Saturday, April 17, 2010

William Penn drawn on stone by Thomas Fairland. [n.d.]

William Penn was born on October 14, 1644 in London to Admiral Sir William Penn and his wife Margaret Jasper, formerly of Rotterdam. He attended Chigwell Latin School. To solidify his family’s ascent into the nobility, William’s recently knighted father chose Christ Church, Oxford for William’s further education. His father had great hopes for him. He sent him abroad to the Protestant College at Saumur, France, where he met Moses Amyraut, a lawyer turned teacher, who taught that anyone could learn God’s laws by studying his own heart. While at Oxford, William insisted on visiting the nonconformist, John Owen, in lieu of mandatory chapel when he might have changed his schedule and done both. His behavior embarrassed his father. Although Penn describes his leaving Oxford as an expulsion, he is not listed in the school records as being “sent down” or asked to leave. It appears he refused to continue to stay at Oxford on his own. His father was so outraged that he beat him and threw him out of the house. After a time, they were reconciled. Penn’s father arranged for William to meet the King and the Duke of York (later James II). Although he did not rebel at this, he continued to acquaint himself with Quaker teachings (Truth’s Friends). At 23, he declared himself a full-fledged member of this sect. It appeared to his parents that Penn was deliberately throwing away the fine future for which his father, the knighted admiral, had worked so hard. In 1668, at 24, he began preaching and writing pamphlets for the Society of Friends. One of his most famous, Sandy Foundation Shaken, appears in these cases.


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