Penn is a small village situated on a ridge of the Chiltern Hills, which has a distinctive name from which a celebrated Buckinghamshire family took its name. From the village green, opposite the 14th century creeper-clad Crown Inn, descends Paul’s Hill. At the top are attractive 17th century flint cottages.
William Penn – founder of Pennsylvania
William Penn, the Quaker, (1644-1718) was the only son of Admiral Sir William Penn and was educated at Oxford before studying law at Lincoln’s Inn Field. His Quaker beliefs led to him being imprisoned in the Tower of London for blasphemy, but in 1681, King Charles II, in settlement of a debt owed to his father, granted William ownership of an area of land almost the size of England, on the Delaware River in America. William Penn wanted to call the territory “Sylvania”, but the King insisted that it be prefixed by “Penn” in honour of William’s father, the Admiral. William Penn is known and revered in the United States as being the founder of Pennsylvania and the author of a constitution which was way ahead of its time. It included democratic government by election, freedom of worship and all trials by a jury.
William Penn – Lord of the Manor of Penn
William Penn, the Quaker, is not to be confused with another prominent William Penn (1628-1693) who was the Lord of the Manor of Penn, a descendant of the Buckinghamshire Penn family whose ancestors stretched back to the 12th century. Although he had eleven children, only his daughter married. His son, Roger Penn, did not have any children and this Penn family name came to an end in 1731. Undoubtedly, the two Penn families believed that they were related, but genealogical evidence demonstrates that they were mistaken and the families had separate ancestors. This did not stop six of William Penn, the Quaker’s grandchildren, being buried in a vault under Holy Trinity Church in Penn.
William Penn, the Quaker, died in 1718 in Ruscombe, Berkshire, but was buried close to Penn in the grounds of Jordans Quaker Meeting House, together with his first wife, Gulielma, who had died in 1694.