Townsend Goddard, 1750–1790




Newport, Rhode Island

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Townsend Goddard was born October 27, 1750, to John Goddard (1723/4–1785) and Hannah (Townsend) Goddard (1728–1804).(1) His paternal grandparents were Daniel Goddard (1697–1764), a housewright and shipwright of Dartmouth, Massachusetts, Newport, and South Kingstown, Rhode Island, and Mary (Tripp) Goddard (born 1700). His maternal grandparents were Newport cabinetmaker Job Townsend and Rebecca (Casey) Townsend.

Townsend was possibly active in his father's shop by 1774, when they were successfully sued by Newport mariner George Buckmaster for "trespass and ejectment" from a lot of land with a shop.(2) Given that Townsend and his father were both identified as cabinetmakers in this case, it is possible that the "shop" refers to a shared workspace.

Born into a large extended family of Quaker cabinetmakers in Newport, Townsend roused the ire of the Society of Friends in 1783 when he married a woman from outside the Society. He was disowned.(3) His younger brothers Stephen and Thomas would face the same fate later in the same decade.

His practice was further interrupted by the British occupation of Newport during the Revolutionary War. In 1777, he sent a letter from Newport to Henry Ward at Providence, requesting the return of his tools, which he had left at North Kingstown.(4) He was once again active in Newport by 1787, making a cheese tray, eighteen shillings, fire screen, one pound ten shillings, wash stand, one pound sixteen shillings, and two mahogany card tables, nine pounds six shillings five pence, for Dr. Isaac Senter between January, 1787, and September, 1788.(5)

Townsend Goddard died in 1790 in Newport. His estate inventory included a wide variety of furniture forms, and "His Cabinet Maker Tools," worth six pounds twelve shillings.(6)

Benjamin W. Colman and Patricia E. Kane

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

2. George Buckmaster v. John Goddard and Townsend Goddard, Inferior Court of Common Pleas, Newport County, Record Book, vol. I, p. 533, Judicial Archives, Supreme Court Judicial Records Center, Pawtucket, R.I.

3. Monthly Meeting May 27, 1783, Society of Friends, Newport, Rhode Island, Monthly Meetings 1773-1790, p. 225, microfilm no. 0022418, Family History Library, Salt Lake City.

4. Ethel Hall Bjerkoe, The Cabinetmakers of America (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1957), 114.

5. Joseph K. Ott, "Recent Discoveries Among Rhode Island Cabinetmakers and Their Work," Rhode Island History 28:1 (Winter 1969):20.

6. Thomas Goddard Inventory, February 12, 1790, Newport Probate, vol. 2, p. 139, Newport City Hall, R.I.