He was educated at Eton College and Street John"s College, Cambridge before joining the Inner Temple.
He was qualified as a councilor on 12 January 1764. In 1771 he returned to Pennsylvania and was appointed Lieutenant Governor. The bride"s mother gave them a splendid city house as a wedding present.
Richard Penn was elected a trustee of the College and Academy of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania) in 1772, serving as president of the board in 1773 and 1774.
With the coming of the Revolution, he retired and returned to England in the summer of 1775, when the Continental Congress entrusted him with the Olive Branch Petition to the King. George III refused to accept the petition, but Penn gave evidence to the House of Lords on the colonies" attitudes toward independence.
After the conclusion of the American Revolution, he was allowed compensation by the United States government for the loss of his proprietary rights in Pennsylvania, and visited Philadelphia again in 1808. Penn entered Parliament in 1784 as member for Appleby, elected on the Lonsdale interest, and subsequently also represented two other Lonsdale-dominated boroughs, Haslemere and Lancaster.
He resigned his seat in 1791, but returned to Parliament at the next general election, in 1796.
He died at Richmond-on-Thames in 1811. Penn sold his Philadelphia city house to Robert Morris in 1785. From 1790 to 1800, while Philadelphia was the temporary capital of the United States, it served as the executive mansion for Presidents George Washington and John Adams until the national capital moved to Washington, District of Columbia in November 1800.
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17th Parliament of Great Britain.
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Penn entertained members of the Continental Congress at his Philadelphia city house, a Virginia delegate, Colonel George Washington, being among his guests.
He was a reliable supporter of Pitt"s government (breaking with the other Lonsdale-backed members to support Pitt over the Regency crisis in 1788-1789), but rarely if ever spoke in the House of Commons.