This chest was likely made for Lydia Belding of Hatfield, Hampshire, Massachusetts, soon after her birth in 1716. Rhoda was the daughter of John Belden (or Belding, the two families intermarried, and both spellings appear in records) and Sarah Waite. At least three very closely related chests were made for girls related to Rhoda Belding, and their many affinities suggest the work of a common shop tradition. Rhoda's father was a carpenter, and he may have crafted this chest himself. Ichabod Allis, a contemporary of John in Hatfield, was among the large pool of local joiners, and may also have played a role in the shop that made this group of chests. Among them, the "SB" chest (see Sotheby's, May 27, 1995) was by tradition made for Rhoda's half sister Sarah Belding (1701-1783). The "LB" chest was likely made for Lydia Belding (born. c. 1715), Rhoda's first cousin (see Clair Luther, The Hadley Chest [Hartford, 1935], no. 12). The "MB" chest was likely made for Rhoda's half sister, Mary Wells Belding (1705-1747). See Luther, no. 13. It could also have been made for Mary Belding (1679-1724) who was the sister of John and wife of Ichabod Allis, the aforementioned joiner. The "HB" chest is thought to have been owned by her sister, Hannah Belding (1681- ?) but may in fact have been made for Rhoda's half sister Hannah (1703-1736). See Luther, no. 11. The repetition of names and "network of cousinage" makes the exact history somewhat opaque, but this group remains an important vestige of interconnectedness of the Hampshire County community. For more information on this group, see Philip Zea, "The Fruits of Oligarchy" in Old Time New England (SPNEA, Boston, 1987), vol. 72, pp. 1-65.
The Talbot family of Northampton collected at least 7 and perhaps as many as 18 "Hadley" chests in the early 20th century. Among them were both the "MB" chest and this example, which was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Charles N. Talbot, from whom it descended to the current owner.