Benjamin Randolph


Dec 22, 2003
Jackson, NJ
More to the story of Benjamin Randolph

Benjamin Randolph, a cabinetmaker in Speedwell, crafted the writing "Lap Desk" desk at which Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence.


He had a number of prominent clients, including John Dickinson, Captain John Macpherson (owner of the mansion "Mount Pleasant"), Michael Gratz, and Samuel Rowland Fisher. He joined fellow cabinetmaker Thomas Affleck in the major commission to make furniture for John Cadwalader's Philadelphia city house.

Among those who rented lodgings from him were George and Martha Washington, and Peyton Randolph (no relation).[3] Jefferson rented lodgings in 1775 when a delegate to the Second Continental Congress. He later described the lap desk made for him by Randolph:

"It was made from a drawing of my own, by Ben. Randall [sic] a cabinetmaker in whose house I took my first lodgings on my arrival in Philadelphia in May 1776. And I have used it ever since."[4] - Jefferson
Early in the American Revolutionary War, Randolph provided crates for the Continental Army. He later closed his shop and joined the war effort. He put his shop and tools up for sale in 1778, in preparation for retirement.[3]

He married Mary Wilkinson Fennimore, and retired to his property in Burlington County, New Jersey. He died in December 1791, and was buried in the burial ground at St. Paul's Church, Philadelphia.[3]