signers of the Declaration

Signers of the Declaration of Independence

Short biographies on each of the 56 Declaration signers

John Penn


Representing North Carolina at the Continental Congress

by Ole Erekson, Engraver, c1876, Library of Congress
Born:May 17, 1741
Birthplace:Near Port Royal, Virginia
Education:Informal (Lawyer)
Work:Law Practice in Virginia, 1762; Accepted to the North Carolina Bar, 1774; Member of Continental Congress, 1775-77, 1779-80; Member of the Board of War, 1780.
Died:September 14, 1788

John Penn was born in Caroline County, Virginia, to a family of means. His father died when he was eighteen years old, and though he had received only a rudimentary education at a country school, he had access to the library of his relative Edmund Pendleton. He was licensed to practice law in the state of Virginia at age twenty-two. In 1774 he moved to Granville County, North Carolina, where he established a law practice and soon became a gentleman member of the political community. He was elected to attend the provincial Congress in 1775 and elected to the Continental Congress that same year. He served there until 1777, participating in committee work. He was again elected in 1779, appointed to the Board of War, where he served until 1780. He declined a judgeship in his native state around that time, due to failing health. In retirement he engaged in his law practice. He died at the age of 48.

Robert Treat Paine
George Read

Buy a Declaration

Declaration of Independence
Click here!