History of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives


In 1682, William Penn arrived in Pennsylvania from England and in November
of that year ordered an election to take place for an Assembly to meet at
Chester. The first Pennsylvania Assembly met in Upland, Chester County on
December 4 through December 7, 1682. Complete membership in the
1682 Assembly is not known. Presumably each county elected seven
representatives - Bucks, Chester, Philadelphia, and the lower
three counties of New Castle, Kent, and Sussex, which later
became the state of Delaware. The identity of the first
Speaker is also unknown.

By 1776, the Province of Pennsylvania had become the third largest English colony in America. The number of counties expanded to eleven in 1773. Pennsylvanians called for a Constitutional Convention which met between July 15 and September 28, 1776. The new Constitution provided for a Pennsylvania General Assembly of one legislative chamber, which met in Philadelphia, and a Supreme Executive Council, instead of a Governor.

In 1790, Pennsylvania's second Constitutional Convention was held resulting in the creation of the State Senate, making the General Assembly a bicameral legislature. Since 1790, Pennsylvania held other Constitutional Conventions in 1838, 1874, and 1968. Additionally, fifty-six more counties were created, totaling sixty-seven. The current number of Representatives is 203, and in 1968 the representation system changed from county-based to district-based (population).