Monday, September 23, 2019

Why Women, Especially Those Who Love Tea, Should Know Penelope Barker

Recently, I mentioned that a new tea friend in North Carolina had gifted me with a cookbook and artwork related to Penelope Barker and the famous political protest known as the Edenton Tea Party in Edenton, North Carolina. I feared that I had written about Penelope and Edenton too often on this blog, but since several readers seemed unfamiliar with the story of Penelope and the Edenton Tea Party, I realized it's time to remedy that.

Because of the tax on tea in the colonies, protests against "taxation without representation" were happening in America well after the famous Boston Tea Party in December of 1773. In fact, I recommend to you a terrific little book called Ten Tea Parties: Patriotic Protests That History Forgot by Joseph Cummins. (I reviewed it here in 2012.)

The protest I am most interested in occurred in October of 1774, when Penelope and fifty other women gathered at the home of Elizabeth King in Edenton, North Carolina, to declare that they would no longer drink British tea or wear British cloth. The women were so incensed about the matter, in fact, that they signed their names for all the world to see on a document that read: "We the ladies of Edenton do hereby solemnly engage not to conform to ye pernicious Custom of Drinking Tea or that we, the aforesaid Ladies, will not promote ye wear of any manufacture from England, until such time that all Acts which tend to enslave this our Native Country shall be repealed." It was an incredibly courageous move for women of the day, and Penelope herself mailed the statement right off to a London newspaper.

In my next post, I'll share a little more of what I've learned about Penelope (much of it thanks to Susan in North Carolina!), and if history's not your cup of you know what, so be it, but I do ask you to please remember one thing: the Edenton Tea Party was the first public political action by women in this country! Now isn't that worth knowing? 

Coming Wednesday: One of Penelope's descendants is a famous figure in the tea world today. Any guesses?


  1. Can’t wait to hear the rest of the story! Penelope’s descendants, my guess would be John Harney, or Bruce Richardson, or Norwood Pratt. Ha!

  2. I love history, so I find this very interesting, and I look forward to your continuation of Penelope's story on Wednesday!

  3. I am preparing for a talk the end of October at a tea shop and this fits in well with my talk. I recently learned that England was protesting taxation on tea also during the same time as our Boston tea party. There was a lot of smuggling going on. Love the history and history will still be made with tea.


Thanks so much for taking time to leave a comment! It makes my day to hear from readers!