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Arm Chair

Place Made:
Possibly Northampton County Virginia
Date Made:
maple –ash
HOA: 37 1/2″; WOA: 26 1/2″; DOA: 20″
Accession Number:
This arm chair is an important survival that reflects the migration of the Floyd family from the Virginia Tidewater to the Lowcountry in the middle of the 18th century.

Chairs like this one are part of a long tradition of turned furniture that can be traced to European antecedents. The expression of this form evolved over time and can be observed from Virginia across the Lower South along paths of migration and settlement. This particular arm chair is significant in that it survives with its history of migration intact. This history means that it can be more closely dated than many similar chairs since it was presumably made in Virginia before 1768 when Charles Floyd (1747-1820) married Mary Fendin in Charleston.

Charles Floyd was born in Northampton County, Virginia, to Samuel (1718-1753) and Susan (Dixon) Floyd (1720-1753). In 1769 Charles married Mary Fendin in South Carolina. Their son, John Floyd (1769-1839), was born on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina the following year. After the Revolutionary War, John was apprenticed as a house carpenter in Beaufort, South Carolina. In 1795, Charles, John, and their families moved to the Thickets plantation in McIntosh County, Georgia. In 1800 the families moved to Camden County, Georgia.

Made in Virginia, this armchair is a visible expression of the flow of people and objects from the Chesapeake into the lower south during the second half of the eighteenth century.

DESCRIPTION: Turned arm chair with slat back. Front posts terminate with vasiform turning. Below the seat, chair has two stretchers between the front and rear posts and a single stretcher between the rear posts. Shaped arm rests extend past the front posts. A row of turned spindles are captured between the arms and a turned stretcher. Seat rails are shaped, rather than turned, with evidence of a rush seat (reproduced).

This chair descended in the family of Charles Floyd. Charles Floyd (1747-1820) was born in Northampton County, Virginia. Floyd, and the chair, migrated to the lower South before Floyd’s marriage to Mary Fendin (1747-1804), in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1768. By 1795, the Floyd family had established itself in Camden County, Georgia. The chair then passed to John Floyd (1769-1839) where it was part of the furnishings at the house he shared with his wife, Isabella Maria (Hazzard) Floyd (1773-1859). That house, in St. Mary’s City, Georgia, still survives.
Credit Line:
Loan courtesy of Fred and Beth Mercier