John Penn (delegate)

John Penn (May 17, 1741 September 14, 1788), was a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of North Carolina along with Joseph Hewes and William Hooper. Penn was distantly related to William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania.

He was born near Port Royal in Caroline County, Virginia to Moses Penn and Catherine Taylor, and educated at home with only a couple years of formal schooling. At age 18, after his father's death, he studied law privately with his relative Edmund Pendleton. He became a lawyer in Virginia in 1762, and, in 1774, moved to near Williamsboro in Granville County, North Carolina where he also practiced law. (Williamsboro is now part of Vance County, which was partitioned from Granville following the Civil War.)

On July 28, 1763, he married Susannah Lyne. The couple had three children: William who never married and Lucy who married John Taylor of Caroline, another fatherless relative trained in the law by Edmund Pendleton.

He was elected to the North Carolina Provincial Congress and elected by that body to the Continental Congress in 1775 until 1780. He also served on the Board of War until 1780, when he retired to the practice of law. In 1777, he was one of the North Carolina signers of the Articles of Confederation. He was receiver of taxes for North Carolina in 1784. Upon his death in 1788, he was buried on his estate near Island Creek in Granville County but he was reinterred in Guilford Courthouse National Military Park in 1894 alongside fellow delegate William Hooper.

The naval ship USS John Penn was named in his honor.


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