Charles Edward Ducat Pennycuick





Other sources

  1. 'The Pennycuicks', notes written and compiled by James A.C. Pennycuick and Janet Buchanan (.pdf file) [pages 61-96]
  2. Lieut.-Col. J. Pennycuick, CB, KH, A Memoir, by W.S. Sampson (Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, winter 1974)
  3. Handwritten notes on the Pennycuick family by James A.C. Pennycuick (1890-1966)
  4. Dear grandchildren - family stories, by Eoin Hickey and Netta Kealy, 2010 (privately printed book, kindly donated by Eoin)

Family trees

Pennycuick FT
Family trees of the Pennycuick, McDonald and Farrell families

Other information

Christian name 'Ducat'

Charles owes his unusual third Christian name to a 'name swap' between his father Brig. John and Charles Ducat, a Scottish friend his. Ducat named his fifth son, born in Jersey in 1842, Cyril Hugh Pennycuick Ducat. In return, two years later, John named his son Charles Edward Ducat Pennycuick.

Charles E D Pennycuick grave
The grave of Charles E.D. Pennycuick at Challoch

Photo courtesy of Colin Pennycook

Family historians

Several of Charles Edward's descendants have caught the family history 'bug', either setting down, in various forms, memories, photos and information, or in other ways keeping the family flame alight:

Colin Pennycuick


Prof. Colin Pennycuick in Iceland in 1995

Photo: Sverrir Thorstensen

Charles E D Pennycuick


Charles Edward Ducat Pennycuick in 1898

Portrait belonging to our family

Life and career

Charles Edward Ducat was the youngest of the eleven children of Brigadier John and Sarah Pennycuick, named after a friend of his father's (see left).i He was born while the Brigadier was serving in the British outpost of Aden (in what is now Yemen). At the time this belonged to the Bombay Presidency of British India: his baptism register reflects this, but the Wikipedia page states wrongly that he was born in Bombay.1 He was educated at Cheltenham College (1858-61), along with his elder brother John.2 After leaving school he passed the entrance exams for Royal Military Academy (RMA) Woolwich in 1862, following in the footsteps of his eldest brother James Farrell Pennycuick. He didn't attend Woolwich however: he "engineered his expulsion", as Stuart Sampson puts it,ii in order to pursue a career in the colonial civil service.

After a short time in Australia he joined the civil service in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1866 as a 'writer', from which he worked his way up the levels ('classes'), reaching First Class in 1896.iii During this time he served as a district judge and magistrate in Kurunegala and Badulla. He was Mayor of Columbo (1893-95), Postmaster General in 1896 and finally Treasurer of Ceylon in 1900.1,3 This position came with a seat on Ceylon's Executive Council, a 'cabinet' of six officials with the Governor as its president, which effectively ruled the colony. He was awarded the CMG in 1901 on his retirement from the post.4 Coincidentally, another (apparently unrelated) Pennycuick was a high-ranking official in British colonial Asia at that time: the Hon. Alexander Pennycuick CIE (1844-1906), from Elgin in north-east Scotland, was a member of the Legislative Council of Burma at the end of the century.5

Clementina Pennycuick and family


Clementina Pennycuick and family at Newton Stewart, ca. 1900

From L to R: Hilda Pennycuick (daughter of Col. John), Clementina, Bryda (daughter of Col. John), James, Agnes


Edward (as he was called in the family) married Clementina, daughter of Capt. Henry Woodhead, in 1881 in Brighton. Their two children grew up in Ceylon. Edward was a forceful, hot-tempered man, an excellent mathematician and skilled fly-fisherman, and unfortunately a heavy smoker: a few months after retiring to Scotland in 1901, to Challoch near Newton Stewart in Galloway, he died from throat cancer.i After his death Clementina lived with her parents' family in Sussex, where she died in 1925. She is buried in the family tomb at Challoch.

Agnes Pennycuick


Agnes Pennycuick in 1911

Photo courtesy of the Hickey family

Agnes Helen

The daughter of Charles E.D. Pennycuick, Agnes was born in Steyning, Sussex in 1887, and grew up in Ceylon and Scotland, where she was presented at the Court of King Edward VII at Holyrood in June 1911.iv She married Edward C. Malet-Warden, a commander in the Navy, in 1915, and they lived first in Edinburgh, where their daughter Elizabeth was born. The other children, Charles, Bryda and Hamish were probably also born in Scotland. Agnes and Edward divorced in 1930, and she moved to her daughter's family in Dublin, where she died in 1948. She is also buried in Challoch. Elizabeth married Noel Sidney Hickey and became a well-known historian, living in Skryne Castle in Co. Meath, Ireland.6 The Hickey family have their own excellent website,7 and I am grateful to Eoin Hickey for information, photos and his book.

James A C Pennycuick


Capt. James A.C. Pennycuick in 1925

James Alexander Charles

The son of Charles E.D. Pennycuick, James was born in June 1890 in Ceylon (although in his own notes he is reticent about his birthplace) and spent his childhood there. He attended Loretto School and Glenalmond College in Scotland, going on to the RMA, Woolwich, passing out as a 2nd lieutenant, Royal Engineers, in 1910. He served in both world wars, received the DSO in 1914, and saw action at the retreat from Mons and the Somme. Between the wars he worked at the Staff College at Camberley, in India, Singapore and the UK. He retired from active service in 1941 as a colonel. In World War II he was Regional Commissioner in Italy from 1943-47, and was demobilised in 1948. More details of his military career are given in the notes compiled by him and his daughter Janet.i He died in Sussex in 1960.

James married Marjorie Florence Rhoda Leigh Hare (daughter of Sir George Ralph Leigh Hare, Bt.) in 1923 in Gressenhall, near Dereham in Norfolk.8 They were keen on sports - James's family history album includes many photos of tennis, mountaineering, riding and shooting.i They had two daughters and a son:

Janet was born in Simla in northern India and worked as a typist for the War Office in World War II, attended the Potsdam conference, and immediately after the war, was among the first to enter Hitler's bunker in Berlin.

Jacqueline Sarah ('Sally'), also born in Simla, worked as a GP in England. Her eldest daughter Professor Diana Gibb is a pediatrician.

Colin: James Pennycuick's youngest child, born in Windsor in 1933, became Professor Colin James Pennycuick, FRS,9 a world authority on the mechanics of bird flight. Fascinated by birds and flying, he developed novel methods of studying the creatures in flight, first using wind tunnels, and then flying alongside them in gliders and light aircraft. A programme he developed in the 1980s to calculate flight speeds is still widely used. He died in December 2019.10,11 His son Adam is a respiratory physician at University College London.