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Proprietor of Pennsylvania accounts


Held at: Library Company of Philadelphia [Contact Us]

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Library Company of Philadelphia. 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

The British colony of Pennsylvania was given to William Penn (1644-1718) in 1681 by Charles II of England in repayment of a debt owed his father, Sir Admiral William Penn (1621-1670). Under Penn's directive, Pennsylvania was settled by Quakers escaping religious torment in England and other European nations. Three generations of Penn descendents held proprietorship of the colony until the American Revolution, when the family was stripped of all but its privately held shares of land.

As proprietor, William Penn had full governing rights and had "much control in how land was gained and dispersed, how the city was plotted and populated, [and] how it's government, laws, [and] public institutions were set up," (University of Virginia). In 1701, a new charter of privileges was signed, giving the Assembly the right to propose new laws, not just vote on them; and allowing the Province of Pennsylvania and Delaware, a territory, to maintain separate governments. William Penn left Pennsylvania in late 1701 and supervised the governance of Pennsylvania from England until his death in 1718. Under Penn as proprietor, government officials included an appointed Governor, a 72-member Provincial Council, and the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly.

University of Virginia. "William Penn, Visionary Proprietor." (accessed March 12, 2012).

This collection consists of a volume recording the transactions of William Penn's proprietary government of Pennsylvania, including date, name of seller or customer, item or service, and amount paid. This volume dates from 1701 to 1704.

William Penn left Pennsylvania for the last time in October 1701, but continued to serve as proprietor until his death in 1718; although Hannah Penn served as acting proprietor from 1712 to 1718. Between 1701 and 1704, Andrew Hamilton served as deputy governor from 1701 to 1703, Edward Shippen served as president of Council from 1703 to 1704, and John Evans served as deputy governor from 1704 until 1709.

Library Company of Philadelphia
Finding Aid Date
2012 March 12
The creation of this collection level record was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources' "Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives" Project.
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use, on deposit at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1300 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107. For access, please contact the Historical Society at 215-732-6200 or visit

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may apply. Please contact the Library Company of Philadelphia with requests for copying and for authorization to publish, quote or reproduce the material.

Collection Inventory

Accounts, 1701-1704.
Volume 1

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