Penn People

Samuel Powel

1738 - 1793

Penn Connection

  • A.B. 1759
  • Trustee 1773-1793
  • Treasurer of board of trustees 1778-1779

Samuel Powel was the son of Samuel Powel the elder and Mary Morris. He was educated at the Academy and then the College of Philadelphia, graduating in its third class. After his college graduation, young Samuel Powel toured Europe for seven years.

When Samuel Powel married Elizabeth Willing (the daughter of Charles Willing) in 1769, he purchased an elegant Georgian mansion built four years earlier by Charles Stedman. Here the couple entertained many notables, including George Washington, John Adams, Lafayette, and Benjamin Franklin.

A merchant and businessman, Powel also was involved in politics. He was Philadelphia’s last mayor under the 1701 royal charter and its first mayor under the new 1789 charter. He also served as the speaker of the Pennsylvania Senate in 1792.

Powel was elected trustee of the Academy and College of Philadelphia in 1773, serving as the board’s treasurer in 1778 and 1779. Then after the 1791 union of the College and the University of the State of Pennsylvania, he became a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania. He remained a trustee until his death in 1793.