William Stanton, worked 1754


Occupation

upholsterer

Location

Newport, Rhode Island

Biography

The few facts known about William Stanton come from four court cases brought against him, in which he was identified as a Newport upholsterer. The first two cases involving Stanton were both tried in May 1754. In one, he was sued by Newport innholder James Sisson over an unpaid account. The case file contains an invoice for 133.0.1, dating from February 1753 to January 1754, in which Sisson bills Stanton for a variety of items, including cash, paper, and blankets.(1) Stanton lost the case and was ordered to pay the amount of the invoice minus a credit of 68.16.11. In the second case, Stanton was sued by Newport barber Benoni Peckham for failing to pay for a wig. In the corresponding unpaid account, Peckham charges Stanton twenty-two pounds for "one Light Gray Wigg" and one pound for "Curling a Wigg."(2) A note on the writ served to Stanton on April 23, 1754, reads "If you dont know the Def[t.] pray inquire of the Pl[t.]," suggesting that Stanton had not been in Newport long.(3) The court decided in favor of Peckham, and Stanton was ordered to pay the twenty-three pounds.

In November 1754, Stanton was sued over an unpaid account from cordwainer Samuel Phillips, possibly relating to Stanton’s upholstery trade.(4) The invoice submitted to the court by Phillips includes charges to Stanton on seven different occasions for either a "Reacking" or a "Reaching," probably an eighteenth-century term for stretching leather.(5) It is likely that, as a cordwainer, Phillips would have provided such a service. Stanton lost the case and was required to pay the 26.3.1 account.

It is uncertain whether Stanton ever paid Phillips, but the Sisson and Peckham judgments remained unsatisfied. Sisson tried to sue Stanton again in May 1755, but the deputy sheriff reported that "neither [his] body nor estate [was] to be found."(6) It is likely that Stanton had left Newport for good by that time, and no further evidence of his presence in the city has been discovered.

JNJ and PEK


1. James Sisson, Newport, innholder, v. William Stanton, Newport, upholsterer, Inferior Court of Common Pleas, Newport County, Record Book, vol. D, p. 542, 587, 703, May 1754 term, case 35, Judicial Archives, Supreme Court Record Center, Pawtucket, R.I.; Account, February 1753 to January 1754, in case file, Sisson v. Stanton.

2. Benoni Peckham, Newport, barber, v. William Stanton, Newport, upholsterer, Inferior Court of Common Pleas, Newport County, Record Book, vol. D, p. 587, May 1754 term, case 501, Judicial Archives, Supreme Court Record Center, Pawtucket, R.I.; Account, February 1753, in case file, Peckham v. Stanton.

3. Writ, dated April 1, 1754, in case file, Peckham v. Stanton.

4. Samuel Phillips, Newport, cordwainer, v. William Stanton, Newport, upholsterer, Inferior Court of Common Pleas, Newport County, Record Book, vol. D, p. 703, November 1754 term, case 398, Judicial Archives, Supreme Court Record Center, Pawtucket, R.I.; Account, January 3, 1754 to August 3, 1754, in case file, Phillips v. Stanton.

5. "Reaching leather" was a term sometimes used "to indicate the quality of yielding or suppleness;" see Notes and Queries: A Medium of Intercommunication for Literary Men, General Readers, Etc., 6th series, vol. 7 (May 26, 1883): 415. The Oxford English Dictionary lists an obsolete definition of "reaching" as "capable of being stretched;" see "reaching, adj."

6. James Sisson, Newport, innholder, v. William Stanton, Newport, upholsterer, Inferior Court of Common Pleas, Newport County, Record Book, vol. E, p. 132, May 1755 term, Judicial Archives, Supreme Court Record Center, Pawtucket, R.I.