WILLIAM PENN had been an extraordinarily busy man in the two years prior to the writing of this Letter. By July, 1681, his plans for the sale and settlement of his Pennsylvania lands, as foreshadowed in Some Account, having been more fully developed, were published on the 11th of that month under the caption Conditions and Concessions. With the issue of the latter document, which may be regarded as a form of contract between Penn and those who were to join in his enterprise, the sale of lands began. Journeying between the two great English cities of that day, London and Bristol, Penn, in the next three months, disposed of over 300,000 acres of unlocated lands in amounts of from 10,000 to 250 acres, to about 250 persons. These grantees, who were called First Purchasers, with special privileges as to the choice of allotment, were largely well-to-do Quakers of southern England. Two-thirds of the territory sold was about equally divided between purchasers in London and Bristol, the other third being taken chiefly in some of the intervening counties.
In October, 1681, the Proprietor sent over three commissioners to assist Governor Markham in the work of organizing the colony, especially with respect to the laying out of grants of land and to the choice of a site for the capital city. Along with the commissioners went Penn's advance-guard of immigrants, one group sailing from London in the ship John and Sarah, and the other from Bristol in the Factor.
The Free Society of Traders in Pennsylvania, the land and trading company, to which the present Letter is addressed, and of which great things were vainly expected, was incorporated