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Philadelphia Reflections: Boundaries of the Grant of Pennsylvania

Musings of a Philadelphia Physician who has served the community for six decades

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Boundaries of the Grant of Pennsylvania

King Charles II

In consideration thereof of our special grace, certaine knowledge, and meere motion, have given and granted, and by this our present Charter for us, our heires and successors, doe give and grant unto the said William Penn, his heires and Assignes:

All that Tract or part of Land in America with all the Islands therein contained, as the same is bounded:

on the East by Delaware River, from Twelve miles distance Northwards of Newcastle Towne unto the Three and Fortieth degree of Northern Latitude, If the said River doth extend so far northwards. But if the said River shall not extend so far northward, then by the said River so far as it doth extend, and from the Head of the said River the Eastern-bounds are to be determined by a Meridian Line to bee drawne from the head of the said River unto the said Three and Fortieth degree;

The said Lands {to} extend westward Five degrees in longi­tude to be computed from the said Eastern bounds,

and the said Lands to be bounded on the north by the beginning of the Three and Fortieth degree of northerne Latitude,

{William Penn}
William Penn

and on the South by a Circle drawne of {at} 12 miles distance from Newcastle, northwards and westwards unto the begining of the Fortieth degree of northerne Latitude, and then by a streight line westwards to the limit of Longitude above mentioned.

Note: The 40th parallel crosses the Delaware River at roughly the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge, approximately fifty miles north of New Castle. This southern bound is thus geographically impossible, and tangled bitter lawsuits between Penn and Lord Baltimore, the Proprietor of Maryland. Penn won the lawsuit for many reasons, but the Charter's statement of the southern border inevitably had to be modified by some non-geometric method.

With gratitude to the editors, Richard and Mary Dunn, from The Papers of William Penn, Volume Two, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982. Underlining added.


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