Robert Lawton, Jr., 1772–1853


cabinetmaker; chairmaker


Newport, Rhode Island

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Robert Lawton, Jr., Newport cabinetmaker, was active by September, 1793, when he purchased for ninety pounds land on Broad Street in Newport from Dartmouth yeoman James Davis.(1) In October, 1798, he purchased land on Spring Street in Newport from Abraham Redwood Ellery, Christopher Grant Champlin, and Christopher's wife Martha Redwood Champlin.(2) In January, 1799, he sold the Broad Street land to Newport mariner John Wood for eight hundred sixty dollars.(3)

On March 23, 1799, he advertised in the Weekly Companion, a Newport newspaper, that, Robert Lawton, Jun. CABINET-MAKER, Takes this method to inform his Friends and Customers, that he has removed from Broad-Street and Customers, that he has removed from Broad-Street, and now carries on said Business in its various Branches, in Spring-Street(4) In April, 1799, Robert Lawton, Jr., was included in the list of Newport representatives to the Rhode Island General Assembly.(5)

In 1800, he married Sarah Anthony, daughter of Elisha and Mary Anthony.(6)

In November, 1801, he advertised his need for, "2000 Bushels good clean BARLEY, to be delivered at Newport, for which Cash will be paid on delivery."(7)

In May, 1803, Lawton sold land to Newport physician Jonathan Easton.(8) The next year he again sold land, this time to Newport mariner John Murfey.(9) Soon thereafter, in April, 1804, Lawton was disowned by the Society of Friends, or Quakers, for being unable to manage his business interests.(10)

Lawton was listed as a "Surveyor of Lumber, including Shingles and Clapboards," in the list of Newport town officers for 1812. This position was also held by Job E. Townsend and Thomas Goddard.(11)

Later in his career, Lawton was actively engaged as a coffin maker. In 1817, he billed the estate of Thomas Shaw one dollar for a coffin, and the estate of Philip Weeden six dollars for a coffin.(12) In 1829, the estate of John W. Murphey paid him five dollars for a coffin.

Benjamin W. Colman and Patricia E. Kane

1. James David to Robert Lawton, deed, September 17, 1793, Newport Deeds, vol. 5, pp. 236–237, Newport City Hall, R.I.

2. Abraham Redwood Ellery, Christopher Grant Champlin, and Martha Redwood Champlin, to Robert Lawton, Jr., deed, October 25, 1798, Newport Deeds, vol. 6, pp. 680-681, Newport City Hall, R.I.

3. Robert Lawton to John Wood, deed, January 12, 1795, Newport Deeds, vol. 6, p. 704, Newport City Hall, R.I.

4. Weekly Companion, "Robert Lawton, Jun. CABINET-MAKER," March 23, 1799,

5. The Newport Mercury, "Newport," April 30, 1799,

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

7. Rhode-Island Republican, "Wanted Immediately," November 7, 1801,

8. Robert Lawton, Jr., to Jonathan Easton, deed, September 24, 1802, Newport Deeds, vol. 8, pp. 574–575, Newport City Hall, R.I.

9. Robert Lawton, Jr., to John Murfey, deed, May 17, 1803, Newport Deeds, vol. 8, pp.746-747, Newport City Hall, R.I.

10. Monthly Meeting, April 1804, Society of Friends, Rhode Island Monthly Meetings 1773-1799, 129, microfilm no. 0022418, Family History Library, Salt Lake City.

11. The Newport Mercury , "Town-Officers," June 13, 1812,

12. Thomas Shaw estate account, December 7, 1817, Newport Probate, vol. 5, p. 436; Philip Weeden estate account, 1817, Newport Probate, vol. 5, p. 464, Newport City Hall, R.I.