Villers Street, Strand, London; cabinet maker, japanner and looking-glass seller (fl. 1687–d.1727)
One of the most fashionable furniture suppliers of the first decades of the 18th century. The earliest known reference to him occurs in the Calendar of State Papers Domestic for 16 December 1687. Nothing further is known until in June 1702 when he was undertaking repairs to marquetry furniture and executing gilding at Drayton House, Northamptonshire, amounting to £52 9s 6d. In the period May to July of the following year he was engaged in ‘making up an Indian Chest of yr. owne boards, finding locks & hindges and painting the 2 ends’ for the same patron at a cost of £8 10s.
His best known commission was probably executed at about the same time; in 1703 he petitioned to be paid for ‘two large sconces with double branches finely gilded, being three foot deep scoloped, diamond cutt and engraved embollished with crimson and gold Mosaic work with flowers on the bodys of the Glasses’ which were executed as a present from Queen Anne for the Emperor of Morocco. These cost £12 7s.
The sum of £500 insurance cover taken out in 1712 is probably indicative of the flourishing state of the business.
The same year Arbuthnot was paid £4 18s for glass sconces supplied to Boughton House.
An advertisement appeared in the Daily Courant giving notice that he intended to ‘leave off his trade’. Further notices appeared on 17 January 1716/7:
Advertisement published in the Daily Courant, Saturday 14 January 1716/17
He ran the same advertisement again on 15 July 1717.
His stock included ‘all Sorts of Looking Glasses Glass Pannels and sconces, Cabinets both English and Japan, Scrutores, Tables, Stands, Writing Desks, Book Cases, Card Tables, Dressing Suits and Chests of Drawers both of Japan and Wallnet-tree; likewise carved and Gilded Sconces, and all Sorts of China, Tea Tables, Screens and Fire-Screens, Oyl Pictures, Strong Boxes …’.
Despite this announcement he continued to trade and in 1719 was supplying goods on a very grand scale to the Marquis of Annandale. One commission alone came to £222 9s while another account details the supply of mirrors with walnut and glass and gilt frames and ‘a fine large pair of Sconces in glass & gold frames & carved as gold heads’. This latter item cost £24 alone and the total was £97 5s.
His death was recorded in April 1727 and it was indicated that the premises that he occupied were available to let.
The sale of goods and stock were noted in the Daily Courant on Monday17 July 1727
Sources: DEFM; Murdoch, ‘Jean, René and Thomas Pelletier, a Huguenot family of carvers and gilders in England 1682-1726. Part II’, Burlington Magazine, (June 1998).