Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pennington, Montagu

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PENNINGTON, MONTAGU (1762–1849), biographer and editor, born in December 1762, was youngest son of Thomas Pennington, D.D., rector of Tunstall, Kent (d. at Deal, 26 Nov. 1802), who married Margaret, youngest child of Nicholas Carter, D.D. (she died 16 Feb. 1798), and sister of the ‘learned’ Elizabeth Carter [q. v.] He was educated at home by his aunt. His baptismal name was derived from his aunt's friend, Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu [q. v.], who showed him many acts of kindness, and he accompanied her on a four months' visit to Paris in 1776. On 23 Oct. 1777 he matriculated at Trinity College, Oxford, graduating B.A. 1781, M.A. 1784. Having taken holy orders, he was appointed in 1789 to the living of Sutton, near Dover, and to that of Westwell, near Ashford, in December 1803; but for nearly twenty years, beginning about 1788, he resided at Deal with his aunt, in a house which she left to him, and was curate-in-charge of the adjoining parish of Walmer (Elvin, Records of Walmer, p. 111). He was fond of travel, and in 1791 was at Lille, whence the revolutionary troubles drove him to Holland. In 1806 he became vicar of Northbourne, near Deal, and in 1814 perpetual curate of St. George's Chapel, Deal; both preferments he held until his death at Deal on 15 April 1849. He married Mary, widow of Captain Watts, R.N. She died at Deal on 24 March 1830, aged 67, without issue by her second husband.

Pennington was the sole literary acquaintance of Sir Egerton Brydges in his own neighbourhood, and was described by him as a good classical scholar, with a ‘great memory’ and admirable judgment. A manuscript note (probably by Pennington himself, as the copy was that given to him by Brydges) in Brydges's ‘Censura Literaria’ (cf. vol. viii. pref. and vol. x. pref.) at the British Museum states that Pennington contributed all the articles in the section called ‘The Ruminator,’ which are marked ‡*‡, and P.M., and one signed ‘Londinensis.’ Two further essays by him, probably Nos. 77 and 85, which are both signed P.M., are included in Brydges's separate publication, which is also called ‘The Ruminator’ (cf. i. 202–8 and Censura Lit. viii. 82–7).

Pennington was executor and residuary legatee to his aunt, Elizabeth Carter, who left him all her papers. He prepared for press her translation of Epictetus, 4th edit. 1807, 2 vols.; ‘Memoirs of Mrs. Elizabeth Carter, with a New Edition of her Poems, miscellaneous Essays in Prose,’ 1807, 2nd edit. 1808, 2 vols.; ‘A Series of Letters between Elizabeth Carter and Catherine Talbot, 1741–1770, with Letters from Elizabeth Carter to Mrs. Vesey,’ 1808 2 vols., 1809 4 vols.; ‘Works of Miss Catherine Talbot, 7th edit., first published by Elizabeth Carter, and now republished,’ 1809, 8th edit. 1812, 9th edit. 1819; and ‘Letters from Mrs. Elizabeth Carter to Mrs. Montagu, 1755–1800,’ 1817, 3 vols. His chief publication on his own account was ‘Redemption, or a View of the Rise and Progress of the Christian Religion,’ London, 1811, 8vo.

[Gent. Mag. 1830 pt. i. p. 283, 1849 pt. ii. p. 323; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Sir S. E. Brydges's Autobiogr. i. 44, 46; Brydges's Anglo-Genevan, ii. 460; Mrs. Carter's Letters to Mrs. Montagu, iii. 331; Life of Mrs. Carter, i. 5, 153.]

W. P. C.