William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, born in London, Oct. 14, 1644, died at Rus-combe, Berkshire, July 30, 1718. He was the son of Admiral Penn, who married Margaret, daughter of John Jasper, a merchant of Rotterdam. William Penn received his first education at the free grammar school of Chigwell, Essex, where he experienced strong religious impressions, and regarded himself as called to a consecration to the service of God. At the age of 12 he was removed from Chigwell to receive private instruction at home, and three years later entered Christ Church college, Oxford. While in college, through the influence of Thomas Loe, he became a convert to Quakerism, and not only refused to conform to the worship of the established church or to wear the surplice of a student, but, with some of his companions who had embraced his principles, assaulted several of the students in public and stripped from them their robes. For this outrage he was expelled, and on his return home his father, who was aiming at a peerage, beat him and drove him from the house.
A reconciliation soon took place, and in 1662 the admiral sent his son to France, in hopes that the gayety of Paris might counteract the soberness of his Quakerism. The youth, however, had no taste for dissipation, and preferred to study theology at Saumur under Amyraut. After travelling as far as Turin he was recalled by'his father in 1664. Without losing his religious seriousness, he had acquired on the continent more polish and courtesy and liveliness of manners. In compliance with his father's wishes he entered as a student of law at Lincoln's Inn, but shortly after was driven from London by the great plague of 1665. Under the influence of that terrible visitation his religious impressions acquired redoubled force. His father made another effort to change these tendencies by sending him to Ireland, and committing to him the management of two large estates in the county of Cork. Penn executed this charge to the entire satisfaction of his father; but again encountering Thomas Loe at Cork, he was induced to attend Quaker meetings, at one of which, Sept. 3, 1667, he was apprehended with others and carried before the mayor, on a charge of attending unlawful assemblies.
Refusing to give bonds for good behavior, he was sent to prison; but he wrote to the lord president of the council of Munster, who procured his immediate discharge. From this time he identified himself with the Quakers in everything except costume, and on returning to England soon after became involved in disputes with his father, who finally offered to tolerate every other peculiarity if his son would only agree to remove his hat in his presence and in that of the king and the duke of York. Penn, after deliberation and prayer, declared that he could not remove his hat by way of compliment to any one; and his father at once turned him out of doors. Penn soon became a prominent preacher at the meetings' of the Friends. Through the influence of his mother his father's indignation was so far softened that he permitted his son to return home, and used his interest with the government to relieve him from persecution. In 1668 Penn made«his first appearance as an author by issuing a crude and acrimonious treatise, entitled " Truth Exalted, in a short but sure Testimony against all those religious Faiths and Worships that have been formed and followed in the darkness of Apostasy; and for that Glorious Light which is now risen and shines forth in the Life and Doctrine of the despised Quakers as the alone, good old way of Life and Salvation. Presented to Princes, Priests, and People, that they may repent, believe, and obey.
By William Penn, whom Divine Love constrains in an holy contempt to trample on Egypt's glory, not fearing the King's wrath, having beheld the Majesty of Him who is invisible." This was followed by a considerable number of tracts on similar topics, which with his other writings were collected and published by Joseph Besse (2 vols, fol., London, 1726). In 1668 he also published "The Sandy Foundation Shaken," an attack upon " those so generally believed and applauded doctrines of one God subsisting in three distinct and separate persons; of the impossibility of God's pardoning sinners without a plenary satisfaction; and of the justification of impure persons by an imputative righteousness." This work caused a great excitement by its bold opposition to the doctrine of the Trinity as commonly received, and Penn was apprehended and imprisoned in the tower for nine months, during which he wrote his principal and most popular theological work, " No Cross, no Crown; a discourse showing the Nature and Discipline of the Holy Cross of Christ." By the interference of the duke of York he was at length released and permitted to live in his father's house. The admiral would not admit him to his presence, but he gave him through his mother a commission to go again to Ireland to look after his estates.
On his return Penn was reconciled to his father, and lived with him on good terms till the latter's death in September, 1670. Before that event the son had once more been arrested for. preaching in the streets; bat the jury, after a remarkable trial (during which they were kept for two days and nights without food, fire, or water), brought in a verdict of not guilty, for which each juryman was fined 40 marks and sent to Newgate; while Penn and his companion were also fined and imprisoned for contempt in wearing their hats in presence of the court. They appealed to the court of common pleas, where the decision of the lower court was reversed, and the great principle of English law established that it is the right of the jury to judge of the evidence independent of the dictation or direction of the court. The admiral bequeathed to his son an estate of £1,500 a year, with large claims against the government; and thenceforth the cares of business and the duties of his lay ministry seem to have equally divided the time of Penn. In March, 1671, while preaching in a meeting house in London, he was arrested and committed to the tower, and was soon afterward tried under the conventicle act, but acquitted for want of testimony.
The magistrates, however, required him to take the oath of allegiance, which he refused to do from conscientious scruples about swearing, and was sentenced to Newgate for six months. While in prison he wrote and published four treatises, one of them entitled " The great Case of Liberty of Conscience," which is a good comprehensive statement of the principle of religious toleration. On regaining his liberty he made a tour in Holland and Germany, interceding with the rulers of those countries in behalf of the persecuted Quakers; and on his return home in the beginning of 1672 he married Gulielrna Maria, daughter of Sir William Springett, and went to reside at Rickmans-worth in Hertfordshire, but afterward settled at Dorminghurst, Sussex. The next few years were devoted to preaching and to defending by his pen the doctrines of the Quakers from various assailants, in reply to whom he published a numerous series of laborious tracts and books. In 1674 a dispute between Fen-wick and Byllinge, both Quakers, about their proprietary rights in the New Jersey Quaker colonies, being submitted to Penn, he decided in favor of Byllinge, who subsequently, being too much embarrassed to improve his property, made it over to Penn and two of his creditors as,trustees. Penn immediately engaged with zeal in the work of colonization, and in 1681 obtained from the crown, in payment of a debt of £16,000 due to his father, a patent for the territory now forming the state of Pennsylvania. The charter vested the perpetual propri-etaryship of this vast region in him and his heirs, on the fealty of the annual payment of two beaver skins.
He designed at first to call his territory New Wales, and afterward suggested Sylvania as applicable to a land covered with forests; but the king peremptorily ordered the name Pennsylvania to be inserted, in honor, as he said, of his late friend the admiral, William Penn having in vain asked the secretary to change the name, lest it should subject him to the imputation of vanity, and even offered him 20 guineas for so doing. In February, 1662, Penn became, with 11 others, a joint purchaser of East Jersey, which was already a flourishing colony. Aided by the advice of Sir William Jones, and of Henry, the brother of Algernon Sidney, he drew up a liberal scheme of government and laws for his colony, and in September, 1682, embarked for the Delaware, reaching that river after a voyage of six weeks. He was received with great enthusiasm, and after several meetings for conference and treaties with the Indians, he made his famous treaty with them under a large elm tree at Shackamaxon, now Kensington, probably on the last day of November, 1682. A numerous assembly of the Delawares, Mingoes, and other Susquehanna tribes met on this occasion, and formed with the Quakers a treaty of peace and friendship, the only treaty, says Voltaire, "never sworn to and never broken." Soon afterward he laid out the plan of Philadelphia, to which he gave its name in the hope that brotherly love might characterize its inhabitants.
He purchased the land where the city stands of the Swedes, who had purchased it of the Indians. He now devoted himself zealously to his duties as governor, and made treaties with 19 Indian tribes; and so long as any of the aborigines remained in Pennsylvania or its neighborhood, their traditions bore testimony to the strong impression which the justice and benevolence of Mignon, as the Delawares called him, or of Onas, as he was styled by the Iroquois, made on their savage hearts. Penn visited New York and New Jersey; and after meeting with the general assembly of the province at New Castle in May, 1684, he intrusted his government to a council, and in August sailed for England, leaving a prosperous colony of 7,000 people. During his absence the Quakers had suffered severe persecution in England, and Penn's first care was to intercede in their behalf with the king, from whom he obtained the promise of entire relief at an early period. Charles II. died Feb. 6, 1685. James II., who succeeded, had been the pupil in naval affairs of Penn's father, and was his own intimate friend. Penn took lodgings at Kensington to be near the court, upon which he constantly attended, and where he had such influence that his house was thronged by hundreds of suitors asking his intercession in their behalf.
His intimacy with the king led to foolish suspicions that he was secretly a Jesuit, and in April, 1685, he published a pamphlet entitled " Fiction Found Out," to rebut the charge. In 1686, partly through his influence, a proclamation was issued by the king and council for the release of those imprisoned on account of religion, and upward of 1,200 Quakers were set free. This was followed in April, 1687, by a proclamation declaring liberty of conscience to all, and removing all tests and penalties. Penn meanwhile made a tour on the continent, during which by order of the king he had a conference with William, prince of Orange, whom he endeavored to convert to his views of universal toleration. Soon after the revolution of 1688 Penn was called before the council to answer to a charge of treason; but no evidence appearing against him, he was discharged. Subsequently, a letter from the exiled James requesting him to come to France having been intercepted, he was again brought before the council in presence of King William; but after a long examination, in which he declared his friendship for James though he did not approve his policy, and said he could not prevent him from writing to him, he was discharged.
A third time, in 1690, he was arrested on a charge of conspiracy, tried by the court of king's bench, and acquitted. In 1691 the charge was renewed by an informer named Fuller, whom the house of commons afterward branded as a cheat, a rogue, and a false accuser; and Penn concealed himself to avoid arrest. Meantime Pennsylvania had been greatly disturbed by civil and religious quarrels, and in October, 1692, the king and queen deprived Penn.of his authority as governor, and directed Gov. Fletcher of New York to assume the administration of Pennsylvania. Powerful friends, among them Locke, Tillot-son, and the duke of Buckingham, now interceded in Penn's behalf with the king; and he had a hearing before the council on the charges against him, and was honorably acquitted in November, 1693. In February, 1694, his wife died, and he bore testimony to her virtuous life and Christian death in " An Account of the Blessed End of my dear wife Gulielma Maria Penn." Within two years he married Hannah Oallowhill, a Quaker lady. His government was restored to him in August, 1694; and in September, 1699, he sailed on a second visit to America, accompanied by his wife and daughter. He found the colony prosperous, and was warmly received.
He immediately gave his earnest attention to various reforms, and especially to the amelioration of the condition of the Indians and negroes. Tidings from England that a measure was pending before the house of lords for bringing all- the proprietary governments under the crown, led him to return to England in 1701. One of his last official acts was to make Philadelphia a city by a charter signed Oct. 25, 1701. Soon after his arrival in England the project of bringing the proprietary governments under the crown was dropped. For several years after this he was involved in great trouble by the affairs of Pennsylvania, where his son, whom he had sent there as his representative, had disgraced him by vicious and riotous conduct; while his trusted agent in London,. a Quaker named Ford, left to his executors false claims against Penn to a very large amount. To avoid extortion Penn suffered himself to be committed to the Fleet prison in 1708, where he remained a long time, till his friends compounded with his creditors.
In 1712 he had made arrangements for the transfer to the crown of his rights as proprietor for £12,000, when he sustained repeated shocks of paralysis; and though he lived six years longer, he never regained his mental vigor, and for much of that,period was deprived of memory and of the power of motion. He was interred in Jordan's burial ground, near the village of Ohalfont St. Giles, in Buckinghamshire. - The reputation of William Penn in his own day did not escape suspicion and censure. The extraordinary mingling of Quaker simplicity and court influence which marked his life gave rise to many imputations, which have been revived with much force and pertinacity by Macau-lay in his " History of England." Admitting that Penn was without doubt a man of eminent virtues; that he had a strong sense of religious duty and a fervent desire to promote the happiness of mankind; that on one or two points of high importance he had notions more correct than were in his day common even among men of enlarged minds; and that he will always be mentioned with honor as the founder of a colony who did not in his dealings with a savage people abuse the strength derived from civilization, and as a lawgiver who, in an age of persecution, made religious liberty the corner stone of a polity, the English historian alleges that " his writings and his life furnish abundant proofs that he was not a man of strong sense.
He had no skill in reading the characters of others. His confidence in persons less virtuous than himself led him into great errors and misfortunes. His enthusiasm for one great principle sometimes impelled him to violate other great principles which he ought to have held sacred. Nor was his integrity altogether proof against the tempations to which it was exposed in that splendid and polite, but deeply corrupted society with which he now mingled.....Unhappily it cannot be concealed that he bore a chief part in some transactions condemned, not merely by the rigid code of the society to which he belonged, but by the general sense of all honest men. He afterward solemnly protested that his hands were pure from illicit gain, and that he never received any gratuity from those whom he had obliged, though he might easily, while his influence at court lasted, have made £120,000. To this assertion full credit is due. But bribes may be offered to vanity as well as to cupidity; and it is impossible to deny that Penn was cajoled into bearing a part in some unjustifiable transactions of which others enjoyed the profits." Among the transactions to which Mac-aulay here alludes was an attempt to persuade Dr. Hough, president of Magdalen college, Oxford, to comply with the wishes of King James in a matter where compliance would have involved a violation of his official oath, by holding out to him the bait of a bishopric.
But Dr. Hough himself, in his account of the conversation with Penn, intimates that the Quaker was only speaking in jest - " had a mind to droll upon us." A more serious charge is that Penn was an agent of the rapacious maids of honor of the royal court to extort money for pardons from the relatives of some young girls at Taunton who were implicated in Monmouth's rebellion. The only foundation for this charge is a letter relating to the transaction written by the earl of Sunderland, which begins thus: "Mr. Penne, her majesty's maids of honor having acquainted me that they design you and Mr. Walden in making a composition with the relations of the maids of Taunton;" and Mac-aulay assumed without hesitation that the person to whom it was addressed was William Penn. But it has been proved by the registers of the privy council, that at this very time a certain George Penne was engaged as a pardon broker at Taunton, and it is most probable that the letter was addressed to him. In the edition of 1858 Macaulay considers the strictures on his previous statements, and says: "If I thought that I had committed an error, I should have, I hope, the honesty to acknowledge it; but after full consideration, I am satisfied that Sunderland's letter was addressed to William Penn." - See the memoirs of Penn by Marsillac (Paris, 1791; translated into German by Fried-rich, Strasburg, 1793), Clarkson (London, 1813), Joseph Barker (London, 1847), and George E. Ellis, in Sparks's " American Biography," 2d series, vol. xii. (Boston, 1852); S. M. Jan-ney, "Life and Select Correspondence of William Penn " (Philadelphia, 1852); Hepworth Dixon's "Life of Penn" (new ed., London, 1856); and " Inquiry into the Evidence of the Charges brought by Lord Macaulay against William Penn," by J. Paget (Edinburgh, 1858).