Alderfer Auction is set to offer a remarkable piece of history—a document signed by William Penn
Alderfer Auction is set to offer a remarkable piece of history—a vellum document signed by William Penn
Bob Lucas I Historical Document Consultant
Christian Answini I Senior Fine Art Specialist
Alderfer Auction is set to offer a remarkable piece of history—a vellum document signed by William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania. This document, which is over three centuries old, will be part of a three-day Fine Art auction on September 14, 2023. What makes this document particularly noteworthy is not just its age or the signature of William Penn, but also its connection to a pivotal moment in the fight against slavery.
The Document's Physical Condition
The vellum document shows signs of wear, including some holes and loss, which are indicative of its 341-year age. Despite this, the signature of William Penn remains bold at the bottom edge. The document details the conveyance of 500 acres of land along what is now known as Dublin Creek to Richard Worrell.
Who Was William Penn?
William Penn (1644-1718) was an influential Quaker and the founder of the Province of Pennsylvania in 1682. Documents signed by him are rare and highly sought after by collectors. Penn was a visionary who advocated for religious freedom and democracy, principles that later influenced the United States Constitution.
The Recipient: Richard Worrell
Richard Worrell (1639-1688) was an early convert to the Quaker religion and hailed from Berkshire, England. He emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1682 with his wife and two sons. Worrell built a house on the land conveyed to him by Penn, and it was in this house that the Dublin Monthly Meeting of the Society of Friends was held.
Historic Importance of the Document
The document gains additional significance because of the history associated with the land it conveys. In 1688, the "Germantown Quaker Petition Against Slavery" was presented in Worrell's house during a meeting of the Society of Friends. This petition is considered the first documented protest against African American slavery by a religious body in the English colonies. It is also the first document in the Western hemisphere to advocate for equal human rights for everyone.
The petition, which is now part of the collections at Haverford College, begins with the text "This is to ye Monthly Meeting held at Richard Worrell's" and is signed by four German members of the Society of Friends. It was dated February 18, 1688. The document was lost for some time but was rediscovered in the 1840s and subsequently used in abolitionist publications leading up to the American Civil War.
The William Penn land grant to Richard Worrell is not just a piece of paper; it is a tangible link to a seminal event in the history of human rights. It connects us to the very spot where the first documented protest against slavery was made, making it an invaluable artifact. Don't miss the opportunity to witness this piece of history at Alderfer Auction's upcoming Fine Art auction coming up on September 12th-14th at 10:00 AM, only at alderferauction.com.
For additional information, please contact Alderfer Auction at 215-393-3000 or email@example.com
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