Thomas Penn

Thomas Penn, William Penn's Son, Inquires about "the Grant from my Father," Pennsbury Manor

Thomas Penn, William Penn's Son, Inquires about "the Grant from my Father," Pennsbury Manor


1p ALS inscribed overall and signed by Thomas Penn (1702-1775), the son of Pennsylvania founder William Penn (1644-1718), as "Tho Penn" at lower right. Loss to part of signature. Written in London, England on January 31, 1767. On watermarked cream bifold paper. The integral address leaf is addressed to "Mrs. Penn / at Mrs. Kesons / " York Street / Dublin." Docketed, and bearing a hand-stamped philatelic marking verso. The fully intact black wax seal features the Penn Family's coat of arms, "argent, on a fess sable with three plates." Silked, and with isolated repairs along edges and folds. Minor fading to text. Some weathering, else in good to very good condition. 7.125" x 7.75". Ex-Charles Sigety.


Thomas Penn was the second eldest son of William Penn and second wife Hannah Callowhill (1671-1726). Thomas inherited from his father the position of Proprietor of Pennsylvania; he shared this duty with his brothers and later with his son and nephew. Whereas William Penn was renowned as a diplomatic and tolerant statesman, Thomas was not. He broke with the Quakers, unsuccessfully trying to unseat them from local government, and also attempted to bar Roman Catholics from Pennsylvania. In 1751, Thomas Penn moved to England and married a noblewoman. As we shall see, however, Thomas Penn kept a hand in colonial affairs through land ownership.


The recipient of Thomas Penn's letter was Ann Vaux Penn, a relative by marriage.  Ann was the widow of William Penn III (1702/3-1746/7), Thomas Penn's step brother's son, and the mother of Springett Penn (1737/8-1766). When William Penn III died in the mid-1740s, Thomas became the guardian of the former's 10-year-old son Springett, the heir of William Penn's Pennsylvania estates. During Springett's brief life, he had a contentious relationship with his guardian/step great grand uncle. Springett had died two months earlier in November 1766. [See attached background information including a transcript of Thomas and Ann's correspondence between late November 1766 and February 1767, as well as family history, extracted from Howard M. Jenkins, The Family of William Penn Founder of Pennsylvania Ancestry and Descendants (Philadelphia: 1899) and John W. Jordan, ed., Colonial and Revolutionary Families of Pennsylvania, Vol. I (Baltimore, Clearfield Company, Inc., 1978).


In late January 1767, Thomas Penn wrote Springett's mother, her dead son's sole beneficiary, about buying the rights to Pennsbury Manor, located on the "Grant from my Father." This property had significant sentimental value "as it [wa]s the only House my Father built."


In full, with unchanged spelling and punctuation:




I stayed long in the Country and am but lately come to Town, I have sent to Mr. Life who informs me he does not know anything of the manner in which the intail was cut of[f] but says it was done by the advice of Mr. Penington and Suppose it must be done as our law directs; by the Grant from my Father, the House and four thousand Acres of Land is settled and Should be divided from the rest of the Maner, what I have to desire is to buy the house and about five hundred Acres of Land about it as it is the only House my Father built I wish to have it continue in the family and to give the full value for it of which will be so good to inform me whether you could sell it to me.


The latter you should I think divide with Mrs. Tells Children who are entitled to a fourth part of them, and I believe you will be advised to part them together. I desire your answer and am




your most obedient humble servant


Tho Penn


London Jany 31. 1767."


Pennsbury Manor was granted to William Penn by Charles II.  The 8,000 acre parcel was located about 25 miles north of Philadelphia in modern day Falls Township, Pennsylvania. William Penn used the retreat on the banks of the Delaware River as a summer home between 1683-1701. When construction was completed in 1686, Pennsbury Manor consisted of a principal Georgian style manor house, stables, brewing and baking outbuildings, stable, boathouse, and farm structures. Pennsbury Manor remained in the Penn Family until 1792.


This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


Item: 66520

Price: $700.00
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Thomas Penn
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