Secretary and Bookcase
MAKER: William Little (1775-1848) was born in Carlisle, England, where he was apprenticed to a Mr. Graham of “Bighead,” but sailed to America when he was 23. He worked briefly in Norfolk and then Charleston before moving upcountry and settling in the Anson County town of Sneedsborough, on the Pee Dee River. Little worked there as a cabinetmaker until about 1818. At that point he appears to have become a successful full-time planter who purchased slaves to work his land. When he died he owned 112 enslaved individuals. Unlike the majority of other backcountry NC cabinetmakers who made most of their best pieces from walnut or cherry, Little produced many inlaid mahogany objects. All of his furniture is in the neoclassical British style with overtones of both Norfolk and Charleston design. William’s brother George Little, writing from England, quotes recently immigrated brother Thomas Little saying of William’s personal furnishings, “You have some of the nisest furneter in your House ever he did see.” See Acc. 3962 for a sideboard by Little, and Acc. 2816.1-37 for the planes used in his shop.
William’s brother Thomas (1781-1855) settled in nearby Richmond County, NC, and MESDA owns a portrait by the Philadelphia artist James Reid Lamkin of Thomas’s daughter, Jane P. Little (1833-1857), (MESDA Acc. #5877).
RELATED OBJECTS: The secretary bookcase descended in the Ellerbe family along with a portrait miniature of their son, Dr. William Crawford Ellerbe (1800-1835), and a work table that belonged to his wife, Epatha Moore (Sanders) Ellerbe (1807-1881) of Midfield Plantation in Kershaw County, South Carolina (MESDA Acc. # 3076, 3048).