Penn, Thomas (DNB00)

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PENN, THOMAS (1702–1775), second son of William Penn [q. v.], founder of Pennsylvania, by his second wife, Hannah Callowhill of Bristol, was born at Kensington on 8 March 1702, during his parents' visit to England. His elder brother John (who was born in Philadelphia in 1699, and was buried at Jordans, Chalfont St. Giles, 5 Nov. 1746), a younger brother, Richard (d. 1771), and himself succeeded their father, in 1718, as hereditary proprietors of the province. Thomas landed at Chester, New Jersey, on 11 Aug. 1732, and on the following day was escorted by the governor, Patrick Gordon, and a large company of the colonists to Philadelphia, where an address of welcome was presented by the recorder (Minutes of the Provincial Council, iii. 433). He attended a conference with the Indians shortly after, received their presents, and renewed treaties, and was present at most of the council meetings until 19 Sept. 1734. At that date John Penn, eldest proprietary, arrived from England, and remained until September 1735.

In 1736, 1738, 1739, Thomas presided at councils, and on 1 Aug. 1740 held another conference with the Indians in the quaker meeting-house, Philadelphia. On 9 July 1747 he announced to them his brother John's death in the preceding winter, 1746. About August 1747 Thomas returned to London, but kept up an active correspondence with the council (Minutes, vols. iv. v. vi.). At the time of the war with the French, 1755, he contributed a sum of 5,000l. to the relief of the province (ib. vi. 730, 731). But the proprietary estates had enormously increased in value, and were exempted from taxation. Consequently a prolonged dispute arose between the assembly and the proprietaries. Benjamin Franklin was sent to England as agent for the colony, and presented to Thomas Penn, on 27 Aug. 1757, ‘Heads of Complaint’ (ib. vii. 276), the chief complaint being of the restraint on the governor's powers by nonresident proprietors. Protracted litigation also took place respecting the boundary-line of Maryland in the peninsula between Delaware and Chesapeake bays, which was settled by an agreement, dated 14 July 1760, between Frederick, lord Baltimore, and Thomas and Richard Penn (Pennsylvania Archives, iv. 1–36).

Eventually the estates of Thomas, or three-fourths of the whole interest, with the right to nominate the governor, were purchased by the state (Janney, Life of Penn, p. 549). In England he secured an estate at Stoke Pogis, Buckinghamshire, and, dying in 1775, was buried in the church there. He married, in 1751, Lady Juliana Fermor, daughter of the Earl of Pomfret, and had issue, besides three sons who died young, John (1760–1834) [q. v.], Granville [q. v.], and three daughters, of whom Sophia Margaret Juliana, the youngest, married William Stuart, D.D., archbishop of Armagh, and died in 1847.

Portraits of Penn and his wife, both by P. Vandyck, are in the possession of the Earl of Ranfurly. ‘The General Address of the Outinian Lecturer to his Auditors,’ London, 1822, contains portraits of Thomas and Lady Juliana Penn, engraved by C. Turner. The former was also painted by Davis in 1751, engraved by D. Martin 1766; the latter by Charles Read, 1751, engraved by R. Pranker (cf. Bromley). Both these portraits are now at Pennsylvania Castle, Portland Island, Dorset.

[Authorities given; Watson's Annals of Philadelphia, i. 116, 123; Gordon's Hist. of Pennsylvania, pp. 236, 264, 323; Chaloner Smith's Portraits, p. 918; Cornell's Hist. of Pennsylvania, pp. 150, 151.]

C. F. S.