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John Basset, Sr.

  •  1725 - 1807, shop joiner

  • Taunton, Ma, Norton, MA then Dunbarton, NH  


Col. John Bassett, Jr.

  • 1762 - 1826, joiner and house carpenter

  • Norton / Sharon, Ma then Atkinson, NH



IOHn BASSET, IOHn BASSET / OF NORTON and JOHN BASSETT imprinted 18th century planes are occasionally found in New England.  A Guide to the Makers of American Wooden Planes, 5th Edition states that the craftsman is possibly John Basset (1725-1810), a joiner who worked in Bristol County, Massachusetts from 1749 through 1776. Elliott goes on to report that this individual then moved to Goffstown and Dunbarton, New Hampshire, where he worked as a miller in the 1780s and 1790s.                       


ca 1750 early phase John Basset molder












The IOHn BASSET marked planes appear to date from ca. 1750 to ca. 1780 while the JOHN BASSETT marked plane appears to date to ca. 1780. A 10” rabbet plane dating to ca. 1780 has also been found with both stamps, leading to the strong possibility of there being two John Bassett generations.


To further complicate matters, planes marked E Bassett, J Bassett, D Bassett and M Bassett, also from ca. 18th century New England, have been recorded with possible linkages to John and his brother Jeremiah. 

Deeds from Bristol, Suffolk and Norfolk Counties were targeted while Plymouth, Essex, Middlesex, and Worcester Counties were also searched for completeness. In the Bristol, Suffolk and Norfolk County deeds from 1740 through 1810, two John Bassetts were found.


John Basset #1 (1725-1807)

In the first deed dating to 1749, a John was found living in Taunton and his trade was a joyner! In the next deed from 1761, this same John, shop joyner, sold the 1749 land while now living in Norton. In deeds from 1764 and 1766, John, living in Norton, bought land in Stoughton and Walpole and his trade was still given as a shop joiner. By 1770, John shop joiner, was living in the district of Stoughtonham with his wife Sarah, where they remained until at least 1771. In a 1773 deed, John still had land in Walpole (no trade given) but by 1791, in the next deed recorded, he was listed as a yeoman living in Dunbarton, New Hampshire. In a final 1794 deed, John a yeoman and Sarah his wife, both of Dunbarton, sell their land in Taunton. Based on the links, the details and the timeline within the deeds, only a single generation seems to be recorded.

                                       1761 deed, John Basset of Norton, shop joyner

Deeds from 1750 through 1805 for Plymouth, Essex, Middlesex, and Worcester Counties were searched and yielded three additional John Bassetts. None were viable candidates; a cordwainer in Rochester, a yeoman in Lynn and a cooper in Marblehead.


From the deed records, there is only one strong candidate for the IOHn BASSET / OF NORTON and IOHn BASSET planes;  John Basset Sr. of Taunton, Norton, and Dunbarton, the individual presented in GAWP 5th Edition.


Next, genealogical and period record searches were conducted to help document John Basset and his family, including the question of whether a second generation might be tied to the John Basset(t) planes.

John grew up in Norton, but was living in Taunton when he married Sarah Shepard on 1-25-1757. There are no records that John served in the Revolutionary War but he did take part in the French and Indian War.  In 1756, he served at Boston and in 1757, he served at Crown Point as a clerk in Benjamin William‘s Company.


As noted in the deeds, John’s trade was given as a joyner and shop joiner for the years 1749 through 1770 while living in Taunton, Norton and the district of Stoughtonham.


John and Sarah had ten children between 1758 and 1779, the last eight of whom were born in Sharon; Sarah 1758, Phebe 1761, John Jr. 1762, Thomas 1764/6, Jeremiah 1768, Anna 1771, Jesse 1773, Lucy 1774, Mary 1776, Rachel 1779. Saron is in contrast to the deeds which record John as living in Norton in 1761, 1764 and 1766 and living in the district of Stoughtonham in 1770 and 1771. John at least owned land in Stoughtonham through 1778 as he was still paying school taxes. Between ca. 1779 and 1783 John Sr. moved his family to Goffstown, New Hampshire.

John Basset Sr. late phase plane ca 1780


John was first recorded in New Hampshire with his inclusion on a petitioners list in Goffstown, New Hampshire in 1783. They were part of a dispute surrounding a Presbyterian parish and a Congregational parish. Following the 1783 Goffstown reference, John’s movements and business endeavors are a bit difficult to follow over the next 20 years. However, his residences were confined to the three adjoining townships of Goffstown, Dunbarton and Weare,

New Hampshire.

John was tied to the Weare area in 1792 with the buying and selling of a saw-mill. Here, John Basset of Dunbarton, bought the Hogg mill and sold it to his son Jeremiah on the same day he bought it. Sources list John as a miller during this period, although this was not documented by the author.

John Sr. and Sarah are not found as a separate family unit in the New Hampshire 1800 census. Instead, it is deduced that they lived with their son Jeremiah in Weare based on the census details recorded for Jeremiah’s household. John Sr. died in Weare in 1807 and a brief obituary was included in a local newspaper. No will or probate information was located.


John Bassett Jr. (1762-1826)

John Sr.’s sons were investigated to see if any were involved with building or woodworking trades and this proved to be a useful exercise with respect to John Bassett Jr.


Col. John Bassett moved to Atkinson, New Hampshire from the Norton area as an adult, about the same time as his parents and younger siblings moved to the Weare / Dunbarton / Goffstown area. Probate and town records do not provide clues as to John Jr.’s profession. However, three Atkinson deeds,  a footnote accompanying a summary of John’s military service, a New Hampshire death record of Mary (Bassett) Little and two period newspaper ads are definitive in this regard.


Three Atkinson deeds from 1786 through 1791 list John as a joiner, while later deeds from 1798 through 1812 list John as a “gent.” and as “Esq.”

The New Hampshire record for Mary (Bassett) Little’s death in 1885 is very useful. In the card file, Mary’s father and mother are identified as John and Phebe Bassett from Atkinson and her father’s occupation is given as a carpenter.


John Jr. married Phebe Noyes in Atkinson, NH in 1783. They had nine children in Atkinson; Samuel 1785,  John III, 1786, Judith 1789, Enoch 1792, Jesse 1796, Sally 1799, William 1802, Mary 1804 and Alfred 1807. 

An informative summary of John’s life was given as part of his 1812 military service record in a study titled “Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of New Hampshire for the Year Ending June 1, 1868.”  “Col. John Bassett was from Atkinson. He was born in Norton, Mass., April 14, 1762. He was a house-carpenter by trade, and settling in Atkinson soon after his majority, he followed that business through his active life. He was a man of sound judgment, and aside from minor offices in his adopted town, he represented it in the Legislature in 1807 and 1809. He was much in military life and was an excellent officer. From a private in the militia of Atkinson, he rose through the various grades, and in 1804 was Major of the 2d Battalion of the 7th Regiment of the New Hampshire Militia. He was Lt. Col. Commandant of the same Regiment in 1812, and as such was selected by Governor Plumer to command the detachment ordered to Portsmouth, with the rank of Major. In 1819 he was appointed Colonel of the

7th Regiment, and resigned Jan. 1820. Col. Bassett died in Atkinson, Oct. 1, 1826, in the 65th year of his age.”


Lastly, are the two newspaper ads dated 1807 and 1815. These concern the sale of a house, 2 ½ acres of land and several buildings in the town of Atkinson. In the longer, more descriptive ad from November 1807, a joiner’s shop is “occupied” at one end of a two story building with a dry goods store at the other end. The 1807 ad was published one month after John Sr.’s death and so the joiner’s shop and property could relate to John Sr. rather than John Jr. However, the Weare / Dunbarton / Goffstown residences associated exclusively with John Sr. are at a removed distance from Atkinson. Combined with this information, John Jr.’s only residence in New Hampshire was given as Atkinson. Thus is reasonable to assume that John Jr., owned the house, land, buildings and joiner’s shop mentioned in the ads.


John Jr., in addition to his carpentry trade, significant military career and civic representation, was active in his church and very widely read. His 1826 obituary in part reads; “he was a kind husband, tender father, temperate Christian, and useful citizen. Possessing by nature a strong perception, and active mind, with a remarkably retentive memory, he was enabled to profit greatly by reading, for which he had an incessant thirst; and by which he acquired a measure of general information rarely found in a mechanic of his limited advantages.” This was quite a tribute.


Also of note, four of John Jr.’s sons, John, Enoch, William and Samuel, were carpenters and housewrights in Atkinson. It should be noted that Enoch is too late to be considered the craftsman behind the E Bassett planes.

John Jr.’s lifelong occupation as a house carpenter and his birth year of 1762, fit well with the ca. 1780 planes imprinted with the larger JOHN BASSETT stamp.


The John Basset(t) marks and wedges  were published in GAWP 5th Edition. Of the four imprints recorded, the planes marked IOHn BASSET / OF NORTON are clearly the earliest at ca. 1750. In particular, the end chamfers with tipped stops and long flutes and the (A) and (A1) wedge profiles easily support the ca. 1760 date given to the planes in GAWP 5th Edition. This mark is known from at least six molders of birch and beech as well as a plow plane. The IOHn BASSET name stamp without the location, has been documented on planes with chamfers that are still flat, but simply turn out on the ends. These planes have a wedge with a more rounded final and somewhat flat back with a limited relief as shown in the wedge designation (B), the double stamped rabbet. The name only IOHn BASSET planes appear to be ca. 1780. The two plane styles with roughly a 20 to 30 year age span, speak to a continued if limited, plane production by the likely maker, John Basset Sr. The John Basset(t) molding planes are all 9 7/8 to 10

inches long.

GAWP5 Basset(t) imprints and wedges                                           















                                                                                                   Early and eclectic JOHN BASSETT molder











This plane marked JOHN BASSETT, is similar to the name only IOHn BASSET planes in the general form of the wedge design (B) vs (C). The chamfer stops on the plane are more eclectic with no chamfers on the toe and heel chamfers that simply fade out. This plane would fit with John Jr. having adopted the general ca. 1780 plane making style of his father during an apprentice timeframe of ca. 1775 / 1780.


The double imprinted ca. 1780 plane (IOHn BASSET and JOHN BASSETT) is one of the strongest pieces of

evidence that two generations made the John Basset(t) planes.

IHOn BASSET and JOHN BASSETT marked ca 1780 rabbet




J Bassett and E Bassett

J Bassett: Jeremiah (1722-1793), brother of John Bassett Sr. is presented as a strong candidate for the planes

marked J. Bassett.

E Bassett: Planes marked E Bassett are of particular note as they bear strong resemblance to the ca. 1780 planes

marked IOHn BASSET. (It has been stated that the planes look like they were made by thesame hand.) Elijah Bassett (1754-1803), the second son of JeremiahJr., is mentioned in GAWP 5th Edition as the probable candidate for the E Bassett planes, given the family connection to John Sr. The Massachusetts deeds do not support this one way or the other. His trades were listed as a laborer in 1783, a husbandman in 1785 and 1786 and a yeoman in 1796. A search of Massachusetts records and New Hampshire records did not provide any other individuals who could be considered as a viable candidate for the ca. 1780 E Bassett planes.

D and M Bassett

D Bassett requires additional research to identify possible candidates. Details on ca 1780 examples suggest a family connection. M Bassett planes do not seem to be associated with this family.

BASSET, IOHn and BASSETT, JOHN Plane Examples


GAWP5 imprints

and wedges




Classic ca 1750 IOHn BASSET (A) moulder










Late IOHn BASSET  (B) dado         



















                                                                 Early JOHN BASSETT (C1) molder




Double imprint (C) rabbet



















             BASSETT, J             BASSETT, E




























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