- Gerald W. R. Ward
Phyfe, Duncan (1768–16 August 1854), cabinetmaker, was born Duncan Fife in Loch Fannich, Scotland, near Inverness (according to family tradition), the son of Isabella (maiden name unknown) and a father whose first name is unknown. His boyhood years and apprenticeship remain shrouded in obscurity. Tradition records that he sailed for America in 1784 with his widowed mother and family, settling first in Albany, New York, where he probably received additional training. By about 1790 he seems to have moved down river to the larger market of New York City. He was certainly in New York by 1792, when he became a member of the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen of the City of New York. After working at several locations, he first established his own shop in 1795 on Partition (now Fulton) Street; he soon added more property at this location, where he would work until his retirement in 1847 and reside until his death. In February 1793 he married Rachel Lowzada; they had seven children. (By 1794 he had changed the spelling of his surname to Phyfe.)...