Essex and Pensylvania do not at first glance have many similarities, but they do have an important connection – William Penn.
The Quaker founder of the American state attended Chigwell school in 1685 when his father served in the navy.
His interest in the New World began when, as a lawyer, he enthusiastically encouraged other Quakers to emigrate, and even toured Holland and Germany persuading more to tdo the same. In 1677 he wrote The New Jersey Concessions and Agreements Charter which had an important effect on the formulation of the American Constitution.
His personal involvement came through his family. Charles II owed his father money, and paid off the debt by granting Penn the lands behind the Delaware River; the payment to the king was two beaver skins per year.
Upon arrival in his new province in 1682, naming Pensylvania after his father, he wrote his first frame of Government. It set out his ideals, which anticipated the Declaration of Independence….”men being born with a title to perfect freedom and uncontrolled enjoyment of all the rights and priveleges of the law of nature.”
Also in 1682, he and his fellow Quakers negotiated a famous treaty with the Indians – one of peace and friendship – unheard of in the New World.
He died in England and is buried in Berkshire, a long way from the country whose ideals he helped to formulate. But the American Constitution is a lasting monumement to his beliefs, as is the city he named after the Greek word for brotherly love – Philadelphia.
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