Judson Blake, 1789–1861, worked 1812–1838


cabinetmaker; chairmaker; lumber merchant


Providence, Rhode Island

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Judson Blake was born in Wrentham, Massachusetts, in 1789. His father Ezra Blake (1747–1838) was the son of Ezra Blake (1721–1775) and Esther Blake (1716–1800) of Wrentham. His siblings were Hepza (1785–1803), Jerusha (born 1788), Mele (born 1781), Brainard (1793–1814), and Stillman (born 1794). Judson's mother was Melatiah Blake (c. 1753–1840).(1)

Blake was living in Providence by 1812 when he began advertising in the local newspaper that he had "purchased the entire Stock and Furniture of the late Josiah Humphrey, and has commenced business in his new shop, in the North Court House Lane." The same advertisement also announces that Blake is seeking "one Journeyman who is a good workman," and, "TO LET, the lower floor of his building, suitable for almost any kind of mechanical business. Also the Cellar under the same, suitable for Weaving and calculated for eight looms."(2) In December of that year, he married Mary Easton in Providence.(3)

His fortunes seem to have shifted by March, 1814 when he advertised that he is "under engagement to leave town, on or before the 29th of the current month," and "has for Private Sale [...] sundry pieces of furniture, new and well made of good materials, which he would sell at reduced prices, for cash or good paper."(4) By May, he had sold all of his stock and cabinetmaking tools to the firm of Adrian Webb and Charles Scott.(5)

By 1816, he was engaged in a partnership with Charles Scott, "for manufacturing and selling cabinet furniture, under the firm of Blake & Scott" from a shop on President Street, or "South Baptist Lane," in Providence.(6) In 1819, the year that he sold a mahogany bureau table to Richard Ward Green for twenty four dollars (7), he was operating out of the same President Street shop, but the partnership with Charles Scott had dissolved.(8)

In 1821 he sold two mahogany bedsteads to Mrs. E. Harris for thirty dollars. In 1822, he sold a "Grecian Sofa" to Timothy Green for sixty five dollars and a "Secretary and bookcase" for forty five dollars to Benjamin Harris.(9) Blake was elected "Surveyor of Cabinet-Maker's Lumber" in June 1825 alongside cabinetmakers John Carlile and Rhodes G. Allen.(10)

Shifting away from the cabinetmaking business in later years, in 1831 he advertised that he has for sale "Improved Bed Keys," praised for their "cheapness-their being used with great facility, and particularly their fitting screws of all sizes."(11) He became an undertaker in 1841, and added a "coffin wareroom" to his business in 1844.(12) He died in 1861 in Providence.

Benjamin W. Colman

1. Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850, http://www.NewEnglandAncestors.org.

2. The Rhode-Island American, and General Advertiser, "Judson Blake, Cabinet and Chairmaker," July 10, 1812, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.

3. Vital Record of Rhode, Island, 1636–1850, http://www.NewEnglandAncestors.org.

4. Providence Patriot & Columbian Phenix, "Taken Notice," March 26, 1814, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.

5. Providence Patriot & Columbian Phenix, "Taken Notice," May 21, 1814, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.

6. Providence Patriot & Columbian Phenix, "Taken Notice," November 9, 1816, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.

7. Joseph K. Ott, "Lesser-Known Rhode Island Cabinetmakers," Antiques 121 (May 1782): 1158.

8. Providence Patriot Columbian Phenix, "Cabinet Furniture," March 13, 1819, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.

9. Ott, "Rhode Island Cabinetmakers," 1158.

10. Providence Patriot, "Town Officers-elected," June 18, 1825, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.

11. Providence Patriot, "Improved Bed Keys," July 20, 1831, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.

12. Ott, "Rhode Island Cabinetmakers," 1159.