THIS VENERABLE DOCUMENT
by Linda A. Ries and Jane Smith Stewart  

   

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The founderís father, Admiral Sir William Penn (1621-1670), had won crucial naval victories for the Crown during Englandís wars with the Dutch in the mid-seventeenth century. 

Having just recovered from its own civil war that had resulted in the beheading of Charles I in 1649 and the subsequent rule of Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, England had few funds with which to fight. The admiral used his own personal wealth "for victualling of the Navy," at the cost of about sixteen thousand pounds. At the admiralís death, the matter of the debt remained unsettled.

The younger Penn, who had joined the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers, three years before his fatherís death, petitioned King Charles II in May 1680 with a plan: He would forgive the Crown its debt to the Penn family in return for land in the New World.  On this land he would establish a colony for Quakers and persecuted religious groups.

The impecunious Charles agreed-- he had much land to offer in America along the Mid-Atlantic coast, in the territory recently acquired from the Dutch as spoils of war.

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