PENNINGTON RESEARCH ASSOCIATION NEWSLETTER - 30 APRIL 2015
GROUP 27 - PENNINGTONS - DNA LINK to Muncaster Castle found
in Messrs. Heard and Mulcaster of Ontario
Baron Muncaster Bloodline Male Pennington Likely Found
by Guye Pennington - Research and editorial assistance by Dr. Nick Penington
"We recently found what we believe to be legitimate Group 27 male bloodline heirs. The DNA of two males, both of whom had possible but unproven links to the Group 27 line, matched each other at a high degree. It is very exciting to have likely solved a Pennington mystery that has existed since 1917 when The Right Hon. Josslyn Francis Pennington, 5th Baron Muncaster, 9th Baronet, died without an heir. Namely, the mystery has been, does a Group 27 male-line descendant still exist?" "Both family stories tie directly to male blood line members of Group 27, and we’ve shown that their DNA matches. These Mulcaster and Heard family origin stories have existed for many generations, especially in the Mulcaster line."
"Robert Heard, who was born in the British county of Cumbria in 1795. Within the family, Robert Heard is said to be the illegitimate son of Lowther Pennington[vii], 2nd Baron Muncaster, 6th Baronet and a maid with a surname of Heard (or Hurd) at Muncaster Castle. At the time of his birth, Lowther Pennington had not yet succeeded to the title, and he wouldn’t until his elder brother John died in 1813. According to James Leonard, a cousin of Mr. Heard, his great-grandmother’s death certificate said Muncaster was her legal surname. Also, within the family is a story where Muncaster Castle (but not the title) was offered to Joseph Heard, son of Robert Heard. Supposedly, Joseph wished to distance himself from the Penningtons, and he burned the documents, although some fragments of the documents were salvaged by the family who wanted to return to England one day.
The line of Penningtons at Muncaster Castle had remained unbroken until the 1917 death of the last Baron Muncaster, when the Barony became extinct. Before the death of Sir Joslyn Francis Pennington in 1917 a worldwide search for a male Pennington who could prove descent was made. Some stories suggest that one Robert Heard, a Muncaster gardener who moved to Canada, was the out-of-wedlock son of the last Baron Muncaster. (though other information says the Baron and the mother were married). There is some evidence that he was solicited as the last remaining male heir, but burned the papers that might have proved it, as he did not want to assume the position."
It does seem hard to believe that this information would not have remained with the Pennington Family along with all the communication and knowledge of all the Heard family and with the amounts of dowry money sent to them in Ontario, considering the length of time Baron Muncaster kept in contact with full knowledge of how to find the family.
Information on Robert Heard and his connection to Baron Muncaster was extensively covered in the book -
Fragments of a dream : pioneering in Dysart Township and Haliburton Village