Tilden Chest

Board chest 1689
Gift of Charles H. Tilden
Pine, cedar
Dims: H 18 ¾” x W 25 ⅞” x D 15⅞”

This small six board chest was descended in the Tilden family, one of the early “Men of Kent” families to migrate to New England in the 1620-30’s. Nathaniel Tilden was the first to settle in Scituate. He was born in Tenterdon, in the county of Kent, England in 1583. He was an important person in Tenterdon serving as mayor and justice of the peace. He came to New England on the Hercules in 1634-5 with his wife Lydia, their seven children and seven servants. He became a ruling elder of the first church in Scituate and one of Scituate’s wealthiest residents. He died in 1641 and is buried in the Men of Kent Cemetery.
According to the book The Wrought Covenant: Source Material for the Study of Craftsmen and Community in Southeastern New England 1620-1700 by Robert Blair St. George, this chest bears the characteristics of work made by the carpenter Joseph Tilden Jr., a grandson of Nathaniel, (1656/7-1712). Joseph Tilden Jr. lived near the active shipbuilding centers of the North River and his works all display features like the scribing and scalloped feet on this chest.
The chest is made of pine and white cedar and has scribed arches, diamonds, and serrated bands for decorative detail. The date “1689” is inscribed on the front. The end boards have scalloped cutout feet. The till, a small compartment inside the chest, is secured by small wooden pegs. The chest has a lock mechanism, and the hardware is original and hand-made. It is believed that a lockable chest of this size was used to store valuables.

Curriculum Connections

This Scituate Historical Society Collections Highlight connects with the following Massachusetts State Curriculum Frameworks:

History and Social Science Framework

3.T1.2 Research the demographic origins of the town or city (e.g., the Native People who originally lived there or still live there, the people who established it as a colonial town, its founding date, and the free, indentured, and enslaved women and men who contributed to the well-being of the town).

Vocational Technical Education Framework, Construction Occupational Cluster

2.E Cabinetmaking Joinery Fabrication