[Frankfurter Landgesellschaft.] Agreement of purchase of 25,000 acres in Pennsylvania. Frankfurt-am-Main: 12 November 1686.

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THE PENN FAMILY COPY OF THE PURCHASE AGREEMENT OF GERMANTOWN

Agreement of purchase of 25,000 acres in Pennsylvania. Frankfurt-am-Main: 12 November 1686.

Frankfurter Landgesellschaft


Publication Date: 1686
THE PENN FAMILY COPY OF A 1686 LAND-PURCHASE AGREEMENT. Frankfurt-am-Main: 12 November 1686. Pot bifolium (sheet: 12 11/16" x 16 1/8", 322mm x 411mm; frame: 17 ½" x 21"): )(2 [$2 signed]. 2 leaves, pp. [4]. Two folds to the bifolium resulting in eight compartments. Splits to the folds with small losses at their intersections, most repaired verso (i.e., the inner forme). Scattered tanning. With the red wax seals and ink signatures of nine of the sixteen signatories to )(2v. Cataloguers notes graphite to the recto. Matted and framed, glassed verso. William Penn (1644-1718) was an English Quaker who in 1681 obtained from Charles I and the Duke of York the world's largest personal land-grant: some 45,000 square miles west of New Jersey and north of Maryland. Penn named that land for his father: Pennsylvania, "Penn's Woods." Even before the grant, Penn traveled widely to engage various dissenting communities: Mennonites, Amish, Pietists, Brethren (Dunkers or Dunkards), etc. Penn's "Holy Experiment," which ultimately foundered, nevertheless provided for the creation of a profoundly tolerant region in the New World. In Penn's travels through Germany, he met with a group of Pietist entrepreneurs -- originally the Teutsche Landcompagnie and eventually the Frankfurter Landgesellschaft (Frankfurt Land Company) -- who sought to buy a portion of his land. Penn did not meet their agent, Franz Daniel Pastorius (1651-ca. 1720), until Pastorius arrived in Philadelphia in August of 1683. Pastorius was the only Frankfurter Landgesellschaft member actually to emigrate; other settlers from Frankfurt came, and joined forces with settlers from Cresheim, Crefeld (Krefeld) and Sommerhausen (Pastorius's own home-town) to establish Germantown. The present item is the agreement of the purchase among the members of the Landgesellschaft for 25,000 acres collectively. It specifies the division of the land among the members, followed by a dozen rules governing the agreement: the resolution of disputes, responsibilities of the purchasers and their families, etc. Dated 12 November 1686, it is an attempt to refine the original terms of the land agreement, which in the intervening five years had shifted or passed generationally. Because this is a collective agreement, each signatory received a copy with the signatures of the others; this is why the agreement was printed, rather than being written in full, thirteen times (per the agreement itself: p. [4], ¶2). The actual signatories are: Gerhard von Mastricht, Thomas von Wylich (printed: Wilich), Johann La Brun (Johannes le Brun), Johann Jacob Schütz, Daniel Behaghel (Behagel), Jacon Vande Wallen (Jacob von de Wallen), Iohan wilhelm Petersen (?Johann Wilhelm Peters Hausfrau, i.e., his wife), Johannes Kemler and Balthasar Jawert. Pastorius's seal and signature do not appear, as he was already settled in America. The whereabouts of three examples of the agreement are recorded by Marion Dexter Learned in his 1908 Life of Francis Daniel Pastorius: the present item, noted by Learned to have been among Penn's papers (though perhaps it entered his family collection after his death), and then in the collection of Pennsylvania governor and historian Samuel Whitaker Pennypacker (1843-1916); a copy at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania; and the only copy known to have Pastorius's signature (doubtless forwarded to him in Germantown by the Landgesellschaft), which had been among the Proud papers and is now in the Rosenbach. A previous owner (surely Pennypacker) has written on p. [4] "Sold at Edwards sale 1898 for $200 00/100; because Pennypacker owned the present item by 1800, this note must surely refer to Rosenbach copy rather than to the present one.
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