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"The Trial of William Penn"

Identifier: HC.MC-975-07-023

Scope and Content note

This collection is comprised of the single volume script of Columbia Broadcasting Company's 1950 production of "The Trial of William Penn," a dramatic retelling of the last day of Penn's trial.


  • 1950


Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Law Applies (U.S. Title 17).

Biographical note

William Penn (1644–1718) was an English entrepreneur, philosopher, and early Quaker and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, the North American colony that would become the state of Pennsylvania. Penn was born October 14, 1644 in Barking, London, the son of Admiral Sir William Penn and Margaret Jasper. In 1672, he married Gulielma Maria Springett. In 1681, King Charles II gave Penn a large piece of his American land holdings in present day Pennsylvania and Delaware, to satisfy a debt the king owed to Penn's father. He arrived in the American colonies in 1683. He married for a second time in 1695, to Hannah Callowhill. Penn died on July 30, 1718.

Historical note

In 1670, when Penn was 26 years old, he was arrested in London on the charge of disturbing the King’s peace, as a recult of Penn's preaching nonconformist religious views at an outdoor meeting in London at a time when the monarchy was attempting to suppress religious dissent.

During the trial, the jury and the crowds in the courthouse began to appreciate William Penn’s defense that he had not violated a law by speaking on a street corner. The Crown produced no substantive evidence against him. When Penn interrupted the trial with questions and objections, he was removed from the presence of the jury and confined in an enclosed corner of the room where he could not confront or question witnesses.

At the conclusion of the trial the jury retired to deliberate its verdict. Upon the jury’s return, foreman Edward Bushnell reported to the court simply that the jury found that William Penn had spoken on the street, which was no violation of the law at all.


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Related Materials

  • MC 975.07.015 "Massacre: A Play"
  • MC 861 British Friends letters

Processing Information

Processed by Kara Flynn; completed September 2015.
"The Trial of William Penn," 1950
Kara Flynn
September 2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

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