By Jared L. Olar
September 2008-February 2012
The surname "Pennover" indicates an English or Welsh origin, and more often is found as "Pennoyer" ("Penoyer," "Penoyar," "Pennyer," "Penner," "Poinier," etc.), a form that gave rise to the surname of "Paneer" ("Panear"). According to Raymond H. Lounsbury's "Pennoyer Brothers: Colonization, Commerce, Charity in the Seventeenth Century," the Pennoyer name apparently originated in Wales, where the spelling reportedly was "Penoyre." Some have said that the name means golden or light-haired (Welsh pen, "head," and oyre "golden"), but another version is that the name originally was that of a manor at the head of Golden Vale, the valley through which flows the River Dore from Clifford to Herefordshire, where a Penoyre family is said to have settled during the Middle Ages.
We have not yet been able to trace our Pennoyer (Pennover) ancestry. We have only a little information regarding our ancestress MARY ELIZABETH PENOYER, also known as "Mary Elizabeth Pennover" and "Mary Paneer," born 2 Nov. 1818 in Newburgh, Orange County, New York, second wife of Albert Riggs. According to various U.S. censuses, Mary and Albert lived in New York State until about 1860, and Mary's parents were reportedly born in New York while Albert's parents were born in Connecticut. Newburgh in Orange County is in the general vicinity of Philipstown in Putnam County, where Albert was born. There were several branches of the Penoyers in New York State, including a "Penoyar" family in the Rumbout Presbyterian Church in Dutchess County, New York, where Albert Riggs was baptised (see below). Other Penoyers of Orange County are known, but at this time it is unknown how they were related to Mary. Before coming to New York, the Riggses were a numerous family in colonial Connecticut, and the same is true of the Pennoyer (Penoyer) family of Connecticut, descendants of ROBERT PENNOYER (1614-1694) who arrived in Massachusetts in 1635 and later settled in Stamford, Connecticut.
Robert Pennoyer was born and baptised in 1614 in St. Nicholas Parish, Bristol, England, and died 1694 in Mamaroneck, Westchester, New York. In 1635 he arrived in Boston, Massachusetts Bay Colony, in the ship Hopewell. Afterwards he removed to Gravesend, Long Island, and then settled at Stamford in the New Haven Colony (Connecticut). His older brother William Pennoyer (1603-1671) was a benefactor of Harvard College and founder of Harvard's Pennoyer Aid scholarship fund. William and Robert and their siblings have been identified as children of a ROBERT PENNOYRE, a.k.a. "Robert Butler," born 1588 in Bristol, Gloucestershire, England. Robert Pennoyre/Butler was the son of Thomas Butler of Dorston, a weaver. Robert left from Bristol and is said to have changed his name to "Penoyer" or Pennoyre (which was his mother's maiden name) to avoid being associated with a murder at which he had been present.
Robert Pennoyer of Stamford had a daughter named ELIZABETH PENNOYER, born 1652, wife of RICHARD LOUNSBERRY (1634-1694). From them came the Lounsberry family in the United States. It is perhaps significant that Mary Elizabeth (Penoyer) Riggs was the mother-in-law of a certain Richard Lounsbery or Lounsbury. The Illinois Statewide Marriage Index (1763-1900) says Martha Riggs and "R. Lounsberg" (sic) married in Madison County on 24 Jan. 1872 (see below). The 1900 U.S. Census says Martha had four children, but all four were deceased by then. Riggs family tradition says one of Martha's children was a son named Charles.
A Penoyer Family in New York
The International Genealogical Index (IGI), along with the Ancestral File, includes an unsourced and unproven lineage of a Penoyer family that lived in New York State and New York City during the latter half of the 1700s and the first half of the 1800s. I have been able to find corroborating evidence for most of this lineage. I began to research this particular family because it culminates with a Mary Elizabeth Penoyer who was born in New York State around the same time that our same-named ancestress was born, and who lived in New York City, just as our ancestress did. In addition, these Penoyers lived in Orange County, New York, where our Mary Elizabeth Penoyer was born. However, I have since found that our ancestress is undoubtedly NOT the same woman who married Albert Riggs. Nevertheless, I here present the genealogy of this other Mary Elizabeth Penoyer in order to show how the Penoyer family spread from Connecticut to New York. Undoubtedly our ancestress was related to these Penoyers of Orange County, New York.
1. ROBERT PENNOYRE (a.k.a. "Robert Butler"), born 1588 in Bristol, Gloucestershire, England. He married on 13 Feb. 1613/4 to ELIZABETH CHAMBERS, born 1585, died 1613. [NOTE: These dates of marriage and death, if correct, would mean Elizabeth was not the mother of any of Robert's children.] Robert reportedly had four sons and a daughter.
-- WILLIAM PENNOYER, born 1603, died 1671, md. Martha Josselyn. -- SAMUEL PENNOYER, born 1609, died 1654, md. Rose Hobson. 2. ROBERT PENNOYER, baptised 21 Nov. 1614. -- ELEANOR PENNOYER, born 1623, died 1686, md. Mr. Reading. -- THOMAS PENNOYER, born 1625.
2. ROBERT PENNOYER, son of Robert Pennoyre/Butler, baptised 21 Nov. 1614 in St. Nicholas Parish, Bristol, England; died 1694 in Mamaroneck, New York. He arrived in Massachusetts in 1635. Robert married firstly on 27 Nov. 1652 to EALSE MARSHALL (Elsis), born circa 1614, died circa 1666 in Stamford, Connecticut. He married secondly ELIZABETH BRUNDAGE, died April 1694, widow of Richard Scofield (but other sources say Robert's second wife was named MARY, and at least one source calls her "Mary Scofield"). Robert and Elsis reportedly had four daughters and two sons, including a daughter, Martha, wife of Henry Rich of Stamford, Connecticut. Earlier genealogists misidentified Martha Pennoyer as Martha Corey of Salem, Massachusetts, widow of a Henry Rich, who with her second husband Giles Corey was falsely accused of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials. Giles was pressed to death 19 Sept. 1692, and three days later Martha was hanged, on 22 Sept. 1692. However, Martha Pennoyer was too young to be Martha Corey, and Martha Pennoyer's husband Henry Rich is known to have been alive in the 1700s, whereas Martha Corey's husband Henry Rich was dead prior to 1692.
-- ELIZABETH PENNOYER, born 1652, md. Richard Lounsberry. -- WILLIAM PENNOYER, born 1654, died 1703, md. Mary (NN). 3. THOMAS PENNOYER, born 29 March 1658. -- MARY PENNOYER, born 25 Nov. 1660. -- MARTHA PENNOYER, born 26 Sept. 1664, md. Henry Rich. -- ABIGAIL PENNOYER, born 13 Oct. 1666.
3. THOMAS PENNOYER, son of Robert and Elsis Pennoyer, born 29 March 1657/8 in Stamford, Fairfield County, Connecticut; died at age 66 on 27 Nov. 1724 in Stamford, Connecticut. Thomas married on 22 May 1685 in Stamford, Connecticut, to LYDIA KNAPP, born 1668 or 1670 in Stamford, Connecticut, died 9 Feb. 1708/10 in Stamford, Connecticut, daughter of Moses and Abigail (Westcott) Knapp. Thomas and Abigail reportedly had six daughters and three sons.
-- ABIGAIL PENNOYER, born 1686. -- MARY PENNOYER, born 1688. -- MILLICENT PENNOYER, born 1691. -- MERCY PENNOYER, born 1693. -- CAPT. SAMUEL PENOYER, born 3 April 1696, died 5 June 1761, md. Theophila Selleck. -- JOHN PENNOYER, born 26 May 1698, died 10 Dec. 1775, md. Abigail Ferris. 4. REUBEN PENNOYER, born 1702. -- MARTHA PENNOYER, born 1706. -- LYDIA PENNOYER, born circa 1709.
4. REUBEN PENNOYER SR., son of Thomas and Lydia Pennoyer, born 1702 in Stamford, Fairfield County, Connecticut; died post 1763 in Stamford, Connecticut. Reuben married on 6 Nov. 1728 in Stamford, Connecticut, to PENELOPE REYNOLDS, born circa 1708 in Oyster Bay, Long Island, Queens, New York, died post 1760, daughter of David and Penelope (Wright) Reynolds. Reuben and Penelope reportedly had seven sons and four daughters.
-- ELIZABETH PENNOYER, born 27 Oct. 1729, died 1803. -- THOMAS PENNOYER, born 24 July 1732. -- DAVID PENNOYER, born 24 May 1734/5, died 1761/6 Dutchess Co., N.Y., md. Margaret Birdsell. -- PENELOPE PENNOYER, born 10 July 1737, md. Cornelius Turner. -- ZIPPORAH PENNOYER, born 27 Jan. 1739. -- REUBEN PENNOYER JR., born 22 Sept. 1742. -- WILLIAM PENNOYER, born 15 Feb. 1743. -- LYDIA PENNOYER, born 2 June 1747, died 6 Dec. 1820, twice married. 5. WRIGHT PENOYER, born 31 May 1750, died 6 June 1807. -- ISAAC PENNOYER, born Aug. 1754, died 9 Dec. 1809, md. Catherine Hyatt. -- JACOB PENNOYER, born Aug. 1754, died 2 Jan. 1832, md. Martha Munsell.
5. WRIGHT PENOYER, son of Reuben and Penelope Pennoyer, born 31 May 1750 in Old Greenwich, Fairfield County, Connecticut; died at age 57 on 6 June 1807 in Montgomery, Orange County, New York. Wright married circa 1772 in Schaghticoke, Albany County, New York, or circa 1775 in Montgomery, Orange County, New York, to SOPHIA KEELER (or "Zerviah Sophia Keeler"), born 15 Feb. 1757 in Montgomery, Orange County, New York, baptised in Wilton, Saratoga County, New York, died 11 Nov. 1801. Wright and Sophia had at least one son.
6. ROBERT MCFADDEN PENOYER, born 13 June 1781.
6. ROBERT MCFADDEN PENOYER, son of Wright and Sophia (Keeler) Penoyer, born 13 June 1781 in Schaghticoke, Albany County, New York; died 3 March 1860 in Clifton, Iroquois County, Illinois; buried in Clifton Cemetery. On 13 May 1815 in New York State, Robert married MARIA VAN BUREN (or "Van Beuren"), born circa 1785 in Flatbush, Long Island, New York, daughter of Henrij and Marij (Cropseij) Van Buren. Robert and Maria were members of the Garden Street Dutch Reformed Church in New York City, where they had four children baptised.
-- MARY ELIZABETH PENOYER, born 27 July 1816, baptised 6 June 1823. -- CATHERINE ANN PENOYER, baptised 6 June 1823. -- ROBERT HENRY PENOYER, baptised 6 June 1823. -- ELENOR BLAIR PENOYER, baptised 7 Sept. 1827.
Robert's eldest child, Mary Elizabeth Penoyer, married WILLIAM ATWATER VIETS (1813-1905). She died 11 March 1853 in New York, but is buried in Clifton Cemetery, Iroquois County, Illinois, where her father Robert McFadden Penoyer also is buried. This Mary Elizabeth (Penoyer) Viets died in 1853 in New York, whereas our Mary Elizabeth (Penoyer) Riggs died in 1908 in Illinois, and therefore cannot be the same woman.
It seems that Robert McFadden Penoyer was the "Robert M. Penoyer" who had a contract with the United States War Department to supply rations to the troops of the U.S. Army on 1 Jan. 1815, within the State of New Jersey, at 16 cents and 8 mills per ration. There also was a "Robert M. Penoyer," apparently the same man, who was a merchant of New York, and who owned a firm called "Robert M. Penoyer & Co." which was party to a lawsuit, Penoyer vs. Watson, that was tried in the New York Supreme Court in April 1818 (See Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of . . . the State of New York, vol. XVI, by William Johnson). "Robert M. Penoyer" is shown as a resident of New York City in the 1820 U.S. Census, and he appears as "R.M. Penoyer," a resident of New York City, in the 1830 U.S. Census. His support for Christian evangelism is shown in the First Annual Report of the American Tract Society (1826), p.44, which lists "Robert M. Penoyer" among the "Directors by Annual Subscription" who lived in New York City. The American Tract Society was founded and based in New York City.
"Robert M. Penoyer" is named in The Condition of Greece, in 1827 and 1828, by Jonathan Peckham Miller, on page 272, in a table showing "The Merchants' Bank of New-York in account with the New-York Executive Greek Committee." The table records $2,770.00 to "Robert M. Penoyer for 500 bbls. flour," dated 6 March 1827. Robert M. Penoyer also was an auctioneer, as appears in The New York Annual Register, by Edwin Williams, in a table of "Statement of Sales at Auction in the City of New-York, for the year ending September 30, 1835." He is the 23rd auctioneer in the list, and reported $134,804.50 in non-dutiable sales, $1,797.71 in dutiable sales, for a total of $136,602.21. The same "Robert M. Penoyer" appears in a list of licensed auctioneers of New York City, appointed by the New York Governor and Senate, found in New York As It Is in 1837, a city directory published by J. Disturnell.
"Robert M. Penoyer" is named in the following notice that was published in a March 1836 edition of the New York N.Y. Evening Post, showing his involvement in politics:
At a meeting of the Democratick Republicans of the 1st Ward, friendly to regular nominations, and to the general and state administrations, held at Castle Garden, pursuant to a recommendation of the General Committee, and a call of the Ward Committee, on Wednesday evening, the 16th of March instant, John Y. Cebra was called to the chair, and Stephen R. Harris and Charles Yates were appointed Secretaries.
The following persons were chosen to nominate a suitable person to be supported for Mayor of this city at the ensuing election, to meet at Tammany Hall, on Friday, the 25th inst., HENRY YATES CHARLES A. JACKSON WM. B. VAN NORTWICK.
And the following persons were chosen to nominate suitable persons to be supported for charter officers of the First Ward at said election:
John Hillyer, Nicholas Diamond, Henry Yates, Jeromus Johnson, Joseph D. Beers, Charles G. Havens, Henry Jones, Daniel Jackson, Chas. A. Jackson, James T. Moore, John H. Hoagland, John Maitland, Robert M. Penoyer,
Resolved, That the proceedings of this meeting be signed by the Chairman and Secretaries, and published in the New York Times, Evening Post, Jeffersonian, Truth Teller, and Globe. Dated March 16, 1836.
JOHN YATES CEBRA, Chairman. S.R. Harris, Chas. Yates, Secretaries.
Twenty years later, Robert M. Penoyer gave sworn testimony in depositions (dated 26 Sept. 1856 in New York City) in a legal action undertaken by the estate of Elbert Anderson to obtain payment of outstanding debts that the U.S. federal government had owed to Anderson. In the depositions, Penoyer identifies himself as follows: "My name is Robert M. Penoyer; I am a flour dealer, and am seventy years of age; have resided in New York city for the past year; . . . ." (He may have been estimating how old he was, or he was unsure of his age, if the IGI is correct that he was born in 1781.) He says he was acquainted with Elbert Anderson, deceased, of New York City, who was an army contractor from 1811 to 1815 issuing provisions to U.S. troops. "I kept the accounts under him, commencing in the year 1813; I mean the regular abstracts that came into the office from the points or posts where the provisions were issued to the troops; also the abstracts of provisions deposited and received out of deposit."
Because Robert died 3 March 1860, he is not found in the 1860 or later national and state censuses. NOTE: There was another Robert M. Pennoyer (or Robert W. Pennoyer), born circa 1813, living in New York City during the 1800s, but he was obviously a different, younger man, though perhaps related to the elder Robert M. Penoyer.
Because the family of Robert M. Penoyer lived in New York City during the 1820s and apparently later, and because Robert and his parents were from Orange County, New York, it is possible that he was a cousin of our ancestress Mary Elizabeth Penoyer (Paneer). Our Mary and her husband Albert were living in New York City at the time of the 1850 U.S. Census. It's not impossible that Albert Riggs met his second wife Mary through the Presbyterian Church in Rumbout, Dutchess County, New York, where Albert was baptised in 1823. A "Penoyar" family apparently belonged to the Rumbout Presbyterian Church during the 1760s, according to the following entry in the International Genealogical Index:
REUBEN PENOYAR, born 31 Dec. 1761, baptised 2 Aug. 1767 at the Presbyterian Church, Rumbout, Dutchess County, New York, son of DAVID PENOYAR.
Reuben's father David Penoyar (Penoyer) elsewhere appears in the IGI as DAVID PENOYER, born 1733 in Philipstown, New York. This is the David Pennoyer shown above, husband of Margaret Birdsell and son of Reuben and Penelope Pennoyer. The descendants of David's son Reuben spelled their surname "Penner." It may be significant that, like David, Mary Elizabeth Pennover's husband Albert Riggs was born in Philipstown.
The IGI lists yet another REUBEN PENOYER, reportedly born Feb. 1771 in Amenia, Dutchess County, New York, died 17 Jan. 1847, son of JAMES PENOYER and Sarah Doty. This Reuben is said to have married a Polly (or Mary) Gifford on 19 March 1796 in Lee, Berkshire County, Mississippi. This Reuben and his father James could be closely related in some way to the other Penoyers of Dutchess County.
Considering these various clues from the IGI and other sources, perhaps Mary Elizabeth Pennover/Paneer was connected to the Rumbout Penoyar family, or some other Dutchess County Penoyers, rather than to the Schaghticoke/New York City Penoyer branch. Whatever her precise genealogy, most likely Mary Elizabeth Pennover was sixth or seventh in descent from the immigrant Robert Pennoyer.
MARY ELIZABETH PENOYER ("Mary Elizabeth Pennover"), parentage unknown, was born 2 Nov. 1818 in Newburgh, Orange County, New York; died at age 89 on 10 May 1908 in Aurora, Kane County, Illinois; buried in Godfrey Cemetery, Godfrey, Madison County, Illinois. In Stephen Whitney Phoenix's Whitney Family of Connecticut (1878), vol. II, and John H. Wallace's 1901 Riggs Genealogy, she is called "Mary Paneer," which is an alternate spelling of the surname "Pennoyer." The 1921 obituary of her son Albert calls her "Mary Elizabeth Pennover." Genealogical researcher Colleen Stutz has supplied the 1925 death record of Mary's her daughter Martha, in which Mary's name is given as "Mary Elizabeth Penoyer," and Mary is said to have been born in Orange County, New York. Mary's obituary and death certificate both affirm that she was born in Newburgh, Orange County, New York. Records show a good deal of uncertainty about her date of birth. Her obituary says she was born 2 Nov. 1815, but the 1900 U.S. Census says Nov. 1817, while her gravestone says 1819 (which is probably an error of arithmetic caused by rounding of her age at death, because 1908 - 89 = 1819). Other censuses, however, indicate she was born circa 1818 or circa 1821. The year 1815 is obviously incorrect, presumably a typographical error -- perhaps the obituary writer meant "1819," or possibly there was confusion with her husband's year of birth, which was 1815. Her obituary and death certificate agree that she died at the age of 89, and the death certificate more specifically gives her age at death as "89 years, 6 months, 8 days," which yields a birth date of 2 Nov. 1818.
According to Phoenix, Mary married in Sept. 1840 to ALBERT RIGGS SR., son of Samuel and Elizabeth Riggs, born 9 Dec. 1815 in Philipstown, New York; died 13 Jan. 1899 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois; buried in Godfrey Cemetery, Madison County, Illinois. Albert was baptised 7 Sept. 1823 at the Presbyterian Church in Rumbout, Dutchess County, New York. He had married firstly on 19 Sept. 1839 to HANNAH KNAPP, but they apparently had no children, and the marriage presumably ended with Hannah's premature death. Albert and his second wife Mary Elizabeth are said to have moved from New York to Davis County, Maryland, afterwards moving to Illinois in the late 1850s, where they and their children lived successively in Chenoa, McLean County; Alton, Madison County; Godfrey, Madison County; and Chicago, Cook County. Riggs family tradition says they also lived at some point in Murrayville, Morgan County, but I suspect that is a confusion of Albert with his same-named son. In the 1850 U.S. Census, Albert Riggs, age 35, a carpenter born in New York, was living in New York Ward 15, Eastern Half, New York City, with his wife Mary, 29, and children David, 8, Martha, 6, and Charles 3, all three reportedly born in New York (though family records indicate it was Davis County, Maryland, a tradition of dubious reliability). In the 1860 U.S. Census, Albert, age 46, a farmer, and his wife Mary Elizabeth, age 43, are shown as residents of Chenoa Township, McLean County, Illinois, with six children: David, 18, Martha E., 16, Charles, 13, Albert, 8, Analaura, 5, and Mary E., 2, all six reportedly born in New York. The 1870 U.S. Census shows Albert, age 50 (sic), a carpenter, living in Monticello (i.e. Godfrey), Madison County, Illinois, with his wife Mary, 56, and children Martha, 25, Charles, 23, Albert, 18, Anna L., 15, born in New York, and Mary E., 12, and Corrindia, 9, both born in Illinois (sic). The 1880 U.S. Census shows Albert, age 64, a carpenter, born in New York, with his wife Mary, age 61, living in Godfrey, Illinois, with their daughters Mary, 21, and Priscilla, 18 (i.e. Corrindia). That brings to seven the total number of known children of Albert and Mary, which agrees with the family's records that they had three sons and four daughters.
After the 1880 U.S. Census, but prior to the 12 March 1884 marriage in their Chicago home of their daughter Mary, Albert and Mary moved to Chicago, where Albert died in early 1899. His death certificate says he died at age 83 on 13 Jan. 1899, which agrees with his known date of birth. His gravestone, however, says he died in 1898, which seems to be a gravestone engraver's error of arithmetic (1815 + 83 = 1898). Mary moved in with her daughter Martha and son Charles in Chicago, later moving to Aurora, Kane County, Illinois, where her daughter Priscilla also lived. The 1900 U.S. Census shows Mary E. Riggs, age 82, born Nov. 1817, as a widow living in Chicago Ward 12, Cook County, Illinois, with her daughter Martha E. Lounsberry, age 50 (sic), born Aug. 1844, a widow, and son Charles Riggs, age 51 (sic), born June 1848, single. The same census says Mary had six children (sic), with six children still living. Mary's death certificate says she died at age 89 at or about 1:30 p.m. on 10 May 1908, at 212 Seminary Ave., Aurora. The cause of death is give as "exhaustion" resulting from the contributory cause of complication of "senile typhoid," from which she had been suffering for 14 days. Both Albert and Mary were buried in Godfrey Cemetery, Madison County, Illinois, where their son Charles and daughters Anna Laura and Mary also are buried. Mary E. (Penoyer) Riggs' date of burial was 12 May 1908. Her death certificate says she had lived in Illinois for 40 years, which apparently is only an estimate or a guess, as the true length of time was at least 50 years.
-- DAVID RIGGS, born circa 1842 in New York. -- MARTHA E. RIGGS, born 13 Aug. 1844, md. Richard Lonsberry (Lonsbery, Lounsbery, Lounsbury). -- CHARLES S. RIGGS, born June 1847 in New York, died 5 Jan. 1914. -- ALBERT RIGGS JR., born 19 Aug. 1852 in New York City. -- ANNA LAURA RIGGS ("Laura"), born 1855 in New York, md. Benjamin Charles Smith. -- MARY E. RIGGS, born 1858 in New York, md. Paul A. Walters. -- PRISCILLA CORRINDIA RIGGS, born 13 June 1861 in Chenoa, Illinois, md. Albert Ulrich.
Penoyer Genealogy Resources:
Pennoyer Surname Message Board Pennoyer Family Genealogy Forum Pennoyer & Lounsberry Notes, by Winifred Lovering Holman, SB, FASG, of Lexington, Mass. Stamford, CT, Families (1641-1935) (Pennoyer, Knapp, Reynolds, etc.) Pennoyer Genealogy Person Sheets Ancestry Library World Tree Project (Pennoyer, Knapp, Westcott, Lockwood) Descendants of Dr. Johannes Van Beuren The Pennoyre Family Tree (with errors, including the mistaken Salem Witch Trials connection) William Pennoyer, Esq. (1603-1671), benefactor of Harvard College, founder of Harvard's Pennoyer Aid scholarship fund. Lounsbury Genealogy Tree Orange County, New York, GenWeb Site