Thomas Goddard, 1765–1858


joiner; cabinetmaker


Newport, Rhode Island

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Thomas Goddard was born in Newport in 1765 to cabinetmaker John Goddard (1723/24– 1785) and Hannah (Townsend) Goddard (1728––1804). His paternal grandparents were shipwright Daniel Goddard (1697–1764) and Mary (Tripp) Goddard (born 1700). His maternal grandparents were shop joiner Job Townsend (1699–1765) and Rebecca (Casey) Townsend.(1)

He is possibly the Thomas Goddard who married Sally Ambrose at Newport in 1783.(2) When his father John died two years later, his will instructed Thomas and his older brother Stephen Goddard to complete any outstanding commissions in his shop.(3) Stephen and Thomas continued in partnership in the cabinetmaking business until Stephen's 1804 death.(4)

From a family with deep roots in the Society of Friends, or Quakers, Goddard ran afoul of his church in 1788 when he was disowned for, "keeping company with a woman not of our community."(5) This is probably related to his February, 1789, marriage to Frances Weaver (1763–1840) in Newport.(6)

Following his brother's death, Thomas continued in the cabinetmaking business independently. He also made coffins during this period, including one in 1817 for Thomas Robinson, his neighbor on Easton's Point in Newport and for his cousin James Townsend in 1827.(7)

By the time of his death in 1858, Thomas was the oldest living inhabitant of Newport.(8)

Benjamin W. Colman and Patricia E. Kane

1. Ethel Hall Bjerkoe, The Cabinetmakers of America (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company), 1957, 113, 214.

2. Vital Record of Rhode, Island, 1636-1850,

3. Michael Moses, Master Craftsmen of Newport: The Townsends and Goddards (Tenafly, New Jersey: MMI Americana Press, 1984), 199-200.

4. Bjerkoe, Cabinetmakers of America, 113.

5. Monthly Meeting September 30, 1788, Society of Friends, Newport, Rhode Island, Monthly Meetings 1773-1799, p. 99, microfilm no. 0022418, Family History Library, Salt Lake City.

6. Vital Record of Rhode, Island, 1636-1850,

7. Thomas Robinson estate account, Newport Probate, vol. 5, p. 477; Estate of James Townsend, administrator's account, December 8, 1829, Newport Probate, vol. 8, p. 91. Newport City Hall, R.I.

8. Newport Daily News, "City News," September 15, 1847.