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Davidson, William (1729-1773)

Davidson, William

Marygate, ‘opposite the Main Guard’, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland; cabinet maker (b.1728/29–4 October 1773)

John Davidson was the son of a yeoman, apprenticed on 24 October 1746 to a Berwick carpenter, Samuel Laws and admitted to the Freedom in December 1753. He lived and worked in Marygate, Berwick. He bound three apprentices: Gallimore in 1759; Menzie(s) by 1761 and Robert Miller in 1766. The names of his three of his journeymen, James Darling, Thomas Charters and John Thompson, were working for him shortly before his death.

He married twice. His first wife Isabella died in 1769 whilst his second wife Hannah died in 1810.

According to the obituary of Newcastle Courant of 9 October 1773, he ‘Died…Monday, at Berwick an eminent Cabinet-maker there’. He was survived by five sons and three daughters although there is no evidence that the cabinet business was kept on after his death.

He was employed by the Borough of Berwick itself at least twice, firstly for ‘cabinet work inn at Town Hall’ in 1771 for which he was paid £18 16s 4d and between 1772 and 1773 received payments for ‘Work to the Mayor’s pew in the Church’ and ‘the Mayor’s seat in the Church’. This commission was in connection with a total refit of Holy Trinity. There may be earlier work commissions for the Borough but the account books are missing. No pews from this time remain as the church was refurbished again in 1855.

The only evidence for his private clientele to emerge to date (1995) is from a letter dated 30 October 1766 in the Northumberland Record office written by him to Lady Delaval at Ford Castle. This records a commission for 6 Chinese chairs. '.. Your 6 Chinese Chairs & fly Table shall/be sett about and forwarded in dew time./ To your desire have sent you a Pattron Chair Valow[?]….’ They originally occupied the drawing room in the west wing of the castle on the principal floor. The chairs, an extraordinary tour-de-force of eighteenth-century carving, were sold to Lord Leverhulme in 1915 and are now in the Lady Lever Art Gallery (illustrated in Lucy Wood, FHS, 1995).

Source: DEFM; Wood, Lucy ‘Furniture for Lord Delaval: Metropolitan and Provincial’, Furniture History (1990); Wood, Lucy, William Davidson of Berwick-Upon-Tweed, Furniture History (1995).

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