James Halyburton, active 1790 to at least 1823




Warren, Rhode Island, Providence, Rhode Island

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In 1965 Eleanore Monahon published an article on Rhode Island furniture that she attributed to a Warren, Rhode Island, cabinetmaker she identified as Allie Burton on the basis of the history of a card table provided by the family which owned it.(1) When Thomas Michie published a closely related table in the 1986 catalogue of the furniture collection at the Rhode Island School of Design, he wrote that no cabinetmaker with this name could be found in Rhode Island records.(2) The extensive research in town records conducted by the Rhode Island Furniture Archive also turned up no evidence of this individual. There was, however, a cabinetmaker named James Halyburton (Haliburton) known through newspaper advertisements to work in Warren in the late 1790s. Presumably in the family’s oral tradition Haliburton became Allie Burton.

In an advertisement dated December 23, 1796, Benjamin Cole and James Halyburton announced their partnership in the cabinetmaking business in Warren stating that they made "fashionable Plain and Inlaid, Mahogany, Cherry-Tree and Maple Work."(3) The specific mention of inlay in the advertisement adds credence to an attribution of the card tables to Cole or Haliburton since the use of inlay on it is unusually elaborate. Halyburton is known to have made a desk for Caleb Eddy of Warren in 1797 priced at forty dollars documented by a receipt that descended with the desk, dated November 18, 1797 and signed by Halyburton. The partnership was short-lived. An additional advertisement on April 21, 1798 announced that it was dissolved.(4)

The parentage of James Halyburton has yet to be established. A James Halyburton married Susannah Reed in Providence in 1792.(5) A James Halyburton, presumably the cabinetmaker, was listed in the Federal Census in Warren in 1800.(6) Probably sometime after 1800 James Halyburton relocated to Providence. The name "J Halyburton" is inscribed on the bottom of an interior drawer on a desk and bookcase thought to have been made for Hope Brown (1773-1855) and Thomas Poynton Ives (1769–1835) for their new house on Power Street in Providence that they built in 1805.

A tall case clock bearing the printed label "CABINET and CHAIRMAKING / In all its Branches, performed by / Halyburton & Carpenter / on the Main Street, a little North of the Baptist / Meeting-House, / PROVIDENCE," suggests that Joseph Carpenter and James Halyburton were probably in partnership sometime between about 1805 and 1810. Carpenter came from a well-established Providence cabinetmaking family. He was born in 1751 in Providence to cabinetmaker and shop joiner Gershom Carpenter (1727-1793) and his wife Hannah (Cooke) Carpenter (died 1809).(7) In 1772, Joseph moved to Uxbridge, Massachusetts, with his wife and son William, but when his father died in 1793, he was again identified as residing in Providence.(8) Joseph died in Uxbridge in 1813.(9)

There is no evidence on how long the partnership of Halyburton and Carpenter endured. The 1810 Federal Census lists a James Halyburton in Warwick, Rhode Island.(10) A death notice in the Providence Patriot on September 27, 1823, recorded that Susan Halyburton wife of James Halyburton and a member of the Baptist Church in Pawtucket under the pastoral guidance of the Rev. David Benedict had died in Pawtucket, a town just north of Providence.(11) This notice is likely for the wife that James Halyburton had been married to for thirty-one years. The death notice and an advertisement for a letter for James Hayburton in the Pawtucket Post Office in January 1823 suggests that he was in that town by then.(12) James Halyburton is not recorded in the 1820 or 1830 Federal Census and no record of his death has been found.


Eleanore Monahon, "Providence Cabinetmakers of the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries," Antiques (May 1965), vol 87, p. 575.

Christopher P. Monkhouse and Thomas S. Michie. American Furniture in Pendleton House (Providence, R.I.: Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 1986), p. 141.

Herald of the United States (December 24, 1796), vol. 5, no. 247, p. 983. The add was repeated in Herald of the United States(January 14, 1797 vol. 5, no. 249, p. 988. There was a joiner named Benjamin Cole 2nd recorded in Warren deeds in 1787, who may have been the individual in the partnership; see Sara Steiner Research Notes, Warren Deeds, Book 3, p. 73, Rhode Island Furniture Archive, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.

Herald of the United States (April 20, 1798): vol. 7, no. 314, p. 1255.

Rhode Island Vital Records, vol. 10, p. 208.

U.S. Federal Census 1800, GS film no. 218680, Digital Folder no. 004185995, image no. 00036.

Amos Earle Voorhies, The Amos S. Earle Branch of the Ralph Early Family in America (Grants Pass, Oregon: The Daily Courier, 1940), 106. http://www.Ancestry.com.

For the move to Uxbridge see Thomas Williams Baldwin, New England Historical and Genealogical Register, 70:2 (April, 1916), 186. http://books.google.com. For Gershom’s probate see Gershom Carpenter, estate, October 14, 1793, Providence Probate, Book of Wills, vol. 7, pp. 380-386, Providence City Hall, R.I.

Columbian Phenix: or, Providence Patriot (Providence, Rhode Island) August 21, 1813, p. 3.

U.S. Federal Census 1810, GS film no. 0281233, Digital Folder no. 004433394, Image no. 00036.

Providence Patriot, January 4, 1823, vol. 5, no. 2, p. 3.

Providence Patriot, September 27, 1823, vol. 5, no. 78, p. 3.