Penn, William

( 164 4-1718 )
   Quaker leader and advocate of religious freedom
   William Penn was born in London, England, on October 14, 1644. He was raised as a member of the Church of England. His early life showed little direction, but after hearing Thomas Loe preach, he became a member of the Society of Friends (Quakers). This landed him in prison on several occasions as he began to speak out for personal and religious liberties. He quickly rose in the small movement and in 1677 traveled with founder George Fox to Holland.
   About this time, Penn wrote a charter for some British Quakers hoping to settle in New Jersey. The "Concessions and Agreements" document included provisions for the right to a jury trial and freedom from imprisonment for debt, and it forbade capital punishment. More than 800 Quakers migrated to New Jersey.
   In 1681, he called in a debt owed his father by the king. The king granted him a charter to what became Pennsylvania (and Delaware). Penn hoped to recoup his finances by selling tracts of land. He also hoped to make of Pennsylvania an experiment in self-governance. He attracted enough investors to keep him afloat, but his "holy experiment" made a decisive mark on history. Penn constructed a legal framework that included many of the same rights previously written into the document for the New Jersey colonists. He arrived in Pennsylvania in 1682 and made treaties with various native peoples.
   Penn spent most of the rest of his life in England, mired in the ups and down of royal politics. He lost control of Pennsylvania for a while, but he managed to reinstitute provisions of his initial charter in 1699, placing essential powers in the hands of the legislative assembly.
   Penn died in 1718, leaving his sons in control of Pennsylvania for the next generation.
   Though Penn was unable to enjoy most of the fruits of his labors, he created one of the most religiously liberal governments of his time. The success of the colony's pluralistic life helped inspire the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution and its groundbreaking experiment with religious liberty.
   Further reading:
   ■ Genevieve Foster, The World of William Penn (New York: Scribner, 1973)
   ■ Jean R. Soderlund and Richard S. Dunn, eds., William Penn and the Founding of Pennsylvania: 1680-1684 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999)
   ■ William Penn, No Cross No Crown (1669; reprint, Shippensburg, Pa.: Destiny Image, 2001); , The Political Writings of William Penn, ed. by Andrew R. Murphy (Indianapolis, Ind.: Liberty Fund, 2002)
   ■ ----,William Penn on Religion and Ethics: The Emergence of Liberal Quakerism, 2 vols., ed. by Hugh S. Barbour (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 1991).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Penn,William — Penn (pĕn), William. 1644 1718. English Quaker colonizer in America. He founded the colony of Pennsylvania in 1681. * * * …   Universalium

  • Penn, William — born Oct. 14, 1644, London, Eng. died July 30, 1718, Buckinghamshire English Quaker leader and founder of Pennsylvania. Expelled from Oxford for his Puritan beliefs, he was sent to manage the family estates in Ireland, where he joined the Society …   Universalium

  • Penn, William — (1644–1718)    State Founder and Devotional Writer.    Penn was born in London. He failed to complete his course at the University of Oxford because of his non conformist convictions. He joined the Quakers in 1665 and was the author of many… …   Who’s Who in Christianity

  • PENN, WILLIAM —    founder of Pennsylvania, the son of an admiral, born in London; was converted to Quakerism while a student at Oxford, and for a fanatical attack on certain fellow students expelled the University; his father sent him to travel in France, and… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Penn, William — (1644 1718)    Quaker apologist, s. of Sir William P., a celebrated Admiral, was b. in London, and ed. at Oxf., where he became a Quaker, and was in consequence expelled from the Univ. His change of views and his practice of the extremest social… …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

  • Penn, William — (14 oct. 1644, Londres, Inglaterra–30 jul. 1718, Buckinghamshire). Dirigente cuáquero inglés y fundador de Pensilvania. Expulsado de Oxford por su fe puritana, fue enviado a administrar las propiedades de la familia en Irlanda, donde en 1667 se… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • PENN, William — (1644 1718)    English QUAKER who emigrated to America and founded Pennsylvania. He held UNORTHODOX views about the TRINITY, ATONEMENT and JUSTIFICATION attacking CALVINISM in his book Sandy Foundation Shaken (1668). His most famous book No Cross …   Concise dictionary of Religion

  • Penn — may refer to:PlacesEngland*Penn, Buckinghamshire *Penn, West MidlandsUnited States*Penn, North Dakota *Pennsylvania **Penn, Pennsylvania *Penn Lake Park, Pennsylvania *Penn Township, several municipalitiesEducation* University of Pennsylvania,… …   Wikipedia

  • William Penn — Datos personales Nacimiento 14 de octubre de 1644 …   Wikipedia Español

  • William Penn (disambiguation) — William Penn (1644 ndash;1718), is the founder of Pennsylvania, U.S.A.William Penn may also refer to: ;People * William Penn, Jr. (1681 ndash;1720), eldest surviving son of William Penn * William Penn (admiral) (1621 ndash;1670), English admiral… …   Wikipedia

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