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Generation V: Thomas & Millie Penley

Uncle Joshua Penley

Joshua Penley in Russell County 1799 - Death

The first Penley to be absolutely documented on the Lower Russell County, Virginia was Joshua Penley, who first appeared on the tax rolls there in 1799 as one tithable. On the 1800, 1801, 1802 Russell County Personal Property Tax List, Lower District, Joshua Penley’s household included two tithables (males over the age of sixteen years). Joshua Penley’s son, John Penley was the other tithable in the household from 1800 - 1802. John Penley was born in 1784, and therefore, not tithable in 1799, but he became tithable at the age of sixteen in 1800. John’s birthdate of 1784 in North Carolina is collaborated on the 1850 and 1860 Federal Census returns found at Martin Pendley’s website,

On the 1803 Tax List, Joshua Penley is charged for three tithables, indicating that his nephew Epp had reached the age of sixteen. If Epp came to Russell County with Joshua in 1799, he was about ten years old, and no other male adult was present, indicating Epp as an orphan. Epp was born in Virginia circa 1789, and his parents were Thomas and Millie Penley. Epp’s wife, Temperance was born in North Carolina. Joshua’s only verified son was born in North Carolina circa 1784 - 1786.

Women were not tithable, and therefore were not even listed unless they were head of a household with no tithable men. Unfortunately, Federal Census records for Russell County do not exist prior to 1820.

Epp should have become tithable at age sixteen, but would not have been listed under his own name until the age of 21, unless his early marriage caused him to be designated differently as head of household. Beginning in 1809, Ephoditus/Ephesditis Penley is listed, indicating that Epp was married or 21 years old, responsible for his own tax. John’s name should be listed individually beginning in 1805 when he advanced to the age of 21. This cannot be verified because the 1804 - 1808 Russell County Personal Property Tax Lists have not yet been located by this research. (Russell County Virginia Census and Tax Records,

It is concluded by this research that the Joshua Penley found on the 1799 - 1810 Russell County Personal Property Tax Lists was the son of Thomas and Sarah Penley of Richmond County, born June 25, 1736. On February 28, 1804, Joshua Penley, at the age of 68 was declared by the Russell County Court to be exempt from taxes due to his age or infirmities. Although it is probable that Joshua Penley might have had a son named Joshua, and possible that his older brothers William and Thomas would name a son Joshua in honor of their brother, grandfather, or Uncle Joshua Stone, none of their sons would have been old enough by 1804 to be exempt from the Personal Property Tax due to age.

Russell Co., VA. court records:
P289 - Court, February 28, 1804 - Joshua Penly exempted from paying levy & poor rates & taxes on account of age & infirmities
(Jerry Penley at

On the 1809 and 1810 Personal Property Tax Lists, Joshua was listed, but his name is followed by a zero indicating that he was no longer considered tithable. Ephesditis Penley is listed in 1810 as tithable under his own name.

Joshua Penley died in Scott County in 1814, survived by his son, John Penley who executed his estate. In 1814, Scott County was formed mostly from what had been the Lower District of Russell County, but some parts of Washington and Lee counties were also taken to form the new county boundaries. In 1818, both John Penley and Epp Penley are found in separate households, each declared as one tithable. John Pendley and Epp Penley are both found with their separate families on the first federal census recorded for Scott County in 1820.

1816 Sale of property of JOSHUA PENLEY; there is such recorded in Russell County VA (created from Washington Co in 1786) Will Book 3 – 1812-1821, c.362 pages, index (Reel 11).

According to the respected research of Jerry Penley, Joshua’s will was never located after his 1814 death, but his estate was finally settled by his son John many years later, and in the interim John Penley was forced to post a $1,000 bond as security on the estate. In 1817, Epaphroditus Penley bought land in his own name for the first time for $200 dollars cash in hand. (Jerry Penley at This could indicate that Epaphroditus Penley got a cash settlement from Joshua’s estate through John Penley. The large bond posted by John was unusual when the estate was being settled by the only son in residence, and raises the possibility that the court was aware that there were additional heirs to be considered, or property in another state. John Penley is the only documented son of Joshua in Scott County at this time, but circumstances point toward a conclusion that Epp eventually benefitted from Joshua Penley’s estate.

At the website, Martin S. Pendley provides elaborate detail on John Pendley and his descendants, including this description of the property John Penley purchased in 1810.

6/2/1810: Deed from Samuel Estep to John Penley for 50 acres for $150. On Big Moccasin Creek beginning: ... thence with Davidsons patent line to Corban Lanes open line ... thence with Lanes open line to Joseph Jeffries corner from thence to David Gillums line, from thence to Thomas Percises line ... (Russell Co, Va, Deed Book 4-334) (This land sold to Abraham Lane in 1822)

Joshua Penley arrived in Russell County, Virginia by 1799 with his son John and his nephew or grandson, Epaphroditus Penley. Although Epp was born in Virginia, John was born in North Carolina in 1784, so the search for Epp’s parents, Thomas and Millie Penley, now includes North Carolina where, by 1790, numerous Penley families had converged in Burke County. The Penleys of North Carolina continued the family practice of recycling names, so there are numerous Williams and Joshuas, but incredibly, to this date, no Thomas Penley of the appropriate age has been found in the midst of all the snarled Penley lines in North Carolina. Again, Thomas and Millie Penley could be lost forever in the myriad of misspelled interpretations of old and faded documents in North Carolina or Virginia.

Joshua Penley in Halifax County 1754 -

The first cousin of the Penley Brothers of Farnham was Joshua Stone, son of Joshua and Wilmoth (Bryant) Stone.Joshua Stone