Penn, William

, afterwards sir William Penn, knt. admiral of England, and one of the commanders at the taking of Jamaica, was born at Bristol in 1621, of an ancient family. He was addicted from his youth to maritime affairs; and before he had reached his thirty-second year, went through the various promotions of captain; rear-admiral of Ireland; vice-admiral of Ireland; admiral to the Straits; vice-admiral of England; and general in the first Dutch war, and commander in chief under the duke of York, in the signal victory over the Dutch in 1665, on which occasion he was knighted. On his return he was elected into parliament for the town of Weymouth; in 1660, commissioner of the admiralty and navy, governor of the fort and town of Kinsale, vice-admiral of Murtster, and a member of that provincial council. He then took leave of the sea, but still continued his other employments till 1669; when, through bodily infirmities, he withdrew to Wanstead in Essex, and there died in 1670. Though he was thus engaged, both under the parliament and king, he took no part in the civil war, but adhered to the duifes of his profession. Besides the reputation of a great and patriot officer, he acquired credit for having improved the naval service in several important departments. He was the author of several little tracts on this subject, some of which are preserved in the British Museum. The monument erected to his memory by his wife in RadclifFe church, Bristol, contains a short account of his life and promotions. But in Thurloe’s State Papers there are minutes of his proceedings in America, not mentioned on his monument, which he delivered to Oliver Cromwell’s council in Sept. 1655. He arrived at Portsmouth in August, and thence wrote to Cromwell, who returned him no answer: and, upon his first appearing before the council, he was committed to the Tower, for leaving his command without leave, to the hazard of the army; but soon after discharged. 2


Biog. Brit. Clarkson’s Life of William Pean.