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Penn, William (14 October 1644–30 July 1718), founder of Pennsylvania and eminent English Quaker, was born in London, England, the son of Sir William Penn, an admiral, and Margaret Jasper Vanderschuren, the daughter of a Rotterdam merchant. Penn was educated at Chigwell Free Grammar School, Essex, and Christ Church College, Oxford, where he studied from 1660 until 1662, when he was expelled for openly criticizing the Church of England. In an effort to prevent him from becoming a dissenter and to prepare him for the life of a gentleman, his father sent him to tour the Continent. In France the younger Penn studied Huguenot theology at L’Académie Protestante de Saumur. He returned to England in 1664 a more sophisticated man and the next year entered legal study at Lincoln’s Inn. He then assisted his father in business and military affairs. These activities required attendance at court, where he made acquaintances that would later prove useful, especially his friendship with Charles II’s brother, James, duke of York....

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William Penn. Print, c. 1897. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-106735).

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Perry, Edward (1630?–1695), farmer and Quaker leader, was born in England (parents and place unknown). Perry reached Sandwich, Massachusetts (then part of Plymouth Colony), by 1652 and took up land there. In 1654 he married Mary Freeman, the daughter of Edmund Freeman of Sandwich; the couple had nine children. Perry was punished for refusing to comply with the Plymouth Colony’s marriage regulations requiring that a magistrate preside over the wedding. The ceremony that Mary and Edward used apparently anticipated Quaker (Friends) marriage proceedings in which the couple exchanged vows publicly before witnesses, without the supervision of a minister or magistrate, after which all present signed the marriage certificate. When Quaker missionaries appeared in the colony in 1657, Perry was among the first to join their movement. While not as draconian in its persecution of Quakers as Massachusetts, Plymouth reacted negatively to their arrival by severely fining and disfranchising resident Quakers and expelling Quaker missionaries from the colony. Thus, Perry was fined and disfranchised and lost the chance for community leadership for over a decade, although he must have retained the respect of many town residents who defended their Quaker neighbors....

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Wood, James (12 November 1839–19 December 1925), Quaker leader and experimental farmer, was born in Mount Kisco, New York, the son of Stephen Wood and Phebe Underhill, farmers. The clan of fifty Wood and Underhill cousins had lived on neighboring farms or homes in Westchester County since about 1809. James Wood attended the Philadelphia Quakers’ Westtown School and then went to Haverford College. In 1866 he married a Philadelphia Quaker, Emily Hollingsworth Morris, with whom he would have three children. In 1870 they moved into “Braewold,” a Scottish-style stone house that was built to replace the one that had burned down a year before. The Woods’ oldest daughter, Ellen, a nurse, was engaged to Quaker reformer ...