Search billions of records on Ancestry.com
   

The Pennoyer Genealogy

By Jared L. Olar

September 2008-February 2016

Among the maternal ancestors of my wife Christina C. (Spencer) Olar is a family surnamed "Pennover" or "Pennoyer." Although a late tradition mentioned in the 1908 History of Kane County, Ill. claims this family was of French Huguenot origin, in fact it is firmly established that this surname indicates an English or Welsh origin. Usually it is found as "Pennoyer" or "Penoyer," but variant spellings and derivatives include "Penoyar," "Pennyer," "Penner," "Poinier," etc. Our own branch appears in some sources with the phonetic spelling "Paneer" ("Panear"). According to Peter Wilson Coldham's "English Ancestry of Robert Pennoyer and Walter Butler of Connecticut" (in National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Dec. 1972, vol. 6, no. 4) and 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 the Golden Valley, the valley through which flows the River Dore from Clifford to Herefordshire, where a landed Penoyre family is said to have settled during the Middle Ages.

This family was not, however, ancestral to our Pennoyers, who were originally a Welsh family named "BUTLER" who assumed the name of Pennoyer as an alias. As noted above, a late tradition, found in Rodolphus Waite Joslyn's History of Kane County, Ill. (1908), vol. 2, page 777, erroneously claims the Pennoyers were French Huguenots. On the contrary, historical records clearly trace our Pennoyers back to the Welsh borders in the 1500s. This family's original surname of "Butler," however, suggests an Anglo-Norman origin. "Butler" is a medieval occupational surname that derives from the Norman French butuiller, which in turn came from the Old French bouteillier and Latin buticularius, meaning "a wine steward." The butuiller or "boteler" or "butler" was usually a medieval aristocratic or landed family's chief servant, and often the family's butler was himself of a noble or landed family. By the 1500s, of course, our own Butlers were mere commoners.

Much uncertainty has shrouded our own Pennoyer (Pennover) ancestry, but their lineage has at last been determined. Until recently, we had only a little information regarding our ancestress MARY ELIZABETH PENOYER, also known as "Mary Elizabeth Pennover" and "Mary Paneer," second wife of Albert Riggs Sr. Research had established that Mary was born 2 Nov. 1818 in Newburgh, Orange County, New York, but her parents were unknown to us. 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 until recently it could not be determined how any of them were related to Mary. In December 2015, however, we found documentation that established the parentage of Albert Riggs' wife Mary -- as shown below, she belonged to a Pennoyer family who resided in Montgomery and Newburgh in Orange County, New York (the Penoyar family of Rumbout Church were close cousins). 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), a colonist who arrived in Massachusetts in 1635 and later settled in Stamford, Connecticut.

Shown at left is St. Faith's Church, built in 1889 to replace an earlier church on the site in the village of Dorstone in Herefordshire. A previous medieval parish church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary was built in Dorstone by the De Brito family in 1256 to expiate the sin of the Anglo-Norman knight Richard de Brito, who had participated in the murder in 1170 of St. Thomas a Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. At right are the remains of Dorstone Castle, a medieval wooden stockade motte-and-bailey stronghold probably built in the latter 1000s or early 1100s A.D. Dorstone was the home of the Butlers during the 1500s and 1600s, one branch of whom assumed the alias of Pennoyer. Both images copyrighted by the photographer Phillip Halling

Following is the presentation of our Pennoyer line, beginning with the Butler family of Dorstone in Herefordshire. Dorstone, a village on the River Dore in the famed Golden Valley near the Welsh border, is located about 15 miles west of Hereford. This village, which is known to have existed since the 1100s A.D., was the home of the Butlers during the 1560s, about the time when the known history of this family begins.

Eight Generations of the Pennoyer Family

Our initial knowledge of this lineage was derived from the International Genealogical Index (IGI), along with the Ancestral File, which include 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. Subsequently we obtained corroborating documentary evidence for this lineage, which is in fact well documented and established in scholarly genealogical publications. I began to research this particular family line because it culminated with a Mary Elizabeth Penoyer who was born in New York State in 1816 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. Early on it appeared that this may have been our Mary, but I soon found that our ancestress is undoubtedly NOT the same woman. At last I was able to confirm that these two Mary Elizabeth Penoyers were cousins, both stemming from the same Penoyer branch living in Orange County. The line proceeds as follows:

1. THOMAS BUTLER, of Dorstone, Herefordshire, England, a weaver, born perhaps circa 1565. Little is known of Thomas beyond the fact that he was by occupation a weaver, and that he had three sons, Richard, John, and Robert. From the known year of his son Robert's birth, is may be inferred that Thomas perhaps was born around 1565. Information on Thomas and his family is recorded in "Depositions and Sayeings of Witnesses taken at the Town Hall of Hay, Brecon, 11th April 1687," legal documents in the probate case of Loton vs. Watkins dealing with claims made against the estate of Thomas Butler's grandson William Pennoyer by various other descendants of Thomas. Peter Wilson Coldham's 1972 paper, "English Ancestry of Robert Pennoyer and Walter Butler of Connecticut," summarises the genealogical information provided by William's cousin Ann Croys in this way:

"Ann Croys 'by her husband's name, but by her maiden name Anne Butler, relict of Richard Croys, late of Dorstone and now of Cusoppe, Herefordshire,' aged 80, deposes that she lived with William Pennoyer, her first cousin, for some years in London. She saw Robert Pennoyer of Bristol, the father of William Pennoyer, in his lifetime at the house of Richard Butler, her father. Robert Pennoyer was her father's older brother and was then known as Robert Butler, but later changed his name . . . This Robert had two brothers in Dorston, Richard and John, and all were the sons of Thomas Butler of Dorston, the deponent's grandfather. . . . Robert Butler 'was never reputed or taken to be the son of Thomas Penoyre gent. of the Moore but the son of Thomas Butler, weaver . . ."

Additional information on this Butler family is recounted in the deposition of Ann Croys and other depositions in this probate case cited and quoted in Coldham's study. Though their birth order is unknown, the known sons of Thomas Butler, weaver of Dorstone, are:

     2.  ROBERT BUTLER, alias ROBERT PENNOYER, born 1588.
     --  RICHARD BUTLER of Dorstone, Herefordshire
     --  JOHN BUTLER of Cusop, Herefordshire

2. ROBERT BUTLER, alias ROBERT PENNOYER, son of Thomas Butler, weaver, of Dorstone, born 1588 probably in Dorstone, Herefordshire. Robert was a glover by occupation, having left Dorstone and moved south to Bristol, Gloucestershire, England. The reason for Robert's move from Dorstone to Bristol, and the reason he changed his name from Butler to Pennoyer, is found in the abovementioned "Depositions and Sayeings of Witnesses taken at the Town Hall of Hay, Brecon, 11th April 1687," legal documents in the probate case of Loton vs. Watkins dealing with claims made against the estate of Robert Pennoyer's son William Pennoyer by William's various Butler relations. Peter Wilson Coldham's 1972 paper, "English Ancestry of Robert Pennoyer and Walter Butler of Connecticut," summarises this key biographical information of Robert, supplied in a deposition of William's cousin Ann Croys, in this way:

"Robert Pennoyer was her father's older brother and was then known as Robert Butler, but later changed his name. The reason was that 'he happened to be present where a man was killed' and fled to Bristol where, to conceal his real identity, he altered his name to Pennoyer . . . Robert Butler 'was never reputed or taken to be the son of Thomas Penoyre gent. of the Moore but the son of Thomas Butler, weaver . . ."

The story of Robert Butler's flight and name-change was also known to Samuel Butler of Cusop, who, according to his own deposition in Loton vs. Watkins, had learned the story from his own grandfather John Butler of Cusop. Robert may have chosen Bristol as a place of refuge not only because its size would make it easy for him to hide, but also because he could have had family relations living there. Ann Croys' words -- "he happened to be present where a man was killed" -- coupled with his decision to feel and change his last name, suggest that, though he himself did not kill the man, Robert was more than a bystanding witness, but may have been involved in the incident in which the man was killed.

Why he chose the new surname of "Pennoyer," however, will probably always remain a mystery. Some have claimed that it was his mother's or grandmother's maiden name, and that he was thus related to the landed and armigerous family of Pennoyer of the Moor. That's not impossible, though there is no clear evidence to support it and the identities of Robert's mother and grandmother are unknown. It is interesting, however, that in 1633 Robert's son William lent money to "loving cuzen Mr. Thomas Pennoyer of the Moor." On the other hand, in another deposition in the case of Loton vs. Watkins, Simon Brace of Clifford, gentleman, aged 70, who was a close neighbor of Thomas Pennoyer of the Moor, said he had heard Thomas angrily deny any relationship between himself and William Pennoyer. Did William erroneously believe that Thomas was his cousin, or did Thomas for whatever reason simply not want to admit to Brace that he and William were related? Might Thomas Pennoyer's angry denial, and Ann Croys' statement that Robert Butler "was never reputed or taken to be the son of Thomas Penoyre gent. of the Moore but the son of Thomas Butler, weaver," be an indication that Robert had at one time attempted to pass himself off as a son of Thomas?

Be that as it may, according to his kinswoman Ann Croys, at one time Robert proposed to sell his lands in Dorstone to a stranger, but, said Ann, "by meditation and persuasion of his relations, he waved the first bargaine and sold it absolutely to his brother, Richard Butler . . . the fittest to have it." These lands which Robert sold to his brother Richard (possibly in connection with Robert's decision to flee Dorstone) later were obtained by James Mady of Dorstone, according to the deposition of Samuel Butler of Cusop. The deposition of Ann Croys also says that before Robert fled to Bristol, he placed his son Samuel Pennoyer "att Table and Dyett" with his brother Richard Butler.

After settling in Bristol under his new surname, around 1603 Robert took a wife named ELIZABETH CHAMBERS, born 1585, died 1613. Robert and Elizabeth had two sons, William and Samuel. After Elizabeth's death, Robert remarried on 13 Feb. 1613/4, at St. Thomas Church in Bristol, to a woman named ALICE. Robert and Alice had a sons and a daughter, Robert and Eleanor, as well as another probable son, Thomas. The known and putative children of Robert Pennoyer, alias Robert Butler, are:

     --  WILLIAM PENNOYER, born circa 1603, died 1671, md. Martha Josselyn
     --  SAMUEL PENNOYER, born 1609, died 1654, md. Rose Hobson
     3.  ROBERT PENNOYER, baptised 21 Nov. 1614.
     --  ELEANOR PENNOYER, born 1623, died 1686, md. Thomas Redding
     --  THOMAS PENNOYER, born circa 1625.

3. ROBERT PENNOYER, son of Robert and Alice Pennoyer, baptised 21 Nov. 1614 at St. Nicholas Parish, Bristol, Gloucestershire, England; died 1694 in Mamaroneck, Westchester County, New York. Robert's baptism is recorded in the Baptismal Register of the Church of St. Nicholas, 1594-1620, Book 4. Robert was apprenticed on 22 April 1629 to Mr. and Mrs. Edward Levett of Bristol for a term of eight years. In the apprenticeship record, Robert's father was identified as a glover, deceased (Apprentice Book of the City of Bristol, 1609-25, Bristol, England Council House, pages 296). Robert did not finish his apprenticeship, though, because on 8 Sept. 1635 he arranged passage from London to New England on a ship named the "Hopewell of London," under the command of Thomas Babb, master. The port record shows he was 21 years of age and a turner by trade. Sailing with him was Thomas Pennoyer, apparently a brother of Robert. Raymond Lounsbury's "Pennoyer Brothers" says Robert probably went to Massachusetts to work for Mathew Cradock in the ship-building business. Robert had a certificate of his conformity to England's state religion, the Church of England, from Doctor Denison, and he took the oath of "Allegeance & Suprem(acy)" (see "Genealogical Dictionary of 1st Settlers of New England" by James Savage, vol. III, page 390, and the New England Historic & Genealogical Register article by Charles E. Banks, vol. 2, page 399). In contrast, documents cited by Peter Wilson Coldham show that several of Robert's Butler and Pennoyer relations in England, including Martha, wife of his brother William, were Anabaptist "Non-Conformists" who had withdrawn from membership in the Anglican religion.

In New England, Robert at first lived in Boston, Massachusetts Bay Colony. His eldest brother William Pennoyer (1603-1671), a successful merchant of London, was a benefactor of Harvard College and founder in 1670 of Harvard's Pennoyer Aid scholarship fund, which William specially intended to benefit the family and descendants of his brother Robert. As Peter Wilson Coldham's above mentioned 1972 article shows, William's probate records and other records of his life were crucial in establishing the history of this family in England. Though the Pennoyers are thus associated with the founding of a prestigious institution of higher learning, a scandalous incident mars Robert's own life. While living in Boston, Robert was brought up on serious charges of attempting to rape a young married woman while he was a guest in her home. This incident is related in the Medford Historic Register, vol. 9, nos. 1 and 2, page 10, as follows:

"At a court held at Boston, September 3, 1639, Lydia Dastin, wife of Josiah Dastin of Charlestown, a young woman of 26, testified while in the house of Mr. Craddock at Misticke at meat with one Robert Penare he assaulted her, and caused her to cut her hand and her apron, that it was a little before night and her husband coming home late that night she did not make it known till the next morning."

After the charges were brought against him before the magistrates on 3 Sept. 1639, his case came before the court on 31 Oct. 1639, at which time "Robert Penyar appearing, his surety was discharged; but an attachment was granted against Penyar for going away undischarged." Instead of facing the charges, Robert decided to flee, not unlike his father's flight from Dorstone to Bristol. And so, on 3 Dec. 1639, "for his unclean attempt, and his flying when he should have appeared, (he) was censured to be whipped" -- apparently in absentia. (see Records of Massachusetts, vol. 1, pages 268, 282, 284).

After his flight from Boston, Robert settled in Gravesend, Long Island, and then moved to Stamford in the New Haven Colony (Connecticut). 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 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. But as it happens, though the Pennoyers are not associated with the Salem Witch Trials, Martha Pennoyer's brother Thomas and his wife Lydia were involved in the witch trial of Elizabeth Clawson of Stamford, Connecticut (see below).

The eldest daughter of Robert Pennoyer of Stamford was ELIZABETH PENNOYER, born 1652, wife of RICHARD LOUNSBERRY (1634-1694). From them came the Lounsberry family in the United States, one branch of which is known to have lived in Orange County, New York, during the 1700s and 1800s. It is perhaps significant that Mary Elizabeth (Penoyer) Riggs was the mother-in-law of a certain Richard Lounsberg, whose surname appears in various records as Lounsberry, Lownsberry, and Lounsbury. The Illinois Statewide Marriage Index (1763-1900) says Martha Riggs and "R. Lounsberg" married in Madison County on 24 Jan. 1872. 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, but that tradition is probably incorrect, because newspaper and Iowa state census records identify her son as George Lounsberg of Burlington, Iowa. No doubt Martha's nephew George Lawnsberry Riggs (1883-1956), son of Albert Riggs Jr., was named after his cousin George Lounsberg/Lounsbury.

The children of Robert Pennoyer of Stamford were:

     --  ELIZABETH PENNOYER, born 1652, md. Richard Lounsberry.
     --  WILLIAM PENNOYER, born 1654, died 1703, md. Mary (NN).
     4.  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.

4. THOMAS PENNOYER, son of Robert and Elsis Pennoyer, born 29 March 1658 in Stamford, Fairfield County, Connecticut; died at age 66 on 27 Nov. 1724 in Stamford, Connecticut. The birth records in Stamford show "Thomas, son to Robert Penoyr, born ye 29 March, Anno, 1658." Stamford records also show that Thomas married on 22 May 1685 in Stamford, Connecticut, to LYDIA KNAPP, born 1668 or 1670 in Stamford, Connecticut, died 9 Feb. 1709/10 in Stamford, Connecticut, daughter of Moses and Abigail (Westcott) Knapp. The Barbour Index for Stamford Families (1641-1853) records their marriage as "[Pennoyer], Thomas m. Lidde Knapp May 22, 1685" Thomas and Lydia reportedly had six daughters and three sons. Lydia died in childbirth, and the baby girl, named Lydia in her memory, was also lost. After Lydia's tragic death, Thomas married a woman named MARY, who survived him and was named in his will.

The most notable event in the lives of Thomas and Lydia was the 1692 witch trial of Elizabeth Clawson of Stamford, which took place the same year as the Salem Witch Trials. Clawson was one of six women who was falsely accused of witchcraft by Katherine Branch, a servant of Daniel and Abigail Westcott, with whom Clawson had been feuding for several years. While the people of Salem were swept away by hysteria and executed 20 people who had been falsely accused of witchcraft, events in Stamford took a very different turn, with most residents being skeptical of the accusations, and the cases against the falsely accused women ending with their exoneration. Remarkably, on 4 June 1692, a total of 76 citizens of Stamford signed an affidavit attesting to their belief that Clawson was a woman of good and exemplary character. One of the signers was "ledy Pennoyer," that is, Lydia Pennoyer, wife of Thomas. During Clawson's trial, Thomas responded on 12 Sept. 1692 to Mary Newman's sworn testimony that Clawson had used witchcraft to kill some sheep. Thomas testified to the personal animosity that Mary Newman had toward Clawson, affirming that his wife Lydia could corroborate what he said.

Testimony of Thomas Pennoyer in the witch trial of Elizabeth Clawson of Stamford, Connecticut, 12 Sept. 1692. Digital image from the Connecticut State Library

This is a transcription of Thomas Pennoyer's testimony of 12 Sept. 1692, from The Samuel Wyllys Papers at the Connecticut State Library:

          The Testimony of Thomas Penoir he saith that ye sheep yt mary Newman mentioned
          that dyed which she gives in testimony /as he have\ yt she thought was bewitched to death dyed
          this last spring was four year it being before he went for Ingland: ye next sumer
          after he came whom from Ingland was a contention between godwif clason and
          mary Newman about ye yard taking aples or nuts or graps or sum such things
          out of godman clasons lot: goody clason said to mary newman: as mary
          Newman tould at his house yt if she aloud her children to steal when they was
          young how would they be when they were old: whereby I understood ye contention betwen
          them:   Lidda penoir his wife being present at ye same time and can witness
                  to all ye above writen: & both are reddy to give oath to ye above written
                  testimony when called thareunto
                                                  The above written Thomas Penoir
                                                  appeared this 12th:Septembr 1692: & made
                                                  oath to the above written testimony
                                                  for himselfe before me Jonat [Selleck]
                                                                           comissr

The will of Thomas Pennoyer, dated 13 Nov. 1723, is abstracted in Abstracts of Stamford Probate Records - Book One, compiled by Spencer P. Mead. The will abstract is as follows: "Pennoyer, Thomas, late of Stamford, will dated Nov. 13, 1723, probated Feb. 16, 1724, mentions his wife Mary, and children Samuel, John, Reuben, Abigail Reynolds, Mary Weed, Millicent Hait, Mercy Holly, and Martha Whelpley. Executor his son Samuel. Witnesses John Bell, Peter Knapp, and William King, page 91."

The children of Thomas and his first wife Lydia, all born in Stamford and all but the last three births recorded in Stamford records, were:

     --  ABIGAIL PENNOYER, born 13 Augb. 1686, md. Joshua Reynolds.
     --  MARY PENNOYER, born 22 Nov. 1688, md. Benjamin Weed.
     --  MILLICENT PENNOYER, born 28 April 1691, md. Deacon and Colonel Jonathan Hoyt.
     --  MERCY PENNOYER, born 28 Sept. 1693, md. Eliphalet Holly.
     --  CAPT. SAMUEL PENOYER, born 3 April 1696, died 5 June 1761, md. Theophilia Selleck.
     --  JOHN PENNOYER, born 26 May 1698, died 10 Dec. 1775, md. 1st. Abigail Ferris, md. 2nd. Elizabeth Bishop
     5.  REUBEN PENNOYER, born 1702.
     --  MARTHA PENNOYER, born circa 1705, md. (NN) Whelpley.
     --  LYDIA PENNOYER, born and died 9 Feb. 1709/10.

5. 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. The Barbour Index for Stamford Families (1641-1853) records their marriage as "Penelope m. Reuben Penoyer Nov. 6, 1728, by Samuel Peck, J.P." The will of Reuben's father-in-law David Reynolds, late of Greenwich, Fairfield County, Connecticut, dated 4 May 1750, mentions his daughter Penelope, wife of Reuben Pennoyer, and her children Thomas and David Pennoyer. Soon after that, on 21 June 1750, Reuben witnessed the will of his cousin Capt. Caleb Knapp of Greenwich. Reuben and Penelope are known to have had seven sons and four daughters. The Barbour Index records the births of their children Elizabeth, Thomas, David, Penelope, Zipporah, Reuben, William, and Lydia. The Barbour Index erroneously says their eldest daughter Elizabeth was born 20 Oct. 1744, but Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths of Stamford Families, compiled by Rev. Elijah B. Huntington, says Elizabeth was born 27 Oct. 1729.

Some of their children moved to New York . . . . David

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:

                   FIRST WARD.

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.

     --  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. 1744/5.
     --  LYDIA PENNOYER, born 2 June 1747, died 6 Dec. 1820, twice married.
     --  WRIGHT PENOYER, born 31 May 1750, died 6 June 1807.
     --  ISAAC PENNOYER, born Aug. 1754, died 9 Dec. 1809, md. Catherine Hyatt.
     6.  JACOB PENNOYER, born Aug. 1754, died 2 Jan. 1832, md. Martha Munsell.

6. JACOB PENNOYER, son of Reuben and Penelope Pennoyer, born Aug. 1754

**************

The family of Robert M. Penoyer lived in New York City during the 1820s and apparently later, and Robert and his parents were from Orange County, New York -- 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." Significantly, like David, Mary Elizabeth Pennoyer'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:

Parish of Dorstone in Herefordshire's Golden Valley
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.)
Descendants of Nicholas Knapp
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

Return to Website Index


You may contact me with genealogical questions by clicking here.