Admiral Sir William Penn (1621 – 1670) died a very wealthy man, aged just 49, at Wanstead, Essex. The following month he was buried at St. Mary Redcliffe Church, Bristol, England.
Admiral Penn’s armour, coat of arms and crest are on prominent display in St Mary Redcliffe Church, Bristol. Until very recently there also hung the original flags from captured Dutch vessels as well as one of the red flags denoting him as one of Cromwell’s generals. The church has now replaced these flags with reproductions. Below the armour there is a marble memorial tablet to Admiral Sir William Penn with text written by his son, the Quaker William Penn. It avoids any mention of his father’s role as Cromwell’s Sea-General, the ill-fated attempt to seize Haiti or his imprisonment in the Tower of London. It reads:
“To Ye Just Memory of Sr. William Penn, Kt & Sometimes Generall; borne at Bristol In 1621 son of Captain Giles. Penn severall years consul for ye English in ye Mediterranean of the Penns of Penn Lodge in the County of Wilts & those Penns of Penn in ye County of Bucks & by his Mother from ye Gilberts in ye County of Somerset, Originally of Yorkshire. Addicted from his youth to maritime affairs he was made Captain at ye years of 21. Rear-Admirall of Ireland at 23, Vice Admirall of Ireland at 24. Admirall to ye. Straightes at 29. Vice Admirall of England at 31 a Generall in ye First Dutch Warres at 32 whence retiring in Ano.1665. He was chosen a Parliament man for ye Towne of Weymouth 1660 made Commissioner of ye Admiralty & Navy Govoner of ye Towns and Ports of King Sail Vice Admirall of Munster & a member of that Provinciall Councell and in Ano. 1664, Was Chozen Great Captain Commander Under his Royall Highness: In ye signall & most Evidently Successful fight against the Dutch Fleet. Thus he took his Leave of the Sea his old element, But Continued still His other Employs till 1669: at which Time: Through Bodily Infirmitys. (Contracted by ye Care & Fatigue of Public Affairs) He Withdrew Prepared & Made for his end, & with a Gentle & Even Gale in much peace arrived & anchored in his Last and Best Port, at Wanstead In ye County of Essex ye 16 Sept 1670 being then but 49 & 4 months old To whose Name and Merit his surviving Lady Hath Erected this Remembrance”