Free Society of Traders

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FREE SOCIETY OF TRADERS, a group of wealthy Quakers in England to whom William Penn turned for financial assistance for his Pennsylvania settlement. The society purchased 20,000 acres of land in Pennsylvania, and on 24 March 1681 received a charter granting manorial rights, exemption from all quitrents, and choice waterfront sites in Philadelphia. By June 1681, the society had capital of ten thousand pounds. Nicholas More served as president and James Claypoole as secretary. Thomas Lloyd headed the society's delegation in the Pennsylvania Provincial Council, which it dominated. From 1682 to 1683, the society organized and dispatched some fifty ships to Pennsylvania. Their claims to the choicest lands and best plots in Philadelphia and domination of consignments through their private agent in London irritated poorer Quakers and settlers. While great results were anticipated, the society's power in Pennsylvania gradually diminished, and little came of their efforts.


Middleton, Richard. Colonial America: A History, 1585–1775. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 1996.

Wayland F.Dunaway

Jerry L.Parker

See alsoPennsylvania ; Philadelphia .