How did William Penn help the Amish?

Early Years

William Penn was one of the main reasons for the Amish immigration to America. He played a huge part in Amish history. Penn was born October 14, 1644. He was the son of Admiral Sir William Penn. Penn founded the province of Pennsylvania. He set forth democratic principles that impacted the United States Constitution. In his 20’s Penn joined the Quaker religion. He had his earliest religious experience at Chigwell School, Essex, where he was educated in theology and law.

William Penn
William Penn

George Fox

Penn was friends with George Fox, the founder of the Quakers. Penn’s religious views were extremely upsetting to his father, Admiral Sir William Penn. Penn and George Fox, founder of the Quakers, traveled in Europe and England spreading the word of God. In the late 1660’s, Penn wrote several works about his religious beliefs, beginning with The Sandy Foundation Shaken and another No Cross, No Crown.

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Penn’s Arrest

Penn was arrested several times. First for being a Quaker and second because of his religious beliefs. Among the most famous of these was the trial following his arrest with William Meade. Penn and Meade was preaching before a Quaker gathering. They were arrested. The Lord Major refused to let Penn see a copy of the laws they supposedly broke. The jury returned a verdict of “not guilty”. Still, they were sent to jail along with the jury. It was there that he decided to found a new, free settlement in North America.

Safe Haven for Amish

King Charles granted Penn a large area west and south of New Jersey on March 4, 1681. Since Penn already owned New Jersey he now had adjoining lands.. Penn called the area Sylvania. Charles later changed it to Pennsylvania in honor of Penn’s father. The King was glad to have an area of land for religious minorities. This region gave complete freedom of religion for everybody who believed in God. This freedom of religion brought the Amish to America. Pennsylvania became North America’s haven for religious minorities. According to Amish history, the Amish were being persecute in Europe. They looking for religious freedom.


In 1696, Penn married his second wife, Hannah Callowhill, with whom they had seven children (his first wife died in 1694). Penn made friends with the Indians. He made sure they were paid fairly for their land. Penn didn’t need an interpreter to communicate with the Indians. He made sure there was peace between the Indians and the colonist. Penn also fought against slavery. In 1718, Penn died at his home in Twyford in Berkshire. He was buried next to his first wife. His family retained ownership of the colony of Pennsylvania until the America Revolution.

In 1737 a significant movement began when the Charming Nancy sailed for Pennsylvania with twenty-one Amish families aboard.

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