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Spencer Shops
Spencer Shops
American
Spencer
Biography: The Spencer shop tradition was founded in the late 1630s, when Nicholas Disbrowe (1612-1683), a joiner from Saffron Walden, Essex, and Thomas Spencer (1607-1687), a turner from Stotfold, Bedfordshire, arrived in Hartford, Connecticut, and settled within a few hundred yards of each other. Disbrowe's probate inventory lists his tools in detail, and while he was clearly a joiner, he owned no lathe or turning chisels. No probate inventory survives for Spencer's shop, but he willed his shop to his eldest son, Gerard Spencer (1650?-1712). Gerard Spencer took over the shop in 1687, and left his shop to his son, Gerard Spencer Jr. (1684-1754), after his own death in 1712. Gerard Jr. worked as a turner in Hartford until at least 1737, when he provided 900 turned spindles for the pews of the First Church. He subsequently moved to New Hartford, Connecticut. Thomas Spencer Jr. (1641?-1745), the second son of patriarch turner Thomas Spencer, left Hartford to become one of the founders of Suffield, Connecticut; no proof that he was a turner exists. His son, William Spencer (1677?-1745), was called a chairmaker in Suffield records. Obadiah Spencer (1639?-1712), the third son of patriarch Thomas Spencer, is not documented to have been a woodworker, but married a daughter of Nicholas Disbrowe. His son, Obadiah Spencer Jr. (1666-1741), was both a joiner and a turner. It is speculated that Obadiah Jr. may have been trained as a joiner by his paternal grandfather, Thomas Spencer, and as a joiner by his maternal grandfather, Nicholas Disbrowe. Obadiah Jr. would have served his apprenticeship about 1673-1687, and may also have trained with John Gilbert Jr. or John Marsh Sr., both joiners working in Hartford at that time. Ruth Spencer (baptized 1722), daughter of Obadiah Spencer III and grandaughter of Obadiah Spencer Jr., married Isaac Clark (1710-alive 1749), the son of Daniel Clark (working 1693, died 1724/5). Daniel Clark, a joiner and turner and grandson of Nicholas Clark (died. 1680), may have trained with a member of the Spencer family, perhaps Obadiah Spencer Jr.