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A one-horse chaise
A three-wheeled "Handchaise", Germany, around 1900, designed to be pushed by a person

A chaise, sometimes called chay or shay, is a light two- or four-wheeled traveling or pleasure carriage for one or two people with a folding hood or calash top.[1] The name, in use in England before 1700, came from the French word [“chaise”] (meaning “chair”) through a transference from a sedan-chair to a wheeled vehicle.[2]


The two-wheeled version, usually of a chair-backed type, for one or two persons, also called a gig or one-horse shay, had a body hung on leather straps or thorough-braces and was usually drawn by one horse; a light chaise having two seats was a double chair.

A chaise-cart was a light carriage fitted with suspension, used for transporting lightweight goods.[1]

A bath chair was a hooded and sometimes glassed wheeled chair used especially by invalids; it could be drawn by a horse or pushed by an attendant.

Other types of chaise included:

  • post chaise : designed for fast long-distance travel
  • curricle: two-wheeled, usually drawn by two horses
  • calesín: small, one-horse, hooded, a seat behind for the driver, used in the Philippines
  • shandrydan or shandradan: with a hood

During the winter of 1791/92, in the opening phases of the French Revolution, Henrietta Ponsonby, Countess of Bessborough, noted the lack of ostentation in the streets of Paris, where a few drove themselves about in "little open chaises like the cabriolet but with one horse."[3]

See also[edit]

Post chaise


  1. ^ a b Cowie, L.W. (1996). The Wordsworth Dictionary of British Social History. Wordsworth Reference. p. 55. ISBN 1-85326-378-8.
  2. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Chaise" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 5 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 802.
  3. ^ Janet Gleeson, Privilege and Scandal: The Remarkable Life of Harriet Spencer, Sister of Georgiana 2006:130.