Penn, William - Jury Goes to Prison - A BOGUS CHARGE

It was September 8, 1670. William Penn was still an Englishman, living in London.

A young man, he was 26 years old. He had not yet become an American. He had not yet founded the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Penn's Woods which he named for his famous father, Admiral William Penn) or the City of Philadelphia (Brotherly Love).

However ... he had already spent time in the Tower of London (depicted here in 1670) because the government disagreed with his views. (The linked mural, by Violet Oakley, is in the Supreme Court Room of the Capitol in Harrisburg). Now Penn was on trial for his life, charged with sedition against the Crown.

If found guilty, Penn would be executed.

In one of the most famous, magisterial courthouses in the world - the Old Bailey - Penn defended himself. It was a time when defendants charged with a crime were not ALLOWED to have a lawyer. Perhaps that is why so many defendants who stood trial at the Old Bailey ended up dead. For most, the "fix" was in long before the trial started.

And ... so it appeared for William Penn. A Quaker, Penn was upset with a law which made the Church of England the only place where people could worship. Called the "Conventicle Act," the law prohibited any "tumultuous assembly" from meeting outside the Church of England.

Challenging the law, Penn called a meeting at Gracechurch street in the City of London. He preached a sermon which resulted in a "tumultuous assembly."

He was promptly arrested.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5156stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 01, 1999

Updated Last Revision: Jul 02, 2015

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"A BOGUS CHARGE" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 01, 1999. May 26, 2018.
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