Portrait of Lady Springett at Pennsbury Manor

Sharing the Common Wealth showcases objects, artifacts, documents, structures and buildings from the collections of PHMC.

In 1946, on the heels of the bicentennial of founder William Penn’s birth, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission acquired a striking portrait entitled Lady Springett. The sitter, Mary Proude Springett Pennington (1625–1682), was the mother of Penn’s first wife Gulielma Maria Springett (1644–1694). An orphaned heiress at the age of three, Lady Springett married, in 1642, Sir William Springett, who died of an illness at the age of twenty-three in 1644 — just weeks before the birth of Gulielma, his and Mary’s second child. Widowed at the age of nineteen, Lady Springett attempted to quell her sorrow — her “restless, distressed state,” as she described it — by settling in London, where she indulged in a life of excess. Ten years later, in 1654, she married Isaac Pennington and the couple embarked on a spiritual journey as Quakers, giving up all worldly trappings. Gulielma Penn could not travel with her husband on his first trip to America 325 years ago; she stayed behind to take care of her ill mother. Lady Springett died less than two weeks after her son-in-law departed England aboard the Welcome. Painted in 1663, Lady Springett is attributed to Nicholas Maes (1634–1693), of Dordrecht, The Netherlands, who studied in Rembrandt’s studio about 1650. The portrait is on view at Pennsbury Manor, Morrisville, Bucks County.