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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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William Markham

MARKHAM, William, colonial governor, born in England about 1635; died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 12 June, 1704. He was a first cousin of William Penn, who, after obtaining the charter for Pennsylvania, appointed him, on 10 April, 1681, his deputy, with authority to establish courts, settle boundaries, sell lands, and exercise every right that was granted to Penn except that of calling a legislative assembly. Markham sailed for Boston soon after obtaining his commission and made his way thence to New York, where he exhibited his credentials and received from the acting governor a letter to the local officials on the Delaware, notifying them of the transfer of authority. It e arrived at Upland (now Chester), the only town then in Pennsylvania, and on 3 August, 1681, constituted a council composed of six Quakers and three of the earlier settlers. At the end of the year, with surveyors that had been sent by Penn to lay out a great town of 10,000 acres, he selected the site for Philadelphia. On 15 July, 1682, he purchased from the Indians the site of Pennsbury Manor and adjoining lands on Delaware river. Soon after Markham's arrival, Lord Baltimore came to Upland to confer with him regarding the boundary-line between the respective grants, which was defined in one charter as the thirty-ninth and in the other as the fortieth parallel. On the coming of William Penn, 27 October, 1682, the commission of his deputy lapsed. Markham was chosen a mere-bet of the council, and in the following summer went to England to represent the proprietor in the controversy with Lord Baltimore, which was brought before the lords in council, but was not arranged till after Penn's death, and not finally settled till the drawing of Mason and Dixon's line. In 1684, when Penn went to England to try his cause before the government, Markham returned to this country and became secretary of the province. He also acted as secretary to the proprietary till 1699, and was appointed a commissioner to sell lands in 1686, and in 1689 an auditor of accounts. He was an adherent of the Church of England, and sympathized with the Swedish, Dutch, and earlier English emigrants in their disputes with the Quakers. In the conflict between Captain John Blackwell and Thomas Lloyd. he sided with the former. In 1691 the territories that coin-pose the present state of Delaware were separated from the province, and Markham was appointed deputy governor over them. When the crown assumed the administration of Pennsylvania in 1693, he acted as Governor Benjamin Fletcher's deputy, and, on the restoration of the province to Penn in August, 1694, was commissioned lieutenant-governor, and administered both the province and the territories till the arrival of the proprietor for the second time at the close of 1699. The assembly that he convened in September, 1695, assumed that the old constitution had expired, and passed new fundamental laws of a democratic character. Markham dissolved the assembly, but did not renew the contest when the legislature of October, 1696, framed a constitution that made the people the source of honor and of power and reduced the governor to a mere presiding officer in the council. In opening the next assembly in May, 1697, he said: "You are met not by virtue of any writ of mine, but of a law made by yourselves." During his administration of the government he was accused by the surveyor-general of customs of conniving at piracy, neglecting to enforce forfeitures of bonds, and adjourning the courts for the benefit of fraudulent debtors. Pirates and privateers took refuge in Delaware bay, and even made captures there and openly transacted their business in Philadelphia; but the governor was powerless against them, having no efficient constabulary force in the city and being unable to obtain from Lord Bellomont a vessel of war to guard the harbor. William Penn complained of various transactions of Markham in his fiduciary relations with himself. Nevertheless in 1703 he directed the deputy governor to appoint his kinsman register-general of wills; but the legality of the appointment was contested.

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