Pennsbury Manor | People at Pennsbury

People at Pennsbury

People of Pennsbury

William Penn’s cousin, William Markham arrived in New York in June, 1681 and was tasked with selecting 10,000 acres for the city of Philadelphia, as well as property in the countryside for Penn’s own use. As Deputy Governor, he was in New Castle in 1682 to welcome William Penn to Pennsylvania.

Lasse Cock was a Swede born in America in 1646, but became a naturalized English citizen in 1683. He began acting on behalf of the English as an interpreter to the Delaware Indians in the 1670’s. He began working for William Penn in 1682, and one of his first land purchases actually took place at Lasse Cock’s home. Even after learning to speak Lenape, Penn continued to rely on him in complex negotiations.

Phineas Pemberton was a fellow Quaker and personal friend of William Penn who came to Pennsylvania in 1682. He was an educated and accomplished man who took on many responsibilities in government. He served as registrar of wills and earmarks in Bucks County, was a member of the Provincial Council for 5 years, and the Assembly for 6 years. Upon his death in 1702, Penn described him as the “ablest as well as one of the best men in the province”.

James Logan was the Penn’s secretary, and assumed responsibility for managing Penn’s business affairs in the Governor’s absence.

Lord Cornbury and an entourage of 50 stopped at Pennsbury in June 1702 and were entertained by James Logan. Cornbury was traveling throughout the colonies spreading news that his cousin, Anne, was now Queen Anne.

William Penn, Jr., Penn’s eldest son, stayed at the manor, arriving in February 1704. William Penn had hoped that Billy would govern in his absence, and bring his family with him to Pennsylvania. Jr. expressed particular enjoyment of the residence at Pennsbury, but soon began training in the militia and got involved in a tavern dispute, both frowned upon by Quakers. After a stay of only nine months, he returned to England in November.

Letitia Penn’s move to the colonies was yet another in a series of life-changing events. Her mother, Gulielma Penn, died in 1694 when she was a young teenager. Two years later she gained a stepmother when her father married Hannah Callowhill in 1696. Unfortunately, shortly after her father’s marriage, her older brother, Springett, died. When she was twenty, she left her life in England to go with her father to Pennsylvania. Shortly after their arrival, Hannah gave birth to John. Letitia was present at the birth and signed the birth certificate of her new brother. After spending not quite two years in Pennsylvania, the family returned to England in October 1701. In August 1702, Letitia married William Aubrey and never returned to America.

Ann Shippen was the daughter of a wealthy merchant, Edward Shippen. Her mother died when she was very young. She was five years old when her father remarried. The family moved from Boston to Philadelphia in 1694. When William and Hannah arrived in Pennsylvania in 1699, they stayed at one at one of the Shippen residences in Philadelphia for the first two months. At 17 years old, Ann was living at Pennsbury with the Penn family. It was common practice for Quaker families to send their children to live with other Quaker families as part of their education, and an important part of Ann’s education was to learn how to manage a household. While at Pennsbury, James Logan took an interest in Ann. However, her father did not approve of the courtship, thinking Logan was just a young clerk with few prospects, did not make enough money, and was not solid in his faith. Edward Shippen cautioned the Penns not to let James Logan court Ann while she was at Pennsbury. He preferred Thomas Story, whom he thought more mature, and was also was a Quaker minister and a member of the Provincial Council. Logan and Story publicly debated the courtship. The competition caused such a serious division between the two men that it needed to be settled by the Philadelphia Monthly Meeting. Story charged Logan with behavior contrary to Quaker discipline claiming Logan abused him in spoken and written word. Logan claimed Story could not carry a conversation and addressed him with such thunder “as if he carried the whole Magazine of Anathemas in his breast”. The dispute was smoothed over, but they were never reconciled. After several years of courtship, Ann Shippen married Story in 1706. She died in 1710.

Abigail Pemberton, daughter of Phineas Pemberton, first came to Pennsbury in 1699 when she was 20 years old. Prior to that, she had also lived with the Penns in their Philadelphia home. When she was not assisting Hannah with the household, she wrote letters to her brother and sister. Her brother, Israel, was apprenticed to Samuel Carpenter, a wealthy Quaker merchant, and her sister, Priscilla, was attending school in Philadelphia. While at Pennsbury, she was courted by Jeremiah Langhorne. Her father thought Langhorne, a member of the Assembly and a wealthy landowner and gentleman farmer, would be his future son-in-law. However, Abigail did not think he truly loved her or was strong enough in his Quaker faith, and instead married Stephen Jenkins in 1704. Abigail and Letitia remained friends throughout their life. Although she never saw Letitia again after the Penns returned to England, they remained friends and wrote to each other throughout their lives. In a 1715 letter from Letitia to Abigail, Letitia writes of her father’s health (Penn had a series of strokes beginning in 1712.) and other news of the Penn family. She also extends wishes to Abigail for “prosperity in every way; also of thy relations whose welfare am also glad to hear of”.

Ann Harrison was John’s nurse. Although Hannah nursed John and spent time with him, Ann was tasked with the routine chores of child care. It would have been Ann’s responsibility to look after his daily needs and keep the nursery in order. She may have returned to England with the Penn’s in 1701 to continue looking after the toddler.

Hannah Callowhill Penn was raised as the only child of a prosperous Quaker merchant. As a child of wealth and privilege, she not only learned how to run a household, but had also been taught by her father how to manage the family business. Not quite a year after his first wife, Gulielma, died in 1694 from a long illness, Penn began courting Hannah. Hannah was at first concerned that William was not sincere in his pledge of love, and that his interest in her might was based on his financial problems. However, Penn convinced her that this was love and not greed that caused him to wish the union. Her business sense and financial management skills were vitally important after Penn suffered several strokes in 1712. With her husband partially paralyzed and mentally incapacitated, it was now up to Hannah to shoulder responsibility for the proprietorship of Pennsylvania. Although she never held an official title, Hannah proved herself to be a capable long-distance administrator, and served in this capacity until her death in 1726 at age 55. Her expertise and skillful management of Indian relations, the boundary dispute between Pennsylvania and Maryland, and many other difficult colonial issues have earned her the respect of historians, some of whom refer to her as America’s first female governor.

Mary Lofty and John Sotcher came with the Penns on the ship Canterbury to Pennsylvania in 1699. As head housekeeper and steward of the manor, the family relied on them to help maintain the household. By 1701, Mary Lofty and John Sotcher had decided to marry. When a Quaker couple wanted to get married, they first had to approach the women’s monthly meeting and the men’s monthly meeting to announce their intentions. Two men would be appointed to look into the clearness of the groom, and two women would be appointed to look into the clearness of the bride. Clearness meant that there were no other entanglements, or promises to marry anyone else, and that the couple had the consent of their parents. The findings would be presented at the next monthly meeting, where if the couple was in fact cleared to marry, they declared their intentions for a second time, and a date was set. This process could take several months, but as the Governor did not want to leave Mary and John alone, unmarried, and in charge of the manor after he returned to England, the process of clearing them for marriage was sped up. In October 1701, the couple married. The Penn family witnessed the wedding and signed the wedding certificate. The Sotchers continued to run Pennsbury in the Penns’ absence. They had four children: Hannah, Mary, Robert, and Ann. In 1712, the family moved to their own home, Three Arches. (The reconstructed Three Arches is located on Trenton Road in Fairless Hills.)

Learn about the people of Pennsbury Manor and then visit us for your own colonial experience.

Skip to content