Kendal Nichols, Jr., probably 1722 - 1774




Newport, Rhode Island


Kendall Nichols, Jr., was the son of Kendall (1686–1767) and Mary Nichols (1695–1768).(1) His paternal grandparents were John Nichols (1651–1721) and Abigail Kendall (1655–1721) of Reading, Massachusetts.(2) The elder Kendall Nichols was born in Reading but by 1720 had moved to Newport, where he was one of the founding members of the city’s First Congregational Church.(3) Although one early source identifies him as an "influential merchant," he also worked as a stone mason, receiving 9.14 from the Newport Town Council in 1748 "for mason work done for both watch houses."(5) After his death, his estate was declared insolvent and his wife and her co-executors placed a series advertisements in The Newport Mercury announcing the sale of "The real Estate of Kendall Nichols, Esq; late of Newport, deceased, consisting of several Houses, Shops, Stores, &c. which will be sold together, or separate, as shall best suit the Purchaser."(6)

Kendall Nichols, Jr., was born in or around 1722, probably in Newport.(8) It is possible he apprenticed with Newport upholsterer Robert Stevens. In 1743, at the age of about twenty-one, he acted as a bondsman for Stevens and Newport joiner Nathaniel Baker, suggesting that they may have had some sort of business relationship.(9) Nichols was admitted as a freeman to the colony at a meeting of the General Assembly on May 1, 1744.(10) He married Sarah Paine of Jamestown on March 13, 1745, at the Second Congregational Church of Newport. She was probably the daughter of John Paine (c. 1697–1773) of Jamestown.(11) The couple had a least one child, a daughter named Abigail.(12)

Nichols is first referred to as a Newport upholsterer in 1761, when he was sued by Thomas Norrington, a baker from Plymouth, Massachusetts, for 264 in damages for money due by book.(13) Nichols may have collaborated with cabinetmaker Job Townsend, Jr., on at least one occasion. Townsend’s account book records a charge of 6.15.0 to the upholsterer in January 1767 for Samuel Simson’s order.(14) Three court cases reveal that Kendall Nichols, Jr., was still working as an upholsterer in 1773, although apparently aspiring to a higher status. The first two cases involved the nonpayment of rent for "one Great room, one Bed Room, Wash room and Closet, being part of a Dwelling House," which Kendall leased to Newport mariner Patrick Brady in May 1772 for the sum of 4.10 per year. A third man, Captain Thomas George, agreed to pay on Brady’s behalf. Nichols, however, never received his rent, and in May 1773 he sued Brady for "trespass and ejectment" and George for failure to perform a promise.(15) Nichols was referred to in the two suits as a gentleman and as an upholsterer, respectively. In November 1773, he was identified as a "yeoman alias upholsterer," when sued by Newport merchant Joseph Hammand, Jr., for money due by note. The court awarded Hammand "Thirty six Dollars & five shillings & four pence half penny Lawful Money," the full amount due. Nichols died on January 2, 1774, before discharging his debt. In May 1774, Hammand attempted to recover his money by suing Nichols’ widow for 30 in damages. The court ruled that Hammand should "recover & have of the Goods and Chattels of the said Kendall dec[ease]d in the hands of the said Sarah the Sum of twelve pounds one shilling and four pence three farthings lawful money."(16)

Jennifer N. Johnson and Patricia E. Kane

1. For the life dates of Kendall and Mary Nichols, see Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries Transcription Project, Mary Nichols’ maiden name and the date of her marriage are unknown, and it is therefore possible that she was not the first wife of Kendall Nichols or the mother of Kendall Nichols, Jr.

2. Thomas W. Baldwin, Vital Records of Reading, Massachusetts, to the Year 1850 (Boston: Wright & Potter Printing Company, 1712), 136, 544; William Richard Cutter, Historic Homes and Places and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs, Relating to the Families of Middlesex County, Massachusetts (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1908), vol. 3, 919.

3. A. Henry Dumont, The Articles of Faith, and Church Covenant, of the United Congregational Church, of Newport, R.I. (Newport, R.I.: James Atkinson, 1834), 4; James N. Arnold, Vital Records of Rhode Island, 1636–1850, 21 vols. (Providence, R.I., 1891–1912), vol. 8, 430.

4. Edward Peterson, History of Rhode Island (New York: John S. Taylor, 1853), 318–320.

5. Newport Town Council and Probate, vol. 11, p. 119, microfilm no. 0944999, Family History Library, Salt Lake City.

6. "To Be Sold," The Newport Mercury, April 16, 1768,

8. Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries Database,

9. Benjamin Pitman, mariner, Samuel Pitman, bricklayer, and Moses Pitman, fellmonger, all of Newport v. Robert Stevens, Newport, upholder alias upholsterer, Inferior Court of Common Pleas, Newport County, Record Book, vol. B, p. 704, May 1745 term, case 253, Judicial Archives, Supreme Court Records Center, Pawtucket, R.I.

10. John Russell Bartlett, ed., Records of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations in New England, vol. 5, 1741 to 1756 (Providence, R.I.: Knowles, Anthony & Co., 1860), 81.

11. A house on Third Street in Newport belonged to "Abigail Nichols Oatley, daughter of Kendall Nichols, inherited from her grandfather John Pain;" see Antoinette Forrester Downing and Vincent Scully, The Architectural Heritage of Newport, Rhode Island, 1640–1915 (New York: C. N. Potter, 1967), 492.

12. Abigail Nichols married Capt. Samuel Oatley on November 21, 1771; see William Davis Miller, "Dr. Joseph Torrey and His Record Book of Marriage," Rhode Island Historical Society Collections vol. 18, no. 4 (October, 1925), 149. Her grandson Nichols Kendall Oatley (1809–1894) was a furniture maker and merchant who was working in Providence in at least 1832.

13. Thomas Norrington, Plymouth, Massachusetts, baker, v. Kendal Nichols, Jr., Newport, upholsterer, Inferior Court of Common Pleas, Newport County, Record Book, vol. F, p. 545, November 1761 term; and Norrington v. Nichols, Inferior Court of Common Pleas, Newport County, Record Book, vol. F, p. 640, May 1762 term, both Judicial Archives, Supreme Court Records Center, Pawtucket, R.I.

14. From the account book of Job Townsend, Jr., as transcribed in Martha H. Willoughby, "The Accounts of Job Townsend, Jr.," American Furniture (1999), 143.

15. Kendall Nichols, Newport, gentleman v. Patrick Brady, Newport, mariner, Inferior Court of Common Pleas, Newport County, Record Book, vol I, p. 322, May 1773 term, case 43; and Kendall Nichols, Newport, upholsterer v. Thomas George, Newport, gentleman, Inferior Court of Common Pleas, Newport County, Record Book, vol I, p. 361, May 1773 term, case 360, both Judicial Archives, Supreme Court Records Center, Pawtucket, R.I.

16. Joseph Hammand, Jr., Newport, merchant v. Kendall Nichols, Newport, yeoman, alias upholsterer, Inferior Court of Common Pleas, Newport County, Record Book, vol. I, p. 455, November 1773 term, case 284; and Joseph Hammand, Jr., Newport, merchant v. Sarah Nichols, Newport, widow, Inferior Court of Common Pleas, Newport County, Record Book, vol. I, p. 514, May 1774 Term, case 30, both Judicial Archives, Supreme Court Record Centesr, Pawtucket, R.I.