Editors' Explanation

Pages xi-xviii

Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660-1840. Originally published by W.S. Maney and Son Limited, Leeds, 1986.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Furniture History Society. All rights reserved.


In this section


Makers are entered in alphabetical order from Aaron to Zurn. When individuals bearing exactly the same name are recorded they are listed in chronological sequence. The name, sometimes with an alternative spelling in brackets, is printed in bold type, followed by an address or place of residence, where this is known; then, details of the person's trade are stated, and finally the date or time span when a maker was active is given in round brackets, e.g., (b. 1718–d. 1779). Next, any changes of address are noted, followed by the available details of apprenticeship, freedoms and relevant references in poll or rate books. Additional information such as the existence of a trade card, particulars gleaned from press notices, references to stamped or labelled furniture, any documentation and similar evidence is given in an orderly fashion. Sources are quoted in square brackets, usually at the end of entries. When dealing with well researched careers such as Thomas Chippendale or William Vile a biographical summary is followed by an account of the firm’s commissions in date order.

County boundaries prevailing at the time have been adopted throughout, except in the case of London and its suburbs where the name of the capital instead of a county indicates the place lies within the present London postal district. The county in which towns and villages are located is stated unless this is self-evident such as Hereford, Lancaster or Lincoln and in the case of a few large urban centres including Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Bristol and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Ireland, Scotland and Wales have not been included in the present census (except for the quotation of English material found there) because of difficulties in placing the collection of information in these regions on a secure footing; the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands were also excluded.

It is well known that the compilers and printers of early trade directories were none too reliable when it came to spelling names or addresses correctly. We have, however, transcribed the information from these volumes faithfully, only making alterations where a suspected error can be proved by cross reference from another source.

All the main furniture trades are covered in our survey including specialist branches such as picture frame makers, clock and barometer case makers, box (dressing, knife, writing, etc.) makers, spinning-wheel makers, and inlayers. However, the following are only recorded in the Dictionary if there is evidence that they were actually involved in producing furniture: joiners, turners, carvers, japanners, auctioneers and appraisers. Furniture brokers or dealers have an entry if they identified their stock with a label or impressed mark. The following ‘fringe’ trades were deliberately ignored: trunk makers, bellow makers (usually industrial), coach builders, blind makers, French polishers, clock and musical instrument makers, timber merchants, makers of marble or scagliola table tops and suppliers of hardware to the cabinet trade. Furniture designers who were not trained as furniture makers are also excluded. The foregoing groups are not exhaustive but illustrate our guidelines. Some difficulty was experienced during the period 1660–c. 1715 when fashionable furniture makers were often described in accounts as ‘joyners’ —the context in which names occurred sometimes provided clues as to the nature of their craft.

Impressed and inscribed names were generally assumed to have belonged to makers, although they may have occasionally denoted owners. We realised that Victorian upholsterers quite often pencilled signatures on the frames of chairs they recovered; these were accordingly omitted. Punched initials frequently occur on seat furniture, particularly late Stuart caned walnut chairs, but also throughout the Georgian period. Such stamps, which have never been systematically studied, are referred to only in passing, although it is clear from the example of Thomas Rayner (q.v.) that they belong to journeymen.

The illustrations are intended to show the various ways in which firms and individuals identified their products and other sources of evidence for authorship. It would have been rewarding to feature more labelled or documented furniture, but we could not extend to a second volume. Hopefully a future generation of scholars will, by following up the copious references, compile a pictorial anthology of the work of many London and provincial firms. Virtually nothing is known about the majority of makers, although in due course some may emerge as rounded characters. The index records the names of various workmen mentioned in the text — often as apprentices — also members of partnerships who do not always have their own entries. Many of the former are likely to have been journeymen all their lives rather than masters. Users are therefore advised to check the index as well as the main alphabetical list when searching for a maker. We must admit, finally, that this Dictionary draws no conclusions about the organisation of the furniture industry or trade practices such as sub-contracting; it is in some ways a rather antiquarian compilation. However, students and collectors will find they can refer to the volume with confidence and we hope it will be judged by its achievement rather than its shortcomings.


It will be appreciated that this Dictionary is the result of collaboration by many people on a massive scale. The number of printed and manuscript sources checked during compilation was vast and since appropriate references are cited in the individual entries there seems little point in providing a consolidated list. It is hoped that the following summary indicating the main categories of source material and how thoroughly each area was covered will be found useful and acceptable.


Every effort was made to ensure that all Trade and Post Office Directories published in England before 1840 were fully trawled for relevant names and we believe that virtually complete coverage was achieved. Jane Norton's Guide to the National and Provincial Directories of England and Wales, excluding London. Published before 1856 (Royal Historical Society 1950) proved invaluable, while for London holdings of Directories at the Guildhall Library, the Institute of Historical Research, Kensington Library, Westminster City Library and the Victoria and Albert Museum were collated and checked. One problem encountered, was the compiler’s tendency to list joiners and cabinet makers under a single heading, which is why some tradesmen in the Dictionary, especially in northern towns and villages, are recorded as ‘joiner/cm’.

Owing to the sheer multiplicity of references culled from Directories we decided to acknowledge all such information by the letter ‘D’ when citing the source. Full details of titles and dates are entered on cards in the master index.


It proved impossible to do more than sample London and provincial newspapers for press notices. The texts of trade advertisements are of capital interest and those which were traced are often quoted in full. However, a very fair coverage of Bath, Brighton, Bristol, Chester, Exeter, Hereford, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle and York papers was achieved while items were extracted from an art index of London papers covering the years 1735–55 kept in the Furniture Department at the Victoria and Albert Museum. In all 113 titles were sampled. The Symonds papers at the Henry Francis Du Pont Winterthur Museum, Delaware yielded a notable crop of transcripts from contemporary newspapers while some attempt was made by volunteers in the USA to supply particulars of furniture makers who emigrated to America and announced their recent arrival from England in the local press. The Gentleman's Magazine was fully scrutinised and the index to The Times partly so.

Trade Cards

Great pains were taken to trace these richly informative items of ephemera. Examples in the well known Banks, Heal, Fielden and Hodgkin collections at the British Museum were fully recorded, also the Landauer and Leverhulme collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and significant holdings at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Guildhall Library, the Bodleian Library and the Westminster City Library. Many scattered groups in other Public Libraries and Record Offices were also located. Printed billheads proved another valuable source while detached labels (whether used as a docket and filed with estate papers, or harvested by furniture restorers) were always welcome discoveries.

Subscription Lists and Price Books

The lists of subscribers to furniture pattern books such as Thomas Chippendale's Director, 1754, Thomas Sheraton's Drawing Book, 1793 and his Cabinet-Dictionary, 1803 provided many index cards, although the information given is often bare. Volumes of architectural designs or engraved ornament, and various treatises published by subscription, and so likely to appeal to furniture tradesmen were also checked. Cabinetmakers’ Books of Prices often named committees of masters and journeymen who drew up the piece-work rates on behalf of their colleagues; accordingly these too were examined.

Sale Catalogues

A systematic search of the furniture catalogues published by Christie's, Sotheby's and Phillips contributed rewarding evidence, particularly during the last thirty years when labels, stamps or available documentation are usually mentioned in lot descriptions. Several late Georgian catalogues of the stock-in-trade of cabinet makers sold by Christie's were discovered. In all sale catalogues issued by sixteen auctioneers yielded significant information.

Victoria and Albert Museum Furniture Archive

Prior to this project the only corporate effort to create an index of cabinet makers was attempted by the Department of Furniture at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Since about 1960 the staff had maintained a series of loose leaf binders containing green slips on which information about makers was recorded, often in a rather desultory way. Despite its shortcomings this index proved so useful as a supplement to Heal's London Furniture Makers 1660–1840 and Jourdain and Edwards’ Georgian Cabinet-Makers that it must be acknowledged as a major factor in inspiring the present venture. Needless to say the data it contained was meticulously carded for our own master index. The departmental files on individual country houses containing tear sheets from Country Life, photocopies of furniture bills, notes made on field trips to the houses, photographs etc. were thoroughly investigated and made a vital contribution to the present volume.

Personal Files

Members of the Furniture History Society and other well wishers, sadly with one exception, freely made available the contents of their own research files. These included museum curators, dealers, authors, lecturers, amateur collectors, antiquarians, local historians and genealogists. A special debt of gratitude is owed to Dr. Pat Kirkham who offered her considerable dossiers on the London furniture trade. The personal papers of the late Margaret Jourdain and of the late Edward Joy, both filed at the Victoria and Albert Museum, were searched thoroughly while a team of colleagues in America, aided by a generous grant from the Henry Francis Du Pont Winterthur Museum, Delaware, extracted information from the Symonds papers at that centre of learning.

Local, Corporate and Business Records

The coverage of this material was uneven; for example, few teams of volunteers found the time to check parish registers or rate books. However, freemens’ rolls, apprenticeship registers and poll books were regarded as priority sources and, while gaps remain, no apology is necessary for the gatherings from these records. The Joiners’ Company and Upholders’ Company lists provided invaluable information, although it was not always easy to be certain that their members were involved in the furniture trades. The population census of 1841, the first regularly to state occupations, was ignored because it fell outside our time frame (except in the case of High Wycombe, a vitally important chairmaking centre for which other sources were extremely slender). Insurance records at the Guildhall Library provided one of the most fruitful and previously under researched blocks of material. A team concentrated on the Sun Fire Office policy registers and also combed some of those of the Hand in Hand company. Only limited use was made of bank ledgers — potential mines of information — owing to other pressures: it is hoped that funding will eventually become available for a computerised analysis of their contents. The Society of Genealogists very generously made their specialist indexes available to us.


Country house muniments are the most rewarding of all primary sources since they may offer the possibility of building bridges between documents and provenanced furniture. The leading London cabinet makers seldom identified their products with a label or impressed stamp so this avenue of research is frequently the only way of establishing an artistic biography. Many country house commissions have been investigated, especially since the last war when family papers became more generally accessible. Hopefully almost all published references to relevant bills, payments and correspondence were carded. Regrettably the survey of estate papers remains incomplete because some collections remain in private hands, others are unsorted and a few proved too voluminous to sift methodically. However, we are reasonably confident that most of the significant available material was studied in varying degrees of detail. A vigorous programme of exploration was directed at certain particularly rich but hitherto neglected archives such as the Badminton, Bedford, Croome Court, Chatsworth, Audley End, Egerton/Wilton, Monson, Ancaster and Strathmore papers. The Scottish Record Office was included in our survey while the Royal archives at Windsor and the Public Record Office were researched intensively. Occasionally two locations are cited for MS deposits where material has been moved recently to a different repository.

Periodical Literature

The main English language periodicals concerned with decorative art or antiques ranging from the Burlington Magazine to the Antique Dealer and Collectors Guide, plus associated Annuals and Year Books were explored. We did not check pre-1930 numbers of Country Life since documented or labelled furniture was little regarded before that time. Care was taken to use runs in which dealers’ advertisements had been bound-in. Many journals published by learned societies and museums were also checked. The coverage of this material was impressively complete. References quoted in the Dictionary seldom cite authors of articles, only title and date or volume number and pagination of the periodical.

Modern Books

The carding of information from nineteenth and twentieth century books was a colossal undertaking. In view of the sheer bulk and repetitive nature of much of this data it was decided not to list all printed sources in a consolidated bibliography. Many books yielded only stray references and in such instances full details are given in the relevant entries. However, in the interests of space economy some books are cited in an abbreviated form. It was therefore considered essential to list these titles below in full, although the majority will be familiar to most users.

Bailey, William, List of Bankrupts 1772–1793, 1794

Bamford, Francis, A Dictionary of Edinburgh Furniture Makers, 1983

Beard, Geoffrey, Georgian Craftsmen and their Work, 1966

Craftsmen and Interior Decoration in England, 1981

Bellaigue, Geoffrey de, Harris, John and Millar, Oliver, Buckingham Palace, 1968

Bolton, Arthur T., The Architecture of Robert and James Adam, 2 vols, 1922

Chippendale, Thomas, The Gentleman and Cabinetmaker's Director, 1754

Claxton Stevens, Christopher and Whittington, Stuart, Eighteenth Century Furniture: the Norman Adams Collection, 1983

Clifford-Smith, H., Buckingham Palace, 1931

Coleridge, Anthony, The Work of Thomas Chippendale and his Contemporaries in the Rococo Taste, 1968

Colvin, Howard, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600–1840 (rev. ed.) 1978

Edwards, A. C. (ed.), The Accounts of Benjamin Mildmay, Earl Fitzwalter, 1977

Edwards, Ralph, The Dictionary of English Furniture, 3 vols, 1954

Edwards, Ralph and Jourdain, Margaret, Georgian Cabinet-Makers (rev. ed.) 1955

Fastnedge, Ralph, English Furniture Styles 1500–1830, 1955

Sheraton Furniture, 1962

Fifth Hall Book of New Windsor (ed) South, R., Windsor Borough Historical Records Publication, 1974

Fitz-Gerald, Desmond, The Norfolk House Music Room, 1973

Fleming, John, Robert Adam and his Circle, 1962

Fowler, John and Cornforth, John, English Decoration in the Eighteenth Century, 1974

Gilbert, Christopher, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, 2 vols, 1978

Furniture at Temple Newsam House and Lotherton Hall, 2 vols, 1978

Goodison, Nicholas, English Barometers 1680–1860, 1977

Ormolu: the Work of Matthew Boulton, 1974

Gunnis, Rupert, Dictionary of British Sculptors 1660–1851 (rev. ed.) 1968

Harris, Eileen, The Furniture of Robert Adam, 1963

Harris, John, Sir William Chambers, 1970

Harris, M. & Sons, Old English Furniture (rev. ed.) 1938

Hayward, Helena and Kirkham, Pat, William and John Linnell: Eighteenth Century London FurnitureMakers, 2 vols, 1980

Heal, Ambrose, The London Furniture Makers 1660–1840, 1953

Hussey, Christopher, English Country Houses: EarlyGeorgian (rev. ed.) 1965

English Country Houses: Mid-Georgian, 1956

English Country Houses: Late-Georgian, 1958

Jervis, Simon, Dictionary of Design and Designers, 1984

Jourdain, Margaret, The Work of William Kent, 1948

Regency Furniture, (rev. by Fastnedge, R.) 1965

Jourdain, Margaret and Rose, F., English Furniture the Georgian Period 1750–1830, 1953

Joy, Edward, English Furniture 1800–1851, 1977

Loudon, John Claudius, Encyclopaedia of Cottage, Farm and Villa Architecture and Furniture, 1833

Malton, Thomas, A Compleat Treatise on Perspective, in Theory and Practice on the True Principles of Dr. Brook Taylor, 1775

Mayes, L. J., The History of Chairmaking in High Wycombe, 1960

Musgrave, Clifford, Adam and Hepplewhite and other Neo-Classical Furniture, 1966

Regency Furniture, 1961

Phillips, Hugh, Mid-Georgian London, 1964

Reade, Bryan, Regency Antiques, 1953

Robinson, Thomas, The Long-Case Clock, 1981

Sheraton, Thomas, The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer's Drawing Book, 1793

The Cabinet Dictionary, 1803

Stroud, Dorothy, Henry Holland, 1968

Symonds, Robert, Furniture Making in Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century England, 1955

English Furniture from Charles II to George II, 1929

Tomlin, Maurice, Catalogue of Adam Period Furniture (V&A) 1972

Ward-Jackson, Peter, English Furniture Designs of the Eighteenth Century, 1958

Watson, F. J. B., Southill, a Regency House, 1951

Wills, Geoffrey, English Looking Glasses, 1965

English Furniture 1550–1760, 1971

English Furniture 1760–1900, 1971

Wills at Chelmsford (ed.) Emmison, F. G., 3 vols, 1958– 69

Wiltshire Apprentices and their Masters 1710–1760, (ed.) Dale, C., Wilts Arch and Nat. Hist. Soc. Record Series, vol. 17, 1961