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France, Edward (1748-1777)

France, Edward

101 St Martin’s Lane, Charing Cross, London; upholsterer and cabinet maker (b.1748-d.1777)

Edward France was the eldest son of John and Elizabeth France. He was born in Lancaster and baptised there on 25September 1748. Nothing further is known of Edward until he was apprenticed in London as an upholsterer to his uncle William France in 1766, at the age of 18. He may have worked for his father as a cabinet maker before this. In William’s employ he signed the Great Wardrobe’s Day Book, acknowledging goods received on his uncle’s behalf, and in 1771 he signed a receipt for a payment from Lord Mansfield for work at Kenwood House.

On the death of his uncle in 1773, Edward was left an equal share with his father, John, of the stock (made and unmade), and also the leasehold interest in the premises in St Martin’s Lane. The Great Wardrobe did not renew the Royal Warrant on France’s death.

In 1773 Edward was elected a Freeman of Lancaster and described as a cabinet maker and upholsterer. On his father’s death in 1775, he and his younger brother William were left the business between them. Edward continued to run the firm but did not prove his father’s will until April 1777; on 3 June of that year he signed a declaration in respect of his father’s estate.

No record has yet been found of the date of Edward ‘s death but it must have been between 3 and 25 June 1777, the latter being the date of an inventory and valuation of his estate [TNA/PROB/31/648/592]. Among other things it records the contents of 101 St Martin’s Lane, valued at £1,418-14s. These included furnishing fabrics, furniture finished and unfinished, wood and veneers, including rosewood, kingwood dark and light, cocoa wood and airwood stained grey. Debts due and owing were also recorded, listing over one hundred debtors, including Queen Charlotte, members of the peerage and professionals including the decorator, John CraceAfter Edward’s death the firm in St. Martin’s Lane continued in the hands of his brother, William France jnr. 

Sources: DEFM, Geoffrey Castle, ‘The France Family of Upholsterers and Cabinet-Makers’, Furniture History (2005); Personal communication with Geoffrey Castle, 20 January 2021.

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