PENNINGTON, Sir Alan (d.1415), of Muncaster and Pennington, Lancs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

s. and h. of William Pennington (d. by 1376) of Muncaster and Pennington by his 3rd w. Elizabeth (d. aft. 1411), da. and coh. of Thomas Malton of Givendale, Yorks. m. (1) Katherine, da. and event. coh. of Sir Richard Preston (d. by 1393), of Burton and Preston Richard, Westmld., 1s. Sir John; (2) by May 1397, Margaret. Kntd. by 1390.1

Offices Held

Commr. to make arrests, Westmld. Dec. 1397, June 1398.

Collector of taxes, Westmld. May 1398.


The Penningtons were already landowners of note in Furness and Cumberland by the 13th century, when some of their estates were set aside for the foundation and endowment of Conishead priory. As their name suggests, they lived originally at Pennington, but before long the main branch of the family moved to Muncaster, which became its principal seat. Over the years they acquired the manor of Tilberthwaite and land in Ulverston, Lancashire, the manor of Little Langdale in Westmorland, and other holdings in the Cumbrian villages of Gaitscale, Blackhall, Birks and Gosforth as well. Through his marriage to Elizabeth Malton, William Pennington was able to extend his territorial influence as far as Givendale in Yorkshire, so their son, Alan, the subject of this biography, stood heir to an impressive amount of property. Alan was still a minor when his father died, in or just before 1376, leaving his friend and trustee, Thomas Bardsea, to administer his estate. As a child, William Pennington had himself been a ward of the abbot of Furness, who had married him, against his will, to one of William Threlkeld’s daughters, and had tried, unsuccessfully, to prevent him from taking another wife. The abbot’s successor now intervened to assert similar rights of wardship over Alan, and Bardsea was obliged to defend his position at the Lancaster assizes. The boy’s personal guardian, a local man named Christopher Broughton, was also sued by the abbot, although matters seem eventually to have been settled out of court.2

No more is heard of Alan until about 1390, by which time he had not only come of age, but had also been knighted. He had, perhaps, already by then married his first wife, Katherine, the daughter and coheir of Sir Richard Preston, who brought him half the manor of Preston Richard on the death of her childless brother. She and her sister, Elizabeth, the mother of Sir John Lamplugh*, evidently shared most of the family estates between them, but their distant kinsman, Sir John Beetham*, also advanced a claim to their land in Burton. In August 1393, Sir Alan appeared as an attorney for his wife at the Appleby assizes in what was apparently a collusive suit to establish her title to these particular holdings. He seems to have entered piecemeal into his own inheritance, a substantial part of which was occupied for the best part of his life by his widowed mother, a dowager of remarkable longevity. Although he gained immediate possession of the manor of Langdale, which was confirmed to him when he remarried in May 1397, he had to wait another two years before recovering his father’s property in and around Gaitscale from Thomas Bardsea. The latter had, meanwhile, settled the manors of Pennington and Muncaster upon his old friend’s widow, who thus retained the most lucrative part of the family estates. Not surprisingly, she had no trouble in finding a second husband, and before long she was married to Hugh Standish of Duxford. Only in 1410, however, did she and Standish agree to release their claims on Muncaster and its appurtenances to Sir Alan, in return for a secure life interest in part of the manor of Pennington, which finally came into his hands two years later.3

Despite the influence which he and his family enjoyed in the north-west, Sir Alan did not play a particularly important part in local government. In point of fact, he served on only two royal commissions and held office just once as a tax collector in Westmorland, although he was later returned to the Gloucester Parliament of 1407 by the county electors. During the session he acted as a mainpernor at the Exchequer for John, Lord Harington, and also joined with him and Sir Henry Hoghton (who was then representing Lancashire) in offering a bond of 500 marks to the Winchester merchant, Mark le Faire*. In the following year the abbot of Furness made him a payment of £13 10s. to cover nine years’ arrears of rent for certain holdings in Pennington, perhaps as a result of litigation at the Lancaster assizes. On the whole, however, Sir Alan lived quietly on his estates, and does not appear again until 1411, when he and his nephew, Sir John Lamplugh, witnessed two deeds for his neighbours in Westmorland. It has been suggested that since his death occurred on 27 Sept. 1415, at the time of Henry V’s first invasion of France, Sir Alan probably took part in the expeditionary force. For want of evidence, this can only be regarded as very doubtful, but his son, John, who was then over 22 years old, is definitely known to have fought in Lord Harington’s retinue at the battle of Agincourt. It was he who succeeded to the Pennington estates on returning to England. Some three years earlier Sir Alan had arranged for John’s marriage to his distant kinswoman, Katherine, daughter of Sir Thomas Tunstall.4

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


  • 1. VCH Lancs. vi. 209; viii. 338-9; Recs. Kendale ed. Farrer and Curwen, ii. 31-32; JUST 1/1500 rot. 40-40v; Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. xiv. 483; J. Nicolson and R. Burn, Westmld. and Cumb. i. 211.
  • 2. Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. vi. 179-80; viii. 161; xii. 222; xiv. 483; HMC 10th Rep. IV, 223; DKR, xxxvi. 167; VCH Lancs. 338-9; Recs. Kendale, ii. 31.
  • 3. Recs. Kendale, ii. 31-32, 207; JUST 1/1500 rot. 40-40v; Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. vi. 179-80; DKR, xxxvi. 180; VCH Lancs. vi. 209; HMC 10th Rep. IV, 223; Nicolson and Burn, i. 211.
  • 4. CFR, xiii. 97; CCR, 1405-9, p. 346; Chetham Soc. lxxviii. 791-2; xcv. 121; Recs. Kendale, i. 288; Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. xiv. 402; VCH Lancs. viii. 338-9; Test. Ebor. iii. 321.