William Penn: A testimony

Chris Skidmore writes about the testimony to the grace of God in the life of William Penn

It is a valuable tradition that testimonies to the grace of God in the life of departed Friends should present the Friend warts and all. So, it was with William Penn when his local Monthly Meeting wrote the testimony that follows. He lived the latter part of his life with his second wife, Hannah Callowhill, and their family at Ruscombe House, near Twyford: beset with financial difficulties, he suffered two strokes in 1712. Nevertheless, he continued to worship with Reading Friends in a house which is now a part of the Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC) in London Street and subsequently in the new Meeting house that was built in 1714 on the present site in Church Street. The testimony survives as a copy in the Berkshire Quarterly Meeting Book of Sufferings together with the answers to the queries with which it was sent to Yearly Meeting 1719. Little else remains as a reminder of William Penn’s association with Reading except a nineteenth century brass plaque in RISC: Ruscombe House was demolished in 1830.

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