Rawle, Francis (DNB00)


RAWLE, FRANCIS (1660–1727), colonist, born in England in 1660, was son of Francis Rawle, and came of an old Cornish family of some wealth and standing, settled at one time near St. Juliot, and later in the neighbourhood of Plymouth. Both father and son were quakers, and were persecuted for their religious belief, being imprisoned together at Exeter in 1683 (Besse, Sufferings of the Quakers, i. 163). On this account they obtained a grant from William Penn, left Plymouth in the Desire, and arrived at Philadelphia on 23 June 1686.

Rawle first settled on 2,500 acres in New Plymouth, where he founded the society known as the Plymouth Friends. Subsequently he removed to Philadelphia. His substance and talents soon brought him into note. In 1688 he became a justice of the peace and judge of the court of common pleas; under the charter of 1691 he was one of six aldermen of Philadelphia; in 1692 he became deputy registrar of wills, and in 1694 commissioner of property. He entered the assembly in 1704, and sat till 1708; again after an interval he was a member from 1719 till 1726, and while a member sat upon most of the important committees of the house, such as that on currency (1725). On 6 May 1724 he was appointed to the provincial council by Sir William Keith. He died at Philadelphia on 5 March 1727.

Rawle married, in 1689, Martha, daughter and heiress of Robert Turner, Penn's intimate friend, and left children, from whom sprang a leading family in the United States. Rawle seems to have been better educated and broader-minded than most of his colleagues. He was opposed to the action of the proprietary party in the colony. He is credited with two economic pamphlets, which created some stir in the colony on their first publication. 1. ‘Some Remedies proposed for restoring the Sunk Credit of the Province of Pennsylvania, with some Remarks on its Trade,’ Philadelphia, 1721 (Appleton seems to be in error in stating that this pamphlet was the first printed by Franklin, the printer summoned before the assembly for its publication being Andrew Bradford). 2. ‘Ways and Means for the Inhabitants of Delaware to grow Rich,’ 1725.

[Pennsylvania Mag. of Hist. and Biogr. iii. 119; Appleton's Cyclopædia of American Biogr.]

C. A. H.