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Bright, Jerome Denny & Co (1793-1871)

Bright, Jerome Denny; J. D. Bright & Co.

Saxmundham, Suffolk; cabinet maker, watch and clock maker (b.1793-d.1871)

Jerome Denny Bright was the son of Jerome Bright (1770-1846), a watch and clock maker, ironmonger, brazier and whitesmith of Saxmundham. Bright snr married Susan Denny in 1790 and Jerome jnr was born in 1793. About 1817 Jerome snr passed on part of his business to his son. He continued in business as an ironmonger until at least 1823-4 but had retired by 1830 when he was listed in directories as a gentleman.

Jerome Denny Bright took over his father’s watch and clock making business in 1817 at the age of 24. The following year he married Mary Pratt of Needham, Norfolk. She died in 1825 and in 1827 Jerome remarried, to Jane Fuller Bright. He advertised in the Bury and Norwich Post on 10 February 1726 for an apprentice watchmaker and jeweller and in the Suffolk Chronicle of 8 January 1831 he presented an expanded repertoire: ‘silver-smith and general dealer in the best sort of japanned goods, fine cutlery, bronze and great variety of fancy goods and an extensive stock of cut and plain glass, china and Staffordshire ware’.

By 1840 Bright had changed trades, possibly because of the retirement in 1837 of Charles Sawyer, Saxmundham’s only cabinet maker and upholsterer. In the Suffolk Chronicle for 8 January 1840 Bright advertised as a ‘cabinet, chair maker and upholsterer &c.’, adding that he was also the agent for ‘the new patent cocoa-nut fibre for stuffing mattresses and couches…’.

The 1841 Census recorded that Bright’s son Alfred, aged sixteen, was an upholsterer and there was also a journeyman watchmaker, Jerome Woolerton, living at the same address. The following year he branched out into photography, opening a ‘Photographic Portrait Establishment’ in Berners Street, Ipswich. About 1846 Bright took his two sons in law, the brothers Isaac Ashford (1821-99) and James Ashford (1823-c.1901) into the business, and the name changed to J. D. Bright & Co. The partnership lasted only until 1850, when Bright retired to Park Lodge, South Entrance, Saxmundham, leaving the business in the charge of his sons in law. See Ashford, Isaac & James.

Three pieces of furniture have been recorded with a J. D. Bright & Co. label: a circular mahogany table on a central pillar and circular platform above curled feet; a pollard oak card table on a tapered hexagonal pillar and platform base with lotus feet (illus. Williams (2020), figs 1-3); a rosewood card table sold from Benacre Hall, Sotheby’s, 9-11 May 2000, lot 323.

Sources: DEFM; Williams, ‘Jerome Denny Bright of Saxmundham, Clock and Watchmaker, Businessman and Subsequently a Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer’, Regional Furniture (2020), pp. 195-201.

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