William Penn



William Penn ( – ) was an English writer and religious thinker belonging to the
Religious Society of Friends Quakers are people who belong to a historically Protestant Christian set of Christian denomination, denominations known formally as the Religious Society of Friends. Members of these movements ("theFriends") are generally united by a belie ...
(Quakers), and founder of the
Province of Pennsylvania The Province of Pennsylvania, also known as the Pennsylvania Colony, was a British colonization of the Americas, British North American colony founded by William Penn after receiving a land grant from Charles II of England in 1681. The name Penns ...
, a North American colony of
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. It is separa ...
. He was an early advocate of democracy and
religious freedom Freedom of religion or religious liberty is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance. It also includes the freedom ...
, notable for his good relations and successful treaties with the
Lenape The Lenape (, , or Lenape , del, Lënapeyok) also called the Leni Lenape, Lenni Lenape and Delaware people, are an indigenous peoples of the Northeastern Woodlands, who live in the United States and Canada. Their historical territory inclu ...
Native Americans. In 1681,
King Charles II
King Charles II
handed over a large piece of his
North America North America is a continent in the Northern Hemisphere and almost entirely within the Western Hemisphere. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the southeast by South America and the Car ...

North America
n land holdings along the
North Atlantic Ocean The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's five oceans, with an area of about . It covers approximately 20% of Earth#Surface, Earth's surface and about 29% of its water surface area. It is known to separate the "Old World" of Afr ...
coast to Penn to pay the debts the king had owed to Penn's father, the admiral and politician Sir William Penn. This land included the present-day states of Pennsylvania and
Delaware Delaware ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Maryland to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean to its east. The s ...
. Penn immediately set sail and took his first step on American soil, sailing up the
Delaware Bay Delaware Bay is the estuary outlet of the Delaware River on the northeast seaboard of the United States. It is approximately in area, the bay's freshwater mixes for many miles with the saltwater of the Atlantic Ocean. The bay is bordered inland ...
Delaware River The Delaware River is a major river in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. From the meeting of its branches in Hancock, New York, the river flows for along the borders of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, befor ...

Delaware River
, past earlier
riverfront colonies, in
New Castle (now in Delaware)
New Castle (now in Delaware)
in 1682. On this occasion, the colonists pledged allegiance to Penn as their new proprietor, and the first
Pennsylvania General Assembly The Pennsylvania General Assembly is the legislature of the U.S. commonwealth (U.S. state), commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The legislature convenes in the Pennsylvania State Capitol, State Capitol building in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Harrisburg. ...
was held. Afterward, Penn journeyed further north up the Delaware River and founded
Philadelphia Philadelphia, often called Philly, is the List of municipalities in Pennsylvania#Municipalities, largest city in the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the List of United States cities by population, sixth-largest city i ...

, on the west bank. However, Penn's Quaker government was not viewed favorably by the previous Dutch and Swedish colonists, and earlier English settlers in what is now Delaware, but claimed for half a century by the neighboring
Province of Maryland The Province of Maryland was an Kingdom of England, English and later British Empire, British colony in North America that existed from 1632 until 1776, when it joined the other twelve of the Thirteen Colonies in American Revolution, rebellion ag ...
's proprietor family, the Calverts and
Lord Baltimore
Lord Baltimore
. These earlier colonists had no historical allegiance to a "Pennsylvania", so they almost immediately began petitioning for their own representative assembly. Twenty-three years later in 1704, they achieved their goal when the three southernmost counties of provincial Pennsylvania along the western coast of the Delaware were permitted to split off and become the new semi-autonomous colony of Lower Delaware. As the most prominent, prosperous and influential settlement in the new colony, New Castle, the original Swedish colony town became the capital. As one of the earlier supporters of colonial unification, Penn wrote and urged for a union of all the English colonies in what was to become the United States of America. The democratic principles that he included in the West Jersey Concessions, and set forth in the Pennsylvania Frame of Government served as an inspiration for the members of the convention framing the new U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia in 1787. As a pacifist Quaker, Penn considered the problems of war and peace deeply. He developed a forward-looking project and thoughts for a
United States of Europe The United States of Europe (USE), the European State, the European Federation and Federal Europe, is the hypothetical scenario of the European integration leading to formation of a sovereign state, sovereign superstate (similar to the United ...
through the creation of a European Assembly made of deputies who could discuss and adjudicate controversies peacefully. He is therefore considered the first thinker to suggest the creation of a
European Parliament The European Parliament (EP) is one of the Legislature, legislative bodies of the European Union and one of its seven Institutions of the European Union, institutions. Together with the Council of the European Union (known as the Council and in ...

European Parliament
and what would become the modern
European Union The European Union (EU) is a supranational union, supranational political union, political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe, Europe. The union has a total area of ...

European Union
in the late 20th century. A man of deep religious convictions, Penn wrote numerous works in which he exhorted believers to adhere to the spirit of
Primitive Christianity Restorationism (or Restitutionism or Christian primitivism) is the belief that Christianity has been or should be restored along the lines of what is known about the Apostolic Age, apostolic early church, which restorationists see as the search ...
. He was imprisoned several times in the
Tower of London The Tower of London, officially His Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, which is separa ...

Tower of London
due to his faith, and his book '' No Cross, No Crown'' (1669), which he wrote while in prison, has become a
Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of ...

classic of theological literature.


Early years

Penn was born in 1644 at
Tower Hill Tower Hill is the area surrounding the Tower of London in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. It is infamous for the public execution of high status prisoners from the late 14th to the mid 18th century. The execution site on the higher grou ...
London London is the capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom, with a population of just under 9 million. It stands on the River Thames in south-east England at the head of a estuary dow ...

, the son of English naval officer Sir William Penn, and Dutchwoman Margaret Jasper, who was widow of a Dutch sea captain and the daughter of a rich merchant from
Rotterdam Rotterdam ( , , , lit. ''The Dam on the River Rotte'') is the second largest city A city is a human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., ed ...

. Admiral Penn served in the Commonwealth Navy during the
War of the Three Kingdoms The Wars of the Three Kingdoms were a series of related conflicts fought between 1639 and 1653 in the kingdoms of Kingdom of England, England, Kingdom of Scotland, Scotland and Kingdom of Ireland, Ireland, then separate entities united in a pers ...
and was rewarded by
Oliver Cromwell Oliver Cromwell (25 April 15993 September 1658) was an English politician and military officer who is widely regarded as one of the most important statesmen in History of England, English history. He came to prominence during the 1639 to 1651 ...

Oliver Cromwell
with estates in Ireland. The lands given to Penn were confiscated from
Irish Confederates Confederate Ireland, also referred to as the Irish Catholic Confederation, was a period of Irish Catholic Church, Catholic self-government between 1642 and 1649, during the Irish Confederate Wars, Eleven Years' War. Formed by Catholic aristoc ...
who participated in the
Irish Rebellion of 1641 The Irish Rebellion of 1641 ( ga, Éirí Amach 1641) was an uprising by Irish Catholics in the Kingdom of Ireland, who wanted an end to anti-Catholic discrimination, greater Irish self-governance, and to partially or fully reverse the plantation ...
. Admiral Penn took part in the restoration of
King Charles II
King Charles II
and was eventually knighted and served in the
Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by Kingdom of England, English and Kingdom of Scotland, Scottish kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were foug ...
. At the time of his son's birth, then-Captain Penn was twenty-three and an ambitious naval officer in charge of blockading ports held by Confederate forces. Penn grew up during the rule of
Oliver Cromwell Oliver Cromwell (25 April 15993 September 1658) was an English politician and military officer who is widely regarded as one of the most important statesmen in History of England, English history. He came to prominence during the 1639 to 1651 ...

Oliver Cromwell
, who succeeded in leading a
Puritan The Puritans were English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries who sought to purify the Church of England of Catholic Church, Roman Catholic practices, maintaining that the Church of England had not been fully reformed and should become m ...

rebellion against
King Charles I
King Charles I
; the king was beheaded when Penn was three years old.Fantel, p. 15 Penn's father was often at sea. Little William caught
smallpox Smallpox was an infectious disease caused by variola virus (often called smallpox virus) which belongs to the genus Orthopoxvirus. The Ali Maow Maalin#Maalin's case, last naturally occurring case was diagnosed in October 1977, and the World ...

at a young age, losing all his hair (he wore a wig until he left college), prompting his parents to move from the suburbs to an estate in
Essex Essex () is a Ceremonial counties of England, county in the East of England. One of the home counties, it borders Suffolk and Cambridgeshire to the north, the North Sea to the east, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent across the estuary of the Riv ...

. The country life made a lasting impression on young Penn, and kindled in him a love of
horticulture Horticulture is the branch of agriculture that deals with the art, science, technology, and business of plant cultivation. It includes the cultivation of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, sprouts, mushrooms, algae, flowers, seaweeds and no ...
. Their neighbor was famed diarist
Samuel Pepys Samuel Pepys (; 23 February 1633 – 26 May 1703) was an English diarist and Navy Board, naval administrator. He served as administrator of the Royal Navy and Member of Parliament (UK), Member of Parliament and is most famous for the diary he ...

Samuel Pepys
, who was friendly at first but later secretly hostile to the Admiral, perhaps embittered in part by his failed seductions of both Penn's mother and his sister Peggy. Penn was educated first at Chigwell School, by private tutors whilst in Ireland, and later at
Christ Church
Christ Church
Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2020, its population was estimated at 151,584. It is north-west of London, south-east of Birmingham and north-east of Bristol. The city is home to the Un ...
. At that time, there were no state schools and nearly all educational institutions were affiliated with the Anglican Church. Children from poor families had to have a wealthy sponsor to get an education. Penn's education heavily leaned on the classical authors and "no novelties or conceited modern writers" were allowed including
William Shakespeare William Shakespeare ( 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's nation ...

William Shakespeare
. Foot racing was Penn's favorite sport, and he would often run the more than three-mile (5  km) distance from his home to the school. The school itself was cast in an Anglican mode – strict, humorless, and somber – and teachers had to be pillars of virtue and provide sterling examples to their charges. Though later opposing Anglicanism on religious grounds, Penn absorbed many Puritan behaviors, and was known later for his serious demeanor, strict behavior and lack of humor. After a failed mission to the
Caribbean The Caribbean (, ) ( es, El Caribe; french: la Caraïbe; ht, Karayib; nl, De Caraïben) is a region of the Americas that consists of the Caribbean Sea, its islands (some surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and some bordering both the Caribbean ...
, Admiral Penn and his family were exiled to his lands in Ireland. It was during this period, when Penn was about fifteen, that he met Thomas Loe, a Quaker
missionary A missionary is a member of a Religious denomination, religious group which is sent into an area in order to promote its faith or provide services to people, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care, and economic development.Tho ...

, who was maligned by both Catholics and Protestants. Loe was admitted to the Penn household and during his discourses on the " Inner Light", young Penn recalled later that "the Lord visited me and gave me divine Impressions of Himself." A year later, Cromwell was dead, the royalists resurging, and the Penn family returned to England. The middle class aligned itself with the royalists and Admiral Penn was sent on a secret mission to bring back exiled Prince Charles. For his role in restoring the monarchy, Admiral Penn was knighted and gained a powerful position as Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty. In 1660, Penn arrived at
Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2020, its population was estimated at 151,584. It is north-west of London, south-east of Birmingham and north-east of Bristol. The city is home to the Un ...
and enrolled as a gentleman scholar with an assigned servant. The student body was a volatile mix of
swashbuckling A swashbuckler is a genre of European adventure literature that focuses on a heroic protagonist stock character who is skilled in swordsmanship, acrobatics, guile and possesses chivalrous ideals. A "swashbuckler" protagonist is heroic, daring, ...
Cavalier The term Cavalier () was first used by Roundheads as a term of abuse for the wealthier royalist supporters of Charles I of England, King Charles I and his son Charles II of England during the English Civil War, the Interregnum (England), Interr ...

s (aristocratic Anglicans), sober Puritans, and nonconforming Quakers. The new government's discouragement of religious dissent gave the Cavaliers the license to harass the minority groups. Because of his father's high position and social status, young Penn was firmly a Cavalier but his sympathies lay with the persecuted Quakers. To avoid conflict, he withdrew from the fray and became a reclusive scholar.Fantel, p. 29 Also at this time, Penn was developing his individuality and philosophy of life. He found that he was not in sympathy with either his father's martial view of the world or his mother's society-oriented sensibilities, "I had no relations that inclined to so solitary and spiritual way; I was a child alone. A child was given to musing, occasionally feeling the divine presence." Penn returned home for the extraordinary splendor of the King's restoration ceremony and was a guest of honor alongside his father, who received a highly unusual royal salute for his services to the Crown. Though undetermined at the time, the Admiral had great hopes for his son's career under the favor of the King. Back at Oxford, Penn considered a medical career and took some dissecting classes. Rational thought began to spread into science, politics, and economics, which he took a liking to. When theologian John Owen was fired from his deanery, Penn and other open-minded students rallied to his side and attended seminars at the dean's house, where intellectual discussions covered the gamut of new thought. Penn learned the valuable skills of forming ideas into theory, discussing theory through reasoned debate, and testing the theories in the real world. At this time he also faced his first moral dilemma. After Owen was censured again after being fired, students were threatened with punishment for associating with him. However, Penn stood by the dean, thereby gaining a fine and reprimand from the university. The Admiral, despairing of the charges, pulled young Penn away from Oxford, hoping to distract him from the heretical influences of the university. The attempt had no effect and father and son struggled to understand each other. Back at school, the administration imposed stricter religious requirements including daily chapel attendance and required dress. Penn rebelled against enforced worship and was expelled. His father, in a rage, attacked young Penn with a cane and forced him from their home. Penn's mother made peace in the family, which allowed her son to return home but she quickly concluded that both her social standing and her husband's career were being threatened by their son's behavior. So at age 18, young Penn was sent to
Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,165,423 residents in 2019 in an area of more than 105 km² (41 sq mi), ma ...

to get him out of view, improve his manners, and expose him to another culture. In Paris, at the court of young
Louis XIV Louis XIV (Louis Dieudonné; 5 September 16381 September 1715), also known as Louis the Great () or the Sun King (), was List of French monarchs, King of France from 14 May 1643 until his death in 1715. His reign of 72 years and 110 days is the Li ...

Louis XIV
, Penn found French manners far more refined than the coarse manners of his countrymen – but the extravagant display of wealth and privilege did not sit well with him. Though impressed by and the Catholic ritual, he felt uncomfortable with it. Instead, he sought out spiritual direction from French Protestant theologian Moise Amyraut, who invited Penn to stay with him in
Saumur Saumur () is a commune in the Maine-et-Loire department in western France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also comprises of Overseas France, overseas regions a ...

for a year. The undogmatic Christian humanist talked of a tolerant, adapting view of religion which appealed to Penn, who later stated, "I never had any other religion in my life than what I felt." By adapting his mentor's belief in free will, Penn felt unburdened of Puritanical guilt and rigid beliefs and was inspired to search out his own religious path. Upon returning to England after two years abroad, he presented to his parents a mature, sophisticated, well-mannered, "modish" gentleman, though Samuel Pepys noted young Penn's "vanity of the French". Penn had developed a taste for fine clothes, and for the rest of his life would pay somewhat more attention to his dress than most Quakers. The Admiral had great hopes that his son then had the practical sense and the ambition necessary to succeed as an aristocrat. He had young Penn enroll in law school but soon his studies were interrupted. With warfare with the Dutch imminent, young Penn decided to shadow his father at work and join him at sea. Penn functioned as an emissary between his father and the King, then returned to his law studies. Worrying about his father in battle he wrote, "I never knew what a father was till I had wisdom enough to prize him... I pray God... that you come home secure." The Admiral returned triumphantly but London was in the grip of the plague of 1665. Young Penn reflected on the suffering and the deaths, and the way humans reacted to the epidemic. He wrote that the scourge "gave me a deep sense of the vanity of this World, of the Irreligiousness of the Religions in it." Further he observed how Quakers on errands of mercy were arrested by the police and demonized by other religions, even accused of causing the plague. With his father laid low by
gout Gout ( ) is a form of inflammatory arthritis characterized by recurrent attacks of a red, tender, hot and swollen joint, caused by deposition of monosodium urate monohydrate crystals. Pain typically comes on rapidly, reaching maximal intens ...

, young Penn was sent to Ireland in 1666 to manage the family landholdings. While there he became a soldier and took part in suppressing a local Irish rebellion. Swelling with pride, he had his portrait painted wearing a suit of armor, his most authentic likeness. His first experience of warfare gave him the sudden idea of pursuing a military career, but the fever of battle soon wore off after his father discouraged him, "I can say nothing but advise to sobriety...I wish your youthful desires mayn't outrun your discretion." While Penn was abroad, the Great Fire of 1666 consumed central London. As with the plague, the Penn family was spared. But after returning to the city, Penn was depressed by the mood of the city and his ailing father, so he went back to the family estate in Ireland to contemplate his future. The reign of King Charles had further tightened restrictions against all religious sects other than the Anglican Church, making the penalty for unauthorized worship imprisonment or deportation. The "Five Mile Act" prohibited dissenting teachers and preachers to come within that distance of any borough. The Quakers were especially targeted and their meetings were deemed undesirable.

Religious conversion

Despite the dangers, Penn began to attend
Quaker Quakers are people who belong to a historically Protestant Christian set of Christian denomination, denominations known formally as the Religious Society of Friends. Members of these movements ("theFriends") are generally united by a belie ...
meetings near
Cork Cork or CORK may refer to: Materials * Cork (material) Cork is an Permeability (earth sciences), impermeable buoyancy, buoyant material, the Cork cambium, phellem layer of bark (botany), bark tissue that is harvested for commercial use prima ...
. A chance re-meeting with Thomas Loe confirmed Penn's rising attraction to Quakerism.Fantel, p. 69 Soon Penn was arrested for attending Quaker meetings. Rather than state that he was not a Quaker and thereby dodge any charges, he publicly declared himself a member and finally joined the Quakers at the age of 22. In pleading his case, Penn stated that since the Quakers had no political agenda (unlike the Puritans) they should not be subject to laws that restricted political action by minority religions and other groups. Sprung from jail because of his family's rank rather than his argument, Penn was immediately recalled to London by his father. The Admiral was severely distressed by his son's actions and took the conversion as a personal affront. His father's hopes that Penn's charisma and intelligence would win him favor at the court were crushed. Though enraged, the Admiral tried his best to reason with his son but to no avail. His father not only feared for his own position but that his son seemed bent on a dangerous confrontation with the Crown. In the end, young Penn was more determined than ever, and the Admiral felt he had no option but to order his son out of the house and to withhold his inheritance.Fantel, p. 79 As Penn became homeless, he began to live with Quaker families. Quakers were relatively strict Christians in the 17th century. They refused to bow or take off their hats to social superiors, believing all men equal under God, a belief antithetical to an absolute monarchy that believed the monarch divinely appointed by God. Therefore, Quakers were treated as heretics because of their principles and their failure to pay tithes. They also refused to swear oaths of loyalty to the King believing that this was following the command of Jesus not to swear. The basic ceremony of Quakerism was silent worship in a meeting house, conducted in a group. There was no ritual and no professional clergy, and many Quakers disavowed the concept of
original sin Original sin is the Christianity, Christian doctrine that holds that humans, through the fact of birth, inherit a tainted nature in need of regeneration and a proclivity to sinful conduct. The biblical basis for the belief is generally found i ...
. God's communication came to each individual directly, and if so moved, the individual shared his revelations, thoughts, or opinions with the group. Penn found all these tenets to sit well with his conscience and his heart. Penn became a close friend of
George Fox George Fox (July 1624 – 13 January 1691) was an English Dissenters, English Dissenter, who was a founder of the Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as the Quakers or Friends. The son of a Leicestershire Weaver (occupation), weaver, h ...

George Fox
, the founder of the Quakers, whose movement started in the 1650s during the tumult of the Cromwellian revolution. The times sprouted many new sects besides Quakers, including
Seekers The Seekers, or Legatine-Arians as they were sometimes known, were an Kingdom of England, English Dissenter, dissenting group that emerged around the 1620s, probably inspired by the preaching of three brothers – Walter, Thomas, and Bartholomew ...
, Ranters, Antinomians,
Seventh Day Baptists Seventh Day Baptists are Baptists who observe the Sabbath in Christianity, Sabbath as the seventh day of the week, Saturday, as a holy day to God. They adopt a Covenant theology, covenant Baptist theology, based on the concept of regenerated societ ...
Soul sleep Christian mortalism is the Christianity, Christian belief that the human Soul (spirit), soul is not naturally Immortality of the soul, immortal and may include the belief that the soul is “sleeping” after death until the Resurrection of the ...
Adamites The Adamites, or Adamians, were adherents of an Early Christian Early Christianity (up to the First Council of Nicaea in 325) Spread of Christianity, spread from the Levant, across the Roman Empire, and beyond. Originally, this progression was ...

Diggers The Diggers were a group of religious and political dissidents in England, associated with agrarian socialism. Gerrard Winstanley and William Everard (Digger), William Everard, amongst many others, were known as True Levellers in 1649, in refe ...
Levellers The Levellers were a political movement active during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms who were committed to popular sovereignty, extended suffrage, equality before the law and religious tolerance. The hallmark of Leveller thought was its populis ...
, Behmenists, Muggletonians, and many others, as the Puritans were more tolerant than the monarchy had been. Following Oliver Cromwell's death, however, the Crown was re-established and the King responded with harassment and persecution of all religions and sects other than Anglicanism. Fox risked his life, wandering from town to town, and he attracted followers who likewise believed that the "God who made the world did not dwell in temples made with hands." By abolishing the church's authority over the congregation, Fox not only extended the Protestant Reformation more radically, but he helped extend the most important principle of modern political history – the rights of the individual – upon which modern democracies were later founded. Penn traveled frequently with Fox, through Europe and England. He also wrote a comprehensive, detailed explanation of Quakerism along with a testimony to the character of George Fox, in his introduction to the autobiographical ''Journal of George Fox''. In effect, Penn became the first theologian, theorist, and legal defender of Quakerism, providing its written doctrine and helping to establish its public standing.

Penn in Ireland (1669–1670)

In 1669, Penn traveled to Ireland to deal with many of his father's estates. While there, he attended many meetings and stayed with leading Quaker families. He became a great friend of William Morris, a leading Quaker figure in
Cork Cork or CORK may refer to: Materials * Cork (material) Cork is an Permeability (earth sciences), impermeable buoyancy, buoyant material, the Cork cambium, phellem layer of bark (botany), bark tissue that is harvested for commercial use prima ...
, and often stayed with Morris at Castle Salem near
Rosscarbery Rosscarbery () is a village and Census town#Ireland, census town in County Cork, Republic of Ireland, Ireland. The village is on a shallow estuary, which opens onto Rosscarbery Bay. Rosscarbery is in the Cork South-West (Dáil constituency), Cork ...

Penn in Germany (1671–1677)

Between 1671 and 1677 William Penn made trips to
Germany Germany,, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central Europe. It is the second most populous country in Europe after Russia, and the most populous member state of the European Union. Germany is situated between ...

on behalf of the Quaker faith, resulting in a German Settlement in Pennsylvania that was symbolic in two ways: it was a specifically German-speaking congregation, and it comprised religious dissenters. Pennsylvania has remained the heartland for various branches of Anabaptists: Old Order Mennonites, Ephrata Cloister, Brethren, and
Amish The Amish (; pdc, Amisch; german: link=no, Amische), formally the Old Order Amish, are a group of traditionalist Anabaptism, Anabaptist Christianity, Christian church fellowships with Swiss German and Alsace, Alsatian origins. They are close ...

. Pennsylvania also became home for many
Lutheran Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism, identifying primarily with the theology of Martin Luther, the 16th-century German monk and Protestant Reformers, reformer whose efforts to reform the theology and practice of the Cathol ...
refugee A refugee, conventionally speaking, is a forced displacement, displaced person who has crossed national borders and who cannot or is unwilling to return home due to well-founded fear of persecution.
s from
Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics worldwide . It is among the world's oldest and largest international institutions, and has played a ...

provinces (e.g.,
Salzburg Salzburg (, ; literally "Salt-Castle"; bar, Soizbuag, label=Bavarian language, Austro-Bavarian) is the List of cities and towns in Austria, fourth-largest city in Austria. In 2020, it had a population of 156,872. The town is on the site of the ...

), as well as for German Catholics who had also been discriminated against in their home country. In
Philadelphia Philadelphia, often called Philly, is the List of municipalities in Pennsylvania#Municipalities, largest city in the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the List of United States cities by population, sixth-largest city i ...

Francis Daniel Pastorius Francis Daniel Pastorius (September 26, 1651) was a German born educator, lawyer, poet, and public official. He was the founder of Germantown, Philadelphia, Germantown, Pennsylvania, now part of Philadelphia, the first permanent German-American ...
negotiated the purchase of 15,000
acre The acre is a Unit of measurement, unit of land area used in the Imperial units, imperial and United States customary units#Units of area, US customary systems. It is traditionally defined as the area of one Chain (unit), chain by one furlong ( ...

s (61  km2) from his friend William Penn, the proprietor of the colony, and laid out the settlement of Germantown. The German Society of Pennsylvania was established in 1764 and is still functioning today from its headquarters in Philadelphia.

Persecutions and imprisonments

Penn's first of many pamphlets, ''Truth Exalted: To Princes, Priests, and People'' (1668), was a criticism of all religious groups, except Quakers, which he perceived as the only true Christian group living at that time in England. He branded the Catholic Church as "the
Whore of Babylon Babylon the Great, commonly known as the Whore of Babylon, refers to both a symbolic female figure and place of evil Evil, in a general sense, is defined as the opposite or absence of good. It can be an extremely broad concept, although in ...

Whore of Babylon
", defied the Church of England, and called the Puritans "hypocrites and revelers in God". He also lambasted all "false prophets, tithemongers, and opposers of
perfection Perfection is a state, variously, of completeness, flawlessness, or supreme excellence. The terminology, term is used to designate a range of diverse, if often kindred, concepts. These have historically been addressed in a number of discrete a ...
". Pepys thought it a "ridiculous nonsensical book" that he was "ashamed to read". In 1668 Penn was imprisoned in the
Tower of London The Tower of London, officially His Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, which is separa ...

Tower of London
after writing a follow-up tract entitled ''The Sandy Foundation Shaken''. The Bishop of London ordered that Penn be held indefinitely until he publicly recanted his written statements. The official charge was publication without a licence but the real crime was
blasphemy Blasphemy is a speech crimes, speech crime and religious crime usually defined as an utterance that shows contempt, disrespects or insults a deity, an object considered sacred or something considered inviolable. Some religions regard blasphemy ...
, as signed in a warrant by King Charles II.Fantel, p. 101 Placed in solitary confinement in an unheated cell and threatened with a life sentence, Penn was being accused of denying the
Trinity The Christian doctrine of the Trinity (, from 'threefold') is the central dogma concerning the nature of God in most Christian churches, which defines one God existing in three coequal, coeternal, consubstantial divine persons: God t ...

, though this was a misinterpretation Penn himself refuted in the essay ''Innocency with her open face, presented by way of Apology for the book entitled The Sandy Foundation Shaken'', where he himself proceeded to prove the Godhead of Christ. Penn said the rumor had been "maliciously insinuated" by detractors who wanted to create a bad reputation to Quakers. Later, he stated that what he really denied were the Catholic interpretations of this theological topic, and the use of unbiblical concepts to explain it. Penn expressly confessed he believed in the Holy Three as well as in the divinity of Christ. In 1668 in a letter to the anti-Quaker minister Jonathan Clapham, Penn wrote: "Thou must not, reader, from my querying thus, conclude we do deny (as he hath falsely charged us) those glorious Three, which bear record in heaven, the Father, Word, and Spirit; neither the infinity, eternity and divinity of Jesus Christ; for that we know he is the mighty God." Given writing materials in the hope that he would put on paper his retraction, Penn wrote another inflammatory treatise, ''No Cross, No Crown: A Discourse Shewing The Nature and Discipline of the Holy Cross of Christ and that the Denial of Self, and Daily Hearing of Christ's Cross, is the Alone Way to Rest and Kingdom of God.'' In it, Penn exhorted believers to adhere to the spirit of
Primitive Christianity Restorationism (or Restitutionism or Christian primitivism) is the belief that Christianity has been or should be restored along the lines of what is known about the Apostolic Age, apostolic early church, which restorationists see as the search ...
. This work was remarkable for its historical analysis and citation of 68 authors whose quotations and commentary he had committed to memory and was able to summon without any reference material at hand. Penn petitioned for an audience with the King, which was denied but which led to negotiations on his behalf by one of the royal chaplains. Penn bravely declared, "My prison shall be my grave before I will budge a jot: for I owe my conscience to no mortal man." He was released after eight months of imprisonment. Penn demonstrated no remorse for his aggressive stance and vowed to keep fighting against the wrongs of the Church and the King. For its part, the Crown continued to confiscate Quaker property and jailed thousands of Quakers. From then on, Penn's religious views effectively exiled him from English society; he was sent down (expelled) from , a college at Oxford University, for being a Quaker, and was arrested several times. Among the most famous of these events was the trial following his 1670 arrest with William Mead. Penn was accused of preaching before a gathering in the street, which Penn had deliberately provoked to test the validity of the 1664 Conventicle Act, just renewed in 1670, which denied the right of assembly to "more than five persons in addition to members of the family, for any religious purpose not according to the rules of the Church of England". Penn was assisted by his solicitor, Thomas Rudyard, an eminent London Quaker lawyer, and pleaded for his right to see a copy of the charges laid against him and the laws he had supposedly broken, but the Recorder of London, Sir John Howel, on the bench as chief judge, refused, although this was a right guaranteed by law. Furthermore, the Recorder directed the jury to come to a verdict without hearing the defense. Despite heavy pressure from Howel to convict Penn, the jury returned a verdict of "not guilty". When invited by the Recorder to reconsider their verdict and to select a new foreman, they refused and were sent to a cell over several nights to mull over their decision. The Lord Mayor of London, Sir Samuel Starling, also on the bench, then told the jury, "You shall go together and bring in another verdict, or you shall starve", and not only had Penn sent to jail in
Newgate Prison Newgate Prison was a prison at the corner of Newgate Street and Old Bailey Street just inside the City of London, England, originally at the site of Newgate, a gate in the Ancient Rome, Roman London Wall. Built in the 12th century and demolish ...
(on a charge of contempt of court for refusing to remove his hat), but the full jury followed him, and they were additionally fined the equivalent of a year's wages each. The members of the jury, fighting their case from prison in what became known as Bushel's Case, managed to win the right for all English juries to be free from the control of judges. This case was one of the more important trials that shaped the concept of
jury nullification Jury nullification (US/UK), jury equity (UK), or a perverse verdict (UK) occurs when the jury in a trial, criminal trial gives a Acquittal, not guilty verdict despite a defendant having clearly broken the law. The jury's reasons may include the ...
and was a victory for the use of the writ of
habeas corpus ''Habeas corpus'' (; from Medieval Latin, ) is a Legal recourse, recourse in law through which a person can report an Arbitrary arrest and detention, unlawful detention or imprisonment to a court and request that the court order the custodi ...
as a means of freeing those unlawfully detained. With his father dying, Penn wanted to see him one more time and patch up their differences. But he urged his father not to pay his fine and free him, "I entreat thee not to purchase my liberty." But the Admiral refused to let the opportunity pass and he paid the fine, releasing his son. The old man had gained respect for his son's integrity and courage and told him, "Let nothing in this world tempt you to wrong your conscience." The Admiral also knew that after his death young Penn would become more vulnerable in his pursuit of justice. In an act which not only secured his son's protection but also set the conditions for the founding of Pennsylvania, the Admiral wrote to the
Duke of York Duke of York is a title of nobility in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. Since the 15th century, it has, when granted, usually been given to the second son of List of English monarchs, English (later List of British monarchs, British) monarchs. ...

Duke of York
, the heir to the throne. The Duke and the King, in return for the Admiral's lifetime of service to the Crown, promised to protect young Penn and make him a royal counselor. Penn was not disinherited and he came into a large fortune but found himself in jail again for six months as he continued to agitate. After gaining his freedom, he finally married Gulielma Springett in April 1672, after a four-year engagement filled with frequent separations. Penn stayed close to home but continued writing his tracts, espousing religious tolerance and railing against discriminatory laws. A minor split developed in the Quaker community between those who favored Penn's analytical formulations and those who preferred Fox's simple precepts. But the persecution of Quakers had accelerated and the differences were overridden; Penn again resumed missionary work in Holland and Germany.

Founding of Pennsylvania

Seeing conditions deteriorating, Penn decided to appeal directly to the King and the Duke. Penn proposed a solution which would solve the dilemma—a mass emigration of English Quakers. Some Quakers had already moved to North America, but the
New England New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United States: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts Massachusetts (Massachusett language, Massachusett: ''Muhsachuweesut assachusett writing systems, məhswatʃəwiːsət ...

New England
Puritan The Puritans were English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries who sought to purify the Church of England of Catholic Church, Roman Catholic practices, maintaining that the Church of England had not been fully reformed and should become m ...

s, especially, were as hostile towards Quakers as Anglicans in England were, and some of the Quakers had been banished to the
Caribbean The Caribbean (, ) ( es, El Caribe; french: la Caraïbe; ht, Karayib; nl, De Caraïben) is a region of the Americas that consists of the Caribbean Sea, its islands (some surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and some bordering both the Caribbean ...
. In 1677 a group of prominent Quakers that included Penn purchased the colonial province of
West Jersey West Jersey and East Jersey were two distinct parts of the Province of New Jersey. The political division existed for 28 years, between 1674 and 1702. Determination of an exact location for a Quintipartite Deed, border between West Jersey and Ea ...
(half of the current state of
New Jersey New Jersey is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic States, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States, Northeastern regions of the United States. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York (state), New York; on the ea ...
). That same year, two hundred settlers from the towns of Chorleywood and in Hertfordshire and other towns in nearby
Buckinghamshire Buckinghamshire (), abbreviated Bucks, is a Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county in South East England that borders Greater London to the south-east, Berkshire to the south, Oxfordshire to the west, Northamptonshire to the north, ...

arrived, and founded the town of Burlington. George Fox himself had made a journey to America to verify the potential of further expansion of the early Quaker settlements. In 1682
East Jersey The Province of East Jersey, along with the Province of West Jersey, between 1674 and 1702 in accordance with the Quintipartite Deed The Quintipartite Deed was a legal document that split the Province of New Jersey The Province of New ...
was also purchased by Quakers. With the New Jersey foothold in place, Penn pressed his case to extend the Quaker region. Whether from personal sympathy or political expediency, to Penn's surprise, the King granted an extraordinarily generous charter which made Penn the world's largest private (non-royal) landowner, with over .Randall M. Miller and William Pencak, ed., ''Pennsylvania: A History of the Commonwealth'', Penn State University Press, 2002, p. 59, Penn became the sole proprietor of a huge tract of land west of New Jersey and north of
Maryland Maryland ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It shares borders with Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; ...
(which belonged to Lord Baltimore), and gained sovereign rule of the territory with all rights and privileges (except the power to declare war). The land of Pennsylvania had belonged to the Duke of York, who acquiesced, but he retained New York and the area around New Castle and the Eastern portion of the
Delmarva Peninsula The Delmarva Peninsula, or simply Delmarva, is a large peninsula and proposed state on the East Coast of the United States, occupied by the vast majority of the state of Delaware and parts of the Eastern Shore regions of Eastern Shore of Maryla ...
. In return, one-fifth of all gold and silver mined in the province (which had virtually none) was to be remitted to the King, and the Crown was freed of a debt to the Admiral of £16,000, equal to roughly £ in 2008. Penn first called the area "New Wales", then "Sylvania" (Latin for "forests" or "woods"), which King Charles II changed to "Pennsylvania" in honor of the elder Penn. On 4 March 1681, the King signed the charter and the following day Penn jubilantly wrote, "It is a clear and just thing, and my God who has given it to me through many difficulties, will, I believe, bless and make it the seed of a nation." Penn then traveled to America and while there, he negotiated Pennsylvania's first land-purchase survey with the tribe of the Lenape people. Penn purchased the first tract of land under a white oak tree at Graystones on 15 July 1682. Penn drafted a
charter of liberties The Charter of Liberties, also called the Coronation Charter, or Statutes of the Realm, was a written proclamation by Henry I of England Henry I (c. 1068 – 1 December 1135), also known as Henry Beauclerc, was King of England from 110 ...
for the settlement creating a political utopia guaranteeing free and fair trial by jury, freedom of religion, freedom from unjust imprisonment and free elections. Having proved himself an influential scholar and theoretician, Penn now had to demonstrate the practical skills of a real estate promoter, city planner, and governor for his "Holy Experiment", the province of Pennsylvania. Besides achieving his religious goals, Penn had hoped that Pennsylvania would be a profitable venture for himself and his family. But he proclaimed that he would not exploit either the natives or the immigrants, "I would not abuse His love, nor act unworthy of His providence, and so defile what came to me clean."Dobrée, p. 128 To that end, Penn's land purchase from the Lenape included the latter party's retained right to traverse the sold lands for purposes of hunting, fishing, and gathering. Though thoroughly oppressed, getting Quakers to leave England and make the dangerous journey to the New World was his first commercial challenge. Some Quaker families had already arrived in Maryland and New Jersey but the numbers were small. To attract settlers in large numbers, he wrote a glowing prospectus, considered honest and well-researched for the time, promising religious freedom as well as material advantage, which he marketed throughout Europe in various languages. Within six months he had parcelled out to over 250 prospective settlers, mostly rich London Quakers. Eventually he attracted other persecuted minorities including Huguenots, Mennonites,
Amish The Amish (; pdc, Amisch; german: link=no, Amische), formally the Old Order Amish, are a group of traditionalist Anabaptism, Anabaptist Christianity, Christian church fellowships with Swiss German and Alsace, Alsatian origins. They are close ...

, Roman Catholic Church, Catholics, Lutheranism, Lutherans, and Jews from England, France, Holland, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Ireland, and Wales. Next, he set out to lay the legal framework for an ethical society where power was derived from the people, from "open discourse", in much the same way as a Quaker Meeting was run. Notably, as the sovereign, Penn thought it important to limit his own power as well. The new government would have two houses, safeguard the rights of private property and free enterprise, and impose taxes fairly. It would call for death for only two crimes, treason and murder, rather than the Bloody Code, two hundred crimes under English law, and all cases were to be tried before a jury. Prisons would be progressive, attempting to correct through "workshops" rather than through hellish confinement. The laws of behaviour he laid out were rather Puritanical: swearing, lying, and drunkenness were forbidden as well as "idle amusements" such as stage plays, gambling, revels, masques, cock-fighting, and bear-baiting. All this was a radical departure from the laws and the lawmaking of European monarchs and elites. Over twenty drafts, Penn laboured to create his "Framework of Government", with the assistance of Thomas Rudyard (especially for the final six drafts), the London Quaker lawyer who had assisted his defence during the Bushel's Case, Penn-Mead case in 1670, and was later deputy-governor of East New Jersey. He borrowed liberally from John Locke who later had a similar influence on Thomas Jefferson, but added his own revolutionary idea—the use of amendments—to enable a written framework that could evolve with the changing times. He stated, "Governments, like clocks, go from the motion men give them." Penn hoped that an amendable constitution would accommodate dissent and new ideas and also allow meaningful societal change without resorting to violent uprisings or revolution. Remarkably, though the Crown reserved the right to override any law it wished, Penn's skillful stewardship did not provoke any government reaction while Penn remained in his province. Despite criticism by some Quaker friends that Penn was setting himself above them by taking on this powerful position, and by his enemies who thought he was a fraud and "falsest villain upon earth", Penn was ready to begin the "Holy Experiment". Bidding goodbye to his wife and children, he reminded them to "avoid pride, avarice, and luxury". Under Penn's direction, the city of
Philadelphia Philadelphia, often called Philly, is the List of municipalities in Pennsylvania#Municipalities, largest city in the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the List of United States cities by population, sixth-largest city i ...

was planned and developed. Philadelphia was planned out to be grid-like with its streets and be very easy to navigate, unlike
London London is the capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom, with a population of just under 9 million. It stands on the River Thames in south-east England at the head of a estuary dow ...

. The streets are named with numbers and tree names.

Back to England

In 1684 Penn returned to England to see his family and to try to resolve a territorial dispute with Lord Baltimore. Penn did not always pay attention to details and had not taken the fairly simple step of determining where the 40th degree of latitude (the southern boundary of his land under the charter) actually was. After he sent letters to several landowners in Maryland advising the recipients that they were probably in Pennsylvania and not to pay any more taxes to Lord Baltimore, trouble arose between the two proprietors. This led to an eighty-year Penn–Calvert Boundary Dispute, legal dispute between the two families. Political conditions at home had stiffened since Penn left. To his dismay, he found Bridewell and Newgate prisons filled with Quakers. Internal political conflicts even threatened to undo the Pennsylvania charter. Penn withheld his political writings from publication as "The times are too rough for print." In 1685 King Charles died, and the Duke of York was crowned James II of England, James II. The new king resolved the border dispute in Penn's favor. But King James, a Catholic with a largely Protestant parliament, proved a poor ruler, stubborn and inflexible. Penn supported James' Declaration of Indulgence, which granted toleration to Quakers, and went on a "preaching tour through England to promote the King's Indulgence". His proposal at the London Yearly Meeting of the Society of Friends in June 1688 to establish an "advisory committee that might offer counsel to individual Quakers deciding whether to take up public office" under James II was rebuffed by
George Fox George Fox (July 1624 – 13 January 1691) was an English Dissenters, English Dissenter, who was a founder of the Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as the Quakers or Friends. The son of a Leicestershire Weaver (occupation), weaver, h ...

George Fox
, who argued that it was "not safe to conclude such things in a Yearly Meeting". Penn offered some assistance to James II's campaign to regulate the parliamentary constituencies by sending a letter to a friend in Huntingdon asking him to identify men who could be trusted to support the king's campaign for liberty of conscience. Penn faced serious problems in the colonies due to his sloppy business practices. Apparently, he could not be bothered with administrative details, and his business manager, fellow Quaker Philip Ford, embezzled substantial sums from Penn's estates. Ford capitalized on Penn's habit of signing papers without reading them. One such paper turned out to be a deed transferring ownership of Pennsylvania to Ford who then demanded a rent beyond Penn's ability to pay.

Return to America

After agreeing to let Ford keep all his Irish rents in exchange for keeping quiet about Ford's legal title to Pennsylvania, Penn felt his situation sufficiently improved to return to Pennsylvania with the intention of staying. Accompanied by his wife Hannah, daughter Letitia and secretary James Logan (statesman), James Logan, Penn sailed from the Isle of Wight on the ''Canterbury (ship), Canterbury'', reaching Philadelphia in December 1699.Scharf, John Thomas and Thompson Wescott (1884), ''History of Philadelphia, 1609–1884'', Volume II, Philadelphia: L. H. Everts & Co., p. 1686: "In December 1699, when William Penn made his second visit to Pennsylvania, he brought with him his second wife, Hannah Callowhill Penn, and Letitia Penn, his daughter by his first wife." Penn received a hearty welcome upon his arrival and found his province much changed in the intervening 18 years. Pennsylvania was growing rapidly and now had nearly 18,100 inhabitants and Philadelphia over 3,000.Miller and Pencak, p. 61 His tree plantings were providing the green urban spaces he had envisioned. Shops were full of imported merchandise, satisfying the wealthier citizens and proving America to be a viable market for English goods. Most importantly, religious diversity was succeeding. Despite the protests of fundamentalists and farmers, Penn's insistence that Quaker grammar schools be open to all citizens was producing a relatively educated workforce. High literacy and open intellectual discourse led to Philadelphia becoming a leader in science and medicine. Quakers were especially modern in their treatment of mental illness, decriminalizing insanity and turning away from punishment and confinement. Ironically, the tolerant Penn transformed himself almost into a Puritan, in an attempt to control the fractiousness that had developed in his absence, tightening up some laws. Another change was found in Penn's writings, which had mostly lost their boldness and vision. In those years, he did put forward a plan to make a federation of all English colonies in America. There have been claims that he also fought slavery, but that seems unlikely, as he owned and even traded slaves himself and his writings do not support that idea. However, he did promote good treatment for slaves, including marriage among slaves (though rejected by the council). Other Pennsylvania Quakers were more outspoken and proactive, being among the earliest fighters against slavery in America, led by Daniel Pastorius, founder of Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Germantown, Pennsylvania. Many Quakers pledged to release their slaves upon their death, including Penn, and some sold their slaves to non-Quakers. The Penns lived comfortably at Pennsbury Manor and had all intentions of living out their lives there. They also had a residence in Philadelphia. Their only American child, John, had been born and was thriving. Penn was commuting to Philadelphia on a six-man barge, which he admitted he prized above "all dead things". James Logan (statesman), James Logan, his secretary, kept him acquainted with all the news. Penn had plenty of time to spend with his family and still attend to affairs of state, though delegations and official visitors were frequent. His wife, however, did not enjoy life as a governor's wife and hostess and preferred the simple life she led in England. When new threats by France again put Penn's charter in jeopardy, Penn decided to return to England with his family, in 1701.

Later years

Penn returned to England and immediately became embroiled in financial and family troubles. His eldest son William Penn, Jr., William, Jr. was leading a dissolute life, neglecting his wife and two children, and running up gambling debts. Penn had hoped to have William succeed him in America.Fantel, p. 254 Now he could not even pay his son's debts. His own finances were in turmoil. He had sunk over £30,000 in America and received little back except for some bartered goods. He had made many generous loans which he failed to press. Making matters worse from Penn's perspective, Philip Ford, his financial advisor, had cheated Penn out of thousands of pounds by concealing and diverting rents from Penn's Irish lands, claiming losses, then extracting loans from Penn to cover the shortfall. When Ford died in 1702, his widow Bridget threatened to sell Pennsylvania, to which she claimed title. Penn sent William to America to manage affairs, but he proved just as unreliable as he had been in England. There were considerable discussions about scrapping his constitution. In desperation, Penn tried to sell Pennsylvania to the Crown before Bridget Ford got wind of his plan, but by insisting that the Crown uphold the civil liberties that had been achieved, he could not strike a deal. Mrs. Ford took her case to court. At age 62, Penn landed in debtors' prison; however, a rush of sympathy reduced Penn's punishment to house arrest, and Bridget Ford was finally denied her claim to Pennsylvania. A group of Quakers arranged for Ford to receive payment for back rents and Penn was released. In 1712 Berkeley Codd, Esq. of Sussex County, Delaware disputed some of the rights of Penn's grant from the Duke of York. Some of William Penn's agents hired lawyer Andrew Hamilton (lawyer), Andrew Hamilton to represent the Penn family in this replevin case. Hamilton's success led to an established relationship of goodwill between the Penn family and Andrew Hamilton. Penn had grown weary of the politicking back in Pennsylvania and the restlessness with his governance, but Logan implored him not to forsake his colony, for fear that Pennsylvania might fall into the hands of an opportunist who would undo all the good that had been accomplished. During his second attempt to sell Pennsylvania back to the Crown in 1712, Penn suffered a stroke. A second stroke several months later left him unable to speak or take care of himself. He slowly lost his memory. William Penn died penniless in 1718, at his home in Ruscombe, near Twyford, Berkshire, Twyford in Berkshire, and is buried in a grave next to his first wife in the cemetery of the Jordans, Buckinghamshire, Jordans Quaker meeting house near Chalfont St Giles in Buckinghamshire. His wife, as sole executor, became the de facto proprietor until she died in 1726.


Penn first married Gulielma Maria Posthuma Springett (1644–1694), daughter of William S. Springett (the ''Posthuma'' in her name indicating that her father had died prior to her birth) and Lady Mary Proude Penington. They had three sons and five daughters: * Gulielma Maria (23 January 1673 – 17 May 1673) * William and Mary (or Maria Margaret) (twins) (born February 1674 and died May 1674 and December 1674) * Springett (25 January 1675 – 10 April 1696) * Letitia (1 March 1678 – 6 April 1746), who married William Awbrey (Aubrey) * William Penn Jr., William, Jr. (14 March 1681 – 23 June 1720) * Unnamed child (born March 1683 and died April 1683) * Gulielma Maria (November 1685–November 1689) Two years after Gulielma's death he married Hannah Callowhill Penn, Hannah Margaret Callowhill (1671–1726), daughter of Thomas Callowhill and Anna (Hannah) Hollister. William Penn married Hannah when she was 25 and he was 52. They had nine children in twelve years: * Unnamed daughter (born and died 1697) * John Penn ("the American"), John Penn (28 January 1700 – 25 October 1746), never married. * Thomas Penn (20 March 1702 – 21 March 1775), married Lady Juliana Fermor, fourth daughter of Thomas, first Earl of Pomfret. * Hannah Penn (1703–1706) * Margaret Penn (7 November 1704–February 1751), married Thomas Freame (1701/02-1746) nephew of John Freame, founder of Barclays, Barclays Bank *Richard Penn Sr. (17 January 1706 – 4 February 1771) * Dennis Penn (26 February 1707 – 1723) * Hannah Margarita Penn (1708–March 1708) * Louis Penn


According to Mary Maples Dunn: :Penn liked money and although he was certainly sincere about his ambitions for a “holy experiment” in Pennsylvania, he also expected to get rich. He was, however, extravagant, a bad manager and businessman, and not very astute in judging people and making appointments... Penn was gregarious, had many friends, and was good at developing the useful connections which protected him through many crises. both his marriages were happy, and he would describe himself as a family man, all the public affairs took him away from home a great deal and he was disappointed in those children whom he knew as adults. After Penn's death, Pennsylvania slowly drifted away from a colony founded by religion to a secular state dominated by commerce. Many of Penn's legal and political innovations took root, however, as did the Quaker school in Philadelphia for which Penn issued two charters (1689 and 1701). Sometime later, the institution was renamed the William Penn Charter School. "Penn Charter", a well-known secondary day school, is now the oldest Quaker school in the world. Voltaire praised Pennsylvania as the only government in the world that responds to the people and is respectful of minority rights. Penn's "Frame of Government" and his other ideas were later studied by Benjamin Franklin as well as the pamphleteer of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine, whose father was a Quaker. Among Penn's legacies was the unwillingness to force a Quaker majority upon Pennsylvania, allowing his state to develop into a successful "melting pot". In addition, Thomas Jefferson and the founding Fathers adapted Penn's theory of an amendable constitution and his vision that "all Persons are equal under God" informing the federal government following the American Revolution. In addition to Penn's extensive political and religious treatises, he wrote nearly 1,000 maxims, full of wise observations about human nature and morality. Penn's family retained ownership of the colony of Pennsylvania until the American Revolution. However, William's son and successor, Thomas Penn, and his brother John Penn ("the American"), John, renounced their father's faith, and fought to restrict religious freedom (particularly for Catholics and later Quakers as well). Thomas weakened or eliminated the elected assembly's power, and ran the colony instead through his appointed governors. He was a bitter opponent of Benjamin Franklin and Franklin's push for greater democracy in the years leading up to the revolution. Through the infamous Walking Purchase of 1737, the Penns cheated the Lenape out of their lands in the Lehigh Valley.

Posthumous honours

On 28 November 1984 Ronald Reagan, by Presidential Proclamation 5284 (authorized by an Act of Congress), declared William Penn and his second wife, Hannah Callowhill Penn, each to be an Honorary Citizen of the United States. A bronze statue of William Penn by Alexander Milne Calder stands atop Philadelphia's City Hall. When installed in 1894, the statue represented the highest point in the city, as City Hall was then the tallest building in Philadelphia. Urban designer Edmund Bacon (architect), Edmund Bacon was known to have said that no gentleman would build taller than the "brim of Billy Penn's hat". This agreement existed for almost 100 years until the city decided to allow taller skyscrapers to be built. In March 1987, the completion of One Liberty Place was the first building to do that. This resulted in a "Curse of Billy Penn, curse" which lasted from that year on until 2008 when a small statue of William Penn was put on top of the newly built Comcast Center (Philadelphia), Comcast Center. The Philadelphia Phillies went on to win the 2008 World Series that year. A lesser-known statue of Penn is located at Penn Treaty Park, on the site where Penn entered into his Treaty of Shackamaxon, treaty with the Lenape, which is famously commemorated in the painting Penn's Treaty with the Indians. In 1893, Hajoca Corporation, the nation's largest privately held wholesale distributor of plumbing, heating, and industrial supplies, adopted the statue as its trademark symbol. The Quaker Oats Company, Quaker Oats cereal brand standing "Quaker man" logo, dating back to 1877, was identified in their advertising after 1909 as William Penn, and referred to him as "standard bearer of the Quakers and of Quaker Oats". In 1946 the logo was changed into a head-and-shoulders portrait of the smiling Quaker Man. The Quaker Oats Company's website currently claims their logo is not a depiction of William Penn. Bil Keane created the comic Silly Philly for the Philadelphia Bulletin, a juvenile version of Penn, that ran from 1947 to 1961. Penn was depicted in the 1941 film ''Penn of Pennsylvania'' by Clifford Evans (actor), Clifford Evans. The William Penn High School for Girls was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. The William Penn House – a Quaker hostel and seminar center – was named in honor of William Penn when it opened in 1966 to house Quakers visiting Washington, D.C. to partake in the many protests, events and social movements of the era. Chigwell School, the school he attended, has named one of their four houses after him and now owns several letters and documents in his handwriting. The former William Penn Primary School, and the successor Penn Wood Primary and Nursery School, in Manor Park, Slough, near to Stoke Park, Guildford, Stoke Park, is named after William Penn. A pub in Rickmansworth, where Penn lived for a time, is named the Pennsylvanian in his honour, and a picture of him is used as the pub sign. The Friends' School, Hobart, has named one of their seven six-year classes after him. The William Penn Society of Whittier College has existed since 1934 as a society on the college campus of Whittier College and continues to this day. William Penn University in Oskaloosa, Iowa, which was founded by Quaker settlers in 1873, was named in his honor. Penn Mutual, a life insurance company established in 1847, also bears his name. Streets that have been named after William Penn include Penn Avenue which is a major arterial street in Pittsburgh and Wilkinsburg, PA, as well as Penn Avenue in Scranton, PA and Penn Street in Bristol, PA.

See also

* Penn–Calvert boundary dispute * Nicholas More


Further reading

* Dunn, Mary Maples. ''William Penn: Politics and Conscience'' (1967) * Dunn, Richard S. and Mary Maples Dunn, eds. ''The World of William Penn'' (1986), essays by scholars * Endy, Jr., Melvin B. ''William Penn and Early Quakerism'' (1973) * Geiter, Mary K. ''William Penn'' (2000) * Moretta, John. ''William Penn and the Quaker Legacy'' (2006) * Morgan, Edmund S. "The World and William Penn," ''Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society'' (1983) 127#5 pp. 291–315 . * Murphy, Andrew R. ''William Penn: A Life'' (2018) * Nash, Gary B. ''Quakers and Politics: Pennsylvania, 1681–1726'' (1968) * Peare, Catherine O. ''William Penn'' (1957), a standard biography * Soderlund, Jean R. "Penn, William" i
''American National Biography Online'' (2000) Access Date: Nov 04 2013
* Vulliamy, C.E. ''William Penn'' (1933)

Primary sources

* Dunn, Mary Maples, and Richard S. Dunn et al., eds. ''The Papers of William Penn'' (5 vols., 1981–1987) * Soderlund, Jean R. et al., eds. ''William Penn and the Founding of Pennsylvania, 1680–1684: A Documentary History'' (1983) *

External links

Lesson Plan: William Penn's Peaceable Kingdom

William Penn Appleton and Klos Biography

The Life of William Penn
by M. L. Weems, 1829. Full-text free to read and search version of Tim Unterreiner biography from 1829 original published in Philadelphia.

by Tuomi J. Forrest, at the University of Virginia *

' by Jim Powell
William Penn
by Bill Samuel

Penn in the Tower

(copied with permission)
"Pennsylvania's Anarchist Experiment: 1681–1690,"
Prof. Murray N. Rothbard, excerpt from ''Conceived in Liberty'', Vol. 1 (Auburn, Alabama: The Ludwig von Mises Institute, 1999) *
Penn Treaty Museum

Penn's works

* * * * '' No Cross, No Crown'' (1669). 2nd edition published in 1682. Written during his imprisonment in the Tower of London. * The Christian Quaker, and his divine testimony vindicated by Scripture, reason, and authorities, against the injurious attempts ... lately made ... to render him odiously inconsistent with Christianity and Civil Society. In II. Parts., (1674).(part one written by Penn; Part two by George Whitehead, 1673). *
True Spiritual Liberty
' (1681) * ''Some Fruits of Solitude in Reflections and Maxims'' (1682) *
Frame Of Government Of Pennsylvania
' (1682) From the Avalon Project, Yale Law School.


contains several documents by Penn and his wife. *
A Key
' (1692)


The Rise and Progress of the People Called Quakers by William Penn (1905 ed.)

An Essay towards the Present and Future Peace of Europe by the Establishment of a European Dyet, Parliament or Estates
(1693) * Full text at Internet Archive (archive.org) * Dunn, Mary Maples, Dunn, Richard S., Bronner, Edwin, and Fraser, David. ''The papers of William Penn'', 5 volumes. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1981–87. {{DEFAULTSORT:Penn, William 1644 births 1718 deaths 17th-century English businesspeople 18th-century English people Alumni of Christ Church, Oxford American Christian pacifists American Christian writers American city founders American people of Welsh descent American slave owners American slave traders British Christian writers British slave owners Burials in Berkshire Converts to Quakerism English Christian pacifists English dissidents English people of Welsh descent English Quakers Fellows of the Royal Society Free speech activists Hall of Fame for Great Americans inductees History of Christianity in the United States History of religion in the United States Inmates of Fleet Prison English emigrants Penn family, William People educated at Chigwell School People from Buckinghamshire People from the London Borough of Tower Hamlets People from Ruscombe People of colonial Pennsylvania Prisoners in the Tower of London Quakers from Pennsylvania Quaker theologians Quaker writers William Penn