Papers of the Pennington Family of Warter

Scope and Content

The first deposit comprises largely eighteenth and nineteenth century estate records for Warter and Nunburnholme in the East Riding of Yorkshire, though there are also some earlier surveys of field use and some manorial and parish records for Warter. There is an original bundle of papers from 1712 collected during an attempt to bore for coal at Warter and a bundle of papers related to the collection of customs and excise in Hull and elsewhere 1748-80. U DDWA2 comprises almost entirely title deeds.

U DDWA in detail is as follows: Dunnington and Grimston (1766-1786) including a survey of the estate of Sir Joseph Pennington; Huggate (1773) being an extract from the enclosure award; Middleton (1726, 1777) being an extract from the glebe terriers relating to the tithe of sheep; Nunburnholme (1767-1850) including an abstract of the title of Joseph Pennington to the manor of Nunburnholme from 1538, a 1774 valuation of timber; Pocklington Canal (1827, 1834) being two annual statements; Warter (1574-1853) including a schedule of title deeds, a 1693 field survey (bound with an older document of 1655), seventeenth century fee farm rents paid by the Stapleton family to dowager Queen Henrietta Maria in the 1660s, a 1725 survey of the open fields, a land tax assessment of 1778, eighteenth century receipts for the salaries of the Reverend Thomas Remington and the Reverend William Clarke, eighteenth century sale agreements and farm surveys and plans, a 1794 valuation of Lord Muncaster's estate, some rentals from 1830, the 1677 transfer of the Warter estates from John Stapleton to his daughter Isabella on her marriage to Sir William Pennington of Muncaster, the marriage settlement of George and Dorothy Prickett (1717), an extract from the will of William Garforth (1744), an original bundle of parish records including the constable's account book 1684-1754, an original bundle relating to the boring for coal from 1712 including rough plans of the site and machinery and some nineteenth century rent acounts; Warter leases (1749-1835) amounting to 91 items; manor of Warter (1694-1813) including rentals 1694-1707, sporadic eighteenth century court rolls, the court book 1726-1781, court verdicts 1725-1785, and eighteenth century presentments, pains and jury lists largely of the 1770s and 1780s; accounts (1694-1853) comprising fifty percent of the total Pennington collection and including the rental account books of successive stewards, eighteenth century wage accounts, the personal account book of Sir Joseph Pennington 1741-1745, medical accounts, clothing accounts and circa 1000 vouchers 1709-1852; correspondence (1714-1827) being steward's (John Dickinson) estate correspondence with Sir Joseph Pennington which includes detailed local news of people and events and letters to Joseph Pennington from assorted correspondents also about local news, plus one original bundle relating to an action taken against Joseph Pennington for non-payment of his account by his lawyer, Thomas Plummer; miscellaneous (1670-1780) including European recipes, historical notes (for example, about the life of Oliver Cromwell), a 1781 report on the lunatic assylum at York, miscellaneous papers about customs and excise; rentals (1655-1837) being one volume of rentals 1655-1656 and then rentals from 1709; settlements (1574-1716) including the marriage settlements of Thomas Leigh and Isabel Copley (1574), Robert Stapleton and Katherine Fairfax (1622), John Stapleton and Elizabeth Lawson (1651 and 1653); various documents (1708-1790) being all papers of Sir Joseph Pennington; West Riding of Yorkshire (1790-1924) comprising plans of the estate of Byram with the household cash book 1883-1909 and correspondence about the sale of the estate.

Papers in U DDWA2 in detail are as follows: Nunburnholme (1689-1877) comprising title deeds and mortgages; Warter (1653-1874) including the marriage settlement of John Stapleton and Elizabeth Lawson (1653), the mortgage and sale documents of the manor and rectory in 1677-1678 to William Pennington on his marriage to Isabella Stapleton and eighteenth and nineteenth century farm sales and mortgages; various townships (1796-1872); bonds (1734, 1778) and wills (1627-1874) being those of James Sanderson (1627), John Sanderson (1655), Richard Simpson (1793), Robert Oxtoby (1798), William Mountain (1801), John Empson (1806), Thomas Harrison (1831), Lydia Shepherdson (1843) and George Adamson (1874).

Administrative / Biographical History

The Pennington family originally came from Pennington in Furness, Lancashire, but had resided on the River Esk in Cumberland since the middle of the thirteenth century. They were connected by marriage to the Percy family and bore the Percy arms with slight variation. The collection is almost entirely related to their lands at Nunburnholme and Warter (the site of a demolished Augustinian priory and convent) in East Yorkshire which they acquired in the seventeenth century. William Pennington (b.1655), who was educated at Queen's College, Oxford, and was created baronet in 1676, married Isabel Stapleton, daughter and heiress of John Stapleton and Elizabeth Lawson who had owned Warter from circa 1655. In 1678 the manor and rectory were given to the married couple. When William Pennington died in 1730 the estates were inherited by his son Joseph Pennington (b.1678), second baronet. Joseph Pennington was educated at Queen's College, Oxford, and held public office as comptroller of excise from 1723 explaining the presence of customs and excise papers in the collection. He represented Cumberland in Parliament as a supporter of Walpole until his death in 1735. He married Margaret Lowther, fourth daughter of the first Viscount Lonsdale and they had one daughter and four sons before her death in 1738. Two of their sons predeceased him and the other two succeeded in turn to the baronetcy. The eldest, John Pennington (b.circa 1710), took over from his father as comptroller of the excise in 1731 and sat as member of parliament for Cumberland from the time his father died in 1744 until the time of his own death in 1768. His support for the government was inconsistent and he is not known to have spoken in the house. He was colonel of the Cumberland militia during the Jacobite rebellion in 1745. He died unmarried and the title and estates passed to his younger brother, Joseph Pennington (b.1718), who was married to Sarah Moore. They had three sons and four daughters. Joseph Pennington did not die until 1793 when he was succeeded to the title and estates by his eldest son, John Pennington (b.circa 1737) (Dictionary of National Biography; Sedgewick, The house of commons 1715-1754, ii, p.335; Namier and Brooke, The house of commons 1754-1790, ii, pp. 263-4).

John Pennington entered the army in 1756, rising to lieutenant-colonel of the 37th regiment of infantry in 1773. He retired later in the 1770s and began a political career, gaining a seat in parliament as member for Milbourne Port in 1781. He held this until 1796 and then sat for Colchester until 1802 and Westmorland between 1806 and 1808 and again in 1813. He failed to get the public office he wanted on the Board of Trade and an Irish barony was created for him as a form of compensation - he became first Lord Muncaster in 1783. He was an early supporter of Pitt and a friend of William Wilberforce. The castle in Cumberland, from which John Pennington took his title, had been built by him in the 1780s around a medieval shell and incorporated Jacobethan chimney pieces. With a magnificent view, the castle overlooks the Esk estuary. John Pennington married Penelope Compton and by her had one son and two daughters but his wife and two of his children died before he did in 1813. As he left only a daughter, Maria Frances Margaret Lindsay, the title passed to his younger brother, Sir Lowther Pennington (b.1745), whose long army career came to an end in the 1790s. He lived in London and died in 1818. He married Esther Barry and they had one son, Lowther Augustus John Pennington (b.1802). The third Lord Muncaster was married to Frances Catherine Ramsden and died prematurely in 1838. He was succeeded by his son, Gamel Augustus Pennington (1831-1862), who partly rebuilt the castle in the 1860s and who was succeeded in his turn by his younger brother, Josslyn Francis Pennington (b.1834). The fifth Baron Muncaster was a justice of the peace and deputy lieutenant of the East Riding and he sat as member of parliament for West Cumberland between 1872 and 1880. He married Constance Anne L'Estrange and they died within a few weeks of each other in 1917 at which time his title became extinct. In 1878 the fifth Lord Muncaster sold the Warter estate to the shipping magnate, Charles Wilson, who became Lord Nunburnholme in 1906. The papers of the Pennington family for their Warter estates therefore largely span 1678 to 1878, exactly two hundred years of ownership in the East Riding (Dictionary of National Biography; Sedgewick, The house of commons 1715-1754, ii, p.335; Namier and Brooke, The house of commons 1754-1790, ii, pp. 263-4; Pevsner, Cumberland and Westmorland, pp.165-6; Pevsner & Neave, York and the East Riding, pp.731-2; Burke, Peerage and baronetage).

Access Information

Access will be granted to any accredited reader

Other Finding Aids

Entry in Landed family and estate archives subject guide

Custodial History

U DDWA deposited by Sir William Pennington-Ramsden of Muncaster Castle in the East Riding Record Office in 1963 and transferred to Hull University Archives in 1974; U DDWA2 deposited by Charles H. Wright and Brown, solicitors, in April 1981.

Related Material

Other repositories:

Lindsay papers, National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh

Ramsden private family papers, Muncaster Castle, Ravenglass (includes correspondence of 5th Baron Muncaster)

Crimea papers and family papers of 5th Baron Muncaster, Cumbria Record Office, Carlisle

Correspondence of 1st Baron Muncaster with William Wilberforce, MSS Don.e.164-5, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford


  • Borron, JRE, 'John Pennington, 1st Lord Muncaster', in Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Archaeological and Antiquarian Society, new series LXVI
  • Burke, B & Burke, A, A genealogical and heraldic history of the peerage and baronetage (1925)
  • Dictionary of National Biography
  • Foster, Joseph, Pedigrees of Sir Josslyn Pennington, fifth Baron Muncaster (1878)
  • Frost-Pennington, P, Guide book to Muncaster Castle (2000)
  • Pevsner, N, The buildings of England: Cumberland and Westmorland (1967)
  • Pevsner, N & Neave, D, The buildings of England: York and the East Riding (1995)
  • Namier, L & Brooke, J, The house of commons 1754-1790 (1964)
  • Sedgewick, R, The house of commons 1715-1754 (1970)