William Penn Board Games: A Look at the Quaker Game

View from Scarborough Castle

One of the William Penn board games is a tool available to teach not only about Penn but about other famous Quakers as well. This game, invented in London, came on the market in 2001.

William Penn

William Penn was one of the lesser-known founders of the United States of America. He was much older than the generation of men, such as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, we consider to be the thought leaders of the American Revolution. Penn's Frames of Constitution, the governing document of Pennsylvania, was one of the major influences on the wording of the United States Constitution.

Penn traveled to the New World in the late 1600s and was the founder of the present-day state of Pennsylvania. He ruled the colony as its sole leader, but he wrote of his belief that the colonies would have to unite eventually under one government, though he did not believe in war.


Penn joined the Society of Friends, commonly called the Quakers, when he was a young man and still living in England. He had befriended George Fox, the founder of the Quakers, and was drawn to the ideas of this group. Penn wrote a pamphlet, which was the way many political and religious topics were discussed during this time, in which he questioned the Holy Trinity. He was imprisoned for this belief. Penn held steadfast to this belief in the Quaker Doctrines. As such, he did not believe in any type of taking up of arms or military action. He also believed God touched people through the "inner light," and that God communed with all believers, not just the clergy. In addition, Penn, as all Quakers, would not give allegiance to the King of England.

An Example of William Penn Board Games

A contemporary English Quaker named Ruth Martin invented a board game based on Penn and other early Quakers. In her game, she tests the knowledge of the players about the various tenets of the Quaker faith and the history of the religious group. Martin's game, called The Quaker 1652 Board Game is available as a board game and as a computer game, which makes it more accessible to Quakers in the United States.


The game is a fairly basic board game layout. It has a winding path along which the players try to move more quickly than their opponents. The locations along the board game are important places in the Quaker faith in the northern part of England in 1652. These locations include such places as Scarborough Castle and Ulverston Church.

People and Events

The outer edges of the game are named for people and events in the Quaker faith during the seventeenth century. Some of these people, such as Margaret Fell and William Penn, are familiar to Americans who may be interested in the game. Others are less familiar.


The purpose of the game is two-fold. While answering questions and moving around the board is the game's purpose, Martin's game includes cards that will give advice about Quaker ideas to the people who play. These cards are set as advice both children and adults can use. In addition, some of the cards have information about the North Country. A card may give a detail about an event at a certain location, and the player then moves to that location. In that way, people learn from the game about the history of the Quaker faith.

William Penn

Penn comes into the game in that he is a spot along the edge of the board. Martin also includes quotes from Penn in her quest to educate Quakers and non-Quakers alike about the faith.

Enjoying William Penn board games should be the secondary pursuit for children engrossed in a Quaker education, but the game definitely can offer the chance to play for fun as well as knowledge. Children will get a kick out of the possibility of beating their elders in a battle of knowledge about their religion.

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William Penn Board Games: A Look at the Quaker Game