Penman, George 1 2 3a 4 5 6a 7 8 9a

Birth Name Penman, George
Gender male
Age at Death about 69 years


Why the interest in George Penman? It started with Lucy Maud Montgomery...

From all accounts, Lucy Maud came from a family of storytellers, and being brought up by her grandparents, would have heard stories from old-timers. One story she used in a book was about two of her ancestors, Nancy and Betsy Penman. Excerpt from her Selected Journals:

"Their son Donald Montgomery, my great-grandfather, was the hero of another romance of those early days. I have used this tale in my book, "The Story Girl." The Nancy and Betty Sherman of the story told there were Nancy and Betsy Penman, daughters of a United Empire Loyalist who came from the States at the close of the war of Independence. George Penman had been a paymaster in the British Army; having forfeited all his property, he was very poor, but the beauty of the Penman girls, especially Nancy, was so great that they had no lack of suitors from far and near. The Donald Fraser of The Story Girl was Donald Montgomery, and Neil Campbell was David Murray, of Bedeque. The only embroidery I permitted myself in the telling of the tale was to give Donald a horse and cutter. In reality, what he had was a half-broken steer, hitched to a rude, old wood-sled, and it was with this romantic equipage that he hied him over to Richmond Bay, PEI to propose to Nancy Penman!"

Like all such stories, there is probably a grain of truth in it. PEI Marriage license records had confused researchers with the two licenses, for David Murray and Anne Penman in 1788, and a year later for David and Elizabeth. Lucy Maud never wrote about how Betsey Penman felt, being David's second choice.

Then what about their father, George Penman? There were two men named Penman on the Island in the 1770-1790 time period, George and David. Were they father and son? or brothers? Outside of the Island, the name George Penman was quite common, in both England and Scotland. There were at least 3 Georges in Scotish records that might fit. There was a George Penman, born to John Penman and Christian Walker in Fife in 1737. I have not seriously considered George Penman, the shoemaker in Edinburgh, who married Margaret, daughter of John Edgar, in 1751. They had two children, Edward in 1751 and Mary in 1753. I might be wrong, but it seemed a stretch that a shoemaker would become a merchant or army paymaster, and the Penman daughters born after 1775 would be a stretch for Margaret Edgar. And the George Penman born 14 May 1714 in Torryburn, Fife, Scotland would be much too old to be this George.

Undocumented sources - possibly based on Lucy Maud Montgomery's story - stated that George Penman was a paymaster for Lord Rollo (A Scot) at the British Garrison in Fort Amherst or Charlottetown, after the fall of Louisbourg, around 1758. There is no documentation to support this claim. George does not appear on any military lists of the time, although the position of paymaster was not necessarily held by a member of the army; lists that I looked at did not always include the paymaster. A group that does reinactments and researches the history of the 22nd Regiment commanded by Rollo had not come across Penman's name. Earle Lockerby did not find Penman on the lists of who was fed in Fort Amhert around this time, and his name was not on a list, dated 1759, a receipt for wages paid for labor at Ft. Amherst.

The 22nd Regiment went from New York State, in 1757 to Halifax in 1758. Some members of the regiment left the Island by 1759, to fight at Quebec with Wolfe, or to go back to the United States. For George to have been both a paymaster and a Loyalist, he would have had to have gone from to the States, and then returned to the Island by about 1775. Rollo's 22nd Foot went to to North Carolina after the fall of Quebec.

The contemporary biography of George's grandson Senator Donald Montgomery stated that his mother was a Miss Penman from New England, but no birth records for the Penman daughters have been found in the colonial records that are available online.

A George Penman who might fit is the merchant who sailed to Boston in 1768. George and David Penman arrived in Boston on 1 June 1768 on the ship Diana, with Captain James Hall from England. There were seven passengers:
J. Lee - bound for Quebec, kept a journal of his travels, available at;
M. Gilchrist, an officer; Mr. Denison, a gentleman; Rev. John Eagleson, formerly a dissenting Minister at Fort Cumberland; M. Fraser, a merchant; David and George Penman, merchants; Capt. Ross of Casco Bay, lately master of a Brig.

According to Lee, "London on Saturday morning the 23d April 1768, at four o Clock in the morning; Arrived at Deal at 7 o'clock of the same day, and at 8 o'clock embarked on board the Ship Diana Captain James Hall, then lying in the Downs for Boston with six other passengers on board. Three of whom were Masters of Vessells out of Boston, who had Carried home new Built Vessells for sale, in which cases Masters of Vessells are generally paid for the run home and they to be at the expence of their passage out etc.". There were also four captains named in the record, so were the "masters of vessells" Lee mentions from the list of passengers, or from the list of mariners? From Records Relating to the History of Boston (e-pub) pages 304-305.

George can be placed on the Island by 1775, a year before the first troops were sent to the Island to defend it during the US war of independence. Most of the loyalist settlers on the Island arrived a few years later. George Penman and two others signed a bond to indemnify the Provost Marshall in June 1775. In this document, George Penman was described as being from Lot 13. He, Douglas Stewart and Benjamin West of Princetown Island of St. Johns were farmers. George signed his own name to this document, so he was literate.

He is also mentioned in the Daybooks of Benjamin Chappell: January 1776 Tuesday 30th - reached Penmans - lot 12.

In 1783, a document, an obligation or lease of some sort, involving George Penman and George Hardy was summarized on a note taken by Leard - it was a Registry Office document - the other names were David Higgins, of Charlottetown, acting for himself and Hutchinson & ?, of London, who may have been proprietors of Lot ?. Leard's summary mentions 50 pounds of Halifax currency, and something about use of hay, but otherwise I can't make out his writing.

George Penman was still in Port Hill, Lot 13 in 1785, when he was listed as the owner of a schooner, the Mary, with George Hardy. He was on a list of names of settlers, related to an address made by Gov. Fanning, in 1787.

On August 15 1789, George Penman from Penman's Point went to New London, where he purchased a Bible, two pairs of shoes, and four sickles from Cambridge's store. On the same day, his partner George Hardy bought two sickles. The Cambridge Store ledgers were found by John Cousins in the PEI Archives, and are described in his book New London, the Lost Dream.

Douglas Sobey, in his article for the Island Magazine, A Journey Across Lot 13 in 1793, summarized Gray's diary, which mentioned George Penman. Gray wrote: "I persisted in saying I should proceed alone if none would accompany me. George Penman though 60 years of age declared his purpose of attending me..." Gray's maps show the farms, on the banks of the Conway (now Trout) River as being inhabited by Roderick Gillies, Donald Ramsay, Malcolm Ramsay and George Penman.

Gray noted that Donald Ramsay, George Penman, and Malcolm Ramsay had built a grist mill. It is documented that Margaret Penman married a Ramsay from the Lot 13 area.

In the 1798 Census, there is an entry for George Penman in Lot 13. There is one male under 16, and three males between 16-60. There is one female under 16, and two females between 16-60, for a total of 7 people. There is no one over 60 in the household. David Penman is the only other Penman in the census, and he was over 60; it follows that this George Penman was not David's older brother. David was born before 1738, but since he didn't die until 1824, he was more likely an older brother than a father.

Seymour's diary and the 1798 census give an approximate date of birth for George, in the mid 1730s. Another court document dated April 1801 identified him as George Penman, Lot 13, yeoman.

The three older Penman sisters, Nancy, Elizabeth and Margaret were all married by the time of this census; Jane Penman would be around 15 and her older sister Christiana around 20. This might support the argument that the George who settled in Lot 13 was the father of the two younger girls, and perhaps Margaret who married a local lad. We also have stories from the mid 1800s that identify George Penman as the father of Nancy and Betsy.

George Penman died before 1804, the year of the Battle of Trafalger. The inventory of his estate was dated March 1804. Mary Penman, Hugh Montgomery and David Murray were the Administrators. The list of items certainly sounds like a merchant's inventory and it was common for sons-in-law to help administer the estate with the widow.

Hugh Montgomery took over the Penman farm after Penman's death, but did not live in Port Hill. As a son-in-law, perhaps he was providing a home for his wife's (step?)mother, who survived her husband. Montgomery stopped paying the lease on the land at some point, perhaps after Mary's death.

George's name was not on the list of loyalists published in 1841, and he did not receive a land grant as a loyalist. This doesn't mean that he wasn't among the Loyalists: issues with land, landlords, and loyalist grants on the Island were not resolved until well after George's death. However, he doesn't quite fit with the official definition of a Loyalist, not being a soldier or a resident of the United States in 19 April 1775, since he was settled in Lot 13 by June of that year.

Penman's Point in Lot 13 was named for George. " Penman; point, between Campbell and Ramsay creeks, lot 13. c. 1808"

Penman's name does not appear in "Historical sketch of the eastern regions of New France, from the various dates of their discoveries to the surrender of Louisburg, 1758. Also Prince Edward Island, military and civil. By James B. Pollard Published 1898"




Event Date Place Description Sources
Birth about 1735   a man in his sixties in 1793  
Death 1804 Prince Edward Island, Canada    
Residence 1778 Prince Edward Island, Canada made a deal with George Hardy  
Residence 1793 Lot 13, Prince County, Prince Edward Island, Canada Journey Across Lot 143 - described as a man in his sixties  
Residence 1798 Lot 13, Prince County, Prince Edward Island, Canada census of PEI  


Family of Penman, George

Name Birth Date Death Date
Penman, Ann Nancyabout 1768August 2, 1837
Penman, Elizabeth Betsy17701849
Penman, Margaretabout 1771before 1837
Penman, Jane1776July 21, 1852
Penman, Christyabout 1778October 18, 1811

Family of Penman, George and Cole, Mary

Married Wife Cole, Mary ( * + ... )