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Heathcote, Caleb (06 March 1666–01 March 1721), merchant, manor lord, and Anglican activist, was born in Derbyshire, England, the son of Gilbert Heathcote, a trader in hides and iron who served as mayor of Chesterfield, England, and Anne Dickens. While living in England Heathcote became a merchant specializing in trade with New York, where he settled in 1692 after the woman to whom he was betrothed fell in love with his brother Samuel and married him instead....

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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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Van Rensselaer, Nicholas (bap. 14 September 1636), Reformed church clergyman and fourth director of the patroonship of Rensselaerswijck, was born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, the son of Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, a diamond merchant and first patroon of Rensselaerswijck, and Anna Van Welij. When Nicholas (originally Nicolaes) was seven his father died, and he was brought up largely in the care of his mother. In 1656 he entered the University of Leiden to study theology but shortly abandoned his studies. His mother then apprenticed him to Amsterdam spice merchant Servaes Auxbrebis. Van Rensselaer was unhappy in that position, and so his mother reapprenticed him to Amsterdam textile merchant William Brughman. He also left there after several weeks, claiming that God was calling him for the ministry....