Province of Pennsylvania

Province of Pennsylvania

A map of the Province of Pennsylvania.
A map of the Province of Pennsylvania.
Common languagesEnglish, Pennsylvania German, Welsh, Unami, Susquehannock, Munsee
GovernmentProprietary colony, semi-autonomous constitutional monarchy
• 1681–1685
Charles II
• 1685–1688
James II
• 1689–1702 (Mary died 1694)
William III & Mary II
• 1702–1714
• 1714–1727
George I
• 1727–1760
George II
• 1760–1776
George III
Royal Governor 
• 1681–1783
List of colonial governors of Pennsylvania
LegislaturePennsylvania Provincial Assembly
• Land grant to William Penn
March 4 1681
September 3 1783
CurrencyPennsylvania pound
Succeeded by
Today part of United States

The Province of Pennsylvania, also known as the Pennsylvania Colony, was founded in English North America by William Penn on March 4, 1681 as dictated in a royal charter granted by King Charles II. The name Pennsylvania, which translates roughly as "Penn's Woods",[1] was created by combining the Penn surname (in honor of William's father, Admiral Sir William Penn) with the Latin word sylvania, meaning "forest land". The Province of Pennsylvania was one of the two major Restoration colonies, the other being the Province of Carolina. The proprietary colony's charter remained in the hands of the Penn family until the American Revolution, when the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was created and became one of the original thirteen states. "The lower counties on Delaware", a separate colony within the province, would breakaway during the American Revolution as "the Delaware State" and also be one of the original thirteen states.


The colonial government, established in 1682 by Penn's Frame of Government, consisted of an appointed Governor, the proprietor (William Penn), a 72-member Provincial Council, and a larger General Assembly. The General Assembly, also known as the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly, was the largest and most representative branch of government, but had little power.

Succeeding Frames of Government were produced in 1683, 1696 and 1701. The fourth Frame was also known as the Charter of Privileges and remained in effect until the American Revolution. At that time, the Provincial Assembly was deemed too moderate by the revolutionaries, who ignored the Assembly and held a convention which produced the Constitution of 1776 for the newly established commonwealth, creating a new General Assembly in the process.

William Penn (14 October 1644 – 30 July 1718) was an English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, early Quaker and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony and the future Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He was an early advocate of democracy and religious freedom, notable for his good relations and successful treaties with the Le nape Indians. Under his direction, the city of Philadelphia was planned and developed.