Sale 359

Lot 80

Penn, William (1644-1718), founder of Pennsylvania, early Quaker, autograph letter signed, "WM Penn", plus an additional postscript initialed "W.P.", and a note at the end of the inventory initialed "W.P." A most important letter by William Penn, accompanied by an inventory documenting the capture of some of Captain Kidd's "Pyrat" booty.

Seven pages 6¾" x 9¾", Philadelphia December 30, 1700, plus a three page inventory, 7½" x 11¾" in a secretarial hand. Penn's letter to British Minister James Vernon, discusses the property seized from George Thompson, William Orr, and Peter Lewis. The items are detailed on the accompanying inventory, which states, "An account of goods recvd from Captain Kidd's ship." These three gentlemen "affirmed they knew not the persons to be pirates." In addition, the letter itself discusses two unsavory characters of the era, Dr. Bradenham, surgeon to Captain Kidd and a Parson Portlock, both of whom were believed to be complicit in the handling of the notorious Kidd's treasure.
Wm. Penn continues with a complaint that men such as the Parson unfairly accuse Quakers of being dishonest in their claims of pacifism as they "inveigh agst ye Quakers for their being too tame and easy for pyrats and yt in the pulpit because they would not fit forth vessels of war to fight, persue & take them, while himself, at the same time stood possest of a pyrats treasure, gott by the worst of ways, needs no aggravation.
Penn concludes this correspondence with his initials after a plea for clemency for "a poor Sweetish woman" accused of killing her "basterd Childe".
The document includes a complete list of the pirate's booty that includes such things as sugar and a great number of various fabrics, including much silk. It is said pirates often used these textiles for their own clothing (silk held up well in the high humidity of the tropics) leading to the flamboyant costumes often associated with their ilk.
The letter has overall light toning and edge wear, but is quite legible. The inventory is fresh with minor toned spots. A transcript is available upon request.
Estimate 20,000 - 30,000


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