Richard Penn (governor)

Richard Penn (governor)

Richard Penn (c. 1734 – 27 May 1811) served as the Lieutenant Governor of the Province of Pennsylvania from 1771 to 1773, and was later a member of the British Parliament.

Penn, of Laleham in Middlesex, was the second son of Richard Penn, Sr. (died 1771) and the grandson of the William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania. He was educated at Eton College and St John's College, Cambridge before joining the Inner Temple. In 1763 he went to Pennsylvania, of which his family were still sole proprietors. In 1771 he was appointed to succeed his brother John, who was returning to England, as Lieutenant Governor. He proved popular with the provincials, taking much care over their commercial interests, but less so with his uncle, the Proprietor. After two years he was supplanted by the re-appointment of his brother.

Penn returned to England until 1775, when the Continental Congress (sitting in Philadelphia) entrusted him with their petition to the King, and gave evidence to the House of Lords on the colonies' attitudes to independence. After the conclusion of the American Revolution, he was allowed compensation by the US government for the loss of his proprietary rights in Pennsylvania, and visited America again shortly before his death. James Boswell (who was a friend of Penn's) records that in 1789 the influential Earl of Lonsdale urged the government to appoint Penn as Britain's first Ambassador to the United States, although nothing came of the idea.

Penn entered Parliament in 1784 as member for Appleby, elected on the Lonsdale interest, and subsequently also represented two other Lonsdale-dominated boroughs, Haslemere and Lancaster. He was a reliable supporter of Pitt's government (breaking with the other Lonsdale-backed members to support Pitt over the Regency crisis in 1788–89), but rarely if ever spoke in the House of Commons. He resigned his seat in 1791, but returned to Parliament at the next general election, in 1796.

He married Mary Masters, daughter of William Masters of Philadelphia, on 21 May 1772, and they had two sons - William Penn (1776-1845) and Richard Penn, FRS (1784-1863) - and two daughters. He died at Richmond-on-Thames in 1811.


* "Dictionary of National Biography"
* Lewis Namier & John Brooke, "The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1754-1790" (London: HMSO, 1964)
*Robert Beatson, "A Chronological Register of Both Houses of Parliament" (London: Longman, Hurst, Res & Orme, 1807) [,M1]

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