about 1710–20
John Noyes (American, 1674–1749)

Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts


18.3 x 19.6 x 11.2 cm (7 3/16 x 7 11/16 x 4 7/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View




Silver hollowware

The raised straight-sided tankard tapers inward from base to lip. The vessel displays a wide molded baseband, with no visible center point, and rises to applied, molded, slightly everted lip. The flat-topped stepped lid with inner flange bears two pairs of scored decoration at the wide crenate brim. A pair of dolphins flanking a fierce grotesque mask form the cast thumbpiece; wavy line decoration has been applied on the hinge plate before and after the five-part hinge. Prominent wear marks are visible on the seamed scroll handle as a result of contact with the thumbpiece. The handle is attached at its upper section with a long rattail drop and at its lower section with an oval disk. Below the cherub terminal is an oval air vent. The tankard has been repaired in two areas to the right of the handle, as evidenced by solder marks.
The word “Hannah” appears over an effaced area.

John Noyes was the son of a minister and a member of the Third, or Old South, Church and later a founder of the Brattle Street Church. He was well known to diarist Samuel Sewall, who, along with the silversmith, his father, and his brother Oliver Noyes, was a member of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company. Sewall awarded a silver cup to John Noyes for his superior marksmanship during a training day held by the company in May 1702.
In 1691 Sewall had recorded in his diary that Noyes had accepted borax on behalf of Jeremiah Dummer. It is unclear why Sewall would have brought borax, a material used as flux in silversmithing, to Dummer. However, in recording its receipt, Sewall helped document Noyes’s apprenticeship by placing him in Dummer’s employ at about age seventeen.
Less than thirty objects have survived bearing Noyes’s mark. Yet, his level of accomplishment is clear from the variety of forms he fashioned — candlesticks, forks, beakers, and salvers — all of which demonstrate a high degree of skill in casting, decorative details, and finishing. This tankard was one of at least nine he made; many carry the dolphin-and-mask thumbpiece on a flat-topped lid. This thumbpiece is identical to one on a simpler example in the Museum’s collection, which has a plain shield-shaped terminal. When inventoried in the 1813 estate of David Parker, Esq., the first known owner, this tankard was valued at $30. It was the only piece of silver hollowware recorded in Parker’s estate, along with seven silver spoons and twelve teaspoons.

This text has been adapted from “Silver of the Americas, 1600-2000,” edited by Jeannine Falino and Gerald W.R. Ward, published in 2008 by the MFA. Complete references can be found in that publication.


The later inscription, engraved alternately in gothic, script, italic, and block letters, and enlivened with flourishes, appears opposite the handle on the body of tankard and reads "David Parker. / BORN IN / West Barnstable Mass. / 1740. / DIED 1813. Hannah . Parker . Howland . / BORN 1778 / DIED 1862."


"IN" in roman capitals within an oval, stamped on top of lid at center; at center of base; and to left of handle.


The original owner was probably David Parker (1699/ 1700/1 – 1788) of Barnstable, Massachusetts. It likely passed to his namesake, David Parker (1740 – 1813), of Barnstable, by his second wife, Mercy Crosby (1703 – 1785). According to the engraved inscription, and corroborated by Parker’s surviving will, the tankard was passed to his daughter Hannah Parker (1778 – 1862), wife of Jabez Howland (1775 – 1848), m. 1797.5 By descent to their daughter Hannah Howland (1806 – 1833), m. Ambrose Haywood in 1833; by descent to their son Albert Francis Hayward (1842 – 1873) and Louise Miranda Belden (1846 – 1911), m. 1873; to their son Carle Reed Hayward (1880 – 1965) and the donor, his widow, Mary Murray (1889 – 1983), m. 1915.

Credit Line

Bequest of Mrs. Carle R. Hayward