Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Penn, William (1644-1718)

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PENN, WILLIAM (1644–1718), quaker and founder of Pennsylvania, son of Admiral Sir William Penn [q. v.], by his wife Margaret, daughter of John Jasper, merchant, of Rotterdam, was born in the liberty of the Tower, London, on 14 Oct. 1644 (Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. ii. 424). He was brought up at Wanstead, Essex, then a stronghold of puritanism, going daily to Harsnet's free school in the neighbouring village of Chigwell. He continued his studies under a private tutor in his father's town house on Tower Hill, and at Christ Church, Oxford, where he matriculated on 26 Oct. 1660 (Foster, Alumni Oxon.) He had then enough knowledge of the classics to contribute some tolerable elegiacs to the ‘Epicedia’ published on occasion of the death of Henry, duke of Gloucester (1660).

From early boyhood Penn united a taste for athletic sports with a strong bent towards mystical pietism. At Oxford he corresponded with Dr. John Owen [q. v.], and listened to the discourses of the quaker Thomas Loe. He was sent down for nonconformity in October 1661. On his return home his father, the admiral, finding other methods powerless to reclaim him, sent him abroad to divert his mind. He visited Paris, was presented to Louis XIV, and mixed for a time in the brilliant society of the court. Among the English residents he made friends with Robert Spencer (afterwards second Earl of Sunderland), and Dorothy, sister of Algernon Sidney. While there he gave signal proof of courage, skill in fence, and magnanimity. On his way to his lodgings one night he was attacked by a bravo, who, sword in hand, demanded satisfaction for some imaginary insult. Penn drew, and, after a few passes, disarmed his antagonist and gave him his life.

Tired of court gaieties, Penn left Paris, and, after studying for a while under Moyse Amyraut, an eclectic theologian of the French reformed church at Saumur, crossed the Alps, and was at Turin in 1664, when he was summoned home by his father. He returned quite a ‘modish person’ (Pepys, Diary, 26 Aug. 1664), saw a little service in the Dutch war, and was admitted a student at Lincoln's Inn on 7 Feb. 1664–5 (Lincoln's Inn Reg.) In the autumn of this year he went to Dublin, and was presented at the viceregal court. In the following summer he served with distinction under Lord Arran in the suppression of a mutiny at Carrickfergus, and was offered a company of foot by the viceroy [Butler, James, twelfth Earl and first Duke of Ormonde]. He was eager to accept, but his father would not consent; and he became instead victualler of the squadron lying off Kinsale, where, by a curious coincidence, which shows how perilous inferences founded on identity of name, time, and place, even when supported by similarity of occupation, may sometimes be, another William Penn held the office of clerk of the cheque. While thus engaged Penn resided at his father's seat, Shannagarry Castle. He had not entirely lost his interest in the quakers, and during a visit to Cork attended one of their meetings, at which his old friend Thomas Loe preached on the faith which overcomes the world. He was so impressed that he became a regular attendant. On 3 Sept. 1667 he ejected a soldier from the conventicle for causing a disturbance. The soldier returned, attended by officers of justice, who arrested the worshippers on the charge of holding a tumultuous assembly. In deference to his rank, the mayor offered Penn his liberty on giving security for his good behaviour. Penn, however, disputed the magistrate's jurisdiction, and went to gaol with the rest, but soon procured his release by a letter to the president of Munster, Roger Boyle, earl of Orrery [q. v.] The affair got wind, the world laughed, and the admiral recalled Penn to London. On his return he still wore the dress belonging to his rank, but declined to take his hat off in presence of his social superiors. The admiral stipulated that at least he would so far comply with usage as to be uncovered in his own presence and that of the king and the Duke of York. Penn, however, stood firm; in the end the admiral gave way, and Penn became a quaker complete in creed, costume, and conduct.

He expounded the new gospel in a tract entitled ‘Truth Exalted,’ London, 1668, 4to, began to preach, and became intimate with Isaac Penington (1616–1679) [q. v.], Thomas Ellwood [q. v.], and George Fox [q. v.] A public disputation with the presbyterian Thomas Vincent [q. v.] occasioned the composition of his once celebrated ‘Sandy Foundation Shaken,’ in which he assailed the Athanasian doctrine of the Trinity, the Anselmian rationale of the atonement, and the Calvinistic theory of justification (London, 1668, 4to). Its publication without license was visited by his committal to the Tower under a warrant dated 12 Dec. 1668. There he wrote ‘No Cross no Crown’ (London, 1669, 4to), an eloquent and learned dissertation upon the Christian duty of self-sacrifice, which has been frequently reprinted. His confinement was close, and he was told he must recant or remain a prisoner for life. Stillingfleet was sent to him (January 1668–9) to bring him, if possible, by argument to the required compliance. He remained inflexible. ‘The Tower,’ he said, ‘is to me the worst argument in the world. My prison shall be my grave before I will budge a jot.’ In the same strain he wrote, on 19 June 1669, to Lord Arlington, then secretary of state, but besought him to use his intercession with the king (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1668–9, p. 372). He also wrote a defence of the obnoxious work, entitled ‘Innocency with her open Face,’ in which, without retracting anything, he avowed a belief in the eternal deity of Christ. Towards the end of July 1669 his father obtained his release through the mediation of the Duke of York. The rest of the year and the first half of the next Penn spent in Ireland, holding meetings of quakers, visiting them in gaol, and procuring the release of not a few of them. He returned to London to find the quaker meeting-house in Gracechurch Street closed under the Conventicle Act, and for addressing the congregation in the open air was arrested with William Mead [q. v.], and committed to Newgate (14 Aug. 1670). They were tried at the Old Bailey on 1–5 Sept., the case being laid at common law for conspiring to address and addressing a tumultuous assembly. They pleaded not guilty, disputing the legality of the indictment, and, notwithstanding great pressure put by the bench upon the jury, were ultimately acquitted, but went to gaol for default in payment of a fine imposed upon them for not taking their hats off in court. The jury were also committed to prison [see VAUGHAN, JOHN, (1603–1674)]. The admiral, who had forgiven him his eccentricities, paid Penn's fine, and on his deathbed commended him to the favour of the Duke of York. He renewed his acquaintance with Newgate on 5 Feb. 1670–1, having been arrested on a charge, which broke down, of infringing the Conventicle Act, but was ultimately committed for refusing to take the oath of allegiance. Released after six months' incarceration, Penn travelled in Holland and Germany, and made the acquaintance of De Labadie and Dr. Hasbert of Embden, but was back in England before the end of the year (1671).

Penn was now master of an income of 1,500l. a year, and established himself as a country gentleman at Basing House, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, whence in 1677 he removed to Warminghurst, Sussex. Of the declaration of indulgence issued on 15 March 1671–2 he gladly availed himself to make preaching tours; on its withdrawal on 7 March 1672–3 he appealed by letter to the king, and by pamphlets to the public, on behalf of the sufferers by the revival of persecution. He also used his influence with the Duke of York to procure the release of George Fox [q. v.] from Worcester Castle. The contemporaneous suffering of the quakers in Germany and Holland drew from him a catholic epistle of consolation and exhortation. About the same time he plunged into theological controversy with the baptist Thomas Hicks, the independent John Faldo [q. v.], the eccentric Lodowicke Muggleton [q. v.], John Reeve, and other gospellers, travelled with George Whitehead in the western counties, and held a public disputation with Richard Baxter [q. v.] at Rickmansworth, ‘on order’ and the ‘light within’ (1675). In 1676 he addressed a hortatory epistle to the Princess Elizabeth, daughter of Frederick V, prince palatine of the Rhine, and granddaughter of James I, whom, in the course of an evangelistic tour on the right bank of the Rhine, he visited in the following summer at Herford, Westphalia (cf. Allg. Deutsche Biogr. ‘Elizabeth Pfalzgräfin bei Rhein’). At this date quakers were confounded with catholics, and harassed by prosecutions under the law (3 Jac. I, c. 4, s. 6) which subjected the latter to fines of 20l. a month, or the confiscation of two-thirds of their estates. For redress of this grievance Penn presented petitions to parliament, and on 22 March 1677–8 was heard before a committee of the House of Commons, and procured the insertion of a quaker relief clause in the pending bill to secure the protestant religion; but as that bill lapsed in the House of Lords on the subsequent prorogation, the society remained exposed to the full force of the anti-catholic fanaticism evoked by the fictitious revelations of Titus Oates [q. v.] Penn had probably no belief in the alleged plot, and he sought to recall the public mind to weightier matters by an ‘Address to Protestants of all Persuasions upon the Present Conjuncture, more especially to the Magistracy and Clergy, for the Promotion of Virtue and Charity,’ 1679, 4to. On the dissolution he worked hard to secure the return of Algernon Sidney [q. v.] to parliament. At the same time he edited some volumes of statistics of the sufferings of the quakers, and began to turn his thoughts seriously towards America, with which country he had for some time had relations.

Penn had taken a principal share in the liquidation of the affairs of Edward Byllinge, joint proprietor with Sir George Carteret [q. v.] of the province of New Jersey, under a grant from the Duke of York. On the partition of the province in 1676 he became one of the trustees of the western half, and largely settled it with quakers. For this colony of West New Jersey, as it was called, he had framed a constitution on the largest possible basis of civil and religious liberty. He had also formed an association which, in 1680, purchased the neighbouring settlement of East New Jersey from the representatives of Sir George Carteret, and on 14 March 1681–2 he obtained a fresh grant of the colony from the Duke of York. A more important acquisition was a grant by letters patent, dated 4 March 1680–1 (in discharge of a crown debt of nearly 16,000l., due to him as the representative of his father), of an extensive tract of country to the west of the Delaware, which, in honour of the admiral, was named the province of Pensilvania (so the word is spelled in the charter). The land was vested in Penn in fee simple, subject to the quit rent of two beaver-skins and a fifth part of its gold and silver ore. By deeds dated 21 and 24 Aug. 1682 the Duke of York confirmed the letters patent, and added to the province (on somewhat more onerous terms) the contiguous southern territories, which eventually became the state of Delaware. As proprietary and governor of the province and the adjacent ‘territories,’ Penn was invested by the charter not merely with executive but also with legislative power, subject to the assent of the ‘freemen’ and the control of the privy council. He lost no time in advertising the advantages of his acquisition (see his Account of the Province of Pennsilvania, London, 1681, fol.), formed, May 1682, a ‘Free Society of Traders of Pennsylvania,’ and framed, in concert with Algernon Sidney, a constitution and code of laws for the colony, of which the following were the salient features: (1) the governor was to exercise his legislative and executive powers with the advice and consent of a provincial council chosen by ballot by the freemen (i.e. persons professing the Christian religion, and holding and cultivating a certain minimum of land or upwards, or paying scot and lot); (2) the provincial council was to be elected in the first instance in thirds of twenty-four members each, one-third for three years, one-third for two years, one-third for one year, and was to be perpetually maintained at the complement of seventy-two members by the annual election of one-third for three years; (3) the governor was to preside in the council with a treble vote; (4) a general assembly, not exceeding two hundred members, chosen by the freemen annually by ballot, was to have the right of approving or rejecting bills passed by the council, but not of initiating or amending legislation; (5) judges, treasurers, and masters of the rolls were to be nominated by the governor in council; sheriffs, justices of the peace, and coroners by the governor in general assembly; (6) the courts were to be open to all without counsel or attorney, pleadings were to be concise and in English, all cases to be tried by jury, fees to be moderate, and oaths to be dispensed with; (7) real property was to be liable for debts, conveyances to be registered, and seven years' possession to give indefeasible title; (8) prisons were to be provided with workshops; (9) all modes of religious worship compatible with monotheism and Christian morality were to be tolerated; (10) the constitution and code were to be unalterable without the consent of the governor and six-sevenths of the provincial council and general assembly.

Preceded by his deputy, William Markham, and several emigrant ships, Penn sailed for America early in September 1682, and landed at Newcastle on the Delaware towards the end of the following month. Having taken formal possession of the province, he marked out, on 8 Nov., at the confluence of the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers, the site of the future city of Philadelphia. In the course of the same month he visited East and West New Jersey and New York, and most probably met the chiefs of the Lenni Lenape Indians, whom he had previously conciliated by letter, under an elm-tree at Shakamaxon (afterwards Kensington), and concluded with them the treaty of amity which Voltaire (Dict. Phil. ‘Quaker’) described as the only league of the kind which was neither sworn to nor broken. Unfortunately, the point of the epigram is blunted by the fact, of which its author was doubtless ignorant, that the Indians with whom Penn negotiated were, at the date of the treaty, subject to the ‘Five Nations,’ by whom they had been completely disarmed. The official record of this treaty appears to be now lost, and, in consequence, the tradition that it made good by purchase Penn's title to the soil remains no more than a tradition. The first general assembly met at Chester on 4 Dec., and in the course of a few days passed Penn's constitution and code into law, with some slight modifications and the addition of penal clauses against profane swearing, blasphemy, adultery, intemperance, and other forms of vice, playgoing, card-playing, and other ‘evil sports and games.’ Notwithstanding its puritanic tinge, the ‘Great Law,’ as the revised code was entitled, was on the whole remarkable for its leniency, murder alone being treated as a capital offence. During 1683 the population of the colony was largely increased by a steady influx of immigrants from Germany, Holland, and Scandinavia, as well as the British Isles. Penn was fully occupied with the work of settling the newcomers on the land, surveying its extent and resources, and delimiting its frontier. A dispute with Lord Baltimore about the boundary on the Maryland side compelled him to return to England in 1684 to solicit its adjustment by the committee of trade and plantations. The decision of the committee was eventually in Penn's favour, but was not given until October 1685.

Penn hailed James II's accession to the throne with high hopes. James had been his father's friend, and in a certain sense his own guardian. He believed him to be sincerely averse to religious persecution, and dreamed that under his auspices a golden age of liberty and justice might be inaugurated. The king, from motives of policy, flattered his hopes. He resided first at Holland House, then at Windsor, was frequently closeted for hours with James, was denounced as a catholic or even a jesuit by some, and courted as a royal favourite by others. Though he characterised the proscription which followed the suppression of the western rebellion as a ‘run of barbarous cruelty,’ he continued to believe in James's clemency, throwing all the blame on Jeffreys and the priests. From this it is evident that, in denying to him ‘strong sense,’ Macaulay is strictly within the mark. He was, in fact, a sanguine optimist, destitute of the penetration into human nature and capacity for determining the limits of the ideal and the practicable which mark the statesman. On the other hand, Macaulay's statement that he accepted the odious office of extorting from the families of ‘the Taunton Maids’ the ransom assigned by the queen to her maids of honour rests on no better evidence than a letter from the Earl of Sunderland to a ‘Mr. Penne,’ who is almost certainly to be identified with one George Penne, a hanger-on at Whitehall, who is known to have been concerned in a similar transaction (cf. Paget's New Examen and Roberts's Life of Monmouth. The non-identity of ‘Mr. Penne’ with William Penn was elaborately argued by W. E. Forster in the Preface to his edition of Clarkson's Life of Penn. Macaulay, however, refused to alter his original statement for reasons given at length in a note to the sixth edition of his History. Forster's Preface was twice separately reprinted, 1849 and 1850, under the title William Penn and Thomas B. Macaulay).

In March 1685–6 the king, probably at Penn's instance, made proclamation of pardon to all who were in prison for conscience' sake, whereby some twelve hundred quakers regained their liberty. About the same time, under the title ‘A Persuasive to Moderation to Church Dissenters,’ 1686, 4to, Penn published an argument for the immediate repeal of the penal laws. During an evangelistic tour in Holland in the summer Penn had several conferences with the Prince of Orange at the Hague, and found him favourable to a policy of toleration. The repeal of the Test Act, however, William declined to discuss, and Penn himself acknowledged its impolicy in the absence of some equivalent guarantee for the maintenance of the protestant religion. On his return to England he spread far and wide among the quaker churches the glad tidings of the new policy. He concurred, however, with them in recognising the inadequacy of the declaration of indulgence, and in accepting it as a mere preliminary to repeal, which he sought to commend to the nation at large in his ‘Good Advice to the Church of England, Roman Catholick, and Protestant Dissenter,’ London, 1687, 4to (cf. his Works, ed. 1726, i. 130–1, ii. 749 et seq., and Mem. Hist. Soc. of Pennsylvania, vol. iii. pt. ii. pp. 215 et seq.)

Macaulay's statement that he was employed in the attempted ‘seduction’ of the baptist minister, William Kiffin [q. v.], is diametrically opposed to the account of the matter given by Kiffin himself, from which it appears that Penn was but one among other courtiers through whom Kiffin voluntarily communicated to the king his desire to be excused the office thrust upon him, and heard in reply of the king's good intentions towards him (Kiffin's Life, ed. Orme, 1823, p. 85).

Equally untrustworthy is Macaulay's account of Penn's action in the contest between the fellows of Magdalen College, Oxford, about the headship of the house. According to Macaulay, Penn was employed to terrify, caress, or bribe the fellows into compliance with the royal mandate for the election of Dr. Samuel Parker, bishop of Oxford. The simple facts are as follows: Penn, on one of his evangelistic tours, happened to fall in with James II at Chester on 27 Aug. 1687, and afterwards attended him to Oxford. There he heard the case of the Magdalen men from their own lips on 4–5 Sept., and in their interest wrote to the king, characterising his mandate as ‘a force on conscience,’ inasmuch as the fellows could not comply with it without breach of their oaths. He then left the city; nor had he any further dealings with the fellows until the following month. In the meantime it had transpired that a quo warranto was to issue against the college; and Dr. Bailey, one of the fellows, had received an anonymous letter urging compliance with the mandate on the absurd ground that a decision on the quo warranto adverse to the crown was a moral impossibility. Bailey had jumped to the conclusion that Penn was the writer of the letter, and had written to him exposing the badness of its law, but at the same time craving his mediation with the king. Penn disavowed the authorship of the letter; nor is there any reason for doubting his word. He consented to receive a deputation from the college at his house at Windsor, and accordingly Dr. Hough and others waited on him there on 9 Oct. They laid before him a written statement of their case, which he undertook to read to the king. He made no proposal by way of accommodation, but told the fellows frankly that, ‘after so long a dispute,’ they could not expect to be restored to the king's favour without making some concessions; that the church of England was not entitled to exclusive possession of the universities; that he supposed ‘two or three colleges’ would ‘content the papists;’ and that in the event of the death of the bishop of Oxford, Dr. Hough might succeed to his see (Magdalen College and King James II, documents edited by Rev. J. R. Bloxam, D.D., Oxf. Hist. Soc. 1886). It is evident that throughout this affair Penn's sympathies were divided. From the church of England he was further removed than from the church of Rome. ‘I am a catholic,’ he wrote to Tillotson, ‘though not a Roman.’ ‘Our religions are like our hats,’ he said to James: ‘the only difference lies in the ornaments which have been added to thine.’ He knew that Lord Baltimore's catholic colony of Maryland had been founded and administered on the principle of complete toleration of religious differences, while on both sides of the Atlantic the quakers had suffered at the hands of puritans and churchmen alike. He was passionately desirous that the policy of religious equality should at length have a fair trial in England. At the same time, he saw that the case of the fellows was very hard; and he sought to break unpleasant news to them as gently as possible, and even to console Dr. Hough for the certain loss of the headship by an airy vision of lawn sleeves.

Besides interceding for the Magdalen fellows, Penn endeavoured to procure the release of the seven bishops (Mem. Hist. Soc. of Pennsylvania, vol. iii. pt. ii.). Nevertheless, on the Revolution he was summoned (10 Dec. 1688) before the council as an adherent of the fugitive king. He had the courage to avow that James ‘was always his friend and his father's friend, and that in gratitude he was the king's, and did ever as much as in him lay to influence him to his true interest.’ At the same time he protested that ‘he loved his country and the protestant religion above his life.’ He was then held to bail in 6,000l. (discharged at the close of Easter term following). The substance of a letter of ‘M. Pen,’ containing news favourable to the designs of the Jacobites, is appended to one of D'Avaux's despatches to Louis XIV (see Negotiations de M. le Comte d'Avaux en Irlande, 1689–90, pp. 188–419). The style, however, is such as, even when allowance is made for translation and condensation, renders it hard to believe that the original was written by Penn, or, indeed, by any Englishman. In any case, Macaulay's identification of ‘M. Pen’ with William Penn is precarious.

The interception of a letter from James II to Penn shortly before William III left for Ireland (June 1690) occasioned his citation before the privy council. He appealed to the king, urging the manifest injustice of imputing disloyalty to him merely because James had chosen to write to him, and protesting his entire innocence of treasonable practices. William, who knew him well, was satisfied, and would have discharged him, but the council held him to bail. Macaulay's imputation of ‘falsehood’ on this occasion is entirely arbitrary. In the panic which followed the battle of Beachy Head Penn's name was included in a proclamation issued on 17 July against supposed adherents of the king's enemies. He at once surrendered himself, and, no evidence appearing against him, was discharged by the court of king's bench on 28 Nov. He was charged by the impostor Fuller with complicity in Preston's plot, and deemed it most prudent to live in retirement until the storm blew over. He remained, however, in London, in constant communication with Lord Sidney and other friends at court, until through their influence he obtained, on 10 Nov. 1693, a formal assurance of the king's goodwill towards him. In view of this fact it is hard to attach any importance to the occurrence of his name in a list of advisers of an invasion of England drawn up at St. Germains in the following month (see Macpherson, Original Papers, i. 468, and Macaulay, History of England, iv. 31). On 20 Aug. 1694 the governorship of Pennsylvania, of which he had been temporarily deprived (21 Oct. 1692), was restored to him. He now resumed the practice of itinerant preaching, between which and literary work he divided the next few years. At Deptford in 1697 he had an audience of Peter the Great, whom he induced to attend some quaker meetings. The impression then made on the czar was not fugitive. During the Danish campaign of 1712 he attended a quakers' meeting at Friedrichstadt, Holstein, accompanied by the chiefs of his staff. The spring and summer of 1698 Penn occupied in visiting the principal quaker meetings in Ireland.

In 1699 he returned to Pennsylvania, with the intention of settling there for the rest of his life. He landed at Chester on 1 Dec., proceeded at once to Philadelphia, and met the assembly in the following January. He resided first at the ‘Slateroof House,’ Philadelphia, afterwards at Pennsbury Manor, below Trenton on the Delaware. The course of events in the colony had been far from smooth. Penn's constitution had proved unworkable from the outset. The provincial council, in which were vested the executive and the legislative initiative, was too numerous for the former, and not numerous enough for the latter function. It had accordingly been superseded by a commission of five, while the general assembly had usurped the legislative power and the control of the judiciary. In this revolution Penn acquiesced with a good grace, and exerted himself to compose a feud which had become chronic between the province and the territories. In this, as also in an attempt to pass bills introducing marriage among the negro slaves now held in large numbers by the settlers, and for the protection of the Indian population, he failed. He passed, however, an act extending the benefit of criminal justice to the slaves. While thus striving to mitigate the evils of slavery he did not scruple to hold slaves himself, though he made provision by his will for their manumission.

Meanwhile supply was hardly to be had from the assembly, and the colonies remained without a defensive force. In this position of affairs intelligence reached Penn, in 1701, that a bill was before parliament for the conversion of the province and territories into crown colonies. He accordingly returned to England, landing at Portsmouth towards the middle of December. The bill lapsed on the death of William III (8 March 1701–2), but Penn remained in England. He was well received by Queen Anne on presenting, after the prorogation of parliament (25 May), an address from the general assembly of quakers in grateful acknowledgment of her declaration for the maintenance of the Toleration Act, and resided for a time in the neighbourhood of Kensington Palace, then at Knightsbridge, afterwards at Brentford (1706–10), and finally at Ruscomb, Berkshire, where he died.

His declining years were embittered by interminable disputes between the province and the territories, the misconduct of his son, William Penn, and the chicanery of his steward, in whom he had placed implicit confidence. His pecuniary embarrassments, which occasioned his residing for nine months within the rules of the Fleet prison (1707), compelled him to mortgage his American proprietary rights, and eventually to make overtures for the sale of them to the crown. The negotiations were arrested by several apoplectic seizures which he had in 1712, and were not resumed. He sank slowly, and died on 30 July 1718. His remains were interred on 5 Aug. in the burial-ground belonging to the meeting-house at Jordans, near Chalfont St. Giles, Buckinghamshire.

Penn married twice. His first wife—born in 1643 or 1644, married at Chorley Wood, Rickmansworth, on 4 April 1672, died at Hoddesdon on 23 Feb. 1693–4, buried at Jordans—a woman of great beauty and saintly character, was Gulielma Maria, daughter of Sir William Springett of Brayle Place, Ringmer, Sussex, a parliamentary officer, who died at the siege of Arundel Castle on 3 Feb. 1643–4. Her mother, Mary, daughter of Sir John Proude, remarried, in 1654, Isaac Penington, a quaker [see under Penington, Isaac, 1616–1679]. By her Penn had issue three sons and four daughters. Of the daughters, three died in infancy; the fourth, Letitia, married William Aubrey, a merchant, died without issue, and was buried at Jordans on 6 April 1746. Of the sons, the eldest, William, died in infancy; the second, Springett, died without issue on 10 April 1696, and was buried at Jordans; the youngest, William, to whom Penn devised his English and Irish estates, married Mary Jones, renounced quakerism, deserted his wife, and died at Liège in 1720, leaving, with one daughter, Gulielma Maria—who married Charles Fell—two sons, Springett (died without issue in 1730) and William. The latter married, first, Christiana, daughter of Alexander Forbes, and, secondly, Ann Vaux, and had issue, by his first wife (d. 1733, buried at Jordans 9 Nov.), a daughter, Christiana Gulielma, married in 1761 to Peter Gaskell of Gloucester, through whom the Irish estate passed in 1824 to Thomas Penn Gaskell of Philadelphia; and by his second wife a son, Springett, who died in 1762.

Penn's second wife, married on 5 March 1695–6, was Hannah, daughter of Thomas Callowhill, merchant, of Bristol, who survived him, died on 20 Dec. 1726, and was buried at Jordans. By her he had issue, with two daughters, Hannah (died in infancy) and Margaret (who married Thomas Freame of Philadelphia, was the mother of Philadelphia Hannah, viscountess Cremorne, and was buried at Jordans on 12 Feb. 1750–1), four sons, to whom he devised Pennsylvania and the territories in co-proprietorship, viz. (1) John (d. without issue on 25 Oct. 1746, and was buried at Jordans 5 Nov.); (2) Thomas (1702–1775) [q. v.]; (3) Richard (d. 1771), who married Hannah, daughter of Richard Lardner, M.D., and had, with other issue, John Penn (1729–1795) [q. v.], governor of Pennsylvania at the outbreak of the war of independence, and Richard Penn (1736–1811) [q. v.]; and (4) Dennis, who died in 1723, and was buried at Jordans 8 Jan. On the eve of the conversion of the province into the state of Pennsylvania, the proprietary rights of Penn's descendants were commuted for an annuity.

Penn was somewhat above the middle height, well built and agile, with a fine forehead, a short protuberant nose, a heavy chin, large lustrous eyes, and luxuriant hair. In ‘Notes and Queries’ (4th ser. ii. 382) mention is made of a miniature likeness of him done at Paris. A half-length portrait in armour by an unknown hand painted in Ireland in 1666, and finely engraved by Schoff, is at Pennsylvania Castle, Isle of Portland, the seat of J. Merrick Head, esq.; a copy is in the possession of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania; another belongs to William Dugald Stuart, esq., of Tempsford Hall, Bedfordshire. A half-length at Blackwell Grange, Durham, recently copied for the National Museum, Philadelphia, is really the portrait of the admiral. An alto-relievo of his profile, cut in ivory from memory some years after Penn's death by Sylvanus Bevan, a quaker apothecary, and pronounced by Penn's friend Lord Cobham an excellent likeness, was the property of Alfred Waterhouse, esq., R.A., of Yattendon Court, Berkshire. A marble medallion recently acquired by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, appears to have been copied from the Bevan relief in the 18th century. A print of the same relief done by John Hall in 1773 from a sketch by Du Simitière is in the British Museum. A statue in lead, cast for Lord Cobham (the features copied from the Bevan relief), stands in front of the Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia. A colossal bronze statue has also been placed on the summit of the tower of the new city hall, Philadelphia, at a height of 547 feet. Penn figures among the quaker worthies in Egbert Van Heemskerck's engraving of the Bull and Mouth meeting. The portrait in West's composition of the scene with the Indians under the Shakamaxon elm has no pretensions to accuracy. That in Inman's picture of Penn's landing at Chester appears to be copied from it. An engraving of doubtful authenticity is mentioned in Maria Webb's ‘Penns and Peningtons’ (see the well informed article on the ‘Portraiture of William Penn,’ Scribner's Monthly, xii. 1).

Penn's manners were courtly, and so good a judge as Swift (Works, ed. 1824, xii. 219) testifies that he ‘spoke very agreeably and with much spirit.’ Though studiously plain, his dress appears to have been well cut and neat. He was an excellent judge of horse-flesh, and introduced three brood mares and the celebrated stallion Tamerlane into America. He kept a good table, and furnished his house in a style of substantial and not inelegant comfort. As a stout champion of the right of independent thought and speech, as the apostle of true religion, of justice, gentleness, sobriety, simplicity, and ‘sweet reasonableness’ in an age of corrupt splendour, morose pietism, and general intolerance, Penn would be secure of a place among the immortals, even though no flourishing state of the American Union revered him as its founder. With curious infelicity Montesquieu (Esprit des Lois, 1. iv. c. iv.) calls him ‘un véritable Lycurgue.’ The ‘Great Law’ has for its most conspicuous merit its very unspartan leniency, while the fate of Penn's constitution only points the moral of the futility of such theoretic devices; nor did the settlement owe much to his administrative guidance. Indeed, he displayed hardly more competence to deal with Pennsylvanian than with English politics. His piety was profound; and though he had little or no interest in humane learning for its own sake, his knowledge of the Christian and prechristian mystics was considerable, and enabled him to give to the doctrine of the ‘light within’ a certain philosophical breadth (see his Christian Quaker, London, 1674, fol., in reply to Thomas Hickes). His style is clear and nervous, and his theological polemics, though for the most part occupied with questions of ephemeral importance, evince no small controversial power. He was a fellow of the Royal Society (elected November 1681), but seems to have taken no part in its proceedings.

The following are Penn's principal works not mentioned in the text, the place of publication being in all cases London, unless otherwise stated, or uncertain: 1. ‘The Guide Mistaken, and Temporizing Rebuked; or, a Brief Reply to Jonathan Clapham's book intituled “A Guide to the True Religion,”’ 1668, 4to. 2. ‘The People's Ancient and Just Liberties asserted. In the Trial of William Penn and William Mead,’ 1670; frequent reprints. 3. ‘The Great Case of Liberty of Conscience once more debated and defended by the authority of Reason, Scripture, and Antiquity,’ 1670, 4to. 4. ‘A Seasonable Caveat against Popery,’ 1670, 4to; reprinted in 1852, ed. Robert Macbeth. 5. ‘Truth rescued from Imposture; or, a brief reply to a meer rapsodie of lies, folly, and slander, but a pretended answer to the tryal of William Penn, William Mead, &c.,’ 1670, 4to. 6. ‘A Serious Apology for the Principles and Practices of the People called Quakers’ (pt. ii. only, pt. i. being by George Whitehead [q. v.]), 1671, 4to. 7. ‘The Spirit of Truth vindicated against that of Error and Envy,’ 1672, 8vo. 8. ‘The New Witnesses [Reeve and Muggleton] proved Old Hereticks,’ 1672, 4to. 9. ‘Quakerism a new Nickname for Old Christianity’ (a reply to J. Faldo's ‘Quakerism no Christianity’), 1672, 8vo. 10. ‘Plain Dealing with a Traducing Anabaptist’ [i.e. John Mores], 1672, 4to. 11. ‘A Winding Sheet for Controversie ended’ (by H. Hedwood), 1672, 8vo. 12. ‘The Spirit of Alexander the Coppersmith, lately revived, now justly rebuked; or an Answer to a late pamphlet [by William Mucklowe] intituled “The Spirit of the Hat, or the Government of the Quakers,”’ 1673, 4to. 13. ‘Judas and the Jews combined against Christ and his Followers; being a rejoynder to the late nameless reply called “Tyranny and Hypocrisie detected,” made against a book entituled “The Spirit of Alexander the Coppersmith rebuked,”’ 1673, 4to. 14. ‘Wisdom justified of her Children’ (in answer to H. Halliwell's ‘Account of Familism, as it is revived and propagated by the Quakers’), 1673, 8vo. 15. ‘The Invalidity of John Faldo's Vindication of his Book called “Quakerism no Christianity,”’ 1673, 8vo. 16. ‘Reason against Railing and Truth against Fiction’ (in reply to two pamphlets by Thomas Hicks), 1673, 8vo. 17. ‘The Counterfeit Christian detected; or the Real Quaker justified’ (a reply to Thomas Hicks's ‘Third Dialogue’), 1674, 8vo. 18. ‘Return to John Faldo's Reply called “A Curb for William Penn's Confidence,”’ 1674, 8vo. 19. ‘Urim and Thummin; or the Apostolical Doctrines of Light and Perfection maintained,’ a reply to Samuel Grevill's ‘Testimony of the Light Within,’ 1674, 4to. 20. ‘A Just Rebuke to One and Twenty Learned and Reverend Divines,’ 1674, 4to. 21. ‘The Christian Quaker and his Divine Testimony vindicated by Scripture, Reason, and Authorities,’ pt. i. only, pt. ii. being by George Whitehead, 1674, fol.; 1699, 8vo; reprinted, with the ‘Sandy Foundation shaken’ and other pieces, at Philadelphia in 1824, 8vo. 23. ‘A Discourse of the General Rule of Faith and Life and Judge of Controversie,’ 1674, fol.; 1699, 8vo. 23. ‘A Treatise of Oaths, containing several weighty Reasons why the People call'd Quakers refuse to swear,’ 1675, 4to. 25. ‘England's Present Interest discover'd with Honour to the Prince and Safety to the People,’ 1675, 4to; reprints, with the title ‘England's True Interest,’ &c., 1698 and 1702, 12mo. 25. ‘The continued Cry of the Oppressed for Justice,’ 1675, 4to. 26. ‘Saul smitten to the Ground; being a brief but faithful Narrative of the dying Remorse of a late living enemy to the People called Quakers, and their faith and worship’ (Mathew Hide), 1675, 4to. 27. ‘Some Account of the Province of Pennsilvania in America,’ 1681, fol. 28. ‘A Brief Account of the Province of Pennsilvania,’ 1682, 4to. 29. ‘The Frame of the Government of the Province of Pennsilvania in America,’ 1682, fol. 30. ‘A Letter from William Penn, Proprietary and Governor of Pennsilvania in America, to the Committee of the Free Society of Traders of that Province … containing a General Description of the said Province. … With an Account of the Natives or Aborigines. To which is added An Account of the City of Philadelphia, newly laid out,’ 1683, fol. 31. ‘A Defence of the Duke of Buckingham's Book of Religion and Worship, from the exceptions of a nameless author,’ 1685, 4to. 32. ‘Letters on the Penal Laws,’ 1687–8, 4to. 33. ‘The Great and Popular Objection against the repeal of the Penal Laws and Tests briefly stated and considered,’ 1688, 4to. 34. ‘Reasonableness of Toleration,’ 1689, 4to. 35. ‘A Key opening a Way to every common Understanding, How to discern the Difference betwixt the Religion professed by the People called Quakers and the Perversions, Misrepresentations, and Calumnies of their several Adversaries,’ 1692, 8vo; numerous reprints, the last in 1817; also translations into French (1701, 8vo), Welsh (1703, 8vo), Danish (1705, 8vo), German (1802, 8vo). 36. ‘The New Athenians no Noble Bereans,’ 3 pts. 1692, fol. 36. ‘Some Fruits of Solitude, in Reflections and Maxims relating to the conduct of Humane Life,’ 1693, 12mo; pt. ii., entitled ‘More Fruits of Solitude,’ 1782, 12mo; 10th edit. (both parts), 1790, 12mo; latest edit. 1857, 24mo; translated into Dutch (1715), German (1803), French (1790; 2nd edit. 1827). 37. ‘An Account of W. Penn's Travails in Holland and Germany, Anno mdclxxvii, for the service of the Gospel of Christ: by way of Journal,’ 1694, 8vo; 4th edit. 1835, 8vo. 38. ‘A Brief Account of the Rise and Progress of the People called Quakers’ (reprint of Penn's preface to George Fox's ‘Journal’), 1694, 8vo; 12th edit. 1834, 12mo; also several American reprints, and French (1764), German (1793), Welsh (1794), and Danish (1854) versions. 39. ‘Primitive Christianity revived in the Faith and Practice of the People called Quakers,’ 1696, 8vo; 6th edit. 1796, Philadelphia, ed. James M. Brown (Memoir of Penn prefixed), 1857, 12mo; Welsh (1790) and German (1802) versions.

The second edition of ‘No Cross no Crown’ appeared in 1682, 8vo, the 24th in 1857, 8vo; also several American editions, and versions in Dutch by William Sewel (1687), French (1746), and German (1825). Posthumously appeared ‘Fruits of a Father's Love; being the Advice of William Penn to his Children,’ 1726, 12mo; 11th edit. 1841, 18mo; also a French translation, 1790.

The collections of statistics of quaker sufferings mentioned above as edited by Penn are as follows: 1. ‘The Case of the People called Quakers stated in relation to their late and present Sufferings, especially upon old statutes made against Popish Recusants;’ (2) ‘A Particular Account of the late and present great Sufferings of the same upon Prosecutions in the Bishop's Court;’ and (3) ‘A Brief Account of some of the late and present Sufferings of the same for meeting together to worship God in spirit and in truth upon the Conventicle Act; with an Account of such as died prisoners from the year 1660 for several causes,’ 1680. [For prefaces by or attributed to him see Barclay, Robert, 1648–1690; Marshall, Charles, 1637–1698; Penington, Isaac, 1616–1679; {}{sc|Bulstrode, Whitelocke}}.]

A collective edition of Penn's Works, with Life by Joseph Besse prefixed, appeared in 1726, 2 vols. fol., and was followed by his ‘Select Works,’ ed. (probably) John Fothergill, 1771, fol.; reprinted in five volumes in 1782, 8vo, and in three volumes 1825, 8vo.

[The principal authority is the Life by Besse above mentioned. Other contemporary sources are Penn's own Journal of his Travels in Holland and Germany, with his correspondence, memoirs, &c., in Mem. Hist. Soc. of Pennsylvania, vols. i.–xi., and documents preserved at Devonshire House, Bishopsgate Street, London, and at Pennsylvania Castle, Dorset, in the possession of Mr. J. Merrick Head; Philobiblon Society Miscellanies (Historical), No. 4; Reliquiæ Barclaianæ [see BARCLAY, ROBERT, (1648–1690)]; Letters of Isaac Penington in Maria Webb's Penns and Peningtons, with which cf. Sussex Arch. Coll. v. 67 et seq. xx. 34 et seq.; Penn's Life in Anthony à Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), iv. 645, with the notices in the Histories of the Quakers by Croese, Sewel, and Gough; Oldmixon's British Empire in America, i. 149 et seq.; Sidney Papers, ed. Collins, v. 55; Evelyn's Diary; Henry Sidney's Diary, ed. Blencowe; Cartwright's Diary (Camden Soc.); Reresby's Memoirs, ed. Cartwright; Ellis's Orig. Letters, 2nd ser. iv. 174; Clarendon and Rochester Correspondence; Wood's Life and Times (Oxford Hist. Soc.), iii. 346; Hearne's Collect. (Oxford Hist. Soc.), ii. 277; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1667–9; Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. App. p. 298, 6th Rep. App. pp. 473, 684, 736, 774, 7th Rep. App. pp. 407, 501, 578, 10th Rep. App. pt. iv. p. 376; Grant's Concessions and Orig. Const. of New Jersey (Philadelphia); Charter to William Penn and Laws of Pennsylvania (Harrisburg); Burnet's Own Time; Campana di Cavelli's Derniers Stuarts à St-Germain-en-Laye, ii. 572. Later authorities are Biogr. Brit.; Chauffepié's Nouv. Dict. Hist.; Burke's European Settlements in America, pt. vii. chap. xi.; Anderson's Hist. of Commerce, ii. 552 et seq.; Douglas's Summary of the First Planting and Present State of the British Settlements in North America, 1750, ii. 297 et seq.; Proud's Hist. of Pennsylvania; Hazard's Annals of Pennsylvania; Watson's Annals of Philadelphia, ed. Hazard; Bancroft's United States of America, ed. 1876, ii. 78 et seq.; Ellis Stephens's Sources of the Constitution of the United States, 1894; Lives by Clarkson (ed. W. E. Forster), Hepworth Dixon, Janney, Stoughton, Lewis (see Friends' Library, vol. v.), Marsiliac, Vincens, Hughes, Post, Barker, Sparks, Draper, and Bridges; Fisher's Discourse on the Private Life of William Penn, in Mem. Hist. Soc. of Pennsylvania, 9th App. 1836; Roberts's Life of the Duke of Monmouth; Mackintosh's Revolution in 1688; Macaulay's Hist. of England; Paget's New Examen; Hepworth Dixon's Her Majesty's Tower; Whitten's Quaker Pictures (Friends' Quarto Series, 1892); Granville Penn's Memorials of the Life of Sir W. Penn; Summers's Memories of Jordans and the Chalfonts, 1895; Edinburgh Review, July 1813 (a review of Clarkson's Life, by Jeffrey); Quakeriana, November 1894 and January 1895; Pedigree of the Penn Family, London, 1871, 8vo; Dallaway's West Sussex, vol. ii. pt. ii. p. 255; Encycl. Brit.; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Etting, on the Portraiture of William Penn, in Scribner's Monthly, xii. 1 et seq.; Catalogue of Paintings, &c., belonging to the Hist. Soc. of Pennsylvania; Notes and Queries, general index; information from R. Pearsall Smith, esq.; Smith's Cat. of Friends' Books.]

J. M. R.