Ancestor Biography – Martha Cannon (1764-?)

Howell-Darling Research
Howell-Pankey-Cannon Line
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.

Updated 15 June 2022. Updates in Purple.

Getting to know female ancestors who lived before 1840 is always a challenge. Researching Martha Cannon, the wife of Thomas Armstrong Pankey, is no exception.

Certainly, her family relationships are somewhat confusing. In Pollock vs Pollock[1], it states several times that Martha is the ½ sister of Sarah Pollock. That clearly indicates that Martha’s family is complex. On page 36 of the suit, Adam Calhoon says he married “Henrietta Pankey, Daughter of Thomas Pankey and Martha Cannon sister of William Liggon.”  There is also a reference in the Enquirer regarding Roderick Payne and Thomas Ligon who appear to also have a familial relationship with Martha.

Clearly, I need to research Sarah Pollock and her ancestry.  Likewise, I need to learn the relationship with William Liggon, is he a full brother or a half-brother.  If he is a full brother, how did Martha acquire the surname of Cannon? Was there a first marriage for Martha or was Cannon a name adopted because of the surname of a stepfather?  There are many possibilities and I need to zero in on a likely scenario.

Howell/Darling – Ancestor #35

List of Grandparents

  • Grandfather: James Dallas Howell
  • 1st Great-grandfather: Peter Fletcher Howell
  • 2nd Great-grandmother: Caroline M. A. Pankey
  • 3rd Great-grandmother: Martha Cannon

Martha Cannon (1764-1818)


Martha was probably born in Virginia about 1764.[2]  Some researchers indicate that her mother was Caroline Rolfe, although I have not been able to confirm that.


Certainly, Martha grew up during interesting times. The Declaration of Independence was signed when she was 12-years-old. The Revolutionary war ended in 1783, when she was 19 years old. Certainly, she would have known many young men who served in the war.


Martha Cannon married Thomas Armstrong Pankey in Goochland County Virginia on 1 November 1785.

Martha Cannon married Thomas Armstrong Pankey in Goochland County Virginia on 1 November 1785.[3], [4] Both Thomas and Martha were probably about 21 years old. James Johnson provided Surety.


Book Cover - Marriages of Goochland County Virginia 1733-1815

1792 – It is very odd, but it appears that Thomas and Martha may have gone seven years before the birth of their first child, Mary Pankey, who was born between 1792 and 1796. This seems to be just way too long, so I’m sure I need to further research the family.

1796 – Their second child Nancy Branch Pankey was born.

1799 – Their first son, Thomas Armstrong Pankey [Junior] was born.

1805 – Daughter Elizabeth K. Pankey was born.

1807 – Son Francis Pankey was born.

1810 – Census – She is presumed to be the white female in the household of Thomas Pankey that is 45 and over – (See: Thomas Pankey & the Early Censuses.). [5]

1811 – Daughter Caroline M. A. Pankey was born.

Thomas and Martha had another child, Henrietta, whose birthdate I do not know.

1818 – Martha died in 1818 in Cumberland County, Virginia.[6]

We know that Thomas Pankey died in January 1829, however, we do not know if Martha preceded or succeeded him in death nor do we know where either is buried.

There is so much more research that needs to be done with this family line.

Further Actions / Follow-up

  • Research Sarah Pollock and her ancestry.
  • Research William Liggon and his relationship with Martha Cannon.
  • Research Martha’s potential mother, Caroline Rolfe.
  • Research Martha’s life period between marriage (1785) and 1st child (1792).
  • Further research Thomas Pankey’s death and burial.
  • Further research Martha Cannon’s death and burial.


[1] Virginia, Powhatan, Chancery Causes, 1782-1938. No. 1831-015; Page 02 of 109.

[2] My Heritage Names, My Heritage, Nancy Branch Pankey, 1797-1865.

[3] Bentley, Elizabeth Petty, indexer., Virginia, Marriage Records, 1700-1850 (Baltimore, Tyler’s Quarterly, MD), Ancestry.Com, Page 202 – Thomas Pankey – Martha Cannon -. Accessed 14 Dec 2015.

[4] Dodd, Jordan, Virginia, Compiled Marriages, 1660-1800, Ancestry.Com, Thomas Pankey – Martha Cannon. Goochland County, Virginia – 1 Nov 1785. Accessed 14 December 2016.

[5] 1810 Census – Thomas  Pankey/. Year: 1810; Census Place: Cumberland, Cumberland, Virginia; Roll: 68; Page: 143; Image: 00282; Family History Library Film: 0181428.

[6] George Edward Pankey, John Pankey of Manakin Town, Virginia, and His Descendants:  Descendants and Connections of His Son Stephen Pankey, Sr., of Lucy’s Springs, Chesterfield County, Virginia (Lousiana:  Ruston, 1969), Page 100 – 22. Thomas Pankey..  Personal Library.

One thought on “Ancestor Biography – Martha Cannon (1764-?)”

  1. Looking for any information related to Mary Y. (Polly) Pankey and her marriage to Armistead Ellis. Primarily trying to make the connection of Thomas Ellis, to Armistead Ellis, and to Garrett Warner Ellis who ended up in Kentucky in the early 1800’s. It appears Armistead was married to a Sara (Where did she come from), Garrett’s mother. Any kind of information to shed light on what exactly happened here would be most helpful.

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