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The Acting Governor of New York
Thanks William Penn for a Gift
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“As the loadstone attracts Iron, so ought acknowledgemts to pursue faviours … [I] dare not presume any further having soe lately recd soe great a marke of your bounty….”

Deputy Governor Anthony Brockholls of New York extends a cordial note to Governor William Penn in the midst of continuing deliberations between Penn and Lord Baltimore over the southern boundary of Pennsylvania and possession of Delaware.

ANTHONY BROCKHOLLS. Autograph Letter Signed to Governor William Penn. New York, May 1, 1683, with autograph address leaf. 1 p.

Inventory #21618       Price: $40,000

Complete Transcript

[New Y]orke Primo[1st] May 1683

Right Honble,
As the loadstone attracts Iron, soe
[loss] ought acknowledgemts to pursue faviours the wch am in some measure guilty of but dare not presume any further having soe lately recd soe great a marke of your bounty wch I esteame after tryall to be the best I have seen in these parts and wish my selfe able to make retaliacon but you finding inabilitie want [loss] part, wch I am troubld at, so pleased to comand what [loss] score till [fur]ther order and think my selfe honord to have ye [loss] so to subscribe my selfe           Sir,                                           
                                                                                                     Your Servt: &c
                                                                                                       Antho: Brockholls

[address leaf:] For The Honble William Penn Esqe / Proprietary & Governor. / Pensilvania / Philadelphia

Historical Background: 
Despite previous controversies between Sir Edmund Andros (Governor of New York and Brockholls’s boss) and the proprietors of West Jersey, including William Penn, Brockholls and Penn were on good terms. They negotiated recognition of the Duke of York’s lease to Penn of the three “lower counties” (now Delaware).  According to local official John Moll, Penn obtained the Delaware settlers’ consent to his authority based in part on the formal handover of power, “Which Actings of us was fully Accepted and well approved of by Antho Brockhold then Commander in Cheife & his Counsell at New Yorke … by their Declaration bearing date the 21. of Novembr Ao 1682.”  Brockholls seemed to believe that Penn was the key to good relations between all of the middle colonies. In February 1683, Brockholls had written warmly to congratulate Penn on his return from Maryland and to express happiness that “such amicable proceedings are on foot between my Lord [Baltimore] and your selfe.”

It was in 1683, during Brockholls’s provisional administration, that several leading New York politicians forced Brockholls to accept New York freemen’s right to a written constitution and an elected assembly. The colony was reorganized, divided into twelve counties, and all foreign emigrants professing Christianity were naturalized.

This is almost certainly the earliest cover in private hands addressed to the founder of Pennsylvania after Penn’s arrival in his colony.

An Aug., 24, 1684 cover (address leaf only, without the original letter), Siegel Auction Galleries, October 24, 2007, Historical Society of Pennsylvania offer, described as “ALMOST CERTAINLY THE EARLIEST COVER IN PRIVATE HANDS ADDRESSED TO THE FOUNDER AND FIRST PROPRIETOR OF PENNSYLVANIA, WILLIAM PENN,” sold for $46,000. The present item is fifteen months earlier, and includes not just the cover, but also the excellent content letter from the Acting Governor of New York to William Penn.

Anthony Brockholls – in 1674, when the Duke of York appointed Sir Edmund Andros governor of New York, he named Brockholls his deputy governor. Like the future James II, Brockholls was Catholic; he had also served at one point on the Duke’s own troop of Horse Guards. In 1676, Brockholls played a critical diplomatic role in colonial affairs, helping convince the Mohawk Indians to attack King Philip’s Indian Confederation, then in rebellion against Massachusetts authority. At several junctures, Brockholls assumed the authority of acting governor. He was relieved of duty in 1683 but continued to serve on the Provincial Council, and commanded the garrison of New York until 1690.


Brockholls to Penn, Feb. 20, 1682/3, in Bulletin of the New York Public Library, 1905, p. 247.

John Moll’s Account of the Surrender of the Three Lower Counties to William Penn, 1682,

in Dunn and Dunn, eds., The Papers of William Penn, Vol. 2, pp. 305-308.


Some text loss, conserved.

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