Philadelphia’s First Nighttime Town Crier Is Appointed

Dateline: Philadelphia, 1 July 1700, Monday. This has to be the shortest historical post at this website, but it is still interesting to see how people lived back then.

William Penn is back in town.

Since the issue is not complicated, let’s get right to it.

The blank is original, probably signifying that either the clerk of court did not have the crier’s name in front of him (as it happened once in a while in the records), or the crier had not been selected yet. The job was open.


William Penn, Proprietor and Governor

Edward Shippen, Robert Turner, William Clark, John Moll, Thomas Story

It is unanimously agreed and assented to by the Governor and Council that ____ [sic] be appointed and is hereby authorized and empowered to go round the town with a small bell in the nighttime to give notice of the time of night and the weather and if any disorders or danger happen by fire or otherwise in the nighttime, to acquaint the constables thereof. (p. 581)

The nighttime town crier’s job was very important, especially since records complain of looseness and vice increasing as the population increased. Fires were also a danger. Weather: “Hear ye! Hear ye! It raineth! I’m getting wet!”


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Minutes of the Provincial Council, vol. 1, 1683-1700, (Jo. Severns and Co. 1852).

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