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Josiah Penfield (June 6, 1785 - September 12, 1828) was an American merchant, jeweler, silversmith, civic leader, Baptist Deacon and philanthropist. He is best known as the benefactor of Mercer Institute (now Mercer University). The village of Penfield, Georgia is named in his honor.
Penfield was born in Fairfield, Fairfield County, Connecticut to Nathaniel Penfield (1758-1810) and Rachel Marquand (1767-). His brothers were Lewis Henry Penfield (1784-1863) and Robert Penfield, who was born May 29, 1789, but died young. He was the granduncle of American Illustrator Edward Penfield (1866-1925) and a 4th cousin four/five times removed of U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush (1924) and U.S. President George Walker Bush (1946). Penfield's second great-grandfather, Samuel Penfield, Jr. (1676-1714), was the brother of the Bush's ancestor Mary Penfield (1678-1735) who married Jeremiah Fairbanks (1674-1735).
At about fourteen years of age, the young Penfield was apprenticed to his silversmith uncle Isaac Marquand (1766-1838) and Cornelius Paulding (c1778-1851), a noted watchmaker, in Savannah, Chatham County, Georgia at the firm of "Marquand & Paulding." There he learned the silver trade and, in 1810, became a parnter in the company which then became known as "Marquand, Paulding & Penfield."
Penfield's partnership with Marquand and Paulding operated from 1810 to 1815 and had three main branches: a New York City office, known as "Marquand & Paulding," run by Marquand, the jewelery store in Savannah run jointly by Paulding and Penfield, and a New Orleans branch run by Paulding as "C. Paulding & Co."
After 1815, Penfield continued his operations in Savannah. From 1820 to 1826 Penfield partnered with his cousin Fredrick Marquand (1799-1882) and Moses Eastman as "Penfield & Co." He also operated from 1820 to 1826 with his cousin as "Marquand & Penfield" and from 1826 to 1828 with Eastman as "Eastman & Penfield."
|Josiah Penfield||Nathaniel Penfield (1758-1810)||Lt. Samuel Penfield (1734-1811), RS||Peter Penfield (1702-1772)||Samuel Penfield (1676-1714)|
|Hannah Boreman Fry (1676-aft1711)|
|Mary Allen (1708-1789)||Gideon Allen, Jr. (1671-1751)|
|Anna Burr (1675-1748)|
|Elizabeth Lewis (1737-1786)||Nathaniel Lewis (1707-1751)||Ebenezer Lewis (1666-1759)|
|Anna Lathrop (1673-1715)|
|Fear Thacher (1707-1758)||John Thacher (1675-1764)|
|Desire Sturgis (c1666-1749)|
|Rachel Marquand (1767-1841)||Henry Marquand (1737-1772)||Marquand||Marquand|
|Lucretia Jennings (1737-)||Isaac Jennings, Jr. (1692-1760)||Isaac Jennings (c1673-1746)|
|Mary Gray (1679-)|
|Phebe Staples (1706-1768)||John Staples (c1663-1748)|
|Abigail Canfield (1665-)|
Death and Bequest
Penfield died in Rye, Westchester County, New York in 1828 leaving in his will a $2,500.00 gift and challenge to the Georgia Baptist Convention to match his gift to create a learning institution to train young men for the ministry. The Convention organized a manual labor school which opened in 1833 as Mercer Institute (renamed Mercer University in 1837), in honor of Rev. Jesse Mercer (1769-1841) of Greene County, Georgia a major contributor to the matching gift request and first president of the Georgia Baptist Convention.
- Josiah Penfield Historial Marker placed by the Georgia Baptist Convention in Savannah, Georgia
- Josiah Penfield at American Silversmiths
- Mercer University at The New Georgia Encyclopedia