Unique silk purse owned by 17th-Century admiral on sale for £200,000

May need to loosen the purse strings! Unique silk purse that belonged to 17th-Century navy admiral who brought Charles II back from exile goes on sale for £200,000

  • Sir William Penn sailed to Amsterdam to bring Charles II back from exile
  • The king named Pennsylvania after the navy admiral he called a ‘jolly fellow’
  • Purse is believed to have been made by Sir William’s daughter Margaret aged 15

A unique embroidered purse made for a navy admiral who helped restore the British monarchy after the Civil War has emerged for sale for a whopping £200,000.

The 17th century relic belonged to Sir William Penn who was tasked with bringing Charles II back to England from exile in Holland after the death of Oliver Cromwell.

The new King was so indebted to him he later granted the state of Sylvania in the U.S. to his son, renaming it Pennsylvania after Sir William.

The outer design of the 17th century purse belonging to Sir William Penn, which is on sale for £200,000, shows him standing beside a globe with his dog Port

King Charles II (left) named Pennsylvania after Sir William Penn (right) who brought him back from exile in Holland after Oliver Cromwell died

The inside of the purse, believed to have been made by Sir William Penn’s daughter when she was 15, displays his coat of arms and a leopard signifying ‘protector’

Charles purportedly told Penn’s son, also named William: ‘I’m naming it after that jolly fellow, your father.’

The silk purse is believed to have been made by Sir William’s daughter Margaret when she was aged 15.

It is embroidered with an image of her father standing beside a globe with his trusty dog Port.

It is inscribed with his initials ‘W.P’ and the word ‘Port’ and the inside shows Penn’s coat of arms – a leopard signifying the ‘protector’ – and several flower motifs.

The 8.5in by 6in purse, with a red silk lining, is being sold by US embroidery dealers Stephen and Carol Huber.

British Civil servant Sir Percival Griffiths owned the relic for much of the 20th century as part of his very fine art collection and was then subsequently owned by an American private collector.

It is unknown when the purse left the Penn family and passed into private hands.

The silk purse, which depicts his dog with its name ‘Port’ on its collar,  is said to be a ‘phenomenal’ example of needlework from this period

The initials ‘W.P’ are sewn into the unique relic which was given to the naval officer who the U.S state of Pennsylvania is named after

Steve Huber said: ‘Sir William Penn’s purse is a national treasure both in America and England.

‘He is the man Pennsylvania was named after and his achievements as a naval officer are legendary.

‘He managed to be a loyal naval officer to King Charles I and II and to Oliver Cromwell in between so it’s not surprising that his ship was sent to the Netherlands to bring Charles II back to England in 1660.

‘Even without its historical significance, this is a phenomenal example of this period of needlework.’

Life of ‘legendary’ naval officer Sir William Penn who went from fighting at sea to having an entire US state named after him 

British admiral Sir William Penn was born in Bristol, Gloucestershire, in 1621. 

The seaman took the long route to being regarded as a national hero, switching his allegiance between the parliament and the monarchy several times. 

As a young man he served at sea and fought for Parliament in the English Civil Wars against supporters of Charles I.  

He was appointed rear admiral of the Irish seas in 1647 before being arrested the following year on suspicion of corresponding with Charles I but was later released. 

When the king was beheaded for treason in 1649 Sir William supported the anti-monarchical government.  

He commanded squadrons during the First Anglo-Dutch War (1652-54) before undertaking an expedition to the West Indies for Oliver Cromwell.

During the expedition they captured Jamaica in May 1655 but failed to take Hispaniola – which is now divided politically into the Republic of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. 

When the naval officer realised the republicans were failing he turned his attention to restoring the dead king’s son, Charles II, to the throne.  

In 1660 he was on board the Earl of Sandwich’s ship Naseby, later known as the Royal Charles, which brought Charles II back from Amsterdam at parliament’s invitation.

The highly-respected admiral became an MP for Weymouth, Dorset, in April 1660. 

He died in 1670 in London and is buried in the church of St Mary Redcliffe in Bristol. 

To honour him, Charles II later granted the state of Sylvania in the U.S. to his son William Penn, renaming it Pennsylvania after his father. 


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