The Penn Family

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Part 1

A Living Easton View


While the subject of Quakerism and the lives and actions of the Penn family have a place in the history of East Bristol, (see Baptist Mills Brass Works) this page is also, in part, 'Living Easton's' response to the recent important exhibition at Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery, 'A Respectable Trade? Bristol and Transatlantic Slavery', March - September 1999 .

This exhibition claimed to cover Bristol's connections with the slave trade yet it made no mention of Admiral Sir William Penn. Admiral Penn was born and buried in Bristol and was in joint-charge of the annexation of Jamaica by the British in 1655. Further he was the father of William Penn, the Quaker slave owner who founded Pennsylvania and was a friend of the warmongering colonialist Duke of York (James II). All of which are extremely relevant and vitally important Bristol connections. The only mention of the Penns in this large and significant exhibition at Bristol's Museum & Art Gallery can be seen in this text:

'Even in the North, where slavery was less evident, trading links often had slavery connections. Bristol, Rhode Island and nearby Newport were both slaving ports with strong commercial connections to Bristol, England. Even in Pennsylvania, founded by the Bristol Quaker, William Penn, slavery existed during most of the 18th century.'

Current contents on the Internet do not appear to address the Penn dynasty in a way which recognises their economic reliance on enforced African slavery and concurrently, the displacement of the Native American population. The following is typical of the contents of Internet sites :

'Despite the remarkable clarity of Penn's vision for liberty, he had a curious blind spot about slavery. He owned some slaves in America, as did many other Quakers. Anti-slavery did not become a widely shared Quaker position until 1758, 40 years after Penn's death. Quakers were far ahead of most other Americans, but it's surprising that people with their humanitarian views could have contemplated using slaves at all.'

('The Freeman - Ideas on Liberty, William Penn, America's First Great Champion for Liberty and Peace', Jim Powell, William Penn College,

What follows therefore is a short analysis of the role of the Penn family and other Quakers in the Transatlantic Slave Trade and European expansionism in the Americas. We hope to show that rather than slave labour's existence in Pennsylvania being an anomaly it was, in fact, a vital and planned prerequisite for the Quaker colony's existence and in part, for British economic success of the slave economies of the West Indies. We hope to explode any myths and erroneous beliefs that the Quakers of the 17th and early 18th Centuries were great and fearlesschampions for equality for all humanity.

Jim McNeill, Chair of 'Living Easton' 4th July 1999

(ii) Background to European claims on 'Pennsylvania'

Early European Exploration and Settlement: Cabot to Penn

1497. The English based their claims in North America on the voyages of the Bristol-backed Cabots, while the French pointed to the voyage of Verrazano in 1524. The Spanish claim was founded on Columbus' 'discovery' of the West Indies, but there is also evidence that Spanish ships sailed up the coast of North America as early as 1520. It is uncertain however whether any of these explorers touched the land that became Pennsylvania.

1608, Captain John Smith journeyed from Virginia up the Susquehanna River visiting the Susquehannock people.

1609, Henry Hudson, an Englishman in the Dutch service, sailed the Half Moon into Delaware Bay, thus giving the Dutch a pretext to claim the area.

1609, Dutch and Swedish colonists had explored, traded, and farmed along the Delaware River.

1615 a navigator from the Netherlands viewed the land site that became Philadelphia. After Hudson's time, the Dutch navigators Cornelis Hendricksen (1616) and Cornelis Jacobsen (1623) explored the Delaware region more thoroughly, and trading posts were established in 1623 and in later years.

1621, The States General of the Netherlands formed the Dutch West India Company which in 1624 founded New Netherland with its main settlement of New Amsterdam.

1630, the Pennsylvania region was settled by the Dutch who came up the Delaware Bay and River and settled at Gloucester Point. These Dutch settlers moved into Pennsylvania growing tobacco and grain. A few then scattered and settled in the future Bucks County, other settlers established New Amsterdam (named New York after conquest by the British in 1664).

1631, Swedes began arrived landing first at New Castle, which they named Stockholm.

1637-1638, The Swedes made permanent settlement which occupied the site of Wilmington, Delaware.

1643, Governor Johan Printz of New Sweden established his capital at Tinicum Island within the present limits of Pennsylvania (there is now a state forest natural area named after him).

1643 to 1681, further Swedes and Dutch settled in the area, as well as Finns and English. Most of them lived in cabins on good farming land. Fur and tobacco were their main commodities for trading.

1655, Governor Peter Stuyvesant of New Netherlands seized New Sweden and made it part of the Dutch colony.

1662, Charles II gave a Charter for Connecticut to John Winthrop, who he knew through the Royal Society.

1663, Charles II, granted a Charter for Rhode Island to Dr John Clark, a close friend.

1664, Charles II, granted vast stretches of lands in North America to his brother the Duke of York & Albany. These lands included the present state of New York and also the entire region between the Connecticut and the Delaware Rivers, as well as Long Island, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket and half of what is now the state of Maine. This was the largest gift of territory ever bestowed by an English monarch. The Dutch city of New Amsterdam was attacked under the Duke of York's orders, it was taken without a fight and renamed New York after the conquering Duke. By annexing a mix of people with differing religious views a policy of toleration of religious practice was adopted by the British. Fort Orange was captured and renamed Albany. Fort Casimir was captured and renamed Newcastle. 

English laws and civil government were introduced under The Duke of Yorke's Laws. Many of the earlier settlers, who had purchased their land from Native Americans, resisted British rule. Dutch settlers briefly recaptured the area in 1673-1674, after which it transferred back to the Duke of York whose jurisdiction finally ceased in 1681. In 1675 New Jersey became a proprietorship, being granted to Sir George Carteret and Berkeley from the Duke of York. Carteret became English New Jersey's first governor, he was from the Isle of Jersey, hence the province's name. The Native American name for these lands was Scheyichbi. Berkeley sold the west part of Jersey to John Fenswisk (Fenwick) and Edward Byllinge (c1623 - 86). They were both ex-Leveler officers who had become Quakers. Soon afterwards William Penn and other Quakers became trustees to Edward Bylinge. Penn became well acquainted with the region of Pennsylvania and American colonial settlements and lead the settlement of West New Jersey with other European Quakers.

In 1676 John Fenswick and Penn wrote The Concessions and Agreements, based on Leveller principles, which was signed by all of the original West Jersey settlers as a constitution. Parts of this constitution were incorporated by William Penn into the Frame of Government for Pennsylvania

The English in the colony were at a permanent state of war with the Dutch and Native Americans and in 1677 they were forced to lay out the town of Burlington for defence. The trustees and Byllinge were also at each others throats. James ordered a 'deed of release' to be given to Edward Byllinge, (and not to the Quaker proprietors), which eliminated any obligation to pay customs and granted the right of government to Byllinge. Byllinge then proclaimed himself Governor of West New Jersey.

1677, the ship 'Kent' arrived in the Pennsylvania region with 230 passengers; mostly Quakers with good estates. They landed at Raccoon Creek, where they found some Swedish settlers. They, with the commissioners who came in the ship, went up to Chygoe's Island (now Burlington) called after the Native American, Sachem, who dwelt there. The town plot called New Beverly was established.

1678, The first ship, Shield of Stockton, from Hull, visited Burlington. The site of the present Philadelphia was identified. At this time it was a high shore called Coaquanock. Other vessels follow.

1681, the founding of Pennsylvania, about 40,000 square miles, was confirmed to William Penn under the Great Seal on the 5th of January, 1681. Penn induced people to emigrate. The terms were 40 shillings per hundred acres, and "shares" of 5,000 acres for 100 pounds. These terms were so 'generous' that many were induced to set out for Pennsylvania.

1682, As many as 360 passengers came out in one vessel. Burlington and the adjacent county were settled very rapidly. Some Quakers settled on the western side of the Delaware before Philadelphia was laid out, especially settling at Shackamaxon, now called Kensington.

1682, William Penn arrived in Pennsylvania in the ship, Welcome.

1683-84, Emigration increased. Emmigrants come from England, Ireland, Wales, Holland and Germany.

'The old manorial system was breaking down, creating a large class of
landless men ready to seek new homes. An increase in commerce
and trade led to an accumulation of capital available for colonial ventures.
The Swedish and Dutch colonies were financed in this way,
and William Penn's colony was also a business enterprise'.
"Happenings in ye Olde Philadelphia 1680-1900" by Rudolph J. Walther, 1925, Walther Printing House, Philadelphia, Pa.

1689 - 97, The War of the League of Augsburg (known as King William's War in the American colonies)

1702 - 13. The War of the Spanish Succession (known as Queen Ann's war in the American colonies).

Both of the above wars saw changes to North American colonies. The French lost Hudson Bay, Newfoundland and Arcadia to the English under the Treaty of Utrecht. Arcadia was renamed Nova Scotia. Florida was invaded by British troops but remained Spanish under the final settlement. During this period the colonies continued to grow the estimated population of 200,000 of 1690 doubled by 1715, as existing settlements expanded and new colonies were formed.

(iii) An Introduction to the Penn Family

Admiral Penn, William Penn, Thomas Penn and John Penn

Admiral Sir William Penn(b.1621 - d.1670)

Penn was born, married and buried in Bristol. He was Cromwell's Sea General who was responsible, with General Venables, for the British capture of Jamaica in 1655. Jamaica became the base for British slavery and piracy and for British colonial expansion in the West (see Port Royal). Admiral Penn had also been rewarded for his services in Ireland to the Cromwellian Commonwealth with a castle and a confiscated estate in Ireland (1656, Macroom Castle). An interesting fact, which speaks of the continual duplicity of the Penn family, is that the Coat of Arms which appears with his battle armour at St Mary Redcliffe Church, Bristol is a fraud. The Admiral and the Penn family were not entitled to use the Coat of Arms which belonged to the Penns of Penn in Buckinghamshire. The Admiral and his family merely appropriated the Coat of Arms just as they had appropriated their Irish estate and African slaves for themselves and the isle of Jamaica for England. William Penn, the Admiral's son, was to take this appropriation further with his proprietorship of Pennsylvania.

William Penn(b. 1644 -d. 1718), the Admiral's Quaker son who became the 'founder' of Pennsylvania. A devout Quaker and slave owning millionaire, as a commoner he became one of the largest private landowners the world has ever seen when he was Royally gifted the 40,000 square miles of Pennsylvania. He saw himself as a superior person in society. From at least the time he was aged eleven his family owned slave servants. William's first duty as an adult family member was to run the family's Irish estate which had been awarded them by the English state. William Penn inherited this estate upon his father's death.

Penn became a Quaker at a time when Quakerism, because of massive repression by the state, had lost its revolutionary commonwealth zeal. The sect, in cities and towns at least, was now under the intellectual, moral and religious guidance of the Society's leading merchants, manufacturers, money lenders and landowners. Nationally the sect was lead by the Quakers in London. It is with the wealthier strata of the sect that Penn identified. The leading Quakers had established a business network which crisscrossed not only Britain, Ireland and Northern Europe but reached across to the slave colonies of the West Indies and those on the American mainland.

When Penn was in Bristol he was in the company of Quakers who saw it as their life's mission to carry out God's work of capitalist expansionism. The new western colonies needed commodities in huge quantities - Quakers produced commodities and traded in them. With the ending of the London monopoly of the English slave trade Bristol's trade to Africa was starting to boom (see Slavery pages). With his positioning as a major player on the American Eastern seaboard and the Quaker West Indian network Penn was ideally placed to take the advantages offered him and his associates by the 'Triangular Trade' (though the Europe - Africa - America - European Trade was far more complex that this established shorthand expression suggests).

When Penn was on his 'missionary' travels to northern Europe, Ireland and Britain (1677 & 1685) he was recruiting settlers for his lands in America. These settlers, who come in their thousands, had to both purchase their land from Penn and pay him an annual rent (a quit rent). There are at least two things to consider:

  1. Penn had a pretty good idea of how many people are coming across the Atlantic. However, did he let the Native Americans know the total expected number?
  2. He 'purchased' the land in West Jersey for next to nothing and was given Pennsylvania while selling huge tracts of land in both states for comparatively massive profit . How does this square with the usual image of Penn the fair dealer?

When Penn went to Pennsylvania he immediately moved into his newly erected mansion house, Pennsbury. This is at a time when many poorer immigrants to the colony had to live in caves until they managed to build their houses/farms. This Penn family predilection for fine living and an aristocratic lifestyle ran through the following two generations ending with the establishment and refurbishment of Stoke Poges in England.

Thomas Penn (b.1702 or 03 - d.1775), William Penn's son, eventually inherited the proprietorship of three quarters of Pennsylvania and lived off an income derived from the sale and lease of land to white immigrants who purchased land he had fraudulently gained from the native population. William Penn had made an agreement with the Native Americans who lived in what became known as Pennsylvania. According to the Penns this 'agreement' stated that no man could claim or buy more land from Native Americans than he could walk in a day and a half. In 1737, Thomas Penn, not content with his inheritance of one quarter of the proprietorship of Pennsylvania, chose the three fastest runners in the province and had them run for the allotted time over the clearest and best lying land that he could find. The runners had pacemakers on horseback to ensure that the maximum amount of land was acquired. One of the runners gave up and did not complete the day and a half run. Another drowned in a river. The third runner kept going over the 36 hours thus ensuring that half a million acres of cornfields and hunting grounds came into the Penn family estate. Complaints were made (about the year 1755-6) by Tedeuscung, head of the Delaware Indians, that they had been cheated of their lands back 47 miles from the Neshamina and forks of Delaware. Thomas Penn then proceeded to make a personal fortune by selling of the land to immigrants. Four years later he returned to England, becoming an absentee landlord living off the income from the purchase of lands by immigrants. He never went back to Pennsylvania. It is not surprising that, two years later, he writes to the Quakers saying that he 'did not hold their opinions concerning defence' and adding that 'I no longer continue the little distinction of dress'. His shift to becoming a land owning aristocrat was completed when he inherited another half of Pennsylvania from his brother, John Penn and when he married Lady Juliana Fermore, fourth daughter of the Earl of Pomfret in 1751. While Thomas and his wife and family lived out their days on his estate of Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire, the Native Americans of Pennsylvania come under increasing pressure from the ever encroaching white settlers. These settlers continued the Penn tradition of fraud and deceit to overturn the rights of the indigenous population and spark off a series of 'wars'.

John Penn, (1760 - 1834), inherited the estate at Stoke Poges from his parents, Thomas Penn and Lady Juliana Fermore, fourth daughter of Thomas, first Earl of Pomfret in l775. In l789, he returned to Stoke Park having spent a considerable time away in Geneva and America, with £130,000 from the new American Commonwealth in compensation for the family's twenty-one million acres in Pennsylvania (although he had claimed it was worth some £1,500,00). A pension of £4,000 a year was also granted by the British Parliament to compensate for the inadequacy of the initial payment (this meant, if the agreement was honoured, he would have received a further £176,000 in compensation). By 1798, he was made High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire and a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army and in 1802, he was the MP for Helston, in Cornwall.

(iv) William Penn & Other Quakers: Slavery and Servants

William Penn Slave Owner

William Penn adopted a paternalistic attitude towards black slaves 'looking upon a slave not as the property of the master but as a member of the family'.

While the immediate American association with Penn in many peoples minds is the State of Pennsylvania, he was also involved in the bloody English annexation and the settlement by Quakers of the New York and New Jersey areas. These lands were already settled by slave owning Europeans, a system which continued and expanded during English rule. Penn was a close friend of the Duke of York (later James II). The Duke was given the area of New Amsterdam (renamed New York) and beyond in 1664. Under the Dutch West India Company the slaves of New Amsterdam had lived in what was known as 'half-freedom' (i.e. they had some rights and limited independence). However, once under British rule they were again chattel slaves (although these urban slaves never again accepted the complete servitude endured by their rural counterparts). None of this ever seemed to affect William Penn's friendship with the Duke. By 1687 Quakers were populous in New York, Governor Dongon reported:

'Here bee not many of the Church of England, (and) few Roman catholicks,
(but) abundance of Quakers - preachers men and women, especially - singing
Quakers, ranting Quakers, Sabbartarians, Anti sabbatarians, some Anabaptists,
some Independents, some Jews; in short, all sorts of opinions there are some,
and the most part none at all.'

Penn had grown up with the acceptance of the 'naturalness' of having slave labour about him. When he was aged 11 his father, brought to their home a slave, Anthony. His father, Admiral Sir William Penn, traded, Anthony, for another slave, Sampson, with a Barbados merchant in February 1665. Two years later there is no mention of Anthony but, at Tower Hill, London, the family had a slave named, Jack. In London the Penns mixed in a society of the rich and the aristocratic where the ownership of black African slave servants was a common sight.

The Quakers of Pennsylvania used euphemisms for their slaves referring to them as 'servants' and their labour as 'service'. This fact makes it difficult to ascertain how many slaves the Penns owned in Pennsylvania. William Penn, himself, saw nothing wrong with the ownership of slaves. In 1685, he wrote casually of his ownership of slaves of the use of slave labour for the transportation of goods through the colonies,

'The reproaches I hear daily of the conduct of things bear hard upon my spirits.
I wonder you had no wampum of mine, for I left about 20 or £ 25 worth that came
from New York, as part of the goods I paid so dear for there. I hear my sloop
has been ill-used by Captain Dore, and is now laid up in the Schuylkill.
I have disposed of her to Richard Song, the bearer. If she be not fit, then hire him a sloop for his turn. I send rigging by him, which preserve if not wanted for him.
He is to be loaded with pipe staves on my account, or any others that
will freight to Barbadoes. Let him have one of the blacks of Allen,
--- two of which are as good as bought, --- such a one as is most used to sea;
and if George Emlen will go with him, hire him. He will return to thee, by way of Saltitudoes. If George Emlen be settled, [he was wanted as mate]
pick out an honest, true man.'
Watson's Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania
Vol. 1 Chapter 5 Written 1830 -- 1850

Slave ownership was written into the first Frame of Government of the Province of Pennsylvania. This is despite Penn's profession that all people of all colours were entitled to equality. His Quaker Christian professions counted for little or nothing once confronted with a rapidly growing province with an acute shortage of labour to work the lands and carry out the multitude of tasks demanded by rural and urban Quaker society. Wage labour was difficult to obtain in Pennsylvania where land was cheap and fertile and where credit was readily available. Quaker pragmatism therefore, demanded slave labour.

Quakers also dealt directly in trading slaves. James Claypool a Quaker and member of the Free Society of Traders had a joint business with other Quakers to buy slaves from his brother in Barbados. Penn's agent, Philip Lehnmain, was using a ship, The Isabella' to trade for slaves. In 1683 Penn was actively dealing in slaves, buying some from Captain Nathaniel Allen. He was also selling slaves. He sold one of his slaves, who was an excellent fisherman, for 'a full price, for the man will expect it of me'. By 1687 Penn had decided that his plantation at Pennsbury should use only slave labour with a white overseer.

One son of a 'servant' named, Virgil, was sold in 1733 (16 years after William Penn's death) to Thomas Penn by Joseph Warder thus providing evidence that the Penn family had never given up the ownership of slaves.

Pennsbury Mansion and Slave Plantation

It was better they was blacks for then a man has them while they live
William Penn on his preference for slave labour rather than white indentured labour on his Pennsbury Slave Plantation

The wealthy colonists of Pennsylvania had large mansion houses and fertile estates. They brought the frames of their houses with them from Europe. Penn ensured that wealthy immigrants had the best land with plots for their mansions which had aspects across rivers and valleys.

In Watson's Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania his entry for 1685 says:

'The Penn family receive £40 of the bearer for a lady in England that intends<
to go over soon with her family; and many considerable persons are like to
follow. She has bought 5,500 acres, and her first 300 must be chosen on the
river, next to Arthur Cook's. She wants a house of brick, like Hannah
Psalter's in Burlington, and she will give £40 sterling in money, and as much<
more in goods. Francis Collins or T. Matlack may build it. It must have four
rooms below, about 36 by 18 feet large, --- the rooms 9 feet high, and of two
stories height."

Poor immigrants, which included thousands of Quakers recruited by Penn on his European 'missionary' tours, lived in log cabins covered with clapboards, or bark and turf huts. These dwellings provided shelter while they built their houses. They also dug caves in the river banks as temporary homes. To avoid starvation they relied on provisions offered by Native Americans.

Pennsbury was the name of Penn's country estate and mansion in Pennsylvania. It was referred to as his "palace". Situated in Bucks County on the margin of the Delaware river, below Bordertown, William Penn and his family lived there in 1700 and 1701. John Satcher (Sotcher or Sachar) and wife Mary Loftis were the stewards of Pennsbury from 1701 until around 1710. Penn's Will of 1701 included this clause:

"...& my blacks (given) their freedom, as under my hand already...."

This is the only one of William Penn's wills that contain such a clause. Neither his will of 1705 nor his last will of 1712 repeated this, and, while Penn is said to have freed some slaves during his lifetime (did they become tied tenants on his estate one wonders?), other slaves passed to his heirs at his death. (see Appendix v , Fourth Will of William Penn (1701)

The mansion was constructed in 1682-3, at the huge expense of £7,000. The Penns had considerable amounts of finished and ornamental materials brought out from England. Pennsbury Mansion was sixty feet by forty feet. The garden was ornamental and sloped down to the river side in front. In 1684 the original lands of Pennsbury amounted to 3431 acres, 2288 acres were later granted to others (were these, perhaps, sold or used as inducements to potential immigrants?) thus leaving some 1150 acres for his slave plantation.


Penn obviously thought that a slave plantation was the natural inheritance for his children when wrote of Pennsbury:

"Let my children be husbandmen and housewives.<
This leads to consider the works of God and nature and diverts<
the mind from being taken up with the vain arts and inventions of
a luxurious world. Of cities and towns of concourse beware. The
world is apt to stick close to those who have lived and got wealth there.
A country life and estate I like best for my children".

Penn certainly did not live simply but rather in a 'state and style of the grandees of olden time'. Here is a list of the furniture and plate, which was deposited at Pennsbury which the researcher J. F. Fisher got from John Penn at Stoke Poges:

'In the best chamber, sundry tables, stands, cane chairs, a bed and bedding, and a suit of satin curtains, &c.<

In the next chamber, a bed and bedding, six cane chairs, a suit of camblet curtains, &c.

In the next chamber, one wrought bed and bedding, six wooden chairs, &c.

In the nursery, one pallet bedstead, two chairs of master John's and sundries, &c.

In the next chamber, one bed and bedding, one suit of striped linen curtains, four rush-bottomed chairs, &c.

In the garrets, four bedsteads, two beds, three side saddles -- one of them my mother's, two pillions.

IN THE LOWER ROOMS -- best parlour, two tables, one couch, two great cane chairs and four small ditto, seven cushions -- four of them satin, three others green plush, and sundries more.

The other parlour, two tables, six chairs, one great leather chair, one clock, a pair of brasses, and other mentioned things.

In the little hall, six leather chairs, five maps.

In the great hall, one long table and two forms, six chairs, pewter dishes, five mazarins, two cisterns, and sundries others.

Linen and plate, damask, Irish diaper, fine Dutch diaper, hugabag, five sideboard cloths, one large tankard, one basin, six salts, one skillet, five plates, seven spoons, two forks, two porrigers, &c., small articles. A chest of drawers containing an invoice of linen, all marked W.P.H.

In the closet and best chamber, bed and bedding, two silk blankets and white curtains, also two damask curtains for windows, six cane chairs, one hanging press.

In the kitchen, a grate iron, one pair of racks, three spits, one pair of great dogs, &c.

I see another paper entitled, "Plate carried to Pennsylvania", from which I extract some of the items : one large tankard, one caudle cup, three tumblers, six spoons, two forks, three chafing dishes with things to burn spirits, one large plate with the Springet arms that Springet's grandmother gave him, one little strong-water bottle, G.M.S., one save-all, G.S., six spoons with a cross, six egg spoons, W.P.G., six porrigers, G.W.P., eighteen spoons, G.W.P., six forks with W.P.'s arms, one skillet, J.P.M., one sucking bottle, M.P. -- W.P., one sugar dish, J.J.M., one large chafing dish with gridiron, a top, which Letitia's grandmother Penington gave her, also one skimmer, from the same to her, one large plate with the Springet arms, that Springet's grandmother Penington gave him. (Several other items are named.)

From 'Watson's Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania'

The letter from Penn to his stewards John and Mary Sacher dated London, 18th March, 1708 gives some insight into his handling of his Pennsbury slave plantation as an absentee Proprietor:

John Sacher -- Loving friend. -- I had thy letter with satisfaction, and glad to hear
of thy and family's welfare. I am glad to hear of the good condition of poor
Pennsbury, beloved of us all, and there, in the will of God, we wish ourselves.
If thou leavest it, give J. Logan an act. of ye fruit of thy labour, as acres cleared,
and fence, and of both plow and sow land. Likewise, deliver all ye plate, linnen
and household stuff into his possession and care. [This may account for my
Penn-chair received from Mrs. Logan] I bless God, we are all alive and well,
save our dear sweete Hannah, whom the Lord took four months ago, at 4 1/2
years, the wittiest and womanliest creature that her age (of 4 1/2) could show,
but His holy will be done.
Thy loving friend,
Wm. Penn
From 'Watson's Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania'

Slavery in Pennsylvania

The Northern States of America, including Pennsylvania, depended for their economic success on their trade with the slave economies of the West Indies. The Northern States fed and sustained the slave colonies of the West Indies where plantation owners saw the growing of food as being less profitable than producing sugar and its by products.

In Pennsylvania the seasonal demands of cereal farming meant that its agriculture was not particularly viable for the employment of large numbers of slaves. Generally farmers in Pennsylvania preferred to use indentured servants rather than slave labour. In the Chester and Lancashire Counties of Pennsylvania two thirds of the bond 'servants' held by the wealthiest Pennsylvanian farmers were indentured servants rather than chattel slaves (although this was obviously not true of William Penn on his Pennsbury Slave Plantation). Slaves were often seen as status symbols - working in the fields at planting and harvest times and working as domestic servants in their master's or mistress's house at other times.

Most slaves in Northern colonies were in rural work but others were in industries like tanning, salt and iron concerns. The Iron masters were the largest employers of industrial black slaves. In fact the Pennsylvanian iron masters reliance of slave labour was of such a proportion that at one time they petitioned for a reduction in the tariff on the importation of slaves in order that the could keep their furnaces in operation. During the middle of the 18th Century there was a change of policy in the appropriation of slaves into the Northern colonies. Because of the scarcity of obtaining white indentured labour merchants were beginning to import slaves directly from Africa. Before 1741, 70% of slaves arrived in the Northern colonies from the West Indies and other Mainland areas, after 1741, however, 70% of slaves came direct from Africa. Slaves were used not only in the traditional 'provisions' trade but increasingly in cities. By the 1760s black slaves constituted two thirds of the servant population of Philadelphia. In wills and inventories of the time chattel slaves were often listed amongst other valuable items of household property such as clocks and carriages. Here is an extract from the Will of Peter DeHaven dated 1767:

'In the name of God Amen.
I Peter DeHaven of Whitpain Township in the County of Philadelphia in the Province
of Pennsylvania yeoman....Secondly I give unto my well beloved wife Elizabeth one
third of my whole Estate to be paid to her by my Executor within twelve Months
after my Decease. I also give unto her my malattow (mulatto) child now
living with me....'

Amongst the wealthy and middle classes in the towns and cities of the American colonies the ownership of slaves was practically universal. It was only the lack of living quarters which prevented many of them from increasing the number of slaves in their households. This lack of living accommodation in towns and cities also meant that urban female slaves were sold as soon as they were discovered to be pregnant . One of the effects of this policy, as well as the distress caused to the women concerned, was that there was a move towards slaves with children 'living out' thus acquiring some measure of independence and freedom from direct control of all aspects of their lives by their 'masters'.

As a result of the Gradual Emancipation Act of 1780, the 3,737 African American slave population of 1790 dropped to 64 by 1840. By 1850 all Pennsylvania African Americans were free unless they were fugitives from the South. In Pennsylvania on September 11th, 1851 it was reported that '....a group of blacks dispersed slave catchers in Christiana. One White man was killed, another wounded.'

The Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery, signed by Tom Paine on March 1, 1780,

Section 14 states:

'And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That an act of
affembly of die province of Pennfylvania, paffed in the year one
thousand Seven hundred and five, intitled, "an Act for the trial of Negroes;"
and another act of affembly of the faid province, paffed in the year one
thousand feven hundred and twenty five, intitled, "An Act for the better
regulating of Negroes in this province; " and another act of affembly of<
the faid province, paffed in the year one thousand feven hundred and fixty
one, intitled, .. An Act for laying a duty on Negro and Mulatto flaves imported
into this province; " and also another act of affembly of the faid province,
paffed in the year one thousand feven hundred and feventy three, inititled,
"An Act making perpetual an Act laying a duty on Negro and Mulatto flaves
imported into this province, and for laying an additional duty faid flaves,"
fhall be and are hereby repealed, annulled and made void.'.

The African American community of Pennsylvania had 6,500 free people in 1790, rising to 57,000 in 1860. Philadelphia was their population and cultural centre.

Quaker Attitudes Towards Slavery

Much is often made of the Quaker protests against the trade in slaves. While Pennsylvania was being established some, while opposed by William Penn, did indeed petition for an end to the 'traffiking in human flesh' including the 'Christian Quakers' lead by George Keith. However it can be argued that this was very often based on racialist grounds rather than on the grounds of equality of human beings. The Quakers wanted to make a success of their 'Holy Experiment' which involved building a province occupied by white Quakers filled with the protestant work ethic. Quakers in Pennsylvania wrote to Quakers in Barbados requesting them to stop supplying slaves to Philadelphia as the city was being 'overstretched'. Penn came under increasing pressure to free his slaves and place them on the status of indentured labourers. In 1701 he wrote a will, which he kept secret from his family, saying that his 'blacks' would become free when he died. He also wrote that his indentured 'servants' would be free after they had completed their indentureship.These clauses however were omitted from later wills. Penn tried to keep his free labour on the Plantation by making them tenants (perhaps in the same way tenants were established on his father's Irish estates?). By the early 1700s the tide of 'sympathy' towards slaves was beginning to turn in the minds of Pennsylvanian Quakers. Slaves who had been freed often absconded or came up against the Provinces laws, Penn himself complained about the cost of the keep of one of his female slaves. Around the time Penn went to England, Quaker interest in slave welfare began to decline and became focused on the number of blacks entering the province. Quakers called for restrictions (on racial grounds) in the number of blacks introduced to Pennsylvania. They wanted to raise the import tax on slaves from 2 shillings a head to £2 a head. Part of the proposed income from this duty was promised as a financial inducement to Penn if he promoted the scheme in England. This increase and a request to stop all importing of slaves was refused by the English Board of Trade. At the same time the Governors of Pennsylvania also wanted to prevent the movement of 'Indians' into Pennsylvania except for those born or naturalised there.

In 1756 there were 84 Quakers listed as being members of the Company trading to Africa among them the Barclay * and Baring families. Slave dealing was a lucrative business for American and English Quakers.

(* Barclays Bank. 1756 the brothers David & Alexandra Barclay were engaged in the slave trade. David's career revolved around American and West Indian trade and he was one of the most influential merchants of his day. His father lived in the prestigious area of Cheapside, London, England and was visited by royalty. He owned a large plantation in Jamaica. Barclays intermarried with other Quaker families, the Gurney's and Freame's, thus giving rise to Barclay's Bank)

Watson's Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania (1830-50) gives a description (from a white perspective) of a woman slave, Alice, of Philadelphia:

ALICE --- a black woman -----
Was a slave, born in Philadelphia, of parents who came from Barbadoes, and lived in that city until she was ten years old, when her master removed her to Dunk's Ferry, in which neighbourhood she continued to the end of her days. She remembered the ground on which Philadelphia stands when it was a wilderness and when the Indians (its chief inhabitant) hunted wild game in the woods, while the panther, the wolf, and the beast of the forests were prowling about the wigwams and cabins in which they lived. Being a sensible, intelligent woman, and having a good memory, which she retained to the last, she would often make judicious remarks on the population and improvements of the city  and country; hence her conversation became peculiarly interesting, especially to the immediate descendants of the first settlers, of whose ancestors she often related acceptable anecdotes. She remembered William Penn, Thomas Story,  James Logan, and several other distinguished characters of that day. During a short visit which she paid to Philadelphia in her last days, many respectable persons called to see her, who were all pleased with her innocent cheerfulness.  In observing the increase of the city, she pointed out the house next to the Episcopal church, to the southward in Second street, as the first brick building that was erected in it. The first church, she said, was a small frame of wood that stood within the present walls, the ceiling of which she could reach with her hands. She was a worthy member of Christ church; used to visit it on horseback at 95 years of age; loved to hear the Bible read; had a great regard for the truth. She died in 1802, and retained her hearing; she lost her sight at from 96 to 100 gradually, but it returned again. When blind she was skilful in catching fish, and would row herself out alone into the stream; at 102 years of age, her sight gradually returned , partially. Before she died, her hair became perfectly white; and the last of her teeth dropped sound from her head at the age of 116 years; at this age she died (1802) at Bristol, Pennsylvania. For forty years she received ferriages at Dunk's Ferry. The woman said she remembered that the bell of the church was affixed in the crotch of a tree, then standing on the church alley.'

Pennsylvania and the Antislavery Movement: Women in the Vanguard

The first Quaker opposition to slavery came from those who lived in the small rural communities of northern America, they were independent of slave labour. 'It is difficult to avoid the assumption that opposition to the slave system was at first confined to a group who gained no direct advantage from it, and consequently possessed an objective attitude.', AT Gary, The Political and Economic Relations of English and American Quakers, 1750-85, thesis, 1935.

In Pennsylvania abolitionist leaders were both African American and white. African American leaders included, James Forten and Robert Purvis, Robert Porter, William Still, John B. and George Vashon and William Parker who lead the riot in Christiana.

John Woodman was a Quaker campaigner who spoke out against slavery in the Northern States. The number of slaves in New Jersey when Woolman's started was high, as late as 1800 they numbered 12,422. In Perth Amboy in New Jersey (see, Background to European claims on 'Pennsylvania' 1664) newly imported Africans arrived and a long barracks was built to accommodate them. In 1734, when Woolman was fourteen, an insurrection of slaves took place at Perth Amboy. The slaves, in an alliance with Native Americans and the French, attempted to kill their British masters. Some years later a slave convicted of crime was burned alive at Perth Amboy and a huge number of slaves from all the neighbouring townships were made to witnesses this slow and painful death.

These, and other events, made Woodman speak out. In his Journal (1720-1742) he wrote:

'My employer, having a negro woman, sold her, and desired
me to write a bill of sale, the man being waiting who bought her. The thing
was sudden; and though I felt uneasy at the thoughts of writing an
instrument of slavery for one of my fellow-creatures, yet I remembered
that I was hired by the year, that it was my master who directed me to do it,
and that it was an elderly man, a member of our Society, who bought her;
so through weakness I gave way, and wrote it; but at the executing of it
I was so afflicted in my mind, that I said before my master and the
Friend that I believed slave-keeping to be a practice inconsistent
with the Christian religion..... Some time after this a young man of
our Society spoke to me to write a conveyance of a slave to him,
he having lately taken a negro into his house. I told him I was not
easy to write it; for though many of our meeting and in other places
kept slaves, I still believed the practice was not right, and desired to be
excused from the writing. I spoke to him in goodwill; and he told me that
keeping slaves was not altogether agreeable to his mind; but that the
slave being a gift made to his wife, he had accepted her.'

In January,1759 he wrote:

'Having found my mind drawn to visit some of the more active members
in our Society at Philadelphia, who had slaves, I met my friend John
Churchman there by agreement, and we continued about a week in the city.
We visited some that were sick, and some widows and their families, and the
other part of our time was mostly employed in visiting such as had slaves.
It was a time of deep exercise, but, looking often to the Lord for His
assistance, He in unspeakable kindness favoured us with the influence
of that Spirit which crucifies to the greatness and splendour of this world,
and enabled us to go through some heavy labours, in which we found peace.'

And again in March, 1759:

'After attending our general Spring Meeting at Philadelphia I again joined
with John Churchman on a visit to some who had slaves in Philadelphia,
and with thankfulness to our Heavenly Father I may say that divine love and a true sympathizing tenderness of heart prevailed at times in this service.'

In 1761 he wrote:

'Having felt my mind drawn towards a visit to a few meetings in Pennsylvania....
In this visit I was at two Quarterly and three Monthly Meetings, and in the
love of truth I felt my way open to labour with some noted Friends who kept
negroes. As I was favoured to keep to the root, and endeavour to discharge
what I believed was required of me, I found inward peace therein, from time to
time, and thankfulness of heart to the Lord, who was graciously pleased to be
a guide to me.'

In August 1761 Woodman wrote:

'Having felt drawings in my mind to visit Friends in and about Shrewsbury;
I went there, and was at their Monthly Meeting, and their First-day meeting;
I had also a meeting at Squan, and another at Squanquam, and, as way
opened, had conversation with some noted Friends concerning their slaves.
I returned home in a thankful sense of the goodness of the Lord.'

In 1762 he wrote and had printed, "Considerations on keeping Negroes". His perception of its reception by slave owning Quakers and their slaves was:

' ....members of our religious society in general, among whom are some
who keep negroes, and, being inclined to continue them in slavery, are not
likely to be satisfied with such books being spread among a people,
especially at their own expense, many of whose slaves are taught to read,
and such, receiving them as a gift, often conceal them. But as they who
make a purchase generally buy that which they have a mind for, I believed
it best to sell them, expecting by that means they would more generally be
read with attention. Advertisements were signed by order of the overseers
of the press, and directed to be read in the Monthly Meetings of business
within our own Yearly Meeting, informing where the books were, and that the
price was no more than the cost of printing and binding them. Many were taken
off in our parts; some I sent to Virginia, some to New York, some to my
acquaintance at Newport, and some I kept, intending to give part of them away,
where there appeared a prospect of service.'

Slavery disappeared in Pennsylvania but did so very slowly under the Gradual Emancipation Act of 1780. The slavery issue became politically important across America after 1820 when many white Pennsylvanians refused to return fugitive slaves to their masters in other States. In 1847 the Pennsylvania State forbade the use of its jails to detain fugitive African Americans. In 1850, a national program intended to head off the widespread agitation over slavery, imposed a new Federal Fugitive Slave Law. Citizens in Christiana, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania rioted in 1851 to prevent the implementation of the law. The new Republican Party developed in Pennsylvania to oppose slavery. When the Pennsylvania Democrat James Buchanan was elected President and announced a policy of noninterference with slavery in the states and popular sovereignty for federal territories (i.e. lands not yet States) he lost support of his Northern electorate. This loss of support lead to Abraham Lincoln's election as President in 1860 and the American Civil War followed.

While all this action was occurring on the American national stage people were taking independent action of their own. Most significantly was the setting up of the 'underground railroad' where people helped escaped slaves travel through the United States to freedom in Canada.

Courageous women, including Anna Dickinson, Lucretia Mott, Ann Preston, and Jane Swisshelm, were to the fore in the anti slavery movement in Pennsylvania. Individual white women were active in their support for the American Revolution working for the advancement of the status of all women:

Conditions of Servants in Pennsylvania

During the 18th Century two thirds of the emigrants to Pennsylvania were white servants, in four years 25,000 came to Philadelphia alone. At this time servants in America were treated increasingly as people living in 'approaching slave conditions' with restrictions on movement and liberty. In Pennsylvania 'no matter how kindly they may have been treated in particular cases, or how voluntarily they may have entered into the relation, as a class and when once bound, indentured servants were temporarily chattels.' (C.A. Herrick, White Servitude in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 1926).

In Barbados servants were bought and sold by their masters or attached to list of property by their masters for matters of debt. Here is an extract from the Will of Joshua Potts of Philadelphia dated 1757 where he 'leaves' his white servant, Magdalena Slowger, to his wife:

'In the Name of God Amen this Nineteenth day of September in the Year of our
Lord one thousand seven hundred and fifty seven I Joshua Potts of the Manner
of Moreland in the County of Philada and Province of Pennsylvania Yeoman Item
I do give and Bequeath unto my well beloved Wife Ann Potts four feather beds
and all the appurtenances unto the P. beds belonging and all my Table Cloathes
and Napkins and the best Case of Drawers and one desk and two Black Walnut
Tables and one large Looking Glass and all my Pewter ware and all my Brass
ware Except the bigest Kettle and all my Iron ware belonging to house & Kitchen
uses and and all my Delf and China ware and all my Silver utensils and my Clock
and my Tea Chest and one white Servant Maid Named Magdalena Slowgar and
To give unto my said Wife the Side Saddle and bridle and one young Sorrel riding
Mare and I give unto my said Wife also one dough Trough and one pine Table and
one Dozen of the best Chairs and all my spinning wheels Item my Will is that all
my books be left in the Custody of my wife and be equally Divided Between my
said Wife and my Children Share and Share alike.'

Servants were sold from one master to another in Pennsylvania as this extract shows from 'Watson's Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania (written 1830-50); Primitive Courts and Trials', Vol. I, Chapter 28.

'1683, January 20th

Nathaniel Allen complained to the governor and council, that he had sold
a servant to Henry Bowman for six cwt. of beef, with the hide and tallow,
and 65 Pounds sterling; also that he had hired his boat to the said Bowman
and another, for one month, which they detained eighteen weeks.'

(v) Native Americans, The Penn Family and Fraudulent Treaties

Native Americans living in Pennsylvania at the Time of Colonialisation

The following information comes with permission from First Nations History pages on the Net (thanks Lee!).
Contact at the following addresses:
Please do contact the above for in-depth histories of Native American peoples and details of The Beaver Wars.

The Wenro

Located in western New York and northwestern Pennsylvania centering around what is now the town of Cuba, New York State. The Wenro were a small tribe of somewhere between 1,200 and 2,000 people. The number of their villages is unknown, but from the pattern of their dispersal in 1639, there appears to have been either two or three. The Wenro ceased to exist as a tribe in 1643. Any descendants would be found among the Iroquois, the Seneca of Oklahoma, or possibly the Wyandot. Their language was Iroquian. They were the first victim of the Beaver Wars. Finally forced to abandon New York, the survivors fled west and became part of the Neutrals. At this point the Wenro had ceased to exist.

The Susquehannock

Located at the Susquehanna River and its branches from the north end of Chesapeake Bay in Maryland across Pennsylvania into southern New York. Their original numbers is uncertain, since early European settlers seldom visited their villages. The best guesses of their population in 1600 are somewhere between 5,000 to 7,000 in at least five tribal groups. By 1700 there were only 300 Susquehannock. Their rapid decline continued until the last 20 were massacred by a mob of colonists in 1763. The first European contact with the Susquehannock was in 1608 when Captain John Smith (from Jamestown) was exploring the northern end of Chesapeake Bay. This encounter was friendly enough, but Smith was wary because of their reputation and awed by their size. His later reports described them as giants.


The original homeland of the Iroquois was in upstate New York between the Adirondack Mountains and Niagara Falls. Through conquest and migration, they gained control of most of the northeastern United States and eastern Canada. At its maximum in 1680, their empire extended west from the north shore of Chesapeake Bay through Kentucky to the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers; then north following the Illinois River to the south end of Lake Michigan; east across all of lower Michigan, southern Ontario and adjacent parts of southwestern Quebec; and finally south through northern New England west of the Connecticut River through the Hudson and upper Delaware Valleys across Pennsylvania back to the Chesapeake. With two exceptions - the Mingo occupation of the upper Ohio Valley and the Caughnawaga migration to the upper St. Lawrence - the Iroquois did not, for the most part, physically occupy this vast area but remained in their upstate New York villages.

During the hundred years preceding the American Revolution, wars with French-allied Algonquin and British colonial settlement forced them back within their original boundaries once again. Their decision to side with the British during the Revolutionary War was a disaster for the Iroquois. The American invasion of their homeland in 1779 drove many of the Iroquois into southern Ontario where they have remained. With large Iroquois communities already located along the upper St. Lawrence in Quebec at the time, roughly half of the Iroquois population has since lived in Canada. This includes most of the Mohawk along with representative groups from the other tribes. Although most Iroquois reserves are in southern Ontario and Quebec, one small group (Michel's band) settled in Alberta during the 1800s as part of the fur trade.

The Mingo

By 1740 there were almost a thousand Mingo living in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. Although considered part of the Iroquois, they had begun to think and act like a separate tribe. From its peak of 25,000 in 1660, Iroquois population had gone into a steady decline from war and epidemic to about 14,000 by 1740. The 1,500 Tuscarora added in 1722 did not compensate for the defection of 1,000 Mingo to Ohio and 2,000 Caughnawaga to Canada. Both the British and French were aware of this decline, but on paper the Iroquois were still formidable because of the Covenant Chain. The League often abused its responsibility to represent member tribes, and there never was a clearer example than its support of the British in the infamous Walking Purchase in 1737. Pennsylvania "discovered" an old treaty supposedly signed by the Delaware which gave it the right to claim a large part of the remaining Delaware homeland. Through fraud and trickery, the colonists enlarged the claim to include almost all of the land the Delaware had left. As members of the Covenant Chain, the Delaware turned to the League for help. What they got instead was intimidation and insult. Furious the Delaware had dared to sell land without their permission, the Iroquois took the bribes offered by Pennsylvania and supported the British. The Delaware continued to protest, but at a 1742 meeting with the Pennsylvania governor, the Iroquois representative Canasatego silenced the Delaware sachem Nutimus as he rose to complain about the Walking Purchase, called the Delaware men 'women', and ordered him to leave. This left the Delaware and some Shawnee landless. The Iroquois ordered them to the upper Susquehanna in north-central Pennsylvania where the League was running its own "Indian reservation" for Covenant Chain tribes displaced by British settlement. The Iroquois were generous to provide land for these tribes but self-serving to the extent it gave them additional warriors in case of war with the French.

Watson's Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania (Volume 1, Chapter 9, written 1830 - 1850) give some insight as to the nature of the original supposed 'Treaty' of 1685 and the guilt he felt at Penn obtaining so much of the original land of Pennsylvania/Philadelphia for such little financial out lay. As Watson says '....such lands as we now possess should have been bestowed for such very inconsiderable reward! I feel it as a stain upon our escutcheon of honour....' and ' "They, to greet the pale faced stranger stretch'd an unsuspecting hand....Entrapp'd by Treaties, driven forth to range the distant west in misery and revenge ! " The full passage reads:

The Treaty, so made, on the 30th dy of the 5th mo.1685, was formed with Shakkoppoh, Secane, Malibore, and Tangoras, Indian Sakamakers, and right owners of the lands lying between Macapanackan, alias Upland, now called Chester River or Creek, and the River or Creek of Pemapecka, now called Dublin Creek, beginning at a hill called Conshohockin (at present by Matson's ford) on the River Manaiunk or Skoolkill, &c., &c. .....then to go north-westerly back into the woods --- to make up two full days' journey, ASFAR AS A MAN CAN GO IN TWO DAYS, from the said station of the parallel line at Pemapecka, [thus going or extending in effect back to the Susquehanna River, and no further, at that time, and in THAT treaty].  FOR, AND IN CONSIDERATION, [we feel almost ashamed to name it !] of 200 fathoms of wampum, 30 fathoms of duffels, 30 guns, 60 fathoms of strawed waters, 30 kettles, 30 shirts, 20 gunbelts, 12 pair of shoes, 30 pair of stockings, 30 pair of scissors, 30 combs, 30 axes, 30 knives, 20 tobacco tongs, 30 bars of lead, 30 pounds of powder, 30 awls, 30 glasses, 30 tobacco boxes, 3 papersof beads, 44 pounds of red lead, 30 pair of hawks' bells, 6 drawing knives, 6 caps,
12 hoes: Do by these presents grant, bargain and sell, &c., all right, title and iinterest, THAT WE OR ANY OTHERS SHALL OR MAY CLAIM IN THE SAME, --- hereby renouncing and disclaiming for ever any claim or pretence to the premises, for us, our heirs, and successors, and all other Indians whatsoever.  The whole is signed by queer marks and witnessed by seven Indians and eight white men --- citizens. It may possibly be urged that the Treaty made on 23d of 4mo, 1683, when William Penn was still here, between William Penn and Kings Tamanen and Metamequan, for their lands, from "near Neshemanah Creek, and thence to Pemapecka" may have been treated for under the Treaty Tree.  This certainly appears to have been the earliest land treaty on record; but as Philadelphia was then already located as a city, it could not have been necessary for that object.  There is still another view of this subject to be considered I have endeavoured to repress the expression of the feelings I cannot but feel in the contemplation of the premises, that such lands as we now possess should have been bestowed for such very inconsiderable reward ! I feel it as a stain upon our escutcheon of honour, that while
           "They, to greet the pale faced stranger
              Stretch'd an unsuspecting hand,"
we should have been so unmindful of our own duties, as to overlook the
recompense due ---
             "Entrapp'd by Treaties, driven forth to range
              The distant west in misery and revenge ! "
The only abatement I know, is to say that Penn in fact deemed the land his own by grant from the Crown even before he came among them; as his letter to the Indians from London sets forth, on the 15 of 8 mo.1681, saying, even to themselves openly, that his king hath given him a great Province, (i.e. their lands!) which he, however, "desires to enjoy with their love and consent".?

(for other information on the Penn defrauding of the Mingo people see the following section on the Shawnee, An Introduction to the Penn Family and Thomas Penn


Originally southern Ohio, West Virginia, and western Pennsylvania. The Shawnee were driven from this area by the Iroquois sometime around the 1660s and then scattered in all directions to South Carolina, Tennessee's Cumberland Basin, eastern Pennsylvania, and southern Illinois. By 1730 most of the Shawnee had returned to their homeland only to be forced to leave once again - this time by American settlement. Moving first to Missouri and then Kansas, the main body finally settled in Oklahoma after the Civil War.


Estimates of the original Shawnee population range from 3,000 to 50,000, but a reasonable guess is somewhere around 10,000. By 1700 they were still scattered, and accurate estimates were impossible, perhaps 6,000 people. The first good count occurred in 1825 and gave 1,400 Shawnee in Missouri, 110 in Louisiana, and 800 in Ohio. There were also a couple hundred in Texas at this time, so the total should have been near 2,500. There was only a minor decline by the time of the 1910 census: Absentee Shawnee 481; Eastern Shawnee 107; and Shawnee (Cherokee Shawnee) with the Cherokee Nation 1,400. Currently, there are more than 14,000 Shawnee in the United States in four groups - three of which are in Oklahoma. The 2,000 Absentee Shawnee in the vicinity of Shawnee, Oklahoma organised in 1936 under the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act continued to be the most traditional of the Shawnee groups. The Eastern Shawnee in northeastern Oklahoma are descended from the mixed Seneca-Shawnee band which left Lewistown, Ohio and came to the Indian Territory in 1832. Recognised as a separate tribe in 1867, they organised as the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma during the 1930s and have 1,600 members.

Meanwhile, the other Shawnee were leaving eastern Pennsylvania, but for different reasons. In 1737 Pennsylvania cheated the Delaware out of their last lands in the Lehigh Valley. The loss forced the Shawnee to also leave the area. They settled for a time with the Munsee and other Delaware on Iroquois lands in the Wyoming and Susquehanna Valleys, but the crowded conditions soon had them looking at western Pennsylvania. (See information on The Mingo, above and An Introduction to the Penn Familyand Thomas Penn).

Other Tribes

Other tribes which cannot be identified with certainty, occupied western Pennsylvania before the Europeans arrived, but were eliminated by wars and diseases in the 17th century, long before the Delawares, Shawnees, and Senecas began to move there. The Eries, a great Iroquoian-speaking tribe, lived along the south shore of Lake Erie, but were wiped out by the Iroquois about 1654. The Mahicans, an Algonkian-speaking tribe related to the Mohegans of Connecticut, lived in the upper Hudson Valley of New York but were driven out by pressure from the Iroquois and from the white settlers, some joining the Delawares in the Wyoming Valley about 1730 and some settling at Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Two Algonkian-speaking tribes, the Conoys and the Nanticokes, moved northward from Maryland early in the 18th century, settling in southern New York, and eventually moved west with the Delawares with whom they merged. The Saponis, Siouan-speaking tribes from Virginia and North Carolina, moved northward to seek Iroquois protection and were eventually absorbed into the Cayugas. In the latter part of the 18th century, there were temporary villages of Wyandots, Chippewas, Missisaugas, and Ottawas in western Pennsylvania.

Native Americans & Blacks; Commonalities in History

By being captured and sold as slaves many Native Americans became identified with blacks during colonial times. Native Americans also fought in the Revolutionary War against British rule and many free blacks and Native Americans who fought against the British were granted lands as a reward for this service. About 5,000 black men (slave and free) helped America gain independence from Britain. At first they were kept out of the American army but were allowed to fight once Britain had offered freedom if slaves fought for them.

In the decades before the Civil War the social, economic and cultural position of the Native Americans was deteriorating at an extreemly rapid rate. Their position was, however, complex with Native Americans being found in all levels throughout society; mostly living in servitude and poverty while there were those in their number who were relatively wealthy. These more prosperous Native Americans became assimilated into white American society. The same was true of some African-Americans. However all free African-Americans and Native Americans became perceived as intolerable examples in the South, where they were seen as jeopardising the institution of slavery. White supremacists in the South burned church and court house records so denying access into white society to the vast majority of blacks and Native Americans. Blacks and Native Americans became socially and economically equated with each other. This lead to the philosophy of having all Blacks and Native Americans either securely bound or isolated on rigidly controlled reservations In these reservations they were systematically stripped of dignity and self-sufficiency.

When the American Civil War came it became as much a period of a working out of the destiny of Native Americans, as it was a struggle for liberation of black slaves

Instances of joint resistance by Native Americans and African Americans include:

1763 onwards - Florida. Continual armed resistance by runaway slaves. who combined with Seminole Indians, to rule by Spanish, British, French and, eventually, by white 'Americans'

1816 - Florida. Three hundred fugitive slaves and about 20 Native American allies held Fort Blount on Apalachicola Bay, for several days before it was taken by U.S. Troops.

(vi) Early Pennsylvania Law Courts

Pennsylvania: "Where gross misconduct meets the lash of law."<

Life for those who did not live according to Penn's Quaker laws was found to be as brutal as that in Protestant England. Women, Servants, Slaves and Native Americans all came under Penn's Laws as shown in these extracts from 'Watson's Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania (written 1830 - 1850); Primitive Courts and Trials', Vol. I, Chapter 28.


'Chambers is Sheriff. John Cock constable, for lower part of county, and Nathaniel Harden, for upper part of county. The indictment against said Skeetch, said he had before two wives in Bristol, England; and had now taken Mrs. Smith here to wife; "not found". His petition was filed praying to be stocked, rather than to be beaten with twenty lashes; J. Fabritius signed their marriage as "pastor", &c.'

1683 , January 20th

'Nathaniel Allen complained to the governor and council, that he had sold a servant to Henry Bowman for six cwt. of beef, with the hide and tallow, and 65 Pounds sterling; also that he had hired his boat to the said Bowman and another, for one month, which they detained eighteen weeks. The beef, tallow, hide, and money were all detained. He prayed redress of those grievances; whereupon it was ordered that William Clarke, John Simcoe, and James Harrison, should speak to Henry Bowman concerning this matter. The simplicity of the subject, brought before the Governor of a great country, reminds one strongly of the Patriarchal tribunal of Moses, when he was worried with petty complaints, until he got him seventy of council to help him !'


'Indian Ben petitions the court for his freedom he states, that he was originally a native Indian of New England, brought from Rhode Island by William Coddington, Esq., that after his death, the widow became the wife of Robert Ewer, (a Friend, owner of Blackhorse alley) who now holds him still to service. He prays release, &c.'


'The Grand Jury present, to wit : Sons and servants robbing orchards on the First or Lord's day; the ill consequence of many negroes assembling and acting tumultuously on the same day; the loss of sheep by unnecessary quantity of dogs; the evil of having so many hay and reed stacks in the yards of city houses in case of fires; the great annoyance, daily occurring, of butchers killing their meat in the street [at the market place probably] and leaving their blood and offals there.'


'Women are publicly whipt for having an illegitimate child; and poor runaway apprentices and others, who are whipt, are charged 6s. for the unwelcome service.'


'G. Jones, and one Glasgow, an Indian, stood an hour in the pillory, and were whipt round the town, at the cart's tail, both for assaults, with intent to ravish a girl of six years of age.Margaret Cash is also whipt for stealing.'


'At New Castle, Catharine Bevan is ordered to be burned alive, for the murder of her husband; and Peter Murphy, the servant who assisted her, to be hanged. It was designed to strangle her dead by the previous hanging over the fire and before it could reach her; but the fire "broke out in a stream directly on the rope round her neck, and burnt off instantly, so that she fell alive into the flames, and was seen to struggle therein!" A shocking spectacle for our country !'


'Three negro men were hung for poisoning sundry persons in Jersey. They said they had poisoned Judge William Trent, the founder of Trenton, among that number --- but when he died, none were then suspected. A lad of five years of age, who had heard much of their hanging, took it into his head to make some imitations, and actually hung himself to death from the stake of a fence !

A negro man of Robert Hooper's Esq., of Rocky Hill, in Somerset, New Jersey, was executed by fire, for having killed the child of his overseer, and firing his master's barn.'


'In Philadelphia a black man, brought up to the whipping-post to be whipt, took out his knife and cut his throat before the crowd, so that he died immediately.'

(vii) Port Royal, Jamaica

During the latter half of the 17th century the two largest English towns in the Americas were Boston, Massachusetts and Port Royal, Jamaica.

The construction of Port Royal (first named, during this period of English Republicanism, The Point or Point Cagway, while its fort was called Passage Fort or Fort Cromwell) began a few weeks after the island was taken from the Spanish.

Cromwell attempted numerous ways to establish it as an English outpost from proposing the forced mass emigration of Irish women and also of Scottish Highlanders to the encouragement and bribery of settlers from England and the smaller English colonies in the West Indies.

Between 1655 and 1692 this port grew faster than any other established by the English in the Americas.

Port Royal became notorious for its officially sanctioned privateering. In 1689 approximately 1,200 of the 4,000 whites in the town were privateers. Plundered Spanish money made the port incredibly wealthy. It was the Caribbean centre of England's slave, sugar and raw materials trade.

Its volume of trade was staggering, for instance, in 1688 213 ships visited Port Royal. With its population of between 6,500 - 10,000, only Boston rivalled it in size and importance.

The merchants who controlled the port and its income from slavery and plunder invested in plantations on the island. The get-rich-quick attitude meant that the enforcement of Anglican religious orthodoxy was not upheld and Quakers , Puritans, Presbyterians, Jews and Anglicans all inhabited its 51 acres alongside thieves and pirates.

In 1693 about 33 acres of Port Royal sank into Kingston Harbour as a result of an earthquake thus starting its decline as Jamaica's 'Capitol'.


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