Obviously, caqueteuse is a French name, and it refers to a French form of chair that originated in the 16th century. As we know, many Scots, particularly the Jacobites and the Catholics, felt much closer to France than to England, and they preferred the French influence to the English. A caqueteuse is a gossiping woman, after caqueter, to cackle! Sorry, ladies. The wide, out-swept arms and narrow backs were said to accommodate the voluminous farthingales that were then in fashion. Ladies would pull their caqueteuses in front of the fire and would caqueter away to their hearts' content.
It looks as though the gossip who used this chair habitually leaned to the left, for that side of the back is far more worn than the other, and the initial R has been practically worn away.
The date on the back is clear: 1669. But the letters are a little more baffling: "I (or J) R" and then "II."
In his book on Scottish Vernacular Furniture, Bernard Cotton says that dates on Scottish chairs sometimes commemorated an earlier event, not the year in which the chair was made. So here's a long shot guess: The initials are actually JR II, King James II, a Scot who followed his brother Charles II onto the English throne in 1685. He had a short reign, he was deposed in 1689 because he was a Roman Catholic and was replaced by his daughter Mary and her Protestant husband William, the Dutch Prince William of Orange. James was converted to Catholicism in 1669. Was this chair made during his short reign, 1685-89, to commemorate his conversion -- remember that the Scots who opposed English rule and who preferred France to England were Catholics. So 1669 could have been a big date for them. Just a thought ....
Whatever, it's a wonderful chair, made, as many Scottish chairs were, of pine, probably in the Aberdeen area in northeast Scotland. It's a pity that the two rear legs needed ending out (pine does not withstand damp as well as oak), but in its favor is that the grain of pine ages very graphically, and the passing centuries produce a wonderful surface. (The chair sold just as we were preparing this newsletter, but full details and more pictures are still on our website under Recently Sold.)