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Stephen & Carol Huber: 17th - 19th Century Needlework

Huber - Penn Purse c.1660
(exterior of the purse unfolded)
Sir Admiral William Penn's Purse
English c.1660

Admiral Sir William Penn's purse is a national treasure both in America and England. He is the man Pennsylvania was named after and, in England his achievements as a naval officer are legendary. He managed to be a loyal naval officer to King Charles I and II and to Cromwell in between. So it's not surprising that his ship was sent to the Netherlands to bring King Charles II back to England in 1660. Possibly this purse was included in the "great deal of needlework finery" ordered in May of 1660 by Admiral William Penn in preparation for occasion. "King Charles II stated Admiral Penn was resplendent in all his finery".

There is a reference to his daughter Margaret (Peg) making the purse. She would have been 15 years old in 1660, so that is also a possibility.

Before King Charles II granted the land known as Sylvania to Admiral Sir William Penn's Quaker son, William Penn, the king renamed it Pennsylvania. King Charles II told William Penn "I'm naming it after that Jolly fellow, your father".

The purse is inscribed with the initials W.P. above the great navigator Admiral William Penn standing beside a globe with his dog "Port", who was named after Port Royal, Jamaica. PORT is stitched on the collar.

The interior of the purse features Penn's coat-of-arms, a leopard which implies "the protector", and various flowering motifs.

Silk and metallic thread on linen with red silk lining; 8 ½" x 6".

Huber - Penn Purse c.1660
(interior unfolded)

The interior of the purse features Penn's coat-of-arms, a leopard which implies "the protector", and various flowering motifs.

Silk and metallic thread on linen with red silk lining; 8 ½" x 6".


A brief history of Sir Admiral William Penn

Sir Admiral William Penn was born in 1621 and started his life-long seafaring career as a young boy on merchant ships. In 1642/3, he married Margaret Jasper Van der Schuren (d. 1682). They had three children: William (1644-1718), Margaret (Peg) (1645-1718) and Richard (1648-1673).

Penn joined the Royal Navy, and rose to the rank of rear admiral by 1645. Admiral Penn was a career navy man and was promoted several times over the next two decades. He served as vice admiral of Ireland, admiral of the Streights, vice admiral of England, and in 1653 was made a general during the first war with the Dutch. He served as captain commander under the King in 1664, and was made admiral of the navy by Charles II during the second war with the Dutch. Admiral Penn's efforts were well regarded by both Oliver Cromwell and King Charles II.

Cromwell rewarded his work in 1654 with significant land in Ireland, and he was knighted by Charles II in 1660.

Admiral Penn retired in 1669 and died a year later in Essex in 1670. At that time, King Charles II owed to Sir Admiral William Penn roughly £16,000. Also, Admiral Penn's oldest son William had embraced Quaker beliefs and was becoming a nuisance to King Charles II.

In 1681 William Penn's son, the Quaker, asked King Charles II to settle the debt to his father. The King, pleased to get rid of the trouble maker, granted him the colony known as Sylvania as repayment, but the King renamed it stating "I'm naming it Pennsylvania after that jolly fellow, your father"

Huber - Penn Purse c.1660

So in fact, Pennsylvania was named after the owner of this purse, Sir Admiral William Penn, and not his Quaker son William Penn who came to the colonies.

Huber - Penn Purse c.1660
Outside- top enhanced initials WP

Huber - Penn Purse c.1660
Outside- Dog named PORT, on collar

Huber - Penn Purse c.1660
Inside- Penn Coat-of-Arms

Huber - Penn Purse c.1660
Inside- Lepord, symble for protector

(860) 388-6809

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