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    William Penn's father reports on his voyage after the capture of Jamaica.

    William Penn, Sr. (1621-1670), Admiral and father of the founder of Pennsylvania, William Penn. A scarce Autograph Letter Signed, "Wm Penn", two pages, 8.25" x 11.5", "Swiftsure in Stoaksbay", August 31, [1655]. Admiral William Penn, the father of the founder by the same name, was a ship's captain by age twenty and by age thirty-one rose to become Vice-Admiral of England. He served with distinction in the war with the Dutch. James II (as Duke of York) appointed him commander of the navy in 1664. Following the successful capture of Jamaica from Spain in May, 1655, Penn relates his eventful return voyage to England noting the explosion of a powder magazine on one of his ships and an engagement with a French warship. (Please note that we have not corrected the seventeenth century spellings): "My last was from Jamaica by the Cardiff wherein was a List of the Shipps appointed to continue in those parts, and of those that then were ordered to come for England. I with ye Shipps mentioned in the margen came from hense Uppon ye 25th of June, keeping whole and Entire together, till ye 13th of J[u]ly -- at w[hi]ch Tyme the Divine providence made a Sad Breach by fire aboard the Parragon (w[hi]ch it being a day sett a part-- throughout ye fleet to seek the Lord) Begun in Sermon time, forenoone in the Steward Roome as tis thought, and soone proved to[o] strong for all Endeavo[r]s used against it in two houres time (the masts & upper work being first consumed, and all her Cannon fired) the Store of Powder taking fire, a horrid black & hideous Cloud of Smoak were heard & Seene w[hi]ch took her from our sight, leaving us only a Sad Remembrance. About 100 persons in shuning the fire, received their death in ye water and w[i]th them (as far as we see yet) is sunk all hope of knowledge by what meanes it kindled, & who were the unhappy Instruments. About the same time & place vist 10 Fgs of[f] ye coast Cuba neer Habanna, we lost sight of the Tulip, Heartsease & Gilliflower w[hi]ch we have not mett sinse. The rest kept together till neere the Lands End. I chase a French Vessell 200 tuns, 10 guns come from Greenland and took her on Wednesday last loosing sight of the fleet whom this day we mett againe. I humbly desire ye will be pleased to dispeed away Orders to mee, how to dispose of them for as much as I have wish to, & suddenly Expect Directions from Highnesse to Attend him at London, where I shall omit to be further tedious at present..." Penn lists the ships that returned with him to England in the left margin. An amazing account and a startling contrast to his pacifist son who joined the Society of Friends (Quakers) in the 1660s. (This proved to be a great embarrassment to the Admiral who was considered a hero in England.) Reinforced along left margin and tipped to a larger sheet, marginal tears repaired, else Fine. A significant account and a prohibitively scarce specimen. From the Henry E. Luhrs Collection. Accompanied by LOA from PSA/DNA.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2006
    20th-21st Monday-Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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