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Edenton Tea Party

by Matt Stokes
Research Branch, NC Office of Archives and History

See also: Edenton Tea Party (Encyclopedia of North Carolina)

Mrs. Penelope Barker/President of the Edenton Tea Party of 1774.On the heels of the Boston Tea Party protest on December 16, 1773, North Carolinians staged a similar protest in support of American independence. Fifty-one women met on October 25, 1774, in Edenton with an agenda not unlike that of the fifty men in Boston Harbor, their shared cause being a protest against “taxation without representation.” The women (or some among their number) gathered at the home of Mrs. Elizabeth King, a prominent member of the Edenton community. Penelope Barker, wife of Thomas Barker, treasurer of the Province of North Carolina is believed to have organized the party. The extent of the advance planning is not known. The home of Mrs. King was so small that all fifty-one women likely could not have assembled therein. The house, just off the courthouse green, was pulled down in 1876.

The women drew up resolves, declaring their intention to boycott English tea and English cloth. They stated, “We, the Ladys of Edenton, do hereby solemnly engage not to conform to the Pernicious custom of drinking tea,” and that “We, the aforesaid Ladys will not promote ye wear of any manufacturer from England until such time that all acts which tend to enslave our Native country shall be repealed.” The step was a momentous one for colonists, because drinking tea was an English tradition that defined social gatherings. To suspend the custom, a part of everyday life, showed just how disgusted they were with the English government. Like the Boston Tea Party, the Edenton Tea Party was a bold demonstration of patriotism and the belief in individual rights.

It was not long before caricatures and articles depicting the ladies as unruly were published in England. An account of the gathering at Mrs. King’s 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. The story of the Edenton Tea Party has endured over the years. A colonial teapot mounted on a Revolutionary era cannon commemorates the meeting just off the green in front of the 1767 Chowan County Courthouse. The local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution is named for the event.


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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this is a nice website


i am doing history day project on this and i wonder if there are any markers i can look at i live in edenton


Yes, there are. The North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program has a searchable website with all markers listed. The Edenton Tea Party marker is here:

The NCHHMP website also gives the location of each marker. The above one is at US 17 Business (West Queen Street) in Edenton.

There is also a marker for the Barker House, (US 17 Business (North Broad Street) in Edenton). This was the home of Penelope Barker, who organized the Edenton Tea Party.

T. Mike Childs, NCpedia, N.C. Government & Heritage Library.


Hi! I recently competed in a competition called History Day, and my performance group was selected to go onto the state level next week. Is there an information you could tell us, any really good resources you used for your research? Even a packet you could send us would be nice. Thank you and any help you could lend would be much appreciated.
Sincerely, Maddy Munoz


Thank you for taking the time to post an inquiry about the Edenton Tea Party. We received your question and I have sent you an email connecting you with Reference Services at the NC Government & Heritage Library. Their direct email address is Additional contact information may be found for them at Someone in Reference Services will be in touch with you soon about your questions. Good luck!


Emily Horton, Government & Heritage Library, State Library of NC


i love this website!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


this is a good website and i like it i go to dana elementary school and we thought it was 50 women and i found out it was really 51 women and we did not know that Penelope barkers house was small i think that i will come to N.C Pedia every time i need to research something i know i am only 10 years old but it is fun to research stuff i wish you had more information because i love research
your friend


I looked this up to use for a project I'm doing for school and i got only two things out of it. I'm just saying that it would have been nice to have a least five more paragraphs in it.

Comment Reponse:

Thanks for taking the time to post in NCpedia. I'm very sorry that you didn't find this article very useful for your school project. Did you see the other entry on the Edenton Tea Party in NCpedia? Here is the link if you are interested: Also, check out the "Additional Resources" links under both entries, there are links to more resources on the Edenton Tea Party. I hope this information helps. If you still need more information, please feel free to contact Reference Services at the Government & Heritage Library. Here is a link to their website: Good luck in your research!


Emily Horton, Government & Heritage Library at the State Library of NC

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