Studied law in Philadelphia. Member of the American Philosophical Society; vice-president (1769-75). Pennsylvania Assemblyman (1756-64, 1765-76). Speaker of the Assembly (1766-75).
Worked with Franklin against proprietary rule in Pennsylvania. Selected as delegate to the First Continental Congress, where he put forward a plan, later rejected, for reconciliation between Britain and the American colonies.
Served in British occupation government of Philadelphia (1777-78). Moved to England as a Loyalist spokesperson. Following the Revolution, his American properties were confiscated, and he was refused readmission to Pennsylvania (1793).
Born in West River, Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Married to Grace Growden in 1753.