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Edenton Tea Party

by Ansley Wegner, 2015

Women in this town led by Penelope Barker in 1774 resolved to boycott British imports. It is an example of early and influential activism by women.

Mrs. Penelope Barker/President of the Edenton Tea Party of 1774.On October 25, 1774, 51 women in Edenton resolved to stop buying English imports in support of the actions and resolutions of the First Provincial Congress. The women drew up resolves, declaring their intention to boycott English tea and English cloth, a momentous step for colonists, who relied on tea and other British goods. The women signed and mailed the document to England and the action has since became known as the Edenton Tea Party. It was indeed a bold demonstration of patriotism from the ladies of Edenton. 

An account of the event appeared in the Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser on January 16, 1775, along with a drawing portraying the women in a less than flattering light. There has been much confusion about the Edenton Tea Party, primarily because the event went unrecorded in North Carolina. It remained unknown until 1827, when a North Carolina native naval officer purchased a rendering of the cartoon in a shop abroad. Following his discovery citizens tried to piece together what they believed must have happened in Edenton in 1774. 

One of the primary errors is the belief that there was, in fact, a party of 51 women gathered at the home of Mrs. Elizabeth King, a prominent member of the Edenton community. The King home was too small for such an assembly. The wording of the resolution, too, does not indicate a gathering, but rather an agreement. There is no doubt, however, that the ladies of Edenton sent the document to England in 1774, making the resolution among the first public political acts by women in America. Penelope Barker, wife of Thomas Barker, treasurer of the Province of North Carolina played a key role in organizing the resolution. 

A teapot mounted on a Revolutionary era cannon just off the green in front of the 1767 Chowan County Courthouse commemorates the Edenton Tea Party and the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution is named for it. 

Educator Resources:

Grade 8: Edenton Tea Party. North Carolina Civic Education Consortium.

Grade 8: Timeless Tea in Celebration of North Carolina Women. North Carolina Civic Education Consortium.

References and additional resources:

Parramore, Thomas C. 1967. Cradle of the colony: the history of Chowan County and Edenton, North Carolina. [Edenton, N.C.]: Edenton Chamber of Commerce.

Moore, Elizabeth Vann. 1989. Guide book, historic Edenton and Chowan County: Edenton, North Carolina, incoporated 1722. [Edenton, N.C.]: Edenton's Woman's Club.

Powell, William Stevens, and Jay Mazzocchi. 2006. Encyclopedia of North Carolina. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Dillard, Richard. [from old catalog]. 1906. The historic tea-party of Edenton, October 25th, 1774.

“Tempest in a Teapot,” Tar Heel Junior Historian (September 1971): 2-4

Daughters of the American Revolutions website:

Image Credit

"Mrs. Penelope Barker/President of the Edenton Tea Party of 1774." From the North Carolina Museum of History, Raleigh, NC.

Origin - location: 
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Elizabeth Roberts is listed twice by Ms. Wegner's list though not in the Wikipedia article. In neither list is Elizabeth King listed except as the homeowner. Using 2 Elizabeth Roberts and adding Elizabeth King totals 50 of the 51 ladies. Are the names of the last 3 ladies known? Do the include a second Elizabeth Roberts and Elizabeth King? Who is the 51st lady? [Thank you, just trying to get a complete list and may find before I return here for an answer.]


Hi Linda! Elizabeth King never signed the petition. Her husband was an Edenton merchant and it would have been a conflict of interest for her to have actually signed the document which is most likely why she hosted their celebration. But Mrs. Moore's research proves that only a handful of these signers, probably local, attended the "tea" and final rally, especially knowing that the King's home was very small. The petition was posted in the London paper and the Virginia Gazette. There are 51 names: Elizabeth Vail appears 2 times (probably a mother and daughter) and Elizabeth Roberts appears 3 times (which can be a mother, daughter and possibly an in-law). There is a lot of research on the subject but descendant Elizabeth van Moore's 50+ years of research brought forth new information about the Edenton Tea Party. I have visited the town 3 different times and it will take you back in time. Beautiful historic town with wonderful history and friendly people!


A list of the names of the women who singed the petition:
Abagail Charlton

Mary Blount

F. Johnstone

Elizabeth Creacy

Margaret Cathcart

Elizabeth Patterson

Anne Johnstone

Jane Wellwood

Margaret Pearson

Mary Woolard

Penelope Dawson

Sarah Beasley

Jean Blair

Susannah Vail

Grace Clayton

Elizabeth Vail

Frances Hall

Elizabeth Vail

Mary Jones

Mary Creacy

Anne Hall

Mary Creacy

Rebecca Bondfield

Ruth Benbury

Sarah Littlejohn

Sarah Howcott

Penelope Barker

Sarah Hoskins

Elizabeth P. Ormond

Mary Littledle

M. Payne

Sarah Valentine

Elizabeth Johnston

Elizabeth Cricket

Mary Bonner

Elizabeth Green

Lydia Bonner

Mary Ramsay

Sarah Howe

Anne Horniblow

Lydia Bennet

Mary Hunter

Marion Wells

Tresia Cunningham

Anne Anderson

Elizabeth Roberts

Sarah Mathews

Elizabeth Roberts

Anne Haughton

Elizabeth Roberts

Elizabeth Beasly


This is a very helpful cite,it helps me s much. I learn alot of stuff a day because of this app



Thank you for your comment and for visiting NCpedia! We are glad to hear that this website is helpful to you!

Taylor Thompson, Government & Heritage Library


I would like to know more about more woman I history and how they changed the world.


this is a horrible cite


this cite is actually very helpful.


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Although one can go to the links for more extensive information about the Edenton petition, I would encourage you to add the names of the women who signed the document, given how invisible women have been in recorded history. From Wikipedia : The Signers of the Declaration include: Abagail Charlton, Mary Blount, F. Johnstone, Elizabeth Creacy, Margaret Cathcart, Elizabeth Patterson, Anne Johnstone, Jane Wellwood, Margaret Pearson, Mary Woolard, Penelope Dawson, Sarah Beasley, Jean Blair, Susannah Vail, Grace Clayton, Elizabeth Vail, Frances Hall, Mary Jones, Mary Creacy, Anne Hall, Rebecca Bondfield, Ruth Benbury, Sarah Littlejohn, Sarah Howcott, Penelope Barker, Sarah Hoskins, Elizabeth P. Ormond, Mary Littledle, M. Payne, Sarah Valentine, Elizabeth Johnston, Elizabeth Crickett, Mary Bonner, Elizabeth Green, Lydia Bonner, Mary Ramsay, Sarah Howe, Anne Horniblow, Lydia Bennet, Mary Hunter, Marion Wells, Tresia Cunningham, Anne Anderson, Elizabeth Roberts, Sarah Mathews, Anne Haughton, and Elizabeth Beasly.

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