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Pennsylvania Founder William Penn Signs Birth Certificate for Isaac Penington, a Member of His Extended Family
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William Penn signed this birth certificate as a witness during his final two-year sojourn in Pennsylvania. This document is signed by a midwife and five other women, including Penn’s second wife Hannah, who were present at the birth of Isaac Penington on November 22, 1700. In addition, William Penn, his daughter Latitia (1678-1746), and three others also signed the document because they were present at the naming of the child on December 13, 1700. The baby was the only child of Penn’s first wife’s half-brother Edward Penington, making William Penn the baby’s uncle by marriage.

WILLIAM PENN. Manuscript Document Signed, December 13, 1700, Birth Certificate for Isaac Penington. Also signed by Penn’s second wife Hannah Callowhill Penn and his daughter Latitia Penn. 1 p. on vellum, 8⅞ x 9⅛ in.

Inventory #26534       Price: $8,500

Complete Transcript
These are to Certify all whom it may concern, That on the twenty second day of the ninth month, in the year according to the English account one thousand seven hundred, in the Forenoon between the hour of eleven and twelve was Born unto Edward Penington and Sarah his Wife in the City of Philadelphia in the Province of Pensilvania in America a Son whom they named Isaac. In Witnesse whereof we who were present at the Birth of the said Child have hereunto subscribed our names this thirteenth day of the tenth month in the year aforementioned.

                                                                        Ann Parsons / Midwife[1]

                                                                        Hannah Penn

                                                                        Elizabeth Fox

                                                                        Susanna Harvard

                                                                        Mary Emily [Jennings?]

                                                                        Joanna Nelson

Present at the naming though not at the birth of the Child.

Wm Penn

Latitia Penn

Margrett Jones

Susanna Fox

Ann Hasketh


            Philada ye-1-5 month 1749

The above written Certificate was Shewn to James Logan Esq at the time of taking the affirmation hereunto annexed

                                                                        John Kinsey

The associated archive also includes other documents that were likely used in the administration of Isaac Penington’s estate after his death in 1742. Like the birth certificate, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice (and fellow Quaker) John Kinsey certified them in 1749.

·      Marriage Certificate for Isaac Penington and Ann Biles, signed by 52 witnesses and endorsed by John Kinsey. 1 p. on vellum.

·      John Kinsey, Certification of Affirmations of James Logan, Thomas Janney, and Mary Holcombe, July 1, 1749. 1 p.

o   James Logan, Affirmation, June 30, 1749, attesting to the marriage of Isaac Penington and Ann Biles. 1 o,

o   Thomas Janney, Affirmation, May 3, 1749, attesting to the marriage of Isaac Penington and Ann Biles. 1 p.

o   Mary Holcombe, Affirmation, attesting to the marriage of Isaac Penington and Ann Biles, the birth of their son Edward, and that Isaac Penington spoke of an estate in England to which he had a right. 1 p.

·      Sarah Biles Growdon, Affirmation, June 14, 1749, attesting to the marriage of Isaac Penington and her sister Ann Biles. 1 p.

William Penn (1644-1718) was an English Quaker and the founder of Pennsylvania. In 1672, he married Gulielma Springett (1644-1694), and they had seven children. In 1681, King Charles II granted Penn a royal charter for a large number of his American land holdings for debts the king owed to Penn’s father. Penn arrived in America in October 1682 and established the colony of Pennsylvania. He sailed up the Delaware River and founded Philadelphia to be the capital. He returned to England in 1684, and two years after the death of his first wife, he married Hannah Margaret Callowill (1671-1726), who was half his age. They had at least eight children. He returned to Pennsylvania in 1699 and stayed for two years. Later, settlers on the lower Delaware split away in 1704 to form what became Delaware.  Penn was an early supporter of colonial unification and an advocate of democratic government. The embezzlement of his financial manager led Penn to debtors’ prison in 1707 at age 62. Sympathetic Quakers got Penn’s sentence reduced to house arrest and eventually obtained his release. He died penniless in Ruscombe west of London.

Isaac Penington (1700-1742) was born in Philadelphia, the only son of Quaker and Pennsylvania Surveyor General Edward Penington (1667-1702) and his wife Sarah Jenings Stevenson Penington (1679-1733). He served as a justice of the Bucks County Court from 1725 until his death and also as sheriff of Bucks County in the 1730s. He married Ann Biles in December 1725. His father Edward Penington was the half-brother of Gulielma Springett, William Penn’s first wife.

John Kinsey (1693-1750) was born to Quaker parents in Philadelphia and married Mary Kearney in 1725, with whom he had seven children. Kinsey practiced law in New Jersey and served in the New Jersey Assembly from 1727 to 1733, the last four years as Speaker. He served in the Pennsylvania Colonial Assembly from 1731 to 1750, and served as Speaker nearly continuously from 1739 to 1750. Kinsey also served as Attorney General of Pennsylvania from 1738 to 1741 and as chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court from 1743 to 1750. He also held several leadership roles in the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends, giving him both political and religious power and authority.

Condition: Loss at left margin not affecting text; mild soiling.

[1] In January 1700, Ann Parsons had served as midwife when Hanna Penn gave birth to John Penn, the only one of Penn’s children born in America.

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