Samuel Carlile, 1770–1841




Providence, Rhode Island


Samuel Carlile was born in Providence in 1770, son of cabinetmaker and ship joiner John Carlile (1727-1796) and Elizabeth Franklin Compton Carlile (died 1802). His father was born in Boston, but was working in Providence by 1756. His mother, born Elizabeth Franklin, was the niece of Benjamin Franklin.(1)

The firm of John Carlile and Sons was one of many names adopted by the family chairmaking and ship joining partnership of John Carlile, John Carlile, Jr. (1762-1832), and Samuel. The name was intermittently used between 1789 and 1803.(2) It is because of this lineage that Samuel has been identified as a furniture maker. Though he would have presumably trained in the shops operated by his father and brothers, and it is possible that he was engaged as a furniture maker as an undertaking secondary to ship joining.

In 1798, Carlile leased a lot of land on Williams Street in Providence from Peleg Williams for a term of twenty years. He was identified as a Providence ship joiner in the deed. The stipulations of the lease required Carlile to erect a brick dwelling house on the lot within two years, situated six and one half feet back from Williams Street. He built a two-story, five bay brick house on a fieldstone foundation.(3)The Carlile family would live in the house until 1903 when Samuel's spinster daughter Elizabeth died at the age of 93.(4) The house still stands.

From 1803 to 1822, Samuel maintained an active partnership with his older brother John. Initially active as lumber merchants, in 1803, they advertised, LUMBER for SALE by John and Samuel Carlile, Best North-Carolina Cedar Clapboards, clear and merchantable White Pine Boards-do. Joists, suitable for Window Frames and Caps- Shingles, Laths, &c. &c. at their Lumber-Yard, on the Wharf of Thomas L Halsey, Esq:

N.B. John Carlile continues to carry on his Business, at his old Stand on Benefit-Street, where all Kinds of Cabinet-Work may be had at short Notice, and as cheap as of any person in the State."(5)

In 1808, both brothers were among the eleven partners who formed the Hope Cotton Manufacturing Company.(6) Though lumber remained an important element of their business, the brothers diversified around this time to include a wide varriety of goods. In 1809, they advertised for sale "Lewis's Patent Illuminators, or Sky-Lights, for Shipping," a strong skylight designed for use in ships and houses.(7) In 1813, they advertised for sale, "THREE thousand bushels of best Liverpool SALT."(8)

The last newspaper advertisement for the firm was printed in 1822, advertising that, "THE good schooner NANCY & MARY [?] will be ready to receive a cargo in two days," before sailing to Southern ports.(9)

Benjamin W. Colman

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," 1156-1157.

Osmund R. Overby, "Samuel Carlile House: Photographs, Written Descriptive and Historical Data," Historic American Buildings Survey, National Park Service, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May, 1963.

Alphabetical Index of the Births, Marriages and Deaths Recorded in Providence, Rhode Island,

The Providence Gazette, "Lumber for Sale," June 11, 1803.

The Providence Gazette, "Hope Cotton Manufacturing Company," May 28, 1808.

The American,"Lewis's Patent Illuminators," March 28, 1809.

The Rhode-Island American, and General Advertiser, "Three Thousand Bushels," December 31, 1813.

Providence Gazette, "For Richmond of any Southern port," September 4, 1822.

Alphabetical Index of the Births, Marriages and Deaths Recorded in Providence, Rhode Island,