Joseph Biddle Wilkinson Penrose (7 Mar. 1835-ca. 6 Apr. 1865)

Joseph B. W. Penrose of Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, was the son of Clement Biddle Penrose (1802-1839), of Philadelphia, PA, and his wife Anne Wilkinson, of New Orleans, Louisiana. (Leach)

Joseph Penrose’s college career began with a year (1851-1852) at the University of Louisiana in New Orleans. (Catalogue … of the University of Louisiana) The next year, he enrolled in the University of Virginia in session 29 (1852-1853) as Wilkinson Penrose. According to the U.Va. Matriculation Books he studied Mathematics, Natural philosophy, and Moral philosophy during that year. After he left U.Va., Penrose returned to Louisiana and became a planter, according to the 1860 U.S. Census.

When the Civil War began, Penrose enlisted (11 June 1861) at New Orleans, joining a unit organized by his uncle, Lt. Col. Robert A. Wilkinson (also a U.Va. student). Lt. Col. Wilkinson died in the Second Battle of Manassas in 1862. Over the next four years the unit was merged, sequentially, with several other units. By 1863, 1st Lieutenant Penrose was signing the rolls as acting commanding officer of Company D, of the 15th Louisiana Infantry. His company participated in major battles in Virginia and Maryland. (Leach; “Louisiana, Civil War Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865”)

Lieutenant Penrose himself survived until April 1865, when he was mortally wounded in a skirmish at High Bridge, near Appomattox, Virginia, 3 days before General Lee surrendered. His body was never located. (Leach; Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Louisiana)

On 27 Feb. 1862, Joseph B. W. Penrose had married Jane Vaughn Butler (ca. 1844-5 Jun. 1867), of Norfolk, Virginia. (“Virginia, Marriages, 1785-1940”) After his death, his wife refused to believe he was dead for some months, but by 24 Oct. 1865, “Administration of the estate of Joseph B. W. Penrose was granted to Jane V. Penrose” in the Norfolk courts. (Norfolk Post, 24 Oct. 1865) The couple’s only child, Joseph Biddle Wilkinson Penrose, was born in November 1865, and died in May 1866, in Charlottesville, Virginia. Jane Penrose died on 31 May 1867, at the age of 23. She was buried in Charlottesville. (Leach; Norfolk Virginian 5 Jun. 1867)


  • Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Louisiana. Chicago, IL, 1892, v.2, p.98.
  • Catalogue of the officers and students of the Collegiate and Academic Departments of the University of Louisiana for the academical year 1851, ’52. New Orleans, 1852, p. 5.
  • “The Courts.” The Norfolk Post (Norfolk, Va.), 24 Oct. 1865, p.3.
  • [Death notice.] Norfolk Virginian, 5 Jun. 1867, on New York Virginia Genealogy. [website] <; Died “in Charlottesville. On 31st ultimo at the residence of Rev. William C. Butler in the 23rd year of her age. Mrs. Jane V. Penrose youngest daughter of Mrs. Rebecca F. and the late John H. Butler of this city [Norfolk, VA].”
  • Hawks, Steve. “15th Louisiana Infantry Regiment.” Civil War in the East. c2014. [website] <;
  • Leach, Josiah Granville. History of the Penrose family of Philadelphia. Philadelphia, 1903, p. 89, 113.
  • “Louisiana, Civil War Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865,” index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 Nov 2014), Joseph B W Penrose, 1861; from “Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Louisiana,”; military unit Fifteenth Infantry, No – Sm, NARA microfilm publication M320, roll 271, NARA microfilm publication M321, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.
  • “United States Census, 1850,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 Nov 2014), Jane Butler in household of Rebecca Butler, Norfolk county, part of, Norfolk, Virginia, United States; citing family 1386, NARA microfilm publication M432, NARA microfilm publication M432, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.
  • “United States Census, 1860,” index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 Nov 2014), De Joseph B W Penrose, The Parish, Plaquemines, Louisiana, United States; from “1860 U.S. Federal Census – Population,”; p. 16, household ID 178, NARA microfilm publication M653; NARA microfilm publication M653. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.; FHL microfilm 803414.
  • University of Virginia Matriculation Books, 1825-1904, Accession #RG-14/4/2.041, Special Collections Dept., University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.
  • “Virginia, Marriages, 1785-1940,” index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 Nov 2014), Rebecca F. B. Butler in entry for Joseph B. W. Penrose and Jane V. Butler, 27 Feb 1862; citing Norfolk, Virginia, reference it 3p 52 n 26; FHL microfilm 2048491.

[My thanks to Kristina, who indexed the Norfolk Virginian of this period and offers the information on her New York Virginia Genealogy website: — JLC]

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