John Gibbs, worked 1730 - 1754


Occupation

joiner

Location

Newport, Rhode Island

Biography

The earliest surviving record of Newport joiner John Gibbs was made in August, 1731, when he purchased land in Newport from his father Robert Gibbs of Massachusetts and his wife Hepsabeth.(1)

Though little more is known of Gibbs' family background or professional life, his financial status was often questioned in official records. In August, 1740, Gibbs was called a Newport joiner when he brought suit against South Kingstown joiner John Cook. Though Gibb initiated the suit, it was dismissed and he was ordered to pay Cook's costs of suit, one pound fifteen shillings and two pence.(2) Gibbs appealed that decision at the next session of the same court in February, 1740/41, and judgment was found in his favor. The court declared that Gibbs was to recover forty one pounds twelve shillings and ten pence, but John Cook had disappeared. The sheriff stated that he could find, "neither body nor Estate of the Deft" and Gibbs presumably recovered nothing.(3)

This deeply litigious pattern repeated throughout Gibbs' life. On March 30, 1743, he was again called a Newport joiner when he signed a bond for eighty pounds with the Trustees of the Colony of Rhode Island. His failure to repay this debt brought him to court many times, in May, 1748, May, 1750, and November, 1751.(4) He was sued twice in November, 1751, the second time by Newport tailor Timothy Balch after he failed to pay ten pounds for a jacket and pair of breeches.(5)

The years 1752-1754 proceeded in much the same manner, with Gibbs appearing in court regularly for failing to pay debts. The last mention of him in Rhode Island occurred in November, 1755, when he was successfully sued by Christopher Champlin and ordered to pay thirty pounds, one shilling, and six pence.(6)

Benjamin W. Colman and Patricia E. Kane

1. Robert and Hepsabeth Gibbs to John Gibbs Deed, August 20, 1731, Newport Land Evidence III, 50. As recorded in Colonial Records Land Evidence Card Index, Newport Historical Society, Newport, R.I.

2. John Gibbs v. John Cook, Inferior Court of Common Pleas, Washington County, Record Book, vol. A, p. 534, Judicial Archives, Supreme Court Judicial Records Center, Pawtucket, R.I.

3. John Cook v. John Gibbs, Inferior Court of Common Pleas, Washington County, Record Book, vol. A, p. 631, Judicial Archives, Supreme Court Judicial Records Center, Pawtucket, R.I.

4. Trustees v. John Gibbs, Inferior Court of Common Pleas, Newport County, Record Book, vol. C, pp. 229, 649, 728, 846, Judicial Archives, Supreme Court Judicial Records Center, Pawtucket, R.I.

5. Timothy Balch v. John Gibbs, Inferior Court of Common Pleas, Newport County, Record Book, vol. C, p. 810, Judicial Archives, Supreme Court Judicial Records Center, Pawtucket, R.I.

6. Christopher Champlin v. John Gibbs, Inferior Court of Common Pleas, Newport County, Record Book, vol. E, p.187, Rhode Island Judicial Records Center, Pawtucket, R.I.