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Alderman, John; Alderman & Co.; Alderman, Johnson & Co. (1851-1886)

Alderman, John; Alderman & Co.; Alderman, Johnson & Co.

Soho, London; inventor, patentee & invalid furniture maker, carriage & coach maker (fl.1851-86)

John Alderman was born in 1820 in Tring, Hertfordshire. By 1851 he was in London where the Census recorded him in Denmark Street, Soho, as a couch and chair maker employing six men. In 1852 Alderman was recorded in partnership with Thomas Chapman, a well-established invalid chair maker of 8 Dean Street, Soho, where the firm operated between 1852 and 1856, making graduating spinal fracture and general invalid couches, chairs, carriages and other articles of a similar nature.

After the death of his first wife, Eliza, Alderman married Caroline in 1858. The banns recorded his trade as chair maker and that of his father as cordwainer. In 1860 Alderman was first recorded at 16 Soho Square, where the 1861 Census listed him with his wife and three children. The 1871 Census noted that he also had a manufactory in Denmark Street, St Giles; and the 1881 Census recorded him at the Soho Square address, aged 61, as an ‘invalid reclining chair maker’ employing fifteen men. By this time he had five children. Several pieces of furniture bearing the Soho Square address have been recorded, including a mahogany wheelchair, c.1860, with maker’s label reading ‘J. Alderman, Inventor, Patentee & Manufacturer, 16 Soho Square, London’; a portable invalid’s chair of similar date; and a patented mahogany day bed 1860-70 (illus. Gilbert (1996) pp. 66 & 67).

The Furniture Gazette, 30 August 1884, recorded that on 16 August ‘Alderman & Co.’ was registered with a working capital of £60,000 to trade as coach, carriage, chair & couch manufacturers, taking over the goodwill, patents etc. of John Alderman of 16 Soho Square. The subscribers to the £10 shares included John Alderman and he was appointed managing director.

On 16 December 1884 John Alderman received bankruptcy orders [The Furniture Gazette, 17 January 1885]. A composition was sanctioned by the courts on 3 June 1885 and the receiving order was rescinded [The Furniture Gazette, 1 July 1885], leading to a new company being registered on 14 September 1886: Alderman, Johnson & Co., manufacturers of invalid couches, chairs & carriages, and ‘cabinet making at all branches’. An unregistered agreement for the new company was made on 10 September 1886 between, on one side, John Alderman, invalid carriage maker of 16 Soho Square, and John Johnson, merchant of 87 New Oxford Street, and the other by William Oakshatt. Oakshatt was stated to be a carriage maker of 87 New Oxford Street [The Furniture Gazette, 1 October 1886].  

Sources: DEFM; Gilbert, Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture 1700-1840 (1996).


The original entry from Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, 1660-1840 can be found at British History Online.