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France, John (1767-1768)

France, John

Lancaster, Lancashire and London; cabinet maker (b.1725-d.1775)

John France was the eldest son of of a yeoman farmer, Edward France, and his wife Agnes, of Whittington, Lancashire. He was the elder brother of William France, later a partner in the London furniture makers France and Bradburn.

John France was baptised at Whittington on 8 April 1725. It is likely that he trained as a cabinet maker in Lancaster, although no record of his apprenticeship has been found. On 17 September 1747 he married Elizabeth, the daughter of the joiner, John Townson, at St Mary’s Lancaster, the marriage license describing France as a joiner. Their first son, Edward, was baptised in Lancaster on 25 September 1748.

John France may be the person who subscribed to Chippendale’s Director in 1754.

Shortly afterwards, and perhaps prompted by the death of John Townson in the same year, France and his wife moved to London where a daughter, Elizabeth, was baptised at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster, on 3 August 1757, followed by a second son, William, in 1759.

It appears that the family returned to Whittington about 1760 because another son, Robert, was baptised there in 1761 and John’s wife Elizabeth died there in 1763. However, when he was made a freeman of Lancaster in 1767-8, he was described as a cabinet maker ‘of London’. He may have worked with his brother William who was in partnership in London with John Bradburn

When William died in 1773 he left his stock (made and unmade) to John and John’s son Edward, who also received the lease of the premises in St Martin’s Lane. On his own death in 1775 he left £100 to his wife Elizabeth; £200 to his son William; and the residue to be equally shared between the same to William and his elder brother Edward.

Sources: DEFM; Geoffrey Castle, ‘The France Family of Upholsterers and Cabinet-Makers’, Furniture History (2005); Susan Stuart, Gillows of Lancaster and London 1730-1840 (2008), II, p.309.

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