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"large upholstered couch," 1897, apparently named for the manufacturer. Earlier (1853) "a kind of small ornamental writing table." The proper name is attested from 12c., from a place in Cheshire (Old English Devennport).
in modern usage, a large upholstered settee, but in the 18th century a compact desk having deep drawers on the right side and dummy drawer fronts on the left side. The sloping top of the davenport concealed a fitted well, the front of which protruded beyond the drawers and was supported by a pair of columns on a base, or plinth. The back of the writing area was normally flat and might be protected on three sides by a pierced brass gallery.