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Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
Bureau of Archives and History
Pennsylvania State Archives



Series Descriptions

Provincial Council, 1682-1776


Under the First Frame of Government drawn up by William Penn in 1682, the Provincial Council was to consist of seventy-two popularly elected members with the Governor presiding over the body and also having three votes. The Council was to govern in the absence of the Governor, appoint judges and create courts of justice, regulate trade with the Indians, and issue municipal regulations. The Council could also call and dismiss the Assembly at will and had the exclusive right to initiate legislation. The Assembly, on the other hand, possessed the right to approve or reject bills passed by the Provincial Council and to propose amendments. The Council was also to serve as the highest court of the Province.

Numerous objections were raised to the implementation of the First Frame of Government and these were addressed in the Second Frame of Government adopted in April, 1683. Under the Second Frame, the Provincial Council consisted of three members from each county with the total membership not to exceed seventy-two or fall below eighteen. The triple vote of the Governor provided for in the First Frame was abolished but he was now given veto power. The Governor could perform no public act "except in the presence of the Council" and the Council retained control over the Assembly and legislation as had been provided for in the First Frame of Government. When William Penn returned to England in 1684, he turned the government over to the Provincial Council and its president, Thomas Lloyd. William Penn subsequently grew dissatisfied with the performance of the Council and stripped it of its executive powers when he appointed a five-man commission in December, 1686. Again dissatisfied with the new arrangement, at the suggestion of Thomas Lloyd he appointed a Deputy Governor in the person of John Blackwell in July, 1688. When Blackwell was removed two years later, the government reverted into the hands of Provincial Council President Thomas Lloyd who was appointed Deputy Governor of the Province in 1691. Benjamin Fletcher replaced Lloyd in April, 1693 after Penn lost the government of the colony and during Fletcher's tenure the Council became an appointed rather than an elected body. With the restoration of the government to William Penn in 1694, he appointed William Markham as his Deputy Governor.

Markham found himself at odds with both the Council and the Assembly and acted without the Council for an entire year. When Markham finally recalled the Council in September, 1696 it was as an appointed rather than an elected body. Markham needed money for defense which was refused by the Assembly until Markham granted greater powers to the Assembly under what came to be known as "Markham's Frame of Government. " This frame took away some of the Council's powers, giving both the Council and Assembly the right to propose legislation and requiring the assent of both houses for passage. Although the Governor in Council could still call the Assembly at any time, the right of adjournment passed to the Assembly.

On October 28, 1701 William Penn's new Charter of Privileges was adopted and remained in force until the overthrow of the proprietary government in 1776. The Charter of Privileges contained no reference to the Council as a legislative body and therefore the Council was excluded by implication from the legislative process. Membership was appointive and tenure was at the Proprietor's pleasure. Consequently, it was composed of the best known and most conservative inhabitants of the Province and of devoted friends of the Proprietor. In the Governor's absence, the Council could exercise all of his powers except those relating to legislation. Advice and consent of the Council was still necessary for the Governor to act on matters of government, but this restriction was no longer in force after 1763.

All of the Provincial Council records in the custody of the State Archives were microfilmed under the sponsorship of the National Historical Publications Commission and may be located by consulting the Guide to the Microfilm of the Records of the Provincial Council, 1682-1776, in the Pennsylvania State Archives by Donald H. Kent and Martha L. Simonetti (Harrisburg: 1966). Index information cards for each document that were filmed at the time give the title and description of the item, the endorsement of the Council if any, and the place or places where the record has been published. For related types of materials on the Provincial Council see also the Logan Papers (Manuscript Group 379), Richard Peters Papers (Manuscript Group 498), Shippen Family Papers (Manuscript Group 595), Penn Manuscripts (Manuscript Group 485), Miscellaneous Collection (Manuscript 425), and Provincial Council Papers (Manuscript Group 1040) at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania located at 1300 Locust Street in Philadelphia. Rough minutes of the Provincial Council for the period May 15, 1693 to August 13, 1717 will be found in the collections of the American Philosophical Society and these were microfilmed as part of the Library of Congress and the University of North Carolina joint State Microfilm Records Project that was completed in 1950. Israel D. Rupp, writing under the pen name of "A Gentleman of the Bar," published a book entitled Early History of Western Pennsylvania in 1849 that contains an appendix relating to Indian affairs in the Provincial period. This appendix contains transcripts of instructions of the Governor and Council to the delegates attending Indian conferences, journals containing minutes of conferences, messages from the Governor and Council to the Indians, and peace treaties.

Braddock Road Accounts,
(1 volume)
Microfilm Roll 597

{series #21.1} [Holdngs]

Arranged chronologically by date of entry.

Record of charges incurred for running a road from the back settlements toward the Ohio River for the King's use in pursuance to the application from General Edward Braddock. The purpose of the road was to launch a military expedition against the French occupation of the Ohio River Valley. Information provided is name of person receiving payment, name of person for whom the payment was received and amount of payment.


Commissioners of Indian Trade Accounts,
(2 volumes)
Microfilm Roll 597

{series #21.2} [Holdings]

Grouped by fort or town and arranged thereunder chronologically by date of entry.

Indian trade accounts kept by Treasurer John Reynolds for the Commissioners of Indian Trade. Information provided in the cash summary tables is date of entry, location of trade, and amount. Information provided on individual trader accounts is date of entry, name of trader or merchant, amount on interest, and amount to Province of Pennsylvania. Trader and merchant names include Isaac Norris, Mary Coates, Margaret Coates, William Allen, John Reynalds, Mildred Roberts, Joseph Richardson, William Fisher, Thomas Willing, Joshua Howell, Rachel Pemberton, Mary Sorrell. Benedict Dorsey, Captain Nathaniel Donnell, Robert Suckniss, George Emlen, Charles Harrison, George Allen, Mary Taggart, Thomas Lawrence, Thomas Keinton, James Crampton, Josiah Davenport, Beulah Paschal, Elizabeth Paschal, Richard Wistar, Nathaniel Holland, David Franks, Sarah Hasell, Thomasina Hasell, John Benson, Joseph Fox, Joseph Galloway, James Irvine, Hannah Growden, Thomas Willing, Margarett Hyatt, Jonathan Willis, Joseph Besse, Benjamin Wallace, Ann Ohill, Henry Harrison, Mary Richardson, Elizabeth Griffitts, Thomas Clifford, Amos Strettelt, Frances West, John Bartlett, Robert Burchan, Abel Jenney, Willing and Morris, Edward Pennington, Elizabeth Warner, Anna Warner, Hannah Allen, Barbara Gheer, Benjamin Levy, Robert and Amos Strettelt, John Langdale, Joseph Brown, James Kenney, John Carson, Thomas Child, James Irvine, George Ross, Mildred Roberts, William Parr, Thomas Smaltman, Charles Williams, Henry Martin, Israel Pemberton, Colonel James Bird, Edward Creston, and Croston Sarr,

Crown Correspondence,
(1 box)

Microfilm Roll 595

{series #21.3} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of correspondence.

Printed copies of executive correspondence, petitions, and Orders of Council relating specifically to the Province and the Crown. Information generally given is date of correspondence, names of correspondents and background on colonial relations and Crown policies.

Executive Correspondence,
(22 boxes)

Microfilm Rolls 570-599

{series #21.4} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of correspondence.

Correspondence, petitions, reports, election returns, Governors' messages, ships' lists, appointments, warrants, passports and related records relating to the local affairs of government within the Province. Included are about twenty muster rolls and military returns (on Microfilm Rolls 580-587) relating to the French and Indian War providing such types of information as name and rank of soldier, the military unit or station to which attached and the name of the officer under whom he served. Occasionally, the soldier's date and place of enlistment, age, and brief physical description may also be found. All of these muster rolls and military returns have been published in the Pennsylvania Archives, Fifth Series, Volume 1 (Microfilm Roll 2069) and images of the originals appear on Microfilm Roll #580-587. To locate a particular French and Indian War soldier in the Pennsylvania Archives, Fifth Series, Volume 1, consult the index for the entire Fifth Series that is in the Sixth Series, Volume 15 (Microfilm Rolls 2068-2069). For related military records see also Military Manuscripts Collection, 1758-1931 (MG-7), the Pennsylvania Collection, 1626-1970 (MG-8), the Sequestered Baynton, Wharton, and Morgan Papers, 1725-1827 (MG-19), the Burd-Shippen Family Collection, 1715-1834 ((MG-30), the Edward Shippen Collection, 1684-1941 (MG-193), and the Bucher-Hummel Family Collection, 1763-1963 (MG-382).

General Correspondence,
(12 folders)
Microfilm Roll 598

{series #21.5} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of correspondence.

Corresspondence either addressed to or received from James Logan, George Dakeyne, Richard Peters and Joseph Shippen concerning such matters as land grants and routine matters concerning the Provincial Council. Information provided varies with the subject of the correspondence.

Governor's Accounts, including Lists of Marriage, Tavern, Peddler's Licenses and Ships' Registers,
1742-1752, 1759-1763.
(4 volumes)

Microfilm Roll 597

{series #21.6} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of entry.

Record of fees paid for licenses granted to Indian traders (1744-1746), peddlers (1743-1752), and taverns (1746-1752, 1759-1761), lists of marriages for the periods 1742-1752 and 1759-1763 and a record book of accounts kept with Richard Peters. Information provided is name of person receiving license, date fee was paid and amount of fee remitted. For tavern licenses the location of the tavern is also given. The location of the business is also sometimes given for peddler's licenses. For marriage licenses the information provided is date fee was received, amount of fee, name of the groom, and occasionally name of the bride.

Indian Trader Licenses,
(1 volume)
Microfilm Roll 597

{series #21.7} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of license.

Indian trading licenses granted to Indian traders by John Penn. Information provided is date license was granted, name of trader, place of residence, any restrictions imposed and period for which granted. Included are licenses granted to Robert Levers, Alexander Lowery (missing), John Armsby, John Cameron, John Gibson, John Jennings, Caleb Graydon, Joseph Simons, James Milligan, Devereaux Smith, John Prentice, John Fraser, Samuel Hunter, John Hart, John Baynton, Samuel Wharton, George Morgan, John Boggs, Daniel Elliont, Martin McDaniel, George Gibson, John Davies, Joseph Spear, John Hart, William Murray, John Pancake, and Richard Butler.

Minutes of the Provincial Council,
(20 volumes)
Microfilm Rolls 570-595

{series #21.8} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of meeting execpt for Volume C. In this volume, minutes for the period from April 26, 1693 to December 18, 1700 will be found in various places.

All volumes except R,S,T and U are indexed internally. The published minutes are indexed externally, alphabetically by name and subject in General Index to the Colonial Records of Pennsylvania in 16 Volumes and the Pennsylvania Archives in 12 Volumes prepared and arranged by Samuel Hazard (Philadelphia: 1860).

Minutes of the proceedings of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania covering the period from March 10, 1682/3 to December 9, 1775.. It is believed that the earliest records and minutes of the Provincial Council were kept on loose sheets of paper and only later recorded in books as evidenced by the frequent long intervals of dates and blank spaces left for documents. Many of the loose sheets are in the handwriting of Secretary of Proprietary Affairs James Logan and some of these have been recorded in volumes while others were preserved by members of Logan's family who deposited them among several societies. At a subsequent period, it is believed that an attempt was made to collect and record in volumes as many of these loose sheets as could be obtained. In 1776 Secretary of the Provincial Council Joseph Shippen turned the bound volumes over to John Penn, who in turn delivered them to the Supreme Executive Council in 1780. Commencing in 1837, these minutes were published in the Minutes of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia: 1837, 1838, 1852). The original minute books then passed into the custody of the State Library where they became the nucleus of its Archives Division in 1903. Information provided is date of meeting, names of those present, a description of the business transacted, and transcripts of important correspondence received or sent.

Miscellaneous Papers,
(2 boxes)
Microfilm Rolls 600, 598, 3546

{series #21.9} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of document.

Miscellaneous correspondence, agreements, proclamations, land grants, deeds, receipts, memoranda, depositions, assignments, warrants, surveys, returns of survey, patents, wills, minutes, ledgers, lists and reports. Information provided varies with type of document. Subjects touched upon include the agreement between the English and the Dutch at New York in 1664, Quit Rent Act of 1705/6, the Pennsylvania-Maryland boundary dispute, the Militia Bill, Indian treaties, the French and Indian War, and Connecticut claims. Microfilm roll 3546 depicts the record book of the Collector of Provincial Excise Tax Arthur Patterson for Lancaster County for the years 1747 and 1748. This excise tax was collected on wine, rum, brandy and other spirits under the provisions of an Act passed on May 26, 1744. Information provided is date excise was collected, amount collected, and name of person from whom collected. The book also contains notations regarding cider payments made in 1766 and 1767.

Naturalization Lists of the Supreme Court and Courts of Nisi Prius,
(2 volumes, 17 folders)
Microfilm Roll 599

{series #21.10} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of entry.

Naturalization lists created under the provisions of the Act of Parliament passed in the 13th year of the reign of his Royal Majesty King George the Second entitled "Act for Naturalizing such Foreign Protestants, and Others Therein Mentioned, as are Settled or Shall Settle in any of His Majesty's Colonies in America." The records commence at the session of the Supreme Court held at Philadelphia for the Province of Pennsylvania presided over by Jeremiah Langhorne, Thomas Graeme, and Thomas Griffits on September 25-27, 1740 O.S. Under the provisions of this Act, foreigners seeking to be naturalized must have resided in the colonies for at least seven years, been absent from the colonies no more than two months at a time during those seven years, and produce certificates of taking the sacrament of the Lord's Supper in a Protestant or Reformed congregation located within the Province within the preceding three months. Each applicant was then required to take the prescribed oaths and repeat the declaration prescribed in the Act. Information provided is names of judges presiding, name of person naturalized, place of his residence, and date he took the sacrament.

Port Physician's Certificates,
1741, 1753-1755.
(1 folder)
Microfilm Roll 598

{series #21.11} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of certificate.

Certificates issued by physicians granting permission to vessels to enter the port of Philadelphia. Information generally provided is date of certificate, name of the physician, name of vessel, type of vessel, name of master, whether permission was granted and a description of any symptoms of contagious diseases observed by the physician.

Provincial Officers' Sureties,
(12 folders)
Microfilm Roll 598

{series #21.12} [Holdings]

Grouped alphabetically by county.

Surety bonds provided for officers elected or appointed to such civilian offices as recorder of deeds, prothonotary, clerk of the peace or clerk of the orphan's court for Bedford, Bucks, Chester, Delaware Bay, Lancaster, Delaware, Northampton, Northumberland, Philadelphia, Westmoreland and York Counties. Information provided is date of bond, name of officer, office for which bonded, name of person to whom bonded, and amount of bond.

Registrar's Book of Governor Keith's Court of Chancery,
(1 volume)
Microfilm Roll 596

{series #21.13} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of entry.

Record book kept by Charles Brockden who served as the Registrar for Deputy Governor William Keith's Court of Chancery. Sir William Keith served as Deputy Governor of the Province from May 31, 1717 to June 22, 1726. Information provided are names of members of the court, dates they were appointed, date the entry was made, names of individuals involved in cases, and actions taken by the court.

Richard Partridge Account Book,
(1 volume)
Microfilm Roll 597

{series #21.14} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of entry.

Account book kept by Provincial Agent Richard Partridge of expenses incurred in conducting provincial business. Information provided is date of entry, nature of expenditure, and amount of expenditure.

Secretary's Accounts,
(2 volumes, 1 folder)
Microfilm Roll 597

{series #21.15} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of entry.

Account books, bills of debt, records of fees paid, receipts, and debit-credit lists. One of the account books was kept by Provincial Secretary Richard Peters for state provincial accounts and the other is a record of the accounts of the Lancaster County Commissioners and Tax Assessors for services rendered relating to the provincial tax for the period 1760-1770.

Waste Book of Thomas Murray,
(1 volume)
Microfilm Roll 598

{series #21.16} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of entry.

Waste book kept by Philadelphia merchants Nathaniel Puckle and Thomas Murray of goods sold and received by Nathaniel Puckle on vessels entering the port of Philadelphia. Information generally given is name of merchant, description of merchandise, and cost of purchase. Also present is a copy of the Last Will and Testament of Nathaniel Puckle originally dated July 8, 1708 as recopied on March 2, 1721.

PA State Archives Hours, Directions, & Fees Research Topics Finding Aids for Collections Land Records