The children of John and Sarah Pennycuick





Other sources

  1. Lieut.-Col. J. Pennycuick, CB, KH, A Memoir, by W.S. Sampson (Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, winter 1974)
  2. 'The Pennycuicks', notes written and compiled by James A.C. Pennycuick and Janet Buchanan (.pdf file). [pages 44-46]
  3. 'Pennycook History Booklet', information on many Pennycook ancestors, compiled by Colin Pennycook of Glasgow

Family trees

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

Jane Maria Pennycuick


Jane Maria
Sarah Pennycuick Jr


Catherine Pennycuick


Margaret Pennycuick


Ruth Pennycuick


Lucy Pennycuick



Loch Memorial


Loch family memorial, Brompton Cemetery

(on the wall of the W side of the eastern arcade, just N of the steps to the crypt)

Pennycuick family (1)
The Pennycuick family (1)

L to R: Alexander, Ruth, Sarah (daughter), Catherine

Pennycuick family (2)
The Pennycuick family (2)

L to R: Margaret, Jane Maria, Sarah (mother), James Farrell

Brigadier John Pennycuick (1785-1849) and Sarah Pennycuick (née Farrell) (1805-1878) had eleven children, born between 1824 and 1844. During this time their father was either on campaigns in Asia, stationed in various places in Britain, or occasionally at the family home at Soilzarie in Perthshire. The birthplaces of the children reflect this, as Sarah usually travelled around with her husband. Brief details of their lives are given below.

The portraits

The fine pair of portraits belonging to our family, of Sarah Pennycuick and seven of her children, date from around 1840. Of the various possibilities as to who is who, the naming given above seems most likely, as the eldest girl in the left-hand portrait looks older than the boy in the right-hand painting. This girl is therefore Sarah (b. 1827), and the whole group is thus Sarah (mother) plus her children Jane Maria through to Ruth (the youngest girl in the white dress?). The portraits were thus painted between 1837 (when Ruth was born) and 1843 (when Jane Maria married): perhaps 1842.

Pennycuick family 2 label
Stamp on back of portrait 2

This was recently confirmed by looking at the back of the right-hand portrait, which helpfully has a date stamp (June 1842) and the name of Brown in London. This is in fact the supplier of oil colours and canvases, Thomas Brown.1 Lucy and John were thus already born but not shown - at some stage they were adopted by Henry Maltby (see below). As to where they were painted, the hill in the background bears a distinct resemblance to Bletoun Hill near Soilzarie - see page on the Pennycuicks), but the sitting could have been anywhere. The Brigadier was in Asia from late 1836 to mid-1847, for much of that time with Sarah, but given his absence from these portraits, they were probably done while the family was on a home visit, perhaps in Perthshire or Cheltenham.

The children

Not much is known about where or how the Pennycuicks lived as a family. In addition to Soilzarie, they had a home in Cheltenham (see page on the Farrell family for photo),i and probably spent considerable time in India, where five of the children were born. A small insight can be gained from the Brigadier's will, which is in the National Archives.2 Dated 12th June 1848, it divides his modest estate between his ten children in a (typically?) pragmatic manner: Jane Maria and Sarah were already married, and James Farrell and Alexander had commissions in the army, so these children received no legacy; Lucy and John had been adopted by Henry Maltby (the brother of Jane Maria's husband Edward), so they were also financially secure. The remaining four children (Catherine, Margaret, Ruth and Charles) received the estate, kept initially in trust by their mother.

Collectively the family of John and Sarah achieved great things. Although more is known about the lives of the male children, who probably at that time had better chances to make their mark on history, a comment by Lucy ('Doddy') Pennycuick (1882-1971), stands out: she refers to her six Scottish aunts (Jane Maria, Sarah, Catherine, Margaret, Ruth and Lucy) as "brilliant, upright women with a dry, caustic sense of humour".ii


Born at Soilzarie in 1824, John travelled to Calcutta while a baby, and sadly died (probably in the UK) aged six,3 i.e. in 1830 or 1831. His name reflected the tradition in the family of naming the first-born son John.

Jane Maria

Born in Fort William, the British army base in Calcutta, in 1826, Jane Maria married Edward Maltby (1811-1889) in Reigate in 1843. Edward was in the Madras civil service, becoming acting Governor of Madras and serving on the Madras Legislative Council in 1864.4,5 They had ten children, mostly born in Madras. Five of the children lived with their grandmother Sarah in Hampton Court for a time. The boys were educated at Cheltenham, where the Brigadier's son John and various Chamiers also went to school.6 Jane Maria died in London in 1905. Two of her grandchildren were Air Vice-Marshall Paul Maltby and Maj.-Gen. Christopher Maltby, senior officers present at the fall of Singapore and Hong Kong respectively.ii (see Wikipedia for details of these two)


Born in Berhampore, Bengal in 1827, Sarah married Metcalfe Larken (1813-1860?) in 1846 in Byculla, Bombay, where he was a civil servant. After returning to England, Sarah lived as a widow with various of her five children in London and other places. She died in Lewisham in 1905.

James Farrell

Born at sea (possibly on the James Sibbald) in 1829, James Farrell was baptised at the Albany barracks on the Isle of Wight.i He married Jane Martha Rutledge in Port Fairy, Victoria in 1861, and they had ten children, mostly born in India. James died in London in 1888. See main article.


Born at Soilzarie in October 1831, Alexander ('Alick') went to boarding school in Coull, Aboyne, in Aberdeenshire, together with his elder brother James.iii After passing out from Sandhurst, where he won a prize for history,3 he joined his father's regiment as an ensign (2nd lieutenant) in 1848 and they travelled out to India to join it. The 24th Foot was to be part of General Gough's Army of the Punjab which was assembling at Ferozepore, a 350 mile march from Agra (where Alick saw the Taj Mahal). A letter to his sister Jane from October that year displays a youthful freshness and eagerness for action, the only drawback being that his horse "can't bear soldiers" so he had to walk.i

The events of 13th January 1849 are described in detail on the pages about the Battle of Chillianwala and Brigadier John Pennycuick. Alexander was on the sick list that day, but insisted on going into action with his regiment, and thus got caught up in the confusion and carnage suffered by the 24th Foot. He was part of the advance towards the Sikh guns and the subsequent retreat to the village. There he heard that his father had been wounded, and returned to the battlefield to find him, where he was shot in the back while near his father's body. Father and son were buried in the same grave, and are commemorated on various memorials, in two poems, and in the famous illustration by Paget.


Born in Tullamore, Ireland in 1834, while her father was stationed there, Catherine ('Kate') married John Gibson in Byculla, Bombay in 1852. John was an Anglican chaplain in India, and following their return to England, was first curate and then vicar in Worksop and Brinsley, Nottinghamshire. Their eight children were born in various places in India and England, depending on where John was ministering. After his death Kate emigrated to Canada, where she died in Fort Erie in 1905.


Born in Plymouth in 1835, Margaret didn't marry, but became a sort of family aunt: she lived in Hampton Court with her mother and five of Jane Maria's children, and later on with just her mother. After Sarah died Margaret lived in Plymouth with three of James Farrell's children (Maude, Ethel and Charles). She died in Kensington in 1921.


Born in Poona in 1837, Ruth married John Charles Loch, son of Lord James Loch.7 John Charles was a civil servant in India, and was later involved in the Atlantic Express Steam Navigation scheme. This was started in 1881 to provide a fast steamer service between Milford Haven and New York, but it never got off the ground and was wound up that same year.7 He and Ruth had four daughters, all born in Madras. Two other men who paid court to her apparently got to marry her daughters.ii [The only likely candidate is Col. Wyndam Hughes Hallett, born 1843 in India, who married Ruth's daughter Clementina in 1897.] (A similar 'passing on of suitors' happened with Nancy, wife of Thomas McConnell.) Ruth lived in Kensington and died in 1925, probably in Hampshire, and was buried in the Brompton Cemetery (see photo left).7


Born in Poona in 1839, Lucy was adopted as a child by Henry Maltby (brother of Jane Maria's husband Edward) and his wife Frances. This arrangement continued for most of her life - in 1881 they were living in Ventnor, Isle of Wight; in 1891 Henry had died, and Lucy was living with Frances in Cheltenham, where she died in 1907.


Born in Poona in 1841, he was christened John according to family tradition, as his brother John had died as a child. He was also adopted, along with his sister Lucy, by the Maltby family. An excellent mathematician, he worked as a civil engineer for the Madras government from 1858, retiring as Chief Engineer. His great work was designing and building the Mullaperiyar Dam. He married Georgiana Grace Chamier in 1879 in Madras, and they had five daughters and a son. See main article.

Charles Edward Ducat

Born in Aden (then a British outpost, now in Yemen) in 1844. After the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich he went into the civil service in Ceylon, where he became Treasurer and received the CMG. He married Clementina Woodhead in Brighton in 1881 and they had two children. He died in 1902 in Scotland. See main article.