John Townsend, American, 1732/33–1809


shop joiner, cabinetmaker, joiner


Newport, Rhode Island

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John Townsend was born in Newport in 1732/33, son of Christopher Townsend (1701-1789) and Patience Easton (1703-1789). His father was a prominent Newport cabinetmaker and house joiner, his mother a descendent of Nicholas Easton, a seventeenth century governor of Rhode Island and original owner of the section of Newport that would become Easton's Point. His paternal grandparents were Solomon Townsend, who came to Newport from Jericho, Long Island around 1707 and Catherine Almy of Newport.

Townsend apprenticed with his father, starting his own shop when he came of age in 1754. In 1767, Townsend married Philadelphia Feke (1743-1802), daughter of Robert Feke (1707-1752) and Eleanor Feke (1725-1804), the latter being a portrait painter in Boston, Newport and Philadelphia. They had six children; Mary (1769-1856), Sarah (1773-1803), John F., Solomon (1775-1821), Christopher (1781-1801), and Charles F.

John Townsend served the town of Newport in several official capacities, including "Surveyor of Highways" and "Town Treasurer."

He died in 1809 in Newport.(1)

Benjamin W. Colman

1. Morrison Hecksher, John Townsend: Newport Cabinetmaker (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005), 35-60.