In the years prior to the political upheaval of 1774, the town of Worcester was governed by a small group of men linked by marriage and common interests. This group included the Paines, the Putnams, and the Chandlers. Of these the Chandlers were perhaps the most prominent.
In 1774 Gardiner Chandler was the sheriff of Worcester County. In addition to the status of his office, his prominence was based on his connections and his wealth as evidenced by a surviving waistcoat.
In 1750 Chandler built a house on Main Street across from the meeting house. The house was one of the grandest in Worcester. It was the scene of festivities to celebrate the successful end of the French and Indian War.
The Chandler house bore the Royal Coat of Arms, showing just where loyalties were. The Chandler house also served as the office for the province’s attorney general, James Putnam. It was in this law office that a young John Adams learned the practice of law. Chandler, as sheriff, on Sept. 6, 1774, was forced to agree to the closing of the Courts of Common Pleas and General Sessions of the Peace.
Unlike his brother, John, who went into exile and died in Britain, Gardiner Chandler came to terms with the new political reality and lived out his days in Worcester.
Chandler’s mansion was torn down in 1867. A built-in cupboard (“beaufat”) was salvaged and is now on display in the Rice Gallery of Worcester Historical Museum.