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William Penn Grants 236 Acres to Robert Wade,
the First Quaker to Move to Pennsylvania
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WILLIAM PENN. Manuscript Document Signed, “Wm Penn,” with his seal, on parchment, Philadelphia, April 12, 1684. Selling 236 acres in Chester County, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Robert Wade, who had been the first Quaker to move to Pennsylvania 1. p., 15 1/8 x 11¼ in.

Inventory #21411.99       Price: $14,000

Robert Wade (d. 1698) and his wife Lydia emigrated to the New World from England with John Fenwick’s company on the Griffin in 1675. They first lived in Salem, New Jersey. When they left New Jersey in 1676 and crossed the Delaware River to settle in Upland County (soon to become Chester County), the Wades became the first Quakers in what would become Pennsylvania. Their home, “Essex House,” was located on the west side of Chester Creek, and Wade owned much of the surrounding land. He established the first meeting of the Society of Friends in Pennsylvania there in 1676.

After William Penn’s arrival on the ship Welcome in October of 1682, the Wades were also the first Americans to host Penn, who temporarily lodged at their home. In 1684, Penn sold this tract out of his grant from Charles II to Robert Wade. By identifying the “marked Trees” of William Woodmansie and the various “branches” (small creeks) in the area, Penn delineates the parameters of Wade’s grant with compass directions and perimeter lengths in “perches,” equivalent to a rod, or 16 ½ feet. A prominent citizen both before and after Penn’s arrival, Wade served as a judge and a provincial assemblyman.

Complete Transcript

“William Penn by ye Providence of God & ye King’s Authority Proprietary & Govern:r of ye Province of Pennsilvenia & ye Territorys therewith belonging To all to whom those presents shall come sendeth greeting[.] Whereas there is a certain Tract of Land in ye County of Chester called[blank space] Joyning to Chester Creek, on the West Side thereof begining at a corner marked Red Oak by ye sd [said] Creek running West South West Two Hundred & Thirty Perches. Along William Woodmansies line of marked Trees to a corner marked & Post from thence South South East One Hundred & Eighty Four Perches to a marked Oak from thence East North East Seaventy Six Perches to a marked Red Oak from thence North East One Hundred & Forty Perches to White Oak standing by the head of a branch from thence running down ye sd [said] branch on severall courses to Chester Creek & up ye sd Creek on severall courses to ye first marked corner of William Woodmansies Land where First begun[.] Containing Two Hundred Thirty Six Acres of Land Granted by an Ord:r from my Deputy Capt. William Markham & Commis:n bearing date the Fourteenth of ye Sixth Month One Thousand Six Hundred Eighty & Two & Laid out by ye [---] & Genl Ordr ye Thirtieth day of ye Sixth Month One Thousand Six Hundred Eighty and Two unto Robert Wade & ye s’d Robert Wade requesting me to confirm ye same by Patrons[.] Know yee yt I have given granted and confirmed & by these presents for me my Heirs & Succes:rs do give grant & confirm unto ye sd Robert Wade his Heirs & Assignes for ever ye s’d Two Hundred Thirty Six Acres of Land unto[?] its appurtenances To have hold & enjoy ye s’d Land to ye only use & behoof of ye s’d Robert Wade his Heirs & Assignes for ever To be holden of me my Heirs & Succes:rs Proprys [Properties] of ye Province of Pennsilvania & ye Territories therewith belonging as of out Mannor of Springtown in ye County afores’d in free & common Soccage [?] by fealty only he impounding & Seating ye same according to Regulation[.] Yeelding & paying therefore to me my Heirs & Succes:rs at or upon ye First day of ye First Month in every Year at ye Town of Chester in ye Country aforesd One Silver English Penny for every Acre or value thereof in Com Curr:y to such person or persons as shall be from time to time appointed for ye purpose[.] In wittness whereof I have caused these my Less’rs to be made Patents[.] Wittness my self at Philadelphia yr Twelveth day of ye fourth Month One Thousand Six Hundred Eighty Four being the Thirty Sixth Year of ye King’s Reign & ye Fourth of my Government.

                                    Wm Penn[red wax seal]

On verso:

“Patent to Robert Wade for 236 Acres of Land in the County of Chester June 12, 1684”

Historical Background

William Penn (1644-1718) rejected his Anglican faith and joined the Society of Friends when he was 22 years old. His chagrined father, Admiral William Penn, had hoped his son would curry favor in the court of England’s King Charles II; instead, he saw his namesake persecuted and imprisoned during the confusion following the Interregnum and Restoration of the monarchy.  Because they would not swear a loyalty oath to Charles II, persecution of Quakers continued and helped sway Penn towards establishing a North American colony where religious rights would be protected. In 1677, Penn and other Quakers received land in West New Jersey. Penn remained in England, but worked to expand Quakerism in America.

Fortunately for Penn, his father had provided Charles II a large loan, and the King settled accounts with the elder Penn’s estate by granting his son a huge tract—over 45,000 square miles—of land south and west of New Jersey on March 4, 1681. Penn the younger then wrote a charter for the colony new colony that included free elections, jury trials, and freedom of religion. Technically, Penn’s power was limited by the Crown, but as a propriety colony, Penn was given considerable latitude to govern as he saw fit. He created a system of government that would include complete freedom of religion for any believers (unique for the era), representative government, and separation of powers. Hoping to convert his lands into wealth for himself and his family, he aggressively marketed the colony and quickly attracted a diverse group of settlers. Unfortunately, his colony was not a financial success, and he died in debt.

William Markham (1635-1704) was William Penn’s cousin, and, as a veteran of the Royal navy, a protégé of Penn’s father, Admiral William Penn. Though Markham was not a Quaker, in 1681 Penn chose him to act as the first deputy governor of Pennsylvania while Penn stayed in London to bolster his legal claims to Pennsylvania and Delaware. Markham presented his credentials to Anthony Brockholls, acting governor of New York, and obtained Brockholls consent to Penn’s claims in New York and in the three “lower counties” (Delaware). Markham helped in the planning of Philadelphia and convened the first governing council. Most significantly, Markham initiated, but did not complete, negotiations with Lord Baltimore over the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania. When Penn arrived in October, 1682, Markham remained a councilor.


Excellent, some pinholes on folds


Albert Cook Myers, “Robert Wade, the Earliest Quaker Settler on the West Side

of the Delaware River, in 1676, and the First American Host of William Penn, in 1682,” Bulletin of Friends’ Historical Association 21 (Autumn 1932) pp. 53 – 59.

“Brief History of William Penn.”

Harry Emerson Wildes, William Penn (New York, 1974), 140-148, 183-191.

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