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Photo: Courtesy Redwood Library and Athenaeum, Newport, R.I.; photo by Christopher Gardner
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Wainscot chair

Object number



Maker Unknown


Height, rear stiles without crest rail: 43 in. (109.22 cm) Width, at seat front: 23 in. (58.42 cm) Depth, at seat: 16 in. (40.64 cm)



Current location

Redwood Library and Athenaeum


Probably made in Newport, Rhode Island
(view a map of Rhode Island)


Oak (primary); pine (seat)




"This chair was the favorite seat of / Gov. Benedict Arnold who was PRESIDENT / under the first Patent of the Colony of Rhode Island. / He used it as his Chair of state and was / sitting on it when he received the Charter / granted by King Charles 2nd, 1663. / It was also used by Gov. Samuel Ward King. / Thomas Hornsby gave it to Stephen Gould / who left it to his widow Hannah Gould who / gave it to the Redwood Library. / Deposit of / Redwood Library," engraved, on brass plaque attached with domed-top nails on underside of seat; beside the plaque, genealogical notes concerning the chair, written in ink, on paper label glued to underside of seat


Benedict Arnold (1615–1678), Newport, Rhode Island; by decent to Ann Olyphant (née Vernon) (1754–1826), Newport, Rhode Island; given to Thomas Hornsby (1766-1857), Newport, Rhode Island; given to Stephen Wanton Gould (1781–1838), Newport, Rhode Island; by descent to his widow Hannah Gould (1780–1860), Newport, Rhode Island; given to her brother-in-law Isaac Gould, Esq. (dies 1854), Newport, Rhode Island; by descent to his son David J. Gould (1812–1879), Newport, Rhode Island; given to Redwood Library and Athenaeum, Newport, Rhode Island, 1877

Associated names

Arnold family
King family
Olyphant family
Benedict Arnold
Samuel Ward King
Thomas Hornsby
Stephen Gould
Hannah Gould
Gould family
David J. Gould


The crest rail, the corbels and back panel below, as well as the pairs of applied turnings above the arms and the applied turning below the proper left arm are replaced. The lower back rail is tenoned into the stiles, each joint showing two wood pins. The scrolling, incurvate, downward-sloping arms are also tenoned into the stiles, and to their turned supports, with each joint having two wood pins. Moldings on the front and sides of the plank seat are attached by means of wood pins. The rails of the seat, like the lower back rail, are paneled and scroll-skirted, and are tenoned and twice-wood-pinned (sometimes thrice) to their respective legs. The stretchers below are similarly configured and joined, save for the plain rear stretchers. Examined by D.A. Carr and P.E. Kane, 2003; notes compiled by T.B. Lloyd.


Robert Blair St. George, The Wrought Covenant (Brockton, Mass.: Brockton Art Center-Fuller Memorial, 1979), fig. 16.
Rev. Edward Peterson, History of Rhode Island (New York: John S. Taylor, 1853), 74–75.
Andrew Boyd, Boyd's Newport City Directory (Newport, R.I.: A. J. Ward, 1863), 77.
Homer Eaton Keyes, "A Note on American Wainscot Chairs," Antiques 17 (June 1930): 521–522, ill.
M. Joan Youngken, "Our Cabinet of Curiosities: The Early Collections of the Newport Historical Society," Newport History: Bulletin of the Newport Historical Society 66, no. 228 (Winter 1995): 119, ill.
Patricia E. Kane et al., Art and Industry in Early America: Rhode Island Furniture, 1650–1830, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2016), 139–140, 196, no. 2, fig. 1.