The Penn Family

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Part 2. A Chronology of the Amassing of Capital and Vast Stretches of Land by Five Generations of the Penn Family

1st generation of Penns

Giles Penn (Captain) (1573 - c1641) and Jeanne Gilbert

Giles Penn was a descendant of the Penns who lived in Minety, Wiltshire. Minety, derived from 'mint stream', is between Swindon and Malmesbury in Wiltshire (originally in Gloucestershire), England. His grandfather, William Penn of Minety (d.1591), must have been quite an important figure for when he died in 1591 it is believed that he was buried in front of the alter at Saint Leonards Church, Minety. A plaque commemorating his life was erected in the church. All evidence of this was destroyed during repairs and alterations at the turn of the 19/20th centuries.

1573, Giles was born. His father was William Penn, a law clerk at Malmesbury, Wiltshire and chief clerk to counsellor at law, Christopher George (whose sister he married). His mother was Margaret Penn (Rastall(e)) daughter of John Rastall, alderman of Gloucester and Ann George who was Christopher George's sister.

1600, November 5, Giles and Jeanne (Joane) were married at St Mary Redcliffe Church, Bristol. Jeanne Gilbert was from Yorkshire but at this time lived in the West Country.

1618, Giles and his brother, William, were merchants in Bristol who become bankrupt. It may have been that Giles took up 'merchant adventuring' in order to extricate himself from the debts and losses of his business. He started a series of risky seagoing trips, and was involved in the, literally, cut-throat business of trading off the Barbary coast, (North Africa), with Moorish Merchants.

1601, son George Giles was born.

1607, daughter Rachael was born.

1612, daughter Eleanor died - date of birth unknown.

There is also at least one other daughter born to Giles and Jeanne Penn. Two of their daughters married men named Bradshaw and Markham (see Admiral Sir William Penn's Will). Their nephew William Markham, first cousin to William Penn (see 1681) became, for many years, Lieutenant-Governor of Pennsylvania.

1621, son William (Admiral Sir William Penn) was born.

1627 December 30th, Giles was appointed Council to the Barbary region (Sallee). He was authorised to 'execute that office by himself and his deputies in Morocco and Fez during the king's pleasure with such allowances as consults in other parts of Turkey have from the merchants, or otherwise as Penn and the merchants shall agree.' This had significant financial rewards for Giles Penn and enabled him to make business contacts which allowed him to engage in a steady accumulation of wealth. It is unlikely that he ever revisited England after his appointment.

1631, he obtained Tetuan hawks from Morocco for Charles I and he was given letters of Protection from the king, later he was charged with obtaining Barbary horses for the royal household as well as further numbers of hawks.
Giles was directly involved in consultations and planning arrangements for the sending of an armed English fleet to Sallee.

c1641, Giles Penn died around this time. He left no Will and there is no record of his death in England.

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2nd generation of Penns

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

1621, April 23rd, born in St Thomas Parish, Bristol, the second son of Giles Penn and Jeanne (Joane) Gilbert.

1643, by now a Captain in the British Royal Navy he married Margaret Van der Schure at St Mary Redcliffe Church in Bristol.

She was a young Dutch widow, the daughter of John (or Johann) Jasper an Irish merchant who traded with the Dutch.

1644, October 14, son, William Penn, born.

1644, after joining the King's Navy he was appointed to command of the Fellowship, a ship of 28 guns.

1644, first war between Holland and England.

1645, June, Penn was in command of the fleet which won a significant victory at Lowerstoft.

1645, September, he lead a return to England with many 'prizes'; four men-of-war, three 'East Indiamen' and seven merchant ships. He was acknowledged in his lifetime as a 'national hero'.

1648, he was made Rear Admiral of the Irish Fleet on the Assurance.

1649, he was made a Vice Admiral on the Lion.

1649-50, Ireland was kept 'free' of 'foreign' interventions and Admiral Blake blockaded Prince Rupert's fleet in Kinsale.

1650, March, Penn was aboard the Centurion charged with tracking down Prince Rupert's fleet in the Mediterranean. Blake followed Prince Rupert to Tagus, Portugal and captured or destroyed his fleet. This is the commencement of British 'gunboat diplomacy' which was to be used over the next three centuries.

1650, a major battle was fought at Macroom between Cromwell's forces led by Lord Borghill and those, under the command of Bishop Mac Egan, loyal to King Charles. The Cromwellian forces were victorious, the Bishop was captured and hanged in nearby Carrigadrohid. Six years later Macroom Castle was handed over to Admiral Sir William Penn.

1651, first of the Navigation Acts (strengthened in 1657) passed to break the hold of the Dutch of trade between Europe and the Americas. War, firstly with the Netherlands and then with the Spanish, followed.

1652, Penn was appointed Blake's Vice-Admiral of the Fleet, he was captain of the Triumph. He was in charge of the White Squadron and played an important part in the defeat of the Dutch and was appointed General at Sea by Cromwell, Commissioner of the Navy and awarded a gold chain worth some £100.

1654, The Portuguese Treaty gave British merchants entry into all Portuguese colonies in the East and West.

1654, it is at this time that Admiral Penn offered his services and his fleet to King Charles I, Charles asked him to wait for a more opportune time before changing sides. He was appointed, in October, as Cromwell's Admiral to take Hispaniola. This was part of Cromwell's Western Design (a long term Puritan aim through the Providence Island venture). It is presumed that the Council which appointed him is unaware of these overtures.

1654, Christmas, the grand Sea-Armament (30 - 60 ships, 4,000 soldiers) set sail. It was reinforced by about 5,000, reluctant, recruits from Barbados, and the Leeward Islands taken on at St. Kitts (including Henry Morgan). The English soldiers were 'undesirables' nominated by Regimental Commanders who took the opportunity of sending people they considered to be undesirable. Penn and Venables opened sealed orders at a certain latitude and found instructions to take Hispaniola (Haiti) from the Spanish. Penn and Venables had numerous disagreements, (Penn was equivocal in support for the Cromwellian regime and Venables was an ardent Parliamentarian, this, coupled with their equal and divided commands, lead to mutual hostility). The Civil Commissioners, Windslow and Butler, who accompanied them failed to help matters. The arms, men and supplies which had been promised them did not materialise. In Barbados the English troops immediately become ill from eating unfamiliar food. The settlers of Barbados were unwilling to get involved in the adventure and were certainly reluctant to release their slaves and indentured servants to fight against the Spanish. The Barbadian planters and settlers had been doing a prosperous trade with New England and the Netherlands, in direct conflict with English foreign policy, and were not inclined to see themselves as subject to rule from a remote England. These are early signs of 'New England' independence from rule from England. At this time the population of Barbados was some 30,000 people. It was also a refuge for Royalists who had so recently been defeated. In 1650 Barbados had come out in support of King Charles II, a rebellion which had been put down by the use of two men of war (warships) and 1,000 troops.

1655, April 14th, they disembarked at Point Nizao some 60 miles from the main town, marched through difficult country, and were ambushed. April 17th they were repulsed by the Spanish before being thouroughly defeated and fleeing in disarray on April 25th. The English soldiers started dying at a rate of some 200 a day. Over 1,000 English troops died, either killed in conflict or from disease. The fleet set off for Jamaica. This island, they knew from intelligence, was poorly defended by the Spanish, and was seen as a much less important possession. 38 ships sailed into the harbour which was to become known as Port Royal (Kingston). It was quickly captured and Spanish Town was plundered by English troops. The Spanish escaped and released their slaves and cattle whilst Penn left Jamaica, followed by Venables. Vice Admiral Goodison and Major General Fortesque were left behind with the remnants of a dispirited force. Troops died of starvation and disease in great numbers over the next few years, they refused to grow crops believing they would be sent home if there was no food. The English were attacked by the freed Spanish slaves. (see slave revolts)The Governors, Fortesque, Sedgwick and Brayne died, one after the other. Cromwell encouraged settlers to go to Jamaica from other islands but they fared little better than the troops. In 1658 the Spanish tried to recapture the island from the north and they held out in the mountains until 1660.

1655, August, Penn returned to London. Correspondence, 13 September, 1655, from Cromwell to Admiral Blake read:

'It is too sad a truth, The Expedition to the West Indies has failed!
Sea-General Penn and Land-General Venables have
themselves come home, one after the other,
with the disgraceful news; and are lodged in the Tower,
a fortnight ago, for quitting their posts without orders.'

Penn was dismissed and replaced by Montague.

1655, on his return from the West Indies Penn brought with him a slave named, Sampson.

1656, Macroom Castle (see 1650) was handed over to Admiral Penn. He retired to his Irish estates; the castle and manor of Macroom. He took no further part in protectorate political life.
He wrote a code of navel tactics. This became the code adopted by the Duke of York in his 'Sailing and Fighting Instructions' which became the standard text for British naval expansionist tactics for some centuries.

1659, Parliament passed the second Navigation Act decreeing that the colonies could ship their products only to England. The initial list of products included tobacco, sugar, wool, indigo, and other mainstays of the colonies. Molasses was later added to the list. Under the scrutiny of the Privy Council, the Lords of Trade oversaw the American colonies and enforced the Navigation Acts.

1660, the year of the restoration of the English monarchy. Under the direction of Charles II Lord Muskerry McCarthy got back Macroom Castle and Admiral Penn received Shanagarry Castle in County Cork in compensation. (In the Williamite Wars of the 1690's Macroom Castle was once again confiscated from the McCarthy's and this time sold by auction to the Hollow Sword Blade Company of London). During this year Charles II summoned Admiral Penn to Whitehall, and addressed him:

"My worthy friend, whose heart was ready to aid me in trouble, I rejoice to share with you my joy. Knighthood shall be yours, and I appoint you a Commissioner of the Navy, and Governor of the Fort of Kinsale in Ireland."

He became M.P. for Weymouth.

1670, September 16, he died at Wanstead, Essex a very wealthy man, aged 49.

1670 3 October 1670, buried at St. Mary Redcliffe Church, Bristol,England. (click here to see pictures of Admiral Penn's Armour in St Mary Redcliffe Church, Bristol and Text by his son, William) (click here to see the Will of Admiral Penn)

Margaret Penn (Jasper) (b. in England - d.1682)

1643, married Admiral Sir William Penn.

She was the daughter of John Jasper and Irish merchant trading with the Dutch.

She had been married to a Dutchman, Nicasius Van der Schure (or Vanderschuren), living at Kilconry, Kilrush, County Clare. When she married Penn she had estates in Ireland, County Clare. She had fled to England during the catholic uprising and had abandoned her estate.

1644, son, William Penn, born.

c1653, she and her husband petitioned Cromwell for a return of the estates. Penn calculated that these estates were worth £7,436.19s.6d.

1682, died in Ireland


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