Peter Hall, worked 1736




Newport, Rhode Island


Little is known about the life of upholsterer Peter Hall. He was identified as a Newport upholsterer in 1736, when he was sued by Benjamin Boylston, a yeoman from Mendon, Massachusetts, for money due by bond. The Newport County Inferior Court of Common Pleas decided in Boylston’s favor, ordering Hall to pay 38.14.5 plus the cost of the suit.(1)

No other evidence of Hall’s presence in Newport has yet been discovered. There was, however, an upholsterer by the same name working in Philadelphia in April 1745, when the following advertisement appeared in The Pennsylvania Gazette:

Peter Hall, Upholsterer, in Chestnut-Street, Makes all Sorts of Beds, Chairs, or any other Furniture fit for any House: Also will teach any Person to draw Draughts in a short Time for Flourishing or Embroidering, at the most reasonable rates. (2)

Clouding the situation further is the fact that there are references to other Peter Halls in Rhode Island. One man by the name of Peter John Hall was born in 1717 in Portsmouth, but his date of birth is slightly too late for him to have been the Newport upholsterer.(3) According to census data, there was another Peter Hall living in Charlestown in 1774.(4) The name Peter Hall is also mentioned in conjunction with that of a John Harvey of Charlestown. Interestingly, there was a John Harvey identified as a Newport "upholder" in a 1744 lawsuit.(5) When the Charlestown Harvey died in 1747, Hall acted as one of the bondsmen for William Harvey, the administrator of his father’s estate.(6) Another possibility is that Peter Hall was born in Massachusetts, since the aforementioned 1736 case establishes that he had at least one business relationship in Mendon.

Jennifer N. Johnson and Patricia E. Kane

1. Benjamin Boylston, Mendon, Worcester County, Massachusetts v. Peter Hall, Newport, upholsterer, Newport, November 1736 term, Inferior Court of Common Pleas, Newport County, Record Book, vol. A, p. 420, Judicial Archives, Supreme Court Judicial Records Center, Pawtucket, R.I.

2. Alfred Coxe Prime, The Arts & Crafts in Philadelphia, Maryland, and South Carolina: Gleanings from Newspapers (Topsfield, Mass.: Walpole Society, 1929), vol. 2, p. 203.

3. Peter John Hall had moved to Lower Duchess County, New York, by 1747, where he built a house that still stands.

4. John R. Bartlett, Inhabitants of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Taken by Order of the General Assembly, in the Year 1774 (Providence: Knowles, Anthony & Co., 1858), 151.

5. Elisha Johnson, Newport, mariner v. John Harvey, Newport, upholder, Inferior Court of Common Pleas, Newport County, Record Book, vol. B, p. 556, May 1744 term, Judicial Archives, Supreme Court Judicial Records Center, Pawtucket, R.I.

6. Inventory of John Harvey, April 6, 1747, Charlestown Town Council and Probate, 1738– 1759, vol. 1, p. 136.