Hannah Callowhill Penn

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Hannah Callowhill Penn
An 18th century portrait of Hannah Callowhill Penn
Acting Proprietor of Pennsylvania
In office
1712 – December 30, 1726
Preceded byWilliam Penn
Succeeded byJohn Penn
De facto First Lady of Pennsylvania
In office
1696 – 20 July 1716
Personal details
Hannah Margaret Callowhill

11 February 1671
Bristol, England
Died20 December 1726 (aged 55)
London, England
SpouseWilliam Penn (1696-1716)

Hannah Margaret Penn (née Callowhill; 11 February 1671 – 20 December 1726) was an Anglo-American governor. The second wife of Pennsylvania founder William Penn, she effectively administered the Province of Pennsylvania for six years after her husband suffered a series of strokes, and then for another eight years after her husband's death. She served as acting proprietor from 1712 until her death in 1726.

Early life[edit]

Hannah Margaret Callowhill was born in Bristol, England, the daughter of Thomas Callowhill, a merchant there, and Anna (or Hannah) Hollister.

Province of Pennsylvania[edit]

A Quaker, she married William Penn on March 5, 1696, when she was 25 and he was 52. She was pregnant with their first of eight children when the couple embarked from England for their three-month voyage to what was then British America in 1699. She lived in great style, both in Philadelphia and at Pennsbury Manor, a beautiful estate located in Bucks County, on the Delaware River.

When William Penn died at age 73 on July 30, 1718, his will gave Hannah Penn full control of the Province of Pennsylvania and his fortune.[1]

William Penn's oldest son by his first marriage, William Penn Jr., sought to dismiss his father's will in order to obtain control of the colony. His suit was unsuccessful, and Hannah Penn remained in charge of the colony until she died from a stroke in her son's house in London at age 55.[2]

Her deputy in Pennsylvania from 1718 until 1727 was William Keith.


She had nine children with William Penn:

  • Unnamed daughter (born and died 1697)
  • John Penn ("the American") (28 January 1700 – 25 October 1746), never married
  • Thomas Penn (20 March 1702 – 21 March 1775), married Lady Juliana Fermore, fourth daughter of Thomas, first Earl of Pomfret
  • Hannah Penn (1703–1706)
  • Margaret Penn (7 November 1704–February 1751), married Thomas Freame (1701/02-1746) nephew of John Freame, founder of Barclays Bank
  • Richard Penn Sr. (17 January 1706 – 4 February 1771)
  • Dennis Penn (26 February 1707 – 1723)
  • Hannah Margarita Penn (1708–March 1708)
  • Louis Penn


Hannah Penn is one of the few individuals and the first woman granted the status of Honorary Citizen of the United States, awarded her by Presidential Proclamation by an Act of Congress (PL. 98-516) by Ronald Reagan on November 28, 1984.[3]

When William Penn was laying out the city of Philadelphia in the early 1680s, he named Callowhill Street in his wife's honor. In the 21st century, the neighborhood directly north of Chinatown, which Callowhill Street passes through, became known as Callowhill. Similarly, a street in Perkasie, Pennsylvania, is also named in her honor.[4] A middle school in York, Pennsylvania, is named in her honor.[4]

Pennsylvania Governor, Tom Corbett, named March 12, 2013 "Hannah Callowhill Penn Day."[5]

Governor Corbett and Mrs. Susan Corbett commissioned a posthumous portrait of Hannah Penn by Pennsylvania portrait artist Ellen Cooper. The portrait was unveiled at a ceremony at the Pennsylvania capitol during Women's History Month, March 19, 2014.[6][7] After being publicly displayed in the governor's reception room for several months, on January 15, 2015, the portrait was hung in the Pennsylvania governor's office among portraits of other early leaders of Pennsylvania.[8] However, as of March 2015 the portrait is in storage; Governor Tom Wolf asked for it to be moved into the governor's reception room, but he said because of safety concerns it was returned to the Historical and Museum Commission.[9] According to Penn Live, "It is likely that it will be sent, for a time, to Pennsbury Manor, the estate from which the Penns first governed the new colony. Then, it is headed to the state museum for an exhibit on Iconic Stories of Pennsylvania."[9]

On March 19, 2014, the Pennsylvania Commission for Women awarded the first Hannah Penn Leadership Awards to honor Pennsylvania women who have been outstanding mentors and role models through their leadership, service and commitment to empowering women and girls in the commonwealth.[10]


  1. ^ Hirsch, Alison Duncan (1994). "A Tale of Two Wives: Mythmaking and the Lives of Gulielma and Hannah Penn". Pennsylvania History. 61 (4).
  2. ^ Barbara Wells Sarudy. "William Penn's 2nd Wife, Quaker Hannah Callowhill Penn 1671–1726". 17C American Women. Retrieved 17 April 2015. A week later she died at the home of her son John in London, following another stroke.
  3. ^ "Proclamation 5284 -- Honorary United States Citizenship for William and Hannah Penn". Reagan Library. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Hannah Penn". Pennsylnavia People. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  5. ^ "Governor Corbett Proclaims Hannah Callowhill Penn Day in Honor of Women's History Month" (Press release). PRN Newswire. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  6. ^ "Corbetts unveil Capitol portrait of Hannah Penn". WHTM-TV. 19 March 2014. Archived from the original on 10 October 2014. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  7. ^ Murphy, Jan (19 March 2014). "Correcting history: Hannah Penn earns recognition as Pennsylvania's first female governor three centuries later". Penn Live. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  8. ^ "Portrait of Hannah Callowhill Penn Hung in the Governor's Office". Pa.gov. 15 January 2015. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  9. ^ a b Roddy, Dennis (27 March 2015). "It took centuries to recognize Pa's first woman governor, Hannah Penn, now Gov. Wolf has buried her again". PennLive.com. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  10. ^ "Commission for Women". Archived from the original on 5 November 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2014.

External links[edit]