Period Highlight: The Janviers of Delaware

The Janvier family of cabinetmakers descended from a French Huguenot immigrant joiner named Thomas Janvier (1664–ca. 1729), who historical records indicate settled in New Castle, Delaware, in the early 1700s. Very little recorded reference can be found on the Janvier family until Thomas’s grandson, John Janvier (1749–1801), began advertising his cabinetmaking business in Head of Elk (now Elkton), Maryland, around 1770. Soon after that, John Janvier moved his business to Cantwell’s Bridge, now Odessa, Delaware, where he made some of the region’s most fashionable Rococo and Federal furniture of the last quarter of the 1700s. John Janvier trained his sons, John Jr. (1777–1850) and Peregrine (1781–1865) in his profession, and may have also trained his nephew, Thomas Janvier (1772–1852). The Janvier family likely trained the next generation of Delaware’s finest cabinetmakers, including James McDowell (1785–1836), Daniel McDowell (who worked around 1793 to 1830), and John Macdonough, who was born in 1789. Many members of the Janvier family are buried in the graveyard of Immanuel Episcopal Church on the Green in New Castle, Delaware.