Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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PENNANT (and DOUGLAS-PENNANT ) family, of Penrhyn , Llandygâi, Caerns.

The family fortunes were founded on the wealth of the West Indies ; by the marriage of John Pennant to Bonella Hodges in 1734 there was a merger of two estates raising sugar in Jamaica , parish of Clarendon (for the most part); John Pennant reaped further blessings (again in Jamaica ) from the will of his brother Samuel in 1749 , a former lord mayor of London . It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that John 's son Richard , in 1765 , m. the heiress of the Warburtons of Cheshire , who had inherited one-half of the Penrhyn estate ; in 1785 he completed the purchase of the other half from the Yonges of Devon , and thus brought together into one compact unit the ‘ Warburton-Yonge moieties,’ so often referred to in the rent-rolls of the estate for the first half of the 18th cent. John Pennant , it must be said, was not an obscure adventurer from the West; rather he descended from the Pennants of Bychton and Downing in Flintshire and was a member of the same family, but of younger stock, as Thomas Pennant the traveller (q.v.) . It was Gifford Pennant , grandfather of John , who migrated west, bought extensive lands in Jamaica , and d. in 1677 . Thomas Pennant was very proud of his affiliations with the new proprietor of Penrhyn , and would have it that these Pennants were distantly related to the ancient holders of the Llandygái lands (see Griffith family of Penrhyn ), the three chamberlains and Pirs Griffith the sea-rover (q.v.) , through the marriage of one of them, far back, c. 1475-80 , with Angharad , daughter of Gwilym ap Griffith ap Gwilym of Penrhyn ; but all this does not accord very well with the marriage adventures of Angharad in other pedigree books. Curiously enough, Richard Pennant 's wife could claim a much more dependable descent from the Cochwillan (see Williams of Cochwillan ) family, from Robin , brother of Gwilym ap Gruffith ap Gwilym .

Whatever may be said about the contacts between old and new, RICHARD PENNANT ( 1737? - 1808 ) was undoubtedly a powerful personality with great achievements to his credit; he completely reorganized the working arrangements at the quarry of Cae-braich-y-cafn ; took a lease from bishop Warren upon the Pen-y-bryn foreshore and built the quay ; developed the trade in writing-slates , rearing sawmills at Coed-y-parc and Nant Gwreiddiog ; was foremost in the movement to build a new road from Bangor to Capel Curig ; all this besides keeping a very watchful eye on the agents of his Jamaica estates. In 1783 he was made an Irish peer with the right to sit in the House of Commons if elected; he was Member of Parliament for Liverpool for a time, and made the greatest mistake of his life when, in 1796 , he made a bold effort to wrest the Caernarvonshire seat from Sir Robert Williams (see under Bulkeley family ), half-brother to lord Bulkeley of Beaumaris , oblivious of the immense interests of the Bulkeleys in the two Arllechwedd s, the towns of Conway and Caernarvon , and the district of Nant y Betws . He had a bad beating. He d. 21 Jan. 1808 , and was followed by a cousin, and the cousin by his son-in-law,


EWARD DOUGLAS (b. 20 June 1800 - 1886 ),

member of one of the most aristocratic families in Scotland (the Pennant became, by the queen's warrant, Douglas-Pennant in 1841 ), who was raised to the British peerage in 1866 as lord Penrhyn . Previous to that he had sat in the Commons for Caernarvonshire for twenty-five years. He d. 31 March 1886 . It was his son, the 2nd baron (b. 30 Sept. 1836 - 1907 ) who lost the famous election of 1868 to Sir Love Jones Parry (see under Parry of Madryn ), but who won it back in 1874 . Though one of the most generous landlord s in the country, he was in continual controversy with the quarrymen of Bethesda . He d. 10 March 1907 .

Sources:

  • J. E. Griffith , Pedigrees of Anglesey and Carnarvonshire Families , 1914 , 103, 184-7, 214;
  • T. Pennant , The history of the parishes of Whiteford and Holywell , London, 1796 , 268-72;
  • A Tour (Tours) in [North] WalesPennant, Thomas , 1773. 1778, etc. See also Rhys's 3-volume edition, 1883 , 1810 , iii, 85-7;
  • The Complete Peerage , 1910–40 , x, 431-3;
  • Penrhyn Manuscripts at University College North Wales Library, Bangor (U.C.N.W.), 421-56, 464-592, 1182-1489.

Author:

Thomas Richards, D.Litt., (1878-1962), Bangor

Published date: 1959