Penley lies in Maelor Saesneg, which is the detached part of Flintshire. It was originally a chapelry of the parish of Ellesmere, Shropshire, but it became a separate parish towards the end of the Commonwealth period. However, this status was short-lived, as it reverted to a chapelry within the parish of Ellesmere in early 1661, shortly after the restoration of Charles II. More than 200 years were to pass until, during the 1860s, it again became a separate parish.
Penley was in the diocese of Lichfield until 1920, when, following the disestablishment and disendowment of the Church in Wales, it was transferred to the diocese of St. Asaph, where it remains.
Towards the end of the 1939-1945 War, two hospitals were established in Penley, for Polish servicemen and ex-servicemen. Many of these servicemen later settled in the area; and more than 120, and their families, are now buried in the churchyard.