Penrhyn B.R.A.

Scope and Content

A collection of 540 papers relating to the Penrhyn Estate lands in English counties, North Wales and Jamaica together with some family documents. The collection includes the family papers of Douglas Pennant of Penrhyn Castle, co. Caernarfon and Wicken Park, co. Northampton and Mordaunt of Walton Hall; deeds and documents relating to Leckhampstead, co. Buckingham; Aber, co. Caernarfon; St. George, Hanover Square, co. Middlesex; Aldington, Grafton, Helmdon, Passenham, Potterspury, Syresham, Towcester, Wappenham, Whittlebury, Wicken and Yardley Gobion, co. Northampton; and the Jamaica estate; and plans and general papers.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Pennant family fortunes were founded on the wealth of the West Indies. Giffard Pennant migrated west and bought extensive lands in Jamaica before his death in 1677. His son, John Pennant married Bonella Hodges in 1734 which resulted in a merger of two estates raising sugar in the parish of Clarendon, Jamaica. John Pennant reaped further blessings from the will of his brother Samuel in 1749. It was John's son Richard, born around 1737, who married Ann Susannah, daughter and heiress of General Hugh Warburton, owner of Winnington Hall, Cheshire, and the Warburton moiety of the Penrhyn Estate, on 6 December 1765. On the death of his father in law in 1771, he succeeded to Winnington Hall and the Warburton moiety of the Penrhyn Estate. It was ten years after this that he succeeded his father to all of the Jamaica property. He also continued with his father's negotiations for the purchase of the Yonge moiety of Penrhyn Castle, and succeeded in completing the purchase in 1785. In the same year he started as a co-operative, the Penrhyn Slate Quarry. In 1790 at Pen-y-bryn he built Port Penrhyn, in order to export the slate to distant places. Between 1800 and 1801, he built the Penrhyn Tramway, the first private horse drawn rail-road in North Wales, and amongst the earliest in the whole of Britain, to transport the slate from the quarry to the port. In the 1790's also, he built a road down to Port Penrhyn and nine miles towards Capel Curig. At Capel Curig in 1803 he built a hotel called the Royal Hotel. Also, in 1797 he had the Penrhyn mansion at Llandygai modernised. In 1808 he died, aged 70 and with his death the male line came to an end. Richard Pennant was undoubtedly a powerful personality with great achievements to his credit.

George Hay Dawkins, cousin of Richard Pennant succeeded to the estate. Winnington went to the widow of Richard Pennant. George Hay Dawkins in the same year as he succeeded to the estate, assumed, by Royal Licence, the surname and arms of Pennant and added them to his own. On July 25 1807, he married the Honourable Sophia Mary, daughter of the Rt Hon Cornwallis Maude, 1st Viscount Hawarden. George Hay Dawkins-Pennant died without male issue in 1840 and was succeeded by his eldest daughter and co-heiress, Juliana Isabella Mary Dawkins-Pennant. In August 1833 she had married Colonel Edward Gordon Douglas. He in 1841 assumed by Royal Licence also, the surname and arms of Pennant. In 1866, after being appointed Lord Lieutenant of Caernarvonshire, he was created first baron of Penrhyn of Llandygai, by Queen Victoria. In 1867-1868, he replaced the 1800-1801 Penrhyn Tramway with the new Penrhyn Railway. He died March 31, 1886 aged 85. He was succeeded to the estate and title by his eldest son, George Sholto Gordon Douglas-Pennant, 2nd Baron Penrhyn of Llandygai. It was during his lifetime that the great strike at Penrhyn Quarry occurred from 1900-1903. He died March 10, 1907, and was succeeded by his eldest and only son from his first marriage, Edward Sholto Douglas-Pennant.

In 1952, Penrhyn Castle and a substantial portion of the Penrhyn Estate were accepted by the Treasury in lieu of death duties, and vested in the National Trust.

Access Information

Open to all users

Custodial History

Deposited by the British Records Association and the Gwynedd Archives Service in 1981.

Related Material

Bangor Manuscripts, 3861-3862, 5868, 7368, 10411, 11556, 13510, 14695-14699, 14857, 22871, 26524, 27565, 28482-28483, 28790, 29355, 32284, 32690-32695, 34672, 36356A-36357A, 37055-37123. Penrhyn Castle Manuscripts