Bryan family which mentions their neighbor Thomas Pennery on Bear Creek.

As this Thomas Pennery’s son, James, married the neice of Daniel Boone, it would be interesting to pursue the gene pool here. Evidence is not yet sufficient to claim this Thomas Pennery as a Penley bloodline, but it would be expected for all three of the Penley Brothers of Farnham Parish to name a child Thomas after their father, and a plethora of Penleys was found in this time period in the adjacent Burke County, North Carolina. Numerous confusing county divisions have since taken place from the original Rowan County. The Pennery/Penery spelling is not yet found in the eighteenth century found outside of this area of North Carolina and the one incidence in Rockingham County.

John Bryan, Sr. lived in an area of Rowan County, North Carolina that, in 1836, became west central part of Davie County, North Carolina. Through numerous land transactions, it has been determined that John Bryan(1) lived in Rowan County, North Carolina from 1778 to 1800 and that he had the following neighbors (some deeds from the probate records): ...... Thomas Pennery (1778 - 1796)

JOHN BOONE, born 1728 was Daniel Boone’s older brother, both were sons of Squire Boone. John and Rebecca Boone had a daughter named Hannah, born May 25, 1773, who married James Penery in Rowan County; James Penery was born October 12, 1779, and died October 04, 1854, and is thought to be one of the sons of Thomas Penery found on the 1790 Rowan Census below.

By 1850, there are 33 Penerys listed on the Davie County Federal Census, and on that census is found Hannah Penery, age 71, and James Penery, age 70. In 1836, this part of Rowan County had been split off to form Davie County. (

8 May 1781: Noncupative will of Samuel Slaven proved and admitted to record. Thomas Pennery is the executor. (

"PENNERY, Thomas -- Head of the household
1 -- Free white males of 16 years and upward, including heads of families
3 -- Free white males under 16 years
4 -- Free white females including heads of familes
0 -- All other free persons
0 -- Slaves

Various sources have referred to the following list of men as Revolutionary War soldiers, but no documented connection to the Penley Brothers of Farnham Parish is yet found, except for John Pendley whose pension application documents his birth in Shenandoah County and move to Burke County, North Carolina in the same time frame as the eldest brother, William Pinley of Farnham is documented to have lived in the same locations.

Pindle, Thomas...Monongalia County?
Pennirey, Thomas: Rockingham County
Pendrey, Thomas: Pennery 8 CL Continental Line 8th Virginia

Pendry, Robert: Penry 8CL Continental Line 9th Virginia
Pendry, Henry, Quaker, Flower Swift's 3rd Undated Militia Roster.
Pendry, James, Quaker, Flower Swift's 3rd Undated Militia Roster.
Penkley, Michael
Penly, William

Pendley, John: documented by pension application
Pindle, Samuel
Penson, Thomas, On undated list of Cox's Company, prob. ca. 1783.
Ponson, Thomas, Cox's Company, Prob. 1782