Sunbury was built on the eastern bank of the Susquehanna just below the forks. On the earliest map of the region, drawn by Isaac Taylor c. 1727, the site is identified as “Mikquar Town,” a name for a Susquehannock village. Native Americans called it “Shamokin” (not to be confused with the present coal town), and it was the Iroquois capital of Pennsylvania until the French and Indian War when the inhabitants abandoned it to Penn's heirs. Governor Richard Penn, grandson of the founder (served 1771–1773), ordered his surveyor general to Fort Augusta to lay out a town “at the most commodious place” between the fort and the mouth of Shamokin Creek in 1772. It was named “Sunbury” after the English village Sunbury-on-Thames, where Richard Penn's family lived. Sunbury would be the last of seven planned towns established as the personal property of the proprietors. Like Philadelphia, York, Reading, Carlisle, Easton, and Bedford, it was a county seat with an unusual elongated central square for the court-house, open land for public buildings, a marketplace, public burial ground, and lots for houses. Several of Sunbury's early houses are preserved on Front Street.
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