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"The Trial of William Penn"


Held at: Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections [Contact Us]370 Lancaster Ave, Haverford, PA 19041

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

William Penn (1644–1718) was an English entrepreneur, philosopher, early Quaker, and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, the North American colony that would become the state of Pennsylvania. Penn was born October 14, 1644, in Barking, London, the son of Admiral Sir William Penn and Margaret Jasper. In 1672, he married Gulielma Maria Springett. In 1681, King Charles II gave Penn a large piece of land in present day Pennsylvania and Delaware, to satisfy a debt the king owed to Penn's father. This land belonged the Indigenous Lenape peoples, and was occupied by the British. Penn arrived to the North America in 1683. He married for a second time in 1695, to Hannah Callowhill. Penn died on July 30, 1718.

In 1670, when William Penn was 26 years old, he was arrested in London on the charge of disturbing the King's peace, as a recult of Penn's preaching nonconformist religious views at an outdoor meeting in London at a time when the monarchy was attempting to suppress religious dissent.

During his trial, the jury and the crowds in the courthouse began to appreciate William Penn's defense that he had not violated a law by speaking on a street corner. The Crown produced no substantive evidence against him. When Penn interrupted the trial with questions and objections, he was removed from the presence of the jury and confined in an enclosed corner of the room where he could not confront or question witnesses.

At the conclusion of the trial, the jury retired to deliberate its verdict. Upon the jury's return, foreman Edward Bushnell reported to the court simply that the jury found that William Penn had spoken on the street, which was no violation of the law at all.

This collection is comprised of the single volume script of Columbia Broadcasting Company's 1950 production of "The Trial of William Penn," a dramatic retelling of the last day of Penn's trial.


Processed by Kara Flynn; completed September, 2015.

Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
Kara Flynn
Finding Aid Date
September, 2015
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Collection Inventory

Manuscript, 1950.
Box 1

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