John Carlile, Sr., American, 1727–1796, active 1751–96


joiner; cabinetmaker; shop joiner; ship joiner


Providence, Rhode Island

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John Carlile was born in Boston in 1727, but was working as a joiner in Providence by December, 1751 when William Olney sued him for damages of twenty four pounds.(1) In that year, he married Elizabeth Franklin Compton in Providence. Elizabeth was the daughter of Samuel Franklin, elder brother of Benjamin Franklin. John and Elizabeth had at least six children; Thomas Carlile (1754-1784), John, Jr. (1762-1832), Benjamin Franklin (1766-1831), William (1768- after 1824), Samuel (1770-1841), Polly (married 1788), and Joseph (1777-1800).(2)

John Carlile operated his chair and cabinetmaking business with many family members, and within the larger woodworking community of Providence; in the 1750's and 1760s, Carlile purchased turned furniture parts from William Barker, and from Samuel and David Proud in 1780's. In 1784, Ann Tyler leased land in her Providence garden to three Carliles; John, Sr., John, Jr., and Thomas, all then identified as ship joiners. In 1797, John, Jr. moved from that shop to a large workshop on Benefit Street in Providence.(3)

Starting in 1789, John operated under the name John Carlile and Sons with sons John, Jr. and Samuel. The name remained in use after his death.

In 1779, his name was listed among new town officers as one of "the persons to remove or pull down Houses in case of fire."(4) In 1791, he advertised that the firm of John Carlile and Son sought, "a Journeyman Cabinet-Maker. A good Workman, who can be well recommended."(5)

John Carlile died in 1796 in Providence.

Benjamin W. Colman and Patricia E. Kane

William Olney v John Carlile, December, 1751, Inferior Court of Common Pleas, Providence County, Record Book, vol. 3, p. 139, Judicial Archives, Supreme Court Judicial Records Center, Pawtucket, R.I.

Ott, Joseph K. "Lesser-known Rhode Island Cabinetmakers: The Carliles, Holmes Weaver, Judson Blake, the Rawsons, and Thomas Davenport," Antiques 121 (May 1982): 1156-1157.

Ott, "Lesser-known Rhode Island Cabinetmakers," 1157.

The Providence Gazette; And Country Journal, "Meeting of the Freemen." June 19, 1779.

The United States Chronicle, "Wanted," July 6, 1791.