William Penn, English reformer and founder of Pennsylvania, was born on October 14, 1644, in London, England. Persecuted in England for his Quaker faith, Penn established freedom of worship in Pennsylvania. The colony became a haven for minority religious sects from Germany, Holland, Scandinavia, and Great Britain.
Born the privileged son of a landed gentleman, young William Penn was greatly affected by the preaching of Quaker itinerant minister Thomas Loe. Expelled from Oxford in 1662 for refusing to conform to the Anglican Church, Penn joined the Religous Society of Friends five years later. At that time, Friends, commonly called "Quakers," were subject to official persecution.