John Penn (governor) bigraphy, stories - Religion

John Penn (governor) : biography

14 July 1729 - 9 February 1795

John Penn (14 July 1729 – 9 February 1795) was the last governor of colonial Pennsylvania, serving in that office from 1763 to 1771 and from 1773 to 1776. Educated in Britain and Switzerland, he was also one of the Penn family proprietors of the Province of Pennsylvania from 1771 until 1776, holding a one-fourth share, when the creation of the independent Commonwealth of Pennsylvania during the American Revolution removed the Penn family from power.

Held in exile in New Jersey after the British occupation of Philadelphia, Penn and his wife returned to the city in July 1788, following the British evacuation. After the war, the unsold lands of the proprietorship were confiscated by the new state government, but it provided Penn and his cousin, John Penn "of Stoke", who held three-fourths of the proprietorship, with compensation. They both appealed as well to Parliament, which granted them more compensation.

Immigration to Pennsylvania

John Penn first traveled to Pennsylvania in 1752, sent by his uncle Thomas to the province as a political apprentice to Governor James Hamilton. Penn served on the governor's council, associating with important Penn family appointees such as Richard Peters and William Allen. In 1754, Penn attended the Albany Conference alongside other Pennsylvania delegates, including Peters, Benjamin Franklin, and Isaac Norris, but the younger man was there primarily as an observer.Treese, Storm Gathering, p. 23. The meeting was held by representatives of seven colonies to plan common defense against the French and Indians before the French and Indian War, the North American front of the Seven Years War between Britain and France.

From his home in England, the chief proprietor Thomas Penn soon became alarmed at John's extravagant expenses. Peters reported John's close association with an Italian musician, whose rent Penn paid and at whose home Penn stayed until two or three in the morning. The "debauched" musician was, in turn, "constantly tagging after him". Thomas Penn summoned his nephew John back to England in late 1755.Hubertis Cummings, Richard Peters, Provincial Secretary and Cleric, 1704–1776 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1944), pp. 169, 209–10.



In 1763, Thomas Penn sent his nephew John Penn back to Pennsylvania to take over the governorship from Hamilton. The Penns were not displeased with Hamilton, but they believed John was prepared to assume leadership in the province for the family. He took the oath of office as governor—officially "lieutenant governor"—on 31 October 1763 and served until 1771 in his first tenure. The new governor faced many challenges: Pontiac's Rebellion, the Paxton Boys, border disputes with other colonies, controversy over the taxation of Penn family lands, and the efforts of the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly, led by Benjamin Franklin, to have the Penn proprietary government replaced with a royal government.

Marriage (2) and family

In 1766, Penn married Anne Allen, the daughter of William Allen and his wife, who were later Loyalists in Philadelphia. Penn reluctantly returned with his family to England in 1771 after his father's death, where he took over his father's position and affairs as one of the proprietors of Pennsylvania. His uncle Thomas Penn still held three-fourths of the proprietorship, but had a son born in 1760. John's brother, Richard Penn, Jr., was appointed governor of the province in his place.

Second appointment as governor

As Thomas Penn was displeased with Richard, Jr's performance, in 1773 he arranged for the re-appointment of John Penn as governor. Returning to the province with his family, Penn served until 1776. That year, the revolutionary government took control during the American Revolution.

Thomas Penn had died in 1775, and his son John Penn "of Stoke" inherited the chief proprietorship (and three-quarters of the total property). This John Penn, born in 1760, was still in school when his father died. He was assigned a guardian for the proprietorship until he came of age, but the Revolution disrupted his control of the holdings.

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