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Taylors in Pennington Castle?

Replies: 22

John Taylor "of Pennington Castle"

Posted: 28 Oct 2000 6:00AM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 9 Jun 2002 11:52PM GMT
Surnames: TAYLOR, SWINDERLY
According to a Taylor book called "From Log Cabins to the White House", by Mary Taylor Brewer (1985) my ancestor, James Taylor who died in King & Queen Co., Virginia (USA), in 1698 was descended from the Taylors "of Pennington Castle" near Carlisle, Cumberland Co., England. His grandparents were alleged to be Thomas Taylor and Margaret Swinderly and his parents were alleged to be John Taylor (b. 1607) and his wife Elizabeth __?__. The alleged children of Thomas Taylor and Margaret Swinderly were all listed with exact birth (or baptism) dates suggesting that there is a parish register or bible record somewhere in the Cumberland Co., England area from which these exact dates were abstracted.

I have researched this allegation. Here is what I believe can be documented. A John Taylor with wife Elizabeth __?__ died in Lancaster Co., VA (not PA), in 1651. He seems to be the John Taylor who was born in 1607 in England. He had a brother, James Taylor (b. 12 Feb. 1609/10) who appears to be the James Taylor, surgeon, who married Elizabeth Underwood and died in Surry Co., VA, in 1655. [He had an affair with his servant, Ursula Kettle, in 1651 which produced a bastard son, James Taylor, who was born in 1652 in Surry Co., VA. He also apparently mistreated his wife physically (and emotionally) who sued him for legal separation in 1653-1654.]

I have come up with absolutely no documentation to suggest the possibility that my James Taylor who died in King & Queen Co., VA, was descended from, or in any way connected with, either the John Taylor who died in Lancaster Co., VA, in 1651 or the James Taylor who died in Surry Co., VA, in 1655. I frankly do not believe the allegation of a connection.

Here is what I have been able to learn of Pennington Castle. Apparently the Penningtons lived in a castle in Cumberland Co., England, in the 11th-12th Century timeframe. The castle apparently was abandoned then and fell into ruin. They then took up home in some other castle, which name is escaping me now. I know of no proven connection between the Taylor family of England or Virginia and the Pennington family of England or Virginia (if there was a Pennington family in VA).

I think the whole Pennington situation can be traced to somebody's misinterpretation of English heraldry records. There is a ring which has been handed down several generation in a branch of the Taylor family who directly descends from James Taylor who died in King & Queen Co., VA, in 1698. The family rumor is that this James Taylor owned the ring and wore it (or it was a seal ring). The unique thing about the ring is that it had a Taylor Crest and Motto on it. The Crest was a naked right arm, bent at the elbow, with the hand holding an arrow. The Motto was "Consequitur Quodcunque Petit". The only English heraldry record I can find of this Crest and Motto was the line of the Headfort Taylors of Ireland who received a grant of a Coat of Arm in 1704 with this Crest and Motto. Lineage is provided back from this Taylor to a Thomas Taylor of Ringmer, Sussex Co., England (1559-1629), but no indication that this Coat of Arms, Crest or Motto was used in the family prior to the 1704 grant. Even assuming that it was used as far back as Thomas Taylor of Ringmer, there is no evidence connecting this Taylor family to either Thomas Taylor and Margaret Swinderly or to James Taylor who died in King & Queen Co., VA, in 1698.

This is only the beginning of the story of the Pennington confusion. In 1826, a Pringle Taylor of the House of Pennington, Southampton, Hampshire Co., England, received a Coat of Arms with a Crest which was very similar to the Headfort Taylor Coat of Arms and Crest, but with significant distinctions. The arm in the Crest was in armour, not naked, and the hand was in a gauntlet and was holding a javelin, not an arrow. The Motto for Pringle Taylor was identical to the Headfort Taylor Motto. From what I have been able to learn of English heraldry, it is very dangerous to assume that because the Pringle Taylor Coat of Arms and the Heatfort Taylor Coat of Arms had similarities (with significant distinctions) that the two Taylor lines were related. There is no other known evidence I have found to prove that the Headfort Taylors and Pringle Taylor are related. More importantly, there is no evidence to establish that Pringle Taylor had a genealogical connection with the Taylors of Cumberland Co., England.

But, what about the James Taylor ring with the Crest and Motto? My working assumption is that a descendant of James Taylor, probably in the late 18th Century or early 19th Century, looked up the Taylor Coat of Arms, Crest and Motto in a heraldry index book and found the Headfort Taylor information. They adopted this Crest and Motto as their own and had the ring manufactured, without any genealogical information to prove that their Taylor line linked with the Headfort Taylor line. The story grew from there, much the same as a story grows during the game of "pass the secret around a circle" to where the ring was existing in the late 1600s and worn by James Taylor who died in King & Queen Co., VA, in 1698 and/or used by him as a seal ring. [I doubt this ring was ever used as a seal ring because the Crest and Motto are correctly oriented on the ring as you look at it which would not produce a correct impression in wax for a seal]. Then somebody else found the Pringle Taylor heraldry which seemed close enought to the Headfort Taylor heraldry and assumed (incorrectly) a connection. Then somebody assumed (incorrectly) that Pennington House, Southampton, Hampshire Co., England, was really Pennington Castle near Carlisle, Cumberland Co., England. Then somebody found some parish register in or near Carlisle Co., England with the children of Thomas Taylor and Margaret Swinderly and "presto" all these Taylors were descended from a common ancestor. Then, since there was nobody else who could be established to be the father of James Taylor who died in King & Queen Co., VA in 1698, he must have been a son of one of the children of Thomas Taylor and Margaret Swinderly since two of the children (John & James) seem to have been immigrants to VA during the right timeframe to be James Taylor's father. I admit I can't prove that my working assumption is any more correct (or incorrect) than the other unproven assumptons made by earlier researchers which led to the genealogy reported in "From Log Cabins to the White House" and some other accounts of the James Taylor family.

My research of James Taylor who died in King & Queen Co., VA, in 1698 shows that he first appears in New Kent Co., VA, the parent county of King & Queen Co., VA, in 1675. There is a James Taylor who was listed as a headright of a Leonard Chamberlain who received a land patent in New Kent Co., VA, in 1671. It is quite possible that James Taylor who died in King & Queen Co., VA, in 1698 was imported to VA from England shortly before 1671. There is a 1686 land patent to James Taylor in New Kent Co., VA, which mentions that part of the patented land was granted to him in 1675 by Thomas Reinolds (sic). There are no associates of this James Taylor in New Kent Co., VA, or King & Queen Co., VA, which connect with the Taylors of Lancaster Co., VA, or Surry Co., VA who died in 1650s.
SubjectAuthorDate Posted
Tyndale17 24 Oct 2000 12:00PM GMT 
Chris Dickinson 26 Oct 2000 12:00PM GMT 
Tyndale17 30 Oct 2000 12:00PM GMT 
JohnRoe51 28 Oct 2000 12:00PM GMT 
Tyndale17 30 Oct 2000 12:00PM GMT 
crowfields 16 May 2009 10:56PM GMT 
melisande55 1 May 2011 7:16PM GMT 
crowfields 1 Nov 2012 1:36AM GMT 
Carol Tatum 1 Nov 2012 12:33AM GMT 
crowfields 1 Nov 2012 1:29AM GMT 
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