Member Biography

Charles Bingham Penrose 

Sessions Office Position District Party
1833-1834       16 Democratic-Republican
1834-1835       16 Democratic-Republican
1835-1836       16 Whig
1836-1837       16 Whig
1837-1838       14 Whig
1838-1839     Speaker 14 Whig
1840       14 Whig
1841     Speaker 14 Whig
1857       1 Republican


10/06/1798 - 04/06/1857

Charles Bingham Penrose (Democratic-Republican16) Cumberland and Perry Counties 1833-1837 (Whig14) Adams, Cumberland and Franklin Counties 1837-1841 (R1) Philadelphia County 1857

Early Life: 

Charles Bingham Penrose, born October 6, 1798, Frankford Creek, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania; son of Clement Biddle and Anna Howard Bingham Penrose; family moved, Saint Louis, Missouri, 1805; Saint Louis militia, War of 1812; Washington College, 1819; read law, admitted, several county bars, several law practices, 1821-1857; married, Valeria Fullerton Biddle, two sons, Doctor Richard Alexander Fullerton Penrose, Judge Clement Biddle Penrose; investor, Cumberland Valley Railroad, Pine Grove Furnace, 1838; elected, Democratic-Republican, Pennsylvania State Senate, 1833-1837, elected, Whig, Pennsylvania State Senate, 1837-1841, twice elected, Speaker of the Senate, 1838, 1841; senatorial delegate, Democratic State Convention, 1836; chaired two Coalition state nominating caucuses, Chambersburg, July and Harrisburg, November 1836; switched political parties, become Whig, 1837; presidential appointee, Solicitor, Treasury, 1841-1845; elected, Republican, Pennsylvania State Senate, 1857; married, Valeria Fullerton Biddle Penrose, children, William Macfunn Penrose, Richard Alexander Fullerton Penrose, Sarah Penrose Blight, Clement Biddle Penrose, Lydia Spencer Penrose, Charles Bingham Penrose; died, pneumonia, April 6, 1857 (aged 58) in office of the Senate, Harrisburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania; interment, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania. 

Early Career:

Attorney, Carlisle, 1821-1841, Lancaster, 1845-1847, Philadelphia, 1847-1857.

Pennsylvania Politics:

Elected, Democratic-Republican, Pennsylvania State Senate, 16th district, Cumberland and Perry Counties, 1833-1936. 

Senatorial delegate, Democratic State Convention, 1836; chaired two Coalition state nominating caucuses, Chambersburg, July and Harrisburg, November 1837; switched political parties became Whig, 1837.

Elected, Whig, Pennsylvania State Senate, 14th district, Adams Cumberland and Franklin Counties, 1837-1841, chaired, Estates and Escheats Committee, 1835-1836, Judiciary Committee 1836-1837; Speaker of the Senate, 1838, 1841, resigned, March 13, 1841.

Elected, Republican, Philadelphia County, 1857, died in office of the Senate, April 6, 1857.

Continued Government Service/National Politics:

Appointee, President William Henry Harrison, Solicitor, Treasury, 1841; reappointed, President John Tyler, 1841-1845.


Invested, Cumberland Valley Railroad and obtaining the Pine Grove Furnace, 1838 with partner William Watt. As a legislator, Penrose engineered the completion of the Cumberland Valley line, connecting rail between Chambersburg and Harrisburg.

Wife, Valeria, grandniece, 7th Vice-President of Pennsylvania, Charles Biddle, brothers Edward (Founding Father; delegate, Continental Congress, 1774-1775; signatory, Continental Association), Nicholas (one of the first five captains, Continental Navy).

Grandson, namesake Charles Bingham Penrose, Philadelphia gynecologist, widely known for his surgical skill. 

Grandson, Bois Penrose, Pennsylvania State Senate, 6th district, Philadelphia County 1887-1897, President pro tempore, Pennsylvania State Senate 1889-1890, United States Senate 1897-1921.

Boies Penrose  - Pennsylvania Senate Library (

Grandson, R.A.F. Penrose, known for his geologic surveys and entrepreneurial activity in Texas, Arkansas and Colorado as well as founding of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia now known as CHOP. 

Grandson, Spencer Penrose founded many mining and financial companies in Colorado as well as the Pike's Peak Chapter of the American Red Cross. 

Nephew, Spencer Fullerton Baird, first named curator, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.  


Cox, Harold. "Senate Members P"Wilkes University Election Statistics Project. Wilkes University.

Smull's Legislative Hand Book: Rules and Decisions ... Legislative Directory - Google Books Meyers, E.K., 1888, page 263.

History of the Penrose Family of Philadelphia - Josiah Granville Leach - Google Books Josiah Granville Leach and George Hoffman Penrose, 1903, pages 83-86.

Charles Bingham Penrose (1798-1857) - Find a Grave Memorial