The Richest Man in All Christendom?

Most people assume slavery was the basis of most fortunes in Britain’s 18th century, but descendants of the original settlers also featured. Here’s a couple of pieces from May 1771’s Kentish Gazette:

Wm Baker, Esq; one of the Sheriffs of this city, &c. was married at Spring Garden Chapel, to Miss Juliana Penn, daughter of –Penn, esq; one of the proprietors of Pennsylvania, who was a few days ago put in nomination by the Lord Mayor to serve the office of sheriff. It is said the lady’s fortune is 200,000l.

Her family had not just great wealth, but more power than most monarchs:

Mr Penn, of Spring Garden, is now the richest Subject in Europe. His estate in the province of Pennsylvania alone, was in the year 1759, estimated, on his own principles, at 10 million Sterling; and his dignity and power are not less than his enormous wealth; for he is absolutely governor, proprietor and captain General of Pennsylvania, and nominates his Lieutenant Governor, and all his Judges, Justices, Militia officers, &c. during his pleasure. Amazing riches and power to be concentrated in one family.

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