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Randall House - Wolfville Historical Society

Chair, Dining


Accession number: 98.9.1
Date: 1842
Materials: Wood
Measurements: 77.5 cm L x 38 cm W x 39 cm H
Marks/Label: On the bottom of the chair is stencilled 'MANUFACTURED'; under that 'By'; under that 'J. NICE'; under that 'HORTON NS'; under that '1842'; and on the last line 'WARRANTED'.
Narrative: John Nice, chair maker, was born in Saint John, New Brunswick on August 8th, 1808, perhaps to Henry A. Nice and Ann Nelson. In 1829, a John Nice is recorded as an apprentice in the listing of Freemen for Saint John. This would be appropriate because Freemen were only listed when they reached the age of 21. On July 18th, 1830, John Nice married Sophronia Matilda Bishop". This information was provided by The Curator, New Brunswick Cultural History and Art, New Brunswick Museum. The New Brunswick Museum has three chairs made by John Nice. A person named John Nice died in Horton Township on November 13th, 1846. This information comes from the Kings County Probate Records. He died intestate. The probate record (KC Probate Records RG 48 Reel 19 804(A)) includes an inventory of his estate. Among other items listed were Boring machine turning lathe & tools...unfinished Chair bottoms & Chairs...Stuff in preparation for Chairs...Chair timber Painting apparatus Rocking Chairs unfinished... The probate record names his widow as Saphronia. We conclude that this is the J. Nice whose name is stencilled on the four chairs in the Randall House Collection. The chairs were made in 1842 and 1843. John Nice's wife, Saphronia Matilda Bishop, was a descendent of John Bishop of Horton (1709-1785) who was a Planter. His third son, Deacon Peter (1735-1826), had sixteen children, among whom was Peter (1763-1848). This Peter married Amy Bowles. Their fifth child was Saphronia, married to John Nice. (Tangled Roots, v.3, p3 ,10). She is listed in the 1851 census (Horton #8) as still living in the area. She was the head of a household which included one female child under 10 years old, and two female children between 10 and 20. They were Baptists. No property was listed in the name of John Nice in the Kings County Deed Index. There was an agreement with T.A.S. DeWolfe of Halifax to sell him a parcel of land at New Minas and to execute a deed upon the consideration being fully paid. DeWolfe was still owed some money at the time of Nice's death. There was a promissory note for 20 pounds (Probate Record). There were a number of other creditors who were still asking for settlement in 1848 and 1850. A previous owner purchased this chair from Barbara Swinamer, antiques dealer, who had it for about fifty years. He sold them when he was moving to Ontario because he wanted Nova Scotia furniture to stay in Nova Scotia.
Description: Wooden kitchen chair with four spindles between the posts, a curved back top rail and a scooped seat. On the back of the seat in front of the spindles there is an incised line. There is an attached piece at the front rail to give a curve to the front of the seat. The spindles and posts, two front legs, and the front stretcher have turned details. The side stretchers do not match.
Manufacturer: Nice, John