From the Thorley Archives

The Pennington Files - Part Four

From Surgeons to Spy

Previous archive articles, The Pennington Files Parts One, Two and Three, have described how Grandfather Pennington, Rector of Thorley 1798 - 1852, and Grandmother Mary Sarah (Sale) were responsible for a Pennington dynasty that extended from 1797 till 1941. Their only surviving child, Theodora Louise, married Robert George Sparrow in 1816. Recent e-mail communications, as a result of previous articles, have led to more family history discoveries associated with the descendants.

Third Grandson, Robert Remus Pennington Sparrow, born 1820, began a tradition of service in the Royal Navy as a physician and surgeon. Whilst serving on HMS Wellesley in Bermuda he married Mary Butterfield and it was in Bermuda that they had the first of their twelve children. Mary Butterfield is commemorated with a memorial chair dated 1923 in St Jude's church in Southsea. At least two of their nine children also served as naval surgeons - Robert McArthur Sparrow and Horatio S. Richard Sparrow.

Fourth Grandson, George Waterloo Pennington Sparrow, born 1821, also served as a surgeon. He was attached to the 3rd Battalion 6th Rifles and died of cholera aged 42 in 1863 at Yat Myo in Burma.

Robert and Mary's fifth son, William Wade Sparrow, born 1856, emigrated to Australia and his son, Charlton William Pennington Sparrow, served in WW1 with the Australian Field Artillery. Sadly he was killed in 1917 by a direct hit from a shell whilst driving a wagon delivering ammunition to the Ypres front line. Ironically a name search on Google revealed that his two WW1 medals were offered for sale by an auction house in Winchester in May 2007.

The consequence of twelfth grandchild Reverend John James Horatio Septimus Sparrow, born 1837, changing his families' surname from Sparrow to Pennington in 1887 was that his son's name became Cuthbert Bertram Thomas Pennington Pennington!

George Arthur Adam Septimus Carter Trenchard Sale Pennington, born 1899, (Great Great grandson) inherited the family tradition for multiple Christian names to the extent that, when selected to play cricket for Northamptonshire in 1927, he shared with John Elicius Benedict Bernard Placid Quirk Carrington Dwyer the record for an English first class cricketer with the most initials!

Perhaps the most intriguing event relating to our Sparrow / Pennington family tree concerns George Sparrow the father in law of Theodora (Pennington) Sparrow. In 1807 George Sparrow was assassinated as a spy in Sicily carrying British Government documents as a Kings Messenger. At this time, during the Napoleonic wars, the Italian island of Sicily was under British control. His 1804 will shows that he was living at 22, Downing Street and that his executer was a 'Mr Walpole of the Foreign Office'. Further research will hopefully reveal the strange circumstances of his death.

Bill Hardy
January 2008

The Pennington Files, Part Five

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