Chronology: the Life and Times of William Penn

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Source: In The Political Writings of William Penn, introduction and annotations by Andrew R. Murphy (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002).


1642 Outbreak of English Civil War between parliamentary and royalist forces.
1644 14 October, Penn born in London.
1648 Peace of Westphalia ends Thirty Years’ War in Europe.
1649 Execution of King Charles I in England. Proclamation of English Commonwealth.
1653 Oliver Cromwell inaugurates Protectorate.
1658 Cromwell dies.
1660 Restoration of Stuart monarchy in England (accession of Charles II). Penn enters Christ Church College, Oxford.
1662 Penn expelled from Oxford for religious nonconformity.
1663 Penn studies at the Protestant Academy in Saumur, France.
1665 Penn enters Lincoln’s Inn, London, to study law.
1667 Penn converts to Quakerism in Ireland; is arrested for the first time.
1670 September: Penn-Mead trial, commemorated in Penn’s People’s Ancient and Just Liberties Asserted. Death of Penn’s father, Admiral Sir William Penn.
1672 Penn marries Gulielma Springett. Charles II issues Declaration of Indulgence tolerating religious nonconformists. Forced to withdraw Declaration after parliamentary objections.
1673 Parliament enacts Test Act, requiring English officeholders to swear oaths of allegiance and to abjure papal supremacy and Catholic doctrine.
1675 Penn’s first involvement in colonization. Arbitrates dispute between Quakers in West Jersey. Becomes trustee of West New Jersey.
1677 Travels to Holland and Germany defending Quakers and promoting liberty of conscience.
1679–81 Popish Plot in England, with turmoil over rumors to bring Catholicism to England under guise of toleration.
1681 March: Penn receives charter for Pennsylvania.
1682 Death of Penn’s mother, Lady Margaret Penn. August: Penn arrives in Pennsylvania.
1684 Returns to England to pursue boundary disputes with Lord Baltimore.
1685 Charles II dies. James II, a Catholic, crowned King of England. Louis XIV revokes the Edict of Nantes, basis for toleration of French Protestants.
1687 James II issues Declaration of Indulgence, tolerating religious nonconformists. Penn supports James’s cause.
1688 Glorious Revolution: William of Orange invades England. James ejected from the throne. William and Mary crowned King and Queen of England.
1689 Toleration Act passed. Penn arrested, accused of treason.
1691–93 Penn in hiding.
1694 Gulielma Springett Penn dies.
1696 Penn marries Hannah Callowhill.
1699 December: Penn arrives in Pennsylvania.
1701 Returns to England.
1702 William III dies. Queen Anne crowned.
1708 Legal troubles, Penn in debtor’s prison for a time.
1712 Penn suffers strokes, is incapacitated for rest of life.
1714 Death of Queen Anne. George I of Hanover crowned King of England.
1715 Death of Louis XIV.
1718 30 July, Penn dies.