The last Mr Pennyman

Ormesby Hall photograph of Jim Pennyman in his uniform

There have been many James Pennymans residing at Ormesby Hall over the centuries, each contributing to the estate in their own way. Find out more about the last of the Pennyman line, Mr James Beaumont Pennyman.

James, fondly known in the family as Jim studied at Eton and Cambridge, but chose a commission in the King's Own Scottish Borders Regiment in 1905 instead of pursuing a career in law.

Jim Pennyman in his regimental uniform
Jim Pennyman in his regimental uniform
Jim Pennyman in his regimental uniform

Jim and his regiment were amongst the first to fight in the First World War. In 1914, Jim was severely wounded but thankfully recovered and later retired from the army as a Major.

In 1915 he married Mary Hilda Burnaby Powell of Sharrow Hall, Ripon. Their families had been friends and Jim went to school with Mary's brother.

Jim Pennyman married Mary Pennyman on 4 April 1915
Jim and Mary Pennyman on their wedding day
Jim Pennyman married Mary Pennyman on 4 April 1915

In 1924 tragedy struck twice for Jim, first his wife Mary died following childbirth, with his father passing just months later. Following his losses, Jim began an unhappy time in his life.

When Jim met Ruth

Jim and Ruth Pennyman on their wedding day in January 1926
Ormesby Hall wedding photo of Jim & Ruth Pennyman in their wedding attire in 1926
Jim and Ruth Pennyman on their wedding day in January 1926

Better times came when Jim married again in 1926 to Ruth Knight and they lived happily together at Ormesby Hall, where Jim managed the Ormesby estate. They were actively involved with the local community and in the 1930s Jim and Ruth helped unemployed miners learn carpentry skills through the ‘Boosbeck Industries’ venture and set up market gardens and livestock schemes, these are just a few examples of their generous nature.

When a prince came to visit
Jim Pennyman and Prince George standing with the miners
When a prince came to visit

During the Second World War he commanded a battalion of the National Defence Corps as Lieutenant Colonel, giving him the title Colonel James Pennyman, as he is now known. Jim continued with his estate work and responsibilities alongside Ruth whose love of the arts transformed Ormesby into a home of theatrical performances and workshops.     

Jim playing croquet in his later years
Jim Pennyman playing croquet on the lawn
Jim playing croquet in his later years

Jim and Ruth were the last Pennymans of Ormesby Hall and, because they had no children, the Pennyman line ended with them. Upon Jim’s death in 1961 he bequeathed Ormesby Hall, it's parkland and home farm to the care of the National Trust, with Ruth continuing to live at Ormesby until she passed away in 1983.