The Penn Family

History Index
Living Easton Home Page
Site Contents

3rd generation of Penns

William Penn (b. 1644 -d. 1718)

1644, October 14th, born at All Hallows, Barking,London and brought up at Tower Hill, in his father's town house in St Olave's Street. within the Liberty of the Tower of London, son of Admiral Sir William Penn and Margaret Penn (Jasper). They had seven children:

He attended Christ College, Oxford for two years, but did not complete his studies as he was expelled for non-conformist activities. This angered his father who sent him on a tour of the continent. He spent time at the Royal Court in Paris but later attended the Huguenot Academy in Saumur.

1665, he was recalled home by his father at the outbreak of the Dutch War. He sailed with the fleet and returned with dispatches for the King. He was in London and witnessed the horrors of the great plague.

1665-6, he attended Lincoln's Inn for a year learning Law.

1666, he went to Ireland where he took charge of his family's appropriated estates at Shangarry Castle, near Cork. He attended the court of the Duke of Ormonde, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He also saw military service when he volunteers to go with troops to put down an army 'mutiny'. These soldiers are said to have 'mutinied' because their officers had embezzled army funds. It was at this time that the portrait of him in armour was painted.

1667, around this time he became influenced by Quakers and Quakerism. He heard the preaching of Thomas Loe, who had influenced him earlier. He attended Quaker meetings and was imprisoned. He was recalled to England by his father but reaffirmed his Quaker faith and ,as a consequence, was expelled from his father's house. He became influenced by Isaac Penington and wrote numerous religious tracts.

1668, he was imprisoned for writing, 'The Sandy Foundation Shaken'. William Penn was one of the few prisoners held in the Tower of London who had their sentences quashed. Although virtually given a life sentence for crimes against the Crown and Christianity he was released after serving just a few months when, towards the end of July 1669, his father obtained his release through the mediation of the Duke of York (later King James II).

1669, he wrote the first draft of 'No Cross, No Crown' whilst in prison.
1669, William and his wife visited Bristol.

1670, after preaching in Gracechurch Street with William Meade he was arrested but later acquitted. This was the famous 'Bushell's Case' which resulted in Chief Justice Sir John Vaughn's decision, on the instructions of Charles II, to make a ruling which declared the freedom of English juries from the dictates of judges. Penn wrote up the trial in a pamphlet, "The people's Ancient and Just liberties Asserted".

1670. His father died and he inherited a considerable fortune with an annual income as well as a large claim for money loaned by his father to Charles II.

1670, he went on Quaker 'missionary' work, preaching in Holland and parts of Germany.

1672, October 14th, he married Gulielma Maria Springett. Gulielma was the daughter of Mary (Proude) Penington by her first husband, Sir William Springett. After their marriage they lived at Worminghurst House, Sussex. They had three sons including Thomas Penn (1703), and Richard Penn I and four daughters Gulielma, Maria I, Mary Margaret, Lititia, and Gulielma Maria II.

1675, the west part of Jersey was sold to Edward Byllinge, a Quaker, to whom William Penn soon afterward became a trustee. Penn, in his efforts to settle the estate of Byllinge, became well acquainted with the region of Pennsylvania and British colonial settlements in America.

1675 - 80, his involvement in religion and politics deepened his connection with America, (New Jersey).

1677, he went, with leading Quakers including George Fox, on a second 'missionary' visit to the continent visiting Holland and West Germany.

1677, he was the chief author of the 'Concessions and Agreements for Government of New Jersey'. This document was brought by 200 settlers when they arrived in the 'Kent' in the Delaware River to found the town of Burlington.

1678, William Penn visited Bristol with George Fox.

1681, Penn and eleven other Quakers bought the propriety rights to East New Jersey, at a public auction, for £3,400, with the view to establishing a community with freedom of worship and loyal to the King. Three months later three lower counties (Delaware) were obtained from the Duke of York.

1681. Penn petitioned the King for repayment of his father's loan (possibly of £16,000). In March, as payment of the loan, the King granted Penn a huge tract of land North of the Medway, (later named Pennsylvania after Penn's father). The founding of Pennsylvania, an area of about 40,000 square miles, was confirmed to William Penn under the Great Seal on the 5th of January, 1681. Thereupon Penn induced people to emigrate, the terms being 40 shillings per hundred acres, and "shares" of 5,000 acres for 100 pounds. These 'generous' terms induced many to set out for the 'new world'.

The town of Philadelphia was located in 1682, "having a high and dry land next to the water, with a shore ornamented with a fine view of pine trees growing upon it." Penn called this colonialist expansion his 'Holy Experiment'. He assigned a commission to select a suitable water frontage on the Delaware River. This delegation included his cousin, William Markham, who acted as his deputy before Penn went to Pennsylvania the following year. He drew up terms of purchase or rental of lands which were extremely attractive to European settlers who soon arrived in huge numbers. He advertised the availability of lands in French, German and Dutch. The existing colony of New Sweden was absorbed into the new province. Within three years the population stood at 9,000.

Amongst the First Purchasers of land in Pennsylvania were these Bristol Quakers;

Edmond Bennett,
tobacco cutter.
James Peters,
soapmaker and had a share in brass works at Terren, Shropshire and at Coalbrookdale (see Abraham Darby)
William Smith,
mariner and master of the "Bristol Merchant", became involved in tobacco customs fraud in 1691.
Robert Vickris,
merchant and Bristol Alderman and later Master of the Society of Merchant Venturers.
John Barnes,
possibly an original land purchaser as he moved to Pennsylvania in 1663; a cordwainer and, possibly, a maltman; of St James' Parish.

A typical deed entry of the time:

"This indenture, made the 8th day of September, in the year of our Lord 1681, and in the thirty-third year of the reign of King Charles the Second over England, between William Penn, of Worminghurst, in the county of Sussex, Esquire, on the one part, and Oliver Cope, of Awbry, in the county of Wilts, tailor, on the other part, witnesseth that the said William Penn, for and in consideration of the sum of five shillings of lawful money of England to him in hand by the said Oliver Cope, the receipt whereof he doth hereby acknowledge, hath bargained and sold, and by these presents doth bargain and sell unto the said Oliver Cope the full and just proportion and quantity of two hundred and fifty acres of land, situate, lying, and being within the province of Pennsylvania."
Recorded in Deed Book, vol. 3, page 334, Philadelphia, PA

Charter for the Province of Pennsylvania: February 28, 1681
Concessions to the Province of Pennsylvania: July 11, 1681

1682, April 25th, Penn framed the first Government of the province of Pennsylvania (Charter of Libertie is drawn up in May). Under the Frame of Government Penn recognised that slavery was legal under the Swedes, Dutch and Duke of York. A clause was included stating that slaves would be freed after 14 years but only if they turned over to the Free Society of Traders two-thirds of all their produce. On the whole the terms of Government were similar to those of West Jersey with large powers given to the Council compared to the Assembly, both of which were elected, the powers of the Governor were limited. He negotiated with the Native Americans over the 'purchase' of their land. Later leaders of the European white community were to renege on these 'agreements' and the frontiers of Pennsylvania were to become the sites of extremely bitter warfare. 2,000 settlers arrived in this year most of them Quakers. Dissenters from all over Europe were attracted to the four colonies of Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Delaware and New Jersey which were organised without an established church (a social condition unique in Christendom).

Penn and leading Quakers planed the construction of Philadelphia; a rectangular grid pattern on 1,200 acres between the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers. At this time, the plan consisted of a 22-by-8 block grid pattern, a building and housing layout, and potential for the city to grow. Philadelphia's grid plan influenced the urban planning for most later cities in America.

1682. Penn secured the territory of Delaware from his friend the Duke of York.

1682 - 92. Penn was the Governor of Pennsylvania.

1683, February 2, the Frame of Government of Pennsylvania was established.

1683, Penn was buying and selling slaves, some of whom he bought from Captain Nathaniel Allen.

1683 - 84, he supervised the laying out of Philadelphia (meaning 'city of brotherly love'). Philadelphia was made the seat of government and the capital of the colony of Pennsylvania. During the next few years the population of Philadelphia expanded rapidly. Penn also oversaw the creation of his mansion house and slave-run plantation at Pennbury on the Delaware River. He visited New York, Long Island and the Jerseys. He visited Maryland and New Castle to discuss what proved to be a long running border dispute with Lord Baltimore. Returned to England (August 24th, 1684) because of the persecution of Quakers there and also to follow Lord Baltimore who was making his land claims against Penn in London.

1685. The Duke of York, William Penn's long time friend, came to the throne as James II. Because of his close friendship with the King, Penn secured the release from prison of about 1,300 Quakers. He also made his third 'missionary' visit to Holland and Germany and then went on a 'preaching' tour of England. Because of his close relationship with the new Catholic King and his calls for religious toleration he was accused, not for the only time, of being a Jesuit in disguise.

1687. King Charles II announced his Declaration of Indulgence allowing for freedom of religious practice. His policy faltered and, like his brother before him, he allied himself with religious dissenters against the Church of England. These dissenters included the Penn family whom he dispensed from penal legislation. In November 1686 Charles II established a Licensing Office where dissenters could purchase certificates of dispensation. William Penn went to Holland to further Charles' plans by trying to get the support of William and Mary for the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts. William knew that this would be hugely unpopular in England and refused to be party to it.

1687, Penn decided by this time that only slave labour under a white overseer should work on his Pennbury Estate.

1688. William and Mary took the throne. Penn was compromised by his relationship with James II. He was called to answer accusations of disloyalty before the Privy Council.

1692 - 94, Penn went into semi-retirement while charges and accusations were resolved. His Governorship of Pennsylvania was forfeited during this time but it was restored after he was cleared of treason. He spent much of this time writing religious/political tracts.

1694, visited Exeter accompanied by Benjamin Coole (see Baptist Mills Brass Works 1702) of Bristol.

1694. His first wife, Gulielma Maria, died.

1694 - 1718, he was the Proprietary Governor of Pennsylvania.

1694 and 1695. Penn was in Bristol.

1696, January, he married Hannah Penn (Callowhill), at the Quakers Meeting Hall, Bristol, England.

The Bristol based Quakers who witnessed their wedding were:

Robert and Katherine Bound.
Benjamin Coole,
merchant of Devizes and amongst the first investors in the Baptist Mills Brass Works.
Henry Dickinson,
heel maker.
John Field of London,
Henry Gouldney
of London, related to the Wiltshire and Bristol Gouldney family.
William Penn Jr
Thomas Sturge,
perhaps a constable in Bristol.
John Tompkins of London.
Nathaniel Wade,
ex-Town Clerk. 10 years earlier Nathaniel Wade had received a Royal Pardon
under very dubious circumstances for his part in the Monmouth Rebellion.
Two years after Penn's wedding Wade's land at Lamb Ground is bought
by the Quakers for the building of the Friends' Workhouse, there is a street
nearby called Wade Street, its bridge over the River Frome
used to be called 'Traitor's Bridge because of local suspicions about his
dealings during the Monmouth Rebellion.
WADE, Nathaniel, born 1646, lawyer,
of Bristol and London, member of Castle
Hill Independent church, Bristol; on the fringe of Rye House Plot; escaped
to Switzerland; joined Monmouth in Holland; Major and second-in-command Red
Regt.; brought the Foot back from Bridport; given command of Red Regt.;
fought in all the skirmishes except Ashill commanded Red Regt
at Norton St Philip and Sedgemoor, from which he marched 150 men back
to Bridgwater; rode to llfracombe; was sheltered at Brendon; wounded and
captured there; taken to Windsor and thence to Newgate; drafted or dictated his
'confession' half in each prison;King's Evidence against Lord Delamere
but had only 'hearsay' evidence, so Delamere was acquitted.
Wade was excepted from General Pardon, but was pardoned on May
25 1686 (CSPD, J2, II, 600) and appointed Town Clerk of Bristol. He died in
1718. He, aged 70, made his will in 1716.
(Our thanks to Bernard Welchman for the latter part of the information on Nathaniel Wade.)
Daniel Wharly of London,
woolendraper. Had married Mary, the only daughter of Isaac Penington
and Mary Springett Penington 10 years earlier.
John Whiting of Nailsea, Wrington and, later, London.

They had eight children in twelve years. The first died before being christened the other children were; John Penn (1700), Thomas Penn (1702), Margaret Penn (1704), Richard Penn (1706), Dennis Penn (1707) and Hannah Penn (1708). The latter died in early childhood.

From this time onwards, until he returned to America in 1699, Penn was based in Bristol and his name appeared in the Bristol Men's Meeting's minutes. The plans for the Hollister Estate was laid out during this time as is the naming out of the streets of; Philadelphia, Callowhill and Hollister. These streets disappeared in Bristol as a result of World War Two bombing and redevelopment. However, the street names Penn Street, Philadelphia Court and Callowhill Court are retained in the area (see Appendix vi).

1696, Frame of Government of Pennsylvania was drawn up.

1697, Penn presented a plan for the union of all the English colonies in America to the Board of Trade in London.

1697.The town of Buckingham was laid out in Bucks County, southeast Pennsylvania near the site of William Penn's home. In 1700 it was renamed, Bristol.

1698, the Bristol Men's Meeting granted him a certificate to leave for Ireland and Penn was back in Bristol by the Autumn.

1699, 12 January, Penn was present at the first proposing of marriage of his son, William jr. He was one of Bristol's representatives to the London Yearly Meeting on 22 May. July 17th, Penn requested a certificate of removal from 'the friends of the citty (Bristol) as from this place of his habitation". He returned to Pennsylvania, accompanied by his wife who then ran the Pennbury slave plantation, arriving on December 1st after 15 years absence. He was also accompanied by the Quaker James Logan (see Mayors of the City of Philadelphia and Land Owners in Philadelphia in 1684) who had been the teacher at the Friends school in Bristol. James Logan became an early influential Quaker in the Colony. As well as being a farmer, teacher, mathematician and philanthrope, in 1741 this Quaker, advocated armed defence of the city and County of Philadelphia and gave £500 towards the erection of the town battery at the South End of the city. He came with Penn as Penn's secretary. He became the Secretary of the Province, Commissioner of Property, President of the Council, and Chief-Justice. His country-seat was Stenton, now at Wayne Junction station, in Germantown.

As Governor, Penn, granted a charter to Philadelphia and also granted the charter of 1701 to Pennsylvania which set up different legislatures for Pennsylvania and Delaware. The Assembly was given more powers and it ruled Pennsylvania until the American Revolution.

1700, by now Pennsylvanian Quaker settlements stretched back westwards of the Delaware River and throughout the south west area of the province. This rapid expansion and also the influx of people of differing religious beliefs and nationality made the centralised control which Penn had hoped to maintain virtually impossible. In 1704 Francis Michael reported that life on farms just outside of Philadelphia was "just like living in Germany". By 1750 there were 48 Amish and Mennonite settlements in Pennsylvania. A distinct movement of authority towards those Quakers and Anglicans who were the wealthiest in the colony and/or obtained the greatest financial benefits from the new colony's mercantile trading opportunities was starting to occur. The establishment of provincial aristocracies, at differing paces, was a phenomenon in all the American colonies.

1701, Penn wrote a will [see, Appendix. V The Fourth Will of William Penn (1701)] saying his 'servants' would become free when he died. He also wrote an agreement saying that his 'blacks' would be free after his death.

"..I give to my Servts, John and Mary Sach (Satcher) three hundred acres
between them; to James Logan one thousand acres, and my blacks their
freedom, as under my hand already; and to ould Sam 100 acres....."

Neither his will of 1705 nor his last will of 1712 repeated this resolution, and, though William Penn freed some slaves during his lifetime, others passed to his heirs at his death.

1701, October 28, Charter of Privileges Granted by Penn to the Inhabitants of Pennsylvania and Territories.

1701. Start of The War of the Spanish Succession (known as Queen Ann's War in the colonies). A proposal went before the English Parliament for the Crown to annex all American Propriety Colonies, Penn returned to England with his wife to successfully fought this move by the English state. When he and his family returned to England they did not stay in Bristol long enough to serve on Quaker meeting appointments. Hannah Penn, at least, was in Bristol when she gave birth to some of her children and also spent some time there in 1712 when her parents died. William Penn never returned to America.

1701, Philadelphia was incorporated as a city. The majority of the Pennsylvanian settlers were English Quakers, but as the community developed into a thriving trade centre, the numbers of German, Scottish, and Irish immigrants arriving increased. Philadelphia was now an important trading and manufacturing centre and its population grew to about 7,000 in the early 1700's.

1701-08. Penn was involved in numerous disputes between his Governors and the Pennsylvania Assembly and came under serious financial strains which resulted in him going to a debtor's prison for nine months (probably as a result of the defrauding activities of his agent, Philip Ford). By this time Ford was dead and Penn was being pursued for debt by Ford's brother and his Quaker mother, Bridget. See: Penn and Money & Effects of Pennsylvanian European Quarrelling. In 1703 Penn proposed the surrender of the government of his province to the Crown in return for a cash settlement while still retaining title to the land. In 1705 Penn wrote;

"I too mournfully remember how noble a law I had of exports and imports, when I was first in America, that had been worth by this time some thousands a year; which I suspended receiving for a year or two, and that not without a considerationengaged by several merchants.
But Thomas Lloyd, very unhappily for me, my family, and himself, complimented some selfish spirits with the repeal thereof, without my final consent, which his commission required, and that has been the source of all my loads and inabilities to support myself under the troubles that have occurred to me on account of settling and maintaining the colony. I spent upon it £10,000 the first two years. My deputy governors cost me much.... and vast sums have melted away here in London to hinder much mischief against us, if not to do us much good. I can say that Lord Baltimore's revenue is far transcending what I can hope for, although he never took him one hundredth of my concern."

His son, William Penn Jr., caused him embarrassment because of his dissolute behaviour. Penn and his family moved to a large house in the country at Ruscombe, near Reading, England. He continued 'preaching' through numerous counties in England. He became ill and his wife, Hannah Penn (Callowhill), dealt with his financial affairs until his death

1704 and/or 1705, he wrote another will(s) omitting the 'freeing of indentured 'servants' clause.

1707, his financial problems resulted in his spending nine months within the rules of the Fleet prison and compelled him to mortgage his proprietary rights and eventually to make overtures for their sale to the Crown.

1708 and 1713, he made his first Pennsylvania Mortgage Agreement with a various wealthy Bristol-based Quakers. These Quakers were:

John Field of London,
Joshua Gee of London,
William Penn Jr
John Scandrett (Skandret),
grocer, acting as executor for his deceased son-in law Charles Harford (see Baptist Mills Brass Company for Harford family connection.
Richard Champion,
soapmaker, merchant, leading partner in the Baptist Mills Brass Company who financially assisted Abraham Darby.
Samuel Cox,
ex(?)-soapmaker, and tobacconist of St Peter's Parish.
Richard Stafford,
merchant and member of the Baptist Mills Brass Company, St James' Parish. He signed as executor of John Jones, mercer and merchant, who had died in 1702 and had been involved in a tobacco fraud in 1691.
Nathaniel Kill,
furrier and involved in the Baptist Mills Brass Company, possibly living at Stapleton, near Bristol.
Benjamin Moss (Morss),
hosier, possibly living in Wine Street, Bristol.
Enoch Noble,
wiredrawer, possibly of Redcliffe Parish.
Thomas Oade,
glove seller,Castle Precincts.

This financial support was vital for the continuance of the Quaker plans for the maintenance of the Pennsylvania Province as Penn, in his absence, found it increasingly difficult to control American financial and rent collecting affairs. In total Quakers backed the Pennsylvania colony by giving about £7,000. Quakers in London raised £3,000, in Bristol £2,000 and in Ireland £2,000. They took securities on Penn's estate to guarantee repayment to themselves.

1712, Penn fell ill, wrote his final will.

1718, July 30th, Penn died at Ruscombe, Berkshire, England. He lived at Ruscombe from 1710 - 1718, his house was demolished in 1830. He is buried at Jordan's Meeting House. The burial ground at Jordans (2 miles south of Chalfont St. Giles, Buckinghamshire, England) holds William Penn, Hannah and Gulielma Maria Penn and five of his children. After William Penn's death the Quaker Testimony drawn up by the Reading Monthly Meeting of Friends, England said, "He was a Man of Great Abilities, of an Excellent sweetness of disposition, quick of thought, & ready utterance; full of the Qualification of true Discipleship, even love without dissimulation ... he may without straining his Character be ranked among the Learned good and great."

Gulielma Maria Springett. (b.1644 - d.1694)

1644, born at Darling, Sussex, England. Her father was William S. Springet and her mother was Lady Mary Proude Penington.

1672, married William Penn. They had three sons including Thomas Penn (1703) and Richard Penn I and four daughters Gulielma, Maria I, Mary Margaret, Lititia, and Gulielma Maria II.

Correspondence (1684) from Gulielma Penn to the well known Quaker Margaret Fell can be found on:

1694, died.

Hannah Margaret Penn (Callowhill) (b.1671 - d.1726)

1671, February 11th, born in Bristol, England. She was the daughter of Thomas Callowhill, grocer, and Anna (Hannah) Hollister, daughter of Dennis Hollister, a well to do button maker, linen draper and merchant. Hollister had been a member of Cromwell's own self-appointed Barebones Parliament with its 140 members.  Originally a Baptist, Hollister was one of Bristol's original Quakers and, it is thought, converted Thomas Gouldney to Quakerism). Hannah was the fourth daughter and the sixth of nine children.

1686, she was her parents only surviving child and sole heir. She learned business practices, accountancy and ran her parents commercial businesses.

1696, January, married William Penn in Bristol, England. At 52, Penn was twice her age with teen-aged children and was newly released from prison (for a list of Bristol based Quakers who witnessed their wedding see William Penn, 1696). They had eight children in twelve years. The first died before being christened the other children are; John Penn (1700), Thomas Penn (1702), Margaret Penn (1704), Richard Penn (1706), Dennis Penn (1707) and Hannah Penn (1708). The latter died in early childhood.

1699 - 1701, she made her only trip to Pennsylvania accompanied by her husband and her step-daughter, Laetitia. She was directly involved with the political and economic activities of the colony while her primary concern was with the managing of the Pennsbury slave plantation in Bucks County. In 1701 she returned to England with her husband and never went back to America.1701, when she and her family returned to England they did not stay in Bristol long . Hannah Penn, at least, was in Bristol when she gave birth to some of her children and also spent some time in Bristol in 1712 when her parents died.

1703, Hannah witnessed her husband's increased indebtedness and realisation of their son William's unsuitability as the heir to Pennsylvania. She was in agreement with her husband in proposing the surrender of the government of his province to the Crown in return for a cash settlement while retaining title to the land. She was also involved in his mortgaging of Pennsylvania to Quaker trustees.

1712, she inherited her parents estate. She had the responsibility of looking after her failing husband, administering her parents estate, managing her husband's affairs, caring for her surviving five children and maintaining their large house at Ruscombe. She handled the business of Pennsylvania through correspondence with the councilmen based in Philadelphia.

1718, her husband died leaving all his propriety interests in Pennsylvania to her as executrix for her four sons. Because her husband had vested the government of the province in the hands of English trustees their son William Penn II immediately contested that he was the heir to the land and to the government of the province. Her rights were contested and were not established until 1727 after both she and her youngest son, Dennis, had died.

1721, aged fifty she suffered a "fit of the dead palsy" which left her physically weakened. While she never giving up her right of stewardship her business matters were carried out by a Simon Clement and her eldest son, John Penn.

1724, she concluded a temporary agreement over the long-running Maryland boundary dispute with Lord Baltimore.

1726, following another stroke she died at the London home of her son, John. She is buried at Jordan's Meeting House in Buckinghamshire, England with her husband and 5 of his children. After her death and that of her youngest son, the proprietorship of Pennsylvania passed into the hands of the surviving sons, John Penn, Thomas Penn and Richard Penn.


return to index

return to top of page