How did Pennsylvania get its name? Its founder, English reformer William Penn, born on October 14, 1644, in London, England, named it in honor of his father.
Persecuted in England for his Quaker faith, Penn came to America in 1682 and established Pennsylvania as a place where people could enjoy freedom of religion. The colony became a haven for minority religious sects from Germany, Holland, Scandinavia, and Great Britain. Penn obtained the land from King Charles II as payment for a debt owed to his deceased father.