Question of the Week

What ship carried William Penn and some of the first settlers to Pennsylvania across the Atlantic Ocean in 1682?

Monday, 10/24/11

Answer: The Welcome.

William Penn and the first settlers of Pennsylvania sailed across the Atlantic Ocean on the ship Welcome. The Welcome departed from Deal, England, on August 31, 1682, and arrived at the mouth of the Delaware River (now New Castle, Delaware) on October 27, 1682, completing the Atlantic crossing in 57 days which was slow by 17th century standards. The voyage did not end without incident; nearly one-third of all the ship’s passengers died of smallpox. On October 28, 1682, the ship anchored at Upland (now Chester, Pennsylvania) on the site that had been chosen by Thomas Holme, Penn’s surveyor general.   

King Charles II of England granted Penn ownership of the land in order to pay off a large debt to Penn’s father, Admiral Sir William Penn. The younger Penn had first called the area Sylvania (Latin for woods), which the king later changed to Pennsylvania in honor of the elder Penn. One of the first counties of Pennsylvania was named Bucks County after Buckinghamshire (Bucks) in England, Penn’s family seat and the hometown of many of the first settlers.

The Welcome was one of 22 ships that crossed the Atlantic Ocean to bring the first 2,000 settlers to Pennsylvania between 1681 and 1682.  An original passenger list has not survived, but much research has been done to record who may have sailed with Penn. Descendants of those ancestors who traveled to America in 1682 may join a lineage organization known as the Welcome Society of Pennsylvania.

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania holds a large collection of Penn family papers (#485).  The Society also has the first printed map of the city of Philadelphia by Thomas Holme and several graphic items related to the Welcome.

Image: “The Ship Welcome, bearing William Penn and Colonists arriving in the Delaware River,” print from calendar by Home Insurance Company of New York (1935), Society print collection (Collection V89), The Historical Society of Pennsylvania.


Quaker immigration to PA and surrounding area late 1600's

My ancestors, the Darlington's who were Quakers and said to have been
Early immigrants to PA. They until recently hailed from Doylestown any clue
as to which ship they may have come on. It would seem that they arrived between
1682 and 1690

Quaker immigration to PA and surrounding area late 1600's

Dear Mr. Gaffney,

That's a great question. You might put this question in an email to our reference department at If they can't help you, they may direct you further to our research department.

Thanks for reading and for the inquiry,
Cary Hutto
Assistant Director of Archives

Oliver Cope: ancestor who purchased land from Wm Penn in 1681/2

I am researching my ancestor Oliver Cope (1647-1697) and wife Rebecca, both of Avesbury, Wiltshire, England who family records say arrived on the first or second boat with William Penn. Records show him buying 500 acres in Naaman Creek.
Can you provide any new light on which boat, and if possible the ancestral connection of Oliver Cope with his supposed father John (1624-1649) of Chisledon, Wiltshire, England or another father?
We are unable to find records of Oliver being Quaker but his child John (1691-1773) who married Charity Jefferis (1695-1747) and their offspring were registered Quakers.

Oliver Cope: ancestor who purchased land from Wm Penn in 1681/2

Mr. Adkisson,

Great inquiry! This sounds like a question for our Research-By-Mail (RBM) team. RBM at HSP services folks with in-depth questions who can't come to our facility. You can find more about this on our website:, and genealogical research is a specialty.

Good luck, and thanks for reading!

Cary Hutto
Assistant Director of Archives


I do know that three Swaffer brothers crossed on one of Penn's ships and believe it to have been ship Friendship. I have not been able to confirm them as having been aboard but do know for certain that our family's English lineage hailed from a rural area near Kent and then into this country via Chester County Pa.
Any helpful information out there?

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