The 23-year-old has been given the key role by Head Coach Richard Hill at exactly the same age as Hartley who was installed as Saints leader in 2009.
Former Worcester player Hartley last season guided Saints to LV=Cup final glory at Sixways and the team to second spot in the Guinness Premiership and the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup.
"Obviously I am very my own person, but without a doubt I would like to mirror what Dylan Hartley has done as a young captain at Northampton," said Pennell.
"We are one of the biggest clubs, certainly in terms of ambition, and hopefully I can show people I am one of the biggest players in terms of ambition.
"To emulate anything near what Hartley has achieved would be great and it shows that age is no barrier.
"As a club, we're clearly looking at Harlequins and Northampton and how they came back and we will be doing the same, no doubt.
"We look at what they got right and we will be looking at what we need to do to achieve that and even better."
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