NSDAR Acknowledges Patriotic Actions of 51 NC Women

By: Gay H. Baynes

The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution has acknowledged the patriotic actions of fifty-one women who signed a petition of protest against “taxation without representation.” This means that descendants of these women can apply for membership in the society with the Edenton petition signer as their patriot. Upon successful approval of their lineage, the petition signer will be considered an official DAR patriot.

Many Americans are familiar with the story of the Boston Tea Party of December 1773, but this group of women were perhaps more daring than the men in Boston. Not only did these ladies dump tea into the Edenton Bay, but they put pen to paper and let the British Government know they would not tolerate acts that affected their “peace and happiness.”  Each one signed and vowed to boycott British tea and cloth. Their political views were clearly communicated to the British Government. This determined and brave group is often considered to be the first female political activists by women in the history of the United States.

Penelope Barker, native of Edenton and the wife of North Carolina’s agent to the Crown in London, is believed to have led the group. The ladies were from Chowan, Bertie, Perquimans, and Gates counties. They were reacting to The Tea Act of 1773, and the Intolerable Acts that followed the Boston Tea party. Risking treason, the women openly signed their names. Barker also sent the declaration to the British press stating, “Maybe it has only been men who have protested the King up to now. That only means we women have taken too long to let our voices be heard. We are signing our names to a document, not hiding ourselves behind costumes like the men in Boston did at their tea party. The British will know who we are.” 

Image courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina

In January 1775, the petition and a list of the signers appeared in the Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser. A satirical cartoon appeared showing women signing a petition. The men in this satirical cartoon had the faces of British politicians of the day.

Text of the Petition

“The provincial deputies of North Carolina, having resolved not to drink any more tea, nor wear any more British cloth, &c. many ladies of this province have determined to give a memorable proof of their patriotism, and have accordingly entered into the following honourable and spirited association. I send it to you to shew your fair countrywomen, how zealously and faithfully American ladies follow the laudable example of their husbands, and what opposition your matchless ministers may expect to receive from a people, thus firmly united against them :—

As we cannot be indifferent on any occasion that appears nearly to affect the peace and happiness of our country, and as it has been thought necessary, for the public good, to enter into several particular resolves by a meeting of Members deputed from the whole Province, it is a duty which we owe, not only to our near and dear connections who have concurred in them, but to ourselves who are essentially interested in their welfare, to do every thing as far as lies in our power to testify our sincere adherence to the same; and we do therefore accordingly subscribe this paper, as a witness of our fixed intention and solemn determination to do so.”

Source: Introductory Letter – Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser, January 16, 1775; Text of the Association, “Edenton, North Carolina, October 25, 1774.” The Virginia Gazette, Postscript (Williamsburg, VA), 3 Nov 1774.

List of Signers

Anne Anderson
Penelope Barker
Elizabeth Beasly
Sarah Beasley
Jean Blair
Ruth Benbury
Lydia Bennet
Mary Blount
Rebecca Bondfield
Lydia Bonner
Mary Bonner
Margaret Cathhcart
Abagail Charlton
Grace Clayton
Elizabeth Creacy
Mary Creacy
Elizabeth Crickett
Tresia Cunningham
Penelope Dawson
Elizabeth Green
Anne Hall
Frances Hall
Anne Haughton
Anne Horniblow
Sarah Hoskins
Sarah Howcott
Sarah Howe
Mary Hunter
Elizabeth Johnston
Anne Johnstone
F. Johnstone
Mary Jones
Mary Littledle
Sarah Littlejohn
Elizabeth King
Sarah Matthews
Elizabeth P. Ormond
Elizabeth Patterson
M. Payne
Margaret Pearson
Elizabeth Roberts
Elizabeth Roberts
Mary Ramsay
Elizabeth Vail
Susannah Vail
Sarah Valentine
Marion Wells
Jane Wellwood
Mary Wooolard

Suggested Readings

NSDAR approves recognition of Edenton Tea Party signees by Sandra Lancaster Sperry, Edenton Tea Pary Chapter NSDAR Regent
Edenton Tea Party by NCPedia
Edenton Tea Party by Richard Carney
The Edenton Tea Rebellion by Boston Tea Party Ships & Museums
Treasonous Tea: The Edenton Tea Party of 1774 by Maggie Mitchell

Gay H Baynes is a professional genealogist specializing in North Carolina and Virginia research. She holds a Certificate from Boston University in Genealogical Research, from the Salt Lake Institute in Virginia History Prior to the Civil War, from the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh in DNA , and  from the Institute of Genealogical and Historic Research in Advanced Methodology. She was membership Chair, and is currently Lineage Chair for the Great Bridge Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Norfolk, Virginia. She is on the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Genealogical Society.