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Paternal Generation I: William Pinley to Maryland and Virginia

William Pinley's Final Inventory: 1650

Clues from the Inventory of William Pinley’s Estate

Upon William Pinley’s death in 1650, either the Northampton court or Hannah Mountney assigned the task of completing his Inventory of Estate which was filed in Northampton County October 5, 1650 to Anthony Hodgkins and Phillip Harwood. It appears from the lack of a recorded land lease or certificate in the name of William Pinley, that William and his family may have resided on the Mountney leased land. If the Mountney home was still the site of the Community Store at that time, Hodgkins would have been a practical choice to conduct the inventory, to assure that Pinley’s property was separated from the store inventory, as Hodgkins appears to have still been the storekeeper at Fishing Point location.

The choice of Phillip Harwood to assist Hodgkins is a different matter, and may reflect William’s concurrent ties to Maryland. According to various records at the Maryland Archives website, Phillip Harwood arrived from England at the age of 33 years in June of 1650, as the servant of Robert Brooks, Esq. Subsequent records in Maryland indicate his continued residence there. Thomas Woodhouse, one of the Claiborne men on Kent Island, claimed Northumberland County land in the name of Phillip Harwood in 1653 (Nugent, Vol. I, p. 375). There was such widespread abuse of headrights for land that the record in this case may have no relevance. Of no proven significance, one Thomas Woodhouse was the apprentice of the printer John Pindley who died in London in 1613.

It is concluded that William and Elizabeth made a home on rented land, very likely the land leased or granted to either Alexander or Hannah Mountney on the Eastern Shore in Northampton County, Virginia. Careful analysis of the inventory of William Pinley’s estate provides evidence that the William and Elizabeth Pinley did make a home for their three small children; though repeated searches in both Maryland and Virginia have exposed no land grant or sale of land to William Pinley, the inventory includes typical household items. William and Elizabeth’s clothing was listed, as well as bedding, bolsters, a coverlet, and a tapestry. Kitchen items included a frying pan, jug, pot, iron pestle, hooks, hinges and both iron and brass pots. Some pewter was listed including a basin and the proverbial chamber pot. The milk bowls, pails, funnel and strainer indicate the presence of a dairy animals.

Two cows, two young sowes, two barren sowes, and two goats are listed as livestock. The amount of livestock might have been sufficient for a family of five, but would not have brought cash income. There are no farm tools listed, only a hammer, shovel, and a gagglet of nails. A chest with a lock and a gun lock are listed. No other weapons or tools are indicated.

It is concluded from the absence of tools and livestock that William Pinley was not a farmer by occupation, but provided for his family through other means. They certainly had dairy cows because of the utensils listed, and probably had a vegetable patch to supplement the food on the family table provided by their livestock. They may have lived in a seventeenth century version of an urban community, near the church and the Common Store run by the Mountneys.

The most valuable entries on William Pinley’s inventory were the Indian boy and girl listed, aged fifteen and seventeen. Although many attempts were made to enslave the native population, it was seldom successful without the assent of the slaves, because the potential for escape and rescue by their families was so great. It is not possible to characterize their relationship from the mere entry on the inventory, but it would have been unsafe for the family to detain the young Indians if they were hostile to the family environment. If William Pinley ran trade between the Natives and Mountney’s trading post, the Indian boy and girl may have traveled with him as guides and interpretors.

The canoe listed on the inventory would have been very useful to the family for little trips down Kings Creek or along the Eastern Shore, as overland routes were avoided because of swamps, underbrush and other hazards. William Pinley may have used the canoe for short trips to negotiate deals, but he would have hired larger boats to actually transport goods. Some canoes, made by carving out much of the middle of a single tree, were very large, and one was described as seating fourteen people.

Although he is not found described as a merchant, the two Indian servants would have been useful as guides and interpreters in trading expeditions, as well as the canoe.

He is found officially serving as an attorney in court for John Hallowes, and he witnessed many found legal documents. It is possible that he was an accountant or agent for various land owners. William’s 1647 court deposition stated that he was “att Mr Wilkins his howse att worke” discussing with Wilkins servants brought from Holland . His sedition crime in Maryland took place “in the house of John Hallowes”. He wrote Edward Drew's will in Hannah Mountney's house. It is concluded from various found court appearances and legal documents and the lack of common tools in the inventory that William Pinley’s literacy was well utilized as a business agent or accountant by several wealthy landowners of his day. He does not appear to have been a common laborer or farm hand, it is more likely that he worked indoors.

Hannah Mountney returned to Northampton Court with the settlement of William Pinley’s debts in September of 1652, proving all accounts settled. Debts were paid to William Waters (accepting payment for debt owned to George Clark, deceased), Obedience Robins, Peter Walker (merchant), Thomas Leatherbury, and Mitchell Taynker (a mariner of New England). All of the creditors listed except Mitchell Taynker were local Northampton landowners, which supports the belief that William Pinley was a Virginian of Northampton County at the time of his death, although he appeared to be employed by Maryland's Governor Stone just before his death. Hannah included payment of 1737 pounds of tobacco to herself, possibly an actual debt or money sequestered by her to care for the orphans.

William Pinley’s Library:

Stowe: His History or Chronicle, by John Stowe (published 1615)
The General History of the Turks, by Richard Knolles (published 1603)
The King's Meditations, anonymous (published 1649)

Future historians of the Penley family may attach greater significance to the books found in William Pinley’s inventory than can be documented today. Most of the colonists who owned books were wealthy individuals, clergymen or doctors, William Pinley was landless, and was never referred to as Mr. or as a gentleman.

Although only three books are mentioned in the inventory of William’s estate, his library was large enough to be found by Peggy Crane as mentioned in one of the Eastern Shore books by Ralph Whitelaw.
“Other libraries at this time were those of Martin Rennett, William Berryman, Henry Pedington, Mrs. James Lemman, George Clark and Wiliam Penley....
The unusual care with which testamentary disposition of books was made indicated the high value which the owners attached to them.” (Whitelaw)
Other scholars of the era have also commented on the quality of the titles in William’s collection as an indication of the intellectual quality of life in the Virginia colony.
“The collection belonging to William Pinley included a History of Turkey, Stowe's History or Chronicle, and the King's Meditation.”
(Institutional History of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century: An Inquiry into the Religious, Moral, Educational, Legal, Military, and Political Condition of the People, Based on Original and Contemporaneous Records. Volume: 1. Contributors: Philip Alexander Bruce - author. Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons. Place of Publication: New York. Publication Year: 1910. Page Number: 431.)

Two of William Pinley’s books may have been transported with him to Maryland in 1638, but The King's Meditations was not published until 1649, and was a tribute to the beheaded King Charles II. This indicates a purchase or gift just before his death.

It is noted that Hannah Boyle, Elizabeth Hill Pinley’s mother, was the daughter of a London stationer and publisher. Richard Boyle was suspected to have sold Puritan literature written by the supposed heretic John Penry.

One John Pindley was a printer’s apprentice in London who became a publisher of books by 1612, though he died before our William Pinley’s birth in 1620. John Pindley’s supposed apprentice, Thomas Woodhouse, paid a debt to John Pindley widow, Ellen or Helen Pindley in 1617. A Thomas Woodhouse is later noted as one of William Claiborne’s men on Kent Island where William Pinley was associated. Two of William Pinley’s books may have been transported with him in 1638, but The King's Meditations was not published until 1649, and was a tribute to the beheaded King Charles II. Given the required transportation time from England, this book had to have been purchased just before William Pinley’s death. It could have been a gift from a Penley or Boyle relative back in London.

Northampton County, Virginia: August 28, 1650
William Pinley’s mother-in-law, our Hannah Mountney was given administration of his estate, and custody of his three orphans in Northampton County. The fact that William Pinley’s orphans, inventory and estate were settled in Northampton County is the proof of his residence there, no estate was found settled in Maryland. According to Nora Turman’s book, The Eastern Shore of Virginia, a law passed at the November, 1645 session of the General Assembly stated: “All administratons of estates of deceased persons shall be granted at the county court where the person did reside.” (Turman, p. 47) At the settlement of his estate, all the debts were paid to Northampton County landowners except one paid to a “mariner”. The copy of this original document provided was of poor quality. (Vicesimo octavo die mense Augusty= 28th day of August)
vicesimo octavo die mense Augusty 1650./
P............ of ............... The order by the court y (f above y)... for the Adm'r of Wm. Pinley (dec'd) shall /asseenge to progeny in ye 3 o'phans o' Northampton~ make payment sounto Peter Walker fm. Estate the same and grant of foure hundred and three pounds of tobac and C........k ....... ... ... ... ....... in Court .... .....

The order by the court that ad..mission of Adm..ton shall be granted unto Mrs. Hanna Mountney upon y.. estate of Wm. Penley decd. / on ye behalf of ye orphs. Estate granted ye sho prof in security to ye court.
Northampton County, Virginia: January 4, 1651

William Pinley had written and witnessed a will for Edward Drew. By the time that Edward Drew died, both witnesses to his will were also deceased . William Pinley’s mother-in-law, Hannah Mountney testified in court to validate the will written before Drew’s death. Links to copies of these original documents will be provided soon.
“Through the request of Jno Dolbey Mris Mountney came to testifye for ye endinge of controvrsie what she knew Concrneinge ye will of Mr Edward Drew lately decd To wch this depot repythe: I asked my sonn William Pinley whether Mr. Drew had a will or not not[sic] & hee answrd hee had for I William Pinley writt it And Mr Jno Wilkins & I am witness to it The Dept furthr saith yt she sawe her sonne write it in her howse And they went from her howse to ye water side (as she heard afterward saye it was to sign it.
Hanna Mountney [Signature]
Juratr Quarto die Januar Cora Obedience Robons Et [sic ] Edw: Dowglas./”
“The Depo. of Mrs. Ann Wilkes question in Court....sayth that Mrs. Ann Wilkes her late husband decd. since hee ______from England about ye .......................hee laye sick told this dep’t. that he was at Mrs. Mountneye house when Mr. Edward Drew his will was made by Wm. Pinley afore he deceased and himself was witness. Alsoe this dep’t. remembereth ye her ---------husband told her that Mary Drew his wife was to have ye thirde of his estate. And Jn. Dolby his children the rest. And more saith not. Ann Wilkes
The inventory of William Pinley's estate was presented to the court on October 5, 1650. A copy of the inventory was ordered by Karen and interpretation was completed by PenleyPearls and sister Linda. A copy of that interpretation of the original document is linked here.

Northampton County, Virginia: September 29, 1652
Mrs. Hanna Mountney widow (admin’ex of the estate of William Pinley dect.)
her account of the estate proved and passed (in appear cur) 29th of September 1652.

Paid per order of 28 August 1650 to Lt. Wm. Waters
the sum and quantity of one thousand three hundred and 20 lb.
tobacco due per account..................................................... 1320
per order granted to Mr. Obedience Robins against Wm. Pinley
his estate due per bills and accounts.................................... 1421
paid to Peter Walker merchant (due per account) ................ 0430
order granted to myself in October court 1650 .................... 0737
paid to Thomas Leatherbery................................................. 0181
paid to Mich. Taynker of New England mariner ..................... 0700
To the clerk fees ................................................................. 0160
More order granted to myself due in place unto original
laws and a debt from him to me .......................................... 1000

The sum of the inventory, sum is......................................... 5919

Upon execution is found to be.............................................. 5680
Hanna Mountney [Signature]
Teste Edm. Mathews cur clk County Northampton
Recorded 2 die October 1652 Teste Edm. Mathews