Thomas Spencer

1 Thomas Spencer’s birth in 1752 is from a family genealogy, but has not been independently documented. Margaret Spencer was appointed to administer the estate of Thomas Spencer, son of John, on April 27, 1753, inventory taken April 13, 1753, East Greenwich [Rhode Island] Probate, vol. 2, pp. 50–56, microfilm number 0926804, Family History Library, Salt Lake City. For Thomas Spencer’s death see James N. Arnold, Vital Records of Rhode Island, 16361850, 21 vols. (Providence, 1891–1912), vol. 2, p. 116. 

2 East Greenwich Land Evidence, vol. 7, pp. 287–288, East Greenwich Town Hall. Margaret Spencer’s activities as a shopkeeper are documented in Newport County Court of Common Pleas, session of May 1768, cases 225 and 226, vol. H, pp. 123, 124, Rhode Island Judicial Archives, Pawtucket. 

3 East Greenwich Land Evidence, vol. 9, pp. 212–213. 

4 The following were working as shop joiners in East Greenwich at the time Thomas Spencer would have been apprenticed: Benjamin Dexter (d. 1774), see East Greenwich Probate, vol. 3, p. 167, East Greenwich Town Hall; Gideon Myers (active 1772), see Washington County Court of Common Pleas Record Book, vol. H, p. 388, Rhode Island Judicial Archives; Comfort Searle (active 1774–probably 1783 when he was in Sturbridge, Massachusetts), see East Greenwich Land Evidence, vol. 9, pp. 289–290, 531–532; James Searle (active 1764–1777, d. 1778 or 1779), brother of Comfort and also in Providence, see East Greenwich Land Evidence, vol. 9, pp. 370–371, and Providence County Court of Common Pleas Record Book, vol. 5, p. 291, Rhode Island Judicial Archives; and Caleb Weeden (active 1763), see Washington County Court of Common Pleas Record Book, vol. F, p. 374.  5 Brock Jobe, “The Lisle Desk-and-Bookcase: A Rhode Island Icon,” American Furniture 2001, pp. 120–151. Jobe concluded that he could not attribute the Lisle desk-and-bookcase to John Goddard because its construction features were not consistent with those of Goddard’s documented desks. 

6 Michael Moses, Master Craftsmen of Newport: The Townsends and Goddards (MMI Americana Press, Tenafly, N. J., 1984), pp. 212–213, 216, 221, pl. 14, figs. 4.1, 4.2, 5.1, 5.2, 5.9a–d. Oswaldo Rodriguez Roque, American Furniture at Chipstone (University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, 1984), p. 56. 

7 Moses, Master Craftsmen, p. 210 

8 See ibid. for a discussion of the construction of Job Townsend’s desks. The chest-on-chest labeled by Thomas Townsend at the Metropolitan Museum of Art has vertical braces at the back of the cases. 

9 Daniel Spencer, shop joiner, and Thomas Spencer, retailer, both of Providence, sued John Lasells of Providence, December 1783, Providence Court of Common Pleas Record Book, case 166, vol. 7, p. 520, Rhode Island Judicial Archives. 

10 Albany Book of Deeds, vol. 10, pp. 351–53, Albany County Hall of Records, Albany, New York. 

11 See Newport Mercury, December 28, 1786, p. 4; Albany Gazette, August 6, 1789, p. 4; December 16, 1790, p. 3; June 21, 1790, p. 4; January 27, 1791, p. 1; New-York Daily Gazette, October 25, 1793, p. 3; Albany Register, January 13, 1794, p. 1; January 20, 1794, p. 4; February 3, 1794, p. 4; July 14, 1794, p. 3; November 10, 1794, p. 4; December 15, 1794, p. 1. See also Albany Book of Deeds, vol. 14, pp. 111–123, and vol. 16, pp. 177–178, 199–202, Albany County Hall of Records. Spencer’s will was written January 14, 1835, and proved April 27, 1840, Greene County Wills, vol. F, pp. 95–97, Vedder Research Library, Greene County Historical Society, Coxsackie, New York.

12 See 2005–05/1117508436 (accessed December 19, 2009). Katherine Farnham provided the information that in Phineas Miller’s will, dated 1797 and proved in 1803, he bequeathed half his personal and real property to his siblings, including his sister Lucretia; see Book A: 1795–1829, pp. 77–79, Camden County, Ordinary, Estate Records, Wills and Index to Books A, B, C, drawer 71, box 23, Georgia State Archives, Morrow. 

13 E. Marguerite Lindley and Juanita Leland, “The National Society of NE Women,” New England Magazine, vol. 34, no. 6 (August 1906), pp. 775–776. 

14 For information on the elder Walcott, see and United States Federal Census for 1880, 1900, and 1910 (online database, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Provo). For the younger Walcott, see the United States Social Security Death Index at (accessed December 20, 2009). In 1968 the desk-and-bookcase was offered for sale by the Woodbury, Connecticut, dealer Kenneth Hammitt; see The Magazine Antiques, vol. 94, no. 3 (September 1968), p. 263.

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[Compiled by Bill Stern, Executive Director at the Museum of California Design, Los Angeles. Originally published in "Curator's Eye" in Modern Magazi

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