Remembering Hannah Penn

Womens History

During colonial times, women did not have leadership roles, but one woman defied the odds and helped shape Pennsylvania into the state it is today. 

Hannah Penn was the second wife of William Penn. She was born into a wealthy family, but life wasn’t easy for her. 

“Running a household at any level is like running a small factory,” said Dr. Robyn Lily Davis, an associate professor of history at Millersville University. “She is the highest status woman in the colony, so she has a life of great responsibility but maybe not the same tasks that ordinary women had.”

Penn lived in Pennsylvania for a year. She was given even more responsibility after returning to England and her husband got sick. She served as acting proprietor of Pennsylvania. She inherited the job after her death.

She did have some limitations because she was a woman but still was able to make a decision that shaped Pennsylvania.

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