Timeline Description: Born in North Carolina (b. June 17, 1728), Penelope Pagett Barker was the first to organize a political action by women, the Edenton Tea Party, in support of the North Carolina Provincial Deputies. Barker was the wealthiest woman in North Carolina, successfully managing a large estate, often independently, throughout her adult life.
|June 17, 1728||Born in North Carolina
Penelope was born to a wealthy North Carolina family. Her father died while she was quite young. While still a teen, her sister died, leaving two young children. The children were placed into Penelope's care.
|1745||Married John Hodgson
Penelope married her sister's widower, John Hodgson, in 1745, when she was still quite young. She was already caring for his children, but would bear two more in the next two years.
|1747||Widowed with Two Children
Hodgson died in 1747, leaving Penelope young and widowed. She was pregnant with her second child at the time of his death. She was left unusually wealthy at the time of his death. In many cases, widows received just enough of their husband's estate to provide a dowry; however, she was better off than most.
|1752||Married James Craven
In 1752, Penelope married James Craven. Craven was a wealthy planter and politician and North Carolina. The two had no children together, and Craven had no heirs.
|1755||Became the Wealthiest Woman in North Carolina
Penelope was widowed for the second time in 1755. She was her husband's only heir. Penelope was now the wealthiest woman in North Carolina, providing her with unusual social status in the colonial society.
|1757||Married Thomas Barker
At 28 years old, Penelope married for the third time. Her husband, Thomas Barker, was a wealthy lawyer in North Carolina. The two had three children together; however, none survived infancy.
|1761||Thomas Barker Sailed to England
In 1761, Thomas Barker sailed to London. He served as an agent for the North Carolina Colony. Barker was unable to return as scheduled, because of the British blockade of American ships. During the 17 years Thomas Barker was in London, Penelope managed their entire estate and shared wealth.
|1773||Passage of the Tea Act
Passed in 1773, the Tea Act was designed to boost the revenue of East India Company by shipping tea directly to the colonies. This was not a taxation act, but was one of the factors spurring the growing revolution in the American colonies.
|September 10, 1774||North Carolina Provincial Deputies' Boycott Begins
In response to the Tea Act of 1773, the North Carolina Provincial Deputies voted to boycott all British tea and cloth. The boycott officially began on September 10, 1774. This was the basis for the Edenton Tea Party.
|October 25, 1774||Led the Edenton Tea Party
In October, Penelope Barker began to visit prominent women in her community of Edenton, North Carolina. On October 25, the women gathered together at the home of Mrs. Elizabeth King. The women all agreed to support the boycott, ceasing to buy and use British tea and cloth. Fifty-one women signed a resolution proclaiming their support for the boycott.
|1775||British Respond to the Edenton Tea Party
Following the Edenton Tea Party, Penelope Barker sent a copy of their resolution to the newspapers in London. The British responded with editorials, letters and cartoons portraying the women as "loose women" and bad mothers.
|1778||Thomas Barker Returned to North Carolina
In 1778, Thomas Barker returned to North Carolina, after 17 years away. He quickly took an oath of allegiance, but retired from public life soon after his return from England.
|1782||Built the "Barker House"
Penelope and Thomas Barker built the Barker House in Edenton, North Carolina. Their home, expanded somewhat, still stands today.
|1789||Thomas Barker Died
Thomas Barker died, leaving Penelope Barker widowed for the third time, in 1789. He was buried on Hayes Plantation in the Johnston Family Graveyard after his death.
|1796||Penelope Barker Died
Penelope Barker died in Edenton, North Carolina in 1796. She had, even through several marriages, shown herself to be competent and successful at managing her own affairs, and, for the first time, engaging American women in the political realm. She was buried alongside her husband in the Johnston Family Graveyard. A massive bronze teapot, mounted on a cannon, stands in Edenton today to remember the women of the Edenton Tea Party.