The son of Admiral Penn, William was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, where he was
converted to Quakerism. Imprisoned for his beliefs on a number of occasions, including a
period in the Tower of London, much of his time was dedicated to writing. Among his works
were The Sandy Foundation Shaken (1666), No Cross, No Crown (1669), Innocency With Her Open
Eyes (1669), and a number of treatises. In 1681, he was awarded a territorial grant and sailed for
America in 1682. On his arrival he negotiated a treaty with the American Indians, planned the
city of Philadelphia and was governor of the colony which still bears his name, Pennsylvania,
for two years.
Returning to England to aid Quakers being persecuted by the Crown, Penn was acquitted of
treason on two occasions. In 1699, he returned to Pennsylvania where he granted a charter to
Philadelphia and issued the Charter Of Privileges guaranteeing religious freedom in the colony.
Penn was also instrumental in organising the colonies of New Jersey and Delaware. He
returned to England in 1701, suffered a stroke in 1712 and died in 1718.