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Francis, William; Francis, William Webb (1796–1841)

Francis, William; Francis, William Webb

104 New Bond St & 82 Baker Street, London; cabinet maker and upholder (fl.1796–d.1841)

Family tradition holds that William Francis was John Sherman Elliott’s brother in law but no evidence has been found to support this. His first known marriage was to Elizabeth Webb, of the parish of St James’s Westminster at St George’s Hanover Square, on 8 January 1796. They had one son, William Webb Francis, and two daughters. His second marriage was to Lucretia Margaretta Sweet, on 7 August 1817, also at St George’s Hanover Square. There were three children by this marriage.

It is not certain when Francis went into partnership with Charles Elliott of New Bond Street, but the DEFM states that it was during the 1780s. In 1805 Elliott’s son, John Sherman Elliott, joined the firm which was henceforth known as Elliott Son & Francis. For details of their activities see the entry for Charles Elliott.  

After Charles’ Elliott’s retirement about 1820 Francis continued in partnership with John Sherman Elliott until the latter’s retirement in 1827, which left Francis in sole charge of the business. He continued to work for the Royal Household until 1839 and his name appears in the Royal Household accounts from 1 April 1827 to 31 January 1839 [TNA LC/11/56-74]. Trade directories record him at 104 New Bond Street between 1827-1839. The following entries in the Royal Household accounts between 1832 and 1840 show the range of his work.

ST JAMES'S PALACE [PRO, LC 11/77] HAMPTON COURT, Stud Lodge: jobbing work [PRO, LC 11/ 80] 3 Spanish mahog. writing tables with drawers, on pilaster ends & claw feet 18gns Mahogany hanging bookshelf with drawers (Best Bedroom Floor)£1. 10s. Attic Bedrooms 8 mahog. swing frame dressing glasses, 14ʺ × 10ʺ£6. 12s. 2 × 3′ 3ʺ wainscot chests of 5 drawers each £9. 8s. 6 mahogany hanging dressing glasses, 10ʺ × 8ʺ£2. 8s. 24 japanned rush seat chairs£7. 4s. Entrance Hall 2 oak gothic tables, each of 1 drawer, octagon turned legs£8. 14s. ST JAMES'S PALACE, Harrington House [PRO LC 11/83] Gentlemen of the Wine Cellar Mahogany high sloping desk on 4 upturned legs£6. 4s. WINDSOR CASTLE [PRO, LC 11/86] 18 × 3′ 6ʺ mahogany chests of 5 drawers, moulded bases & turned feet£121. 10s. 10 swing dressing glasses, 18ʺ × 14′’, in mahogany-cased pillar frames£33. 0s. 11 mahog. dressing tables, 3′ 6ʺ, 2 drawers, rims to tops & shelf below£58. 1s. 4 mahoga. washing tables, 3′ 6ʺ, with deep splash boards, 3 drawers in each & a shelf at bottom£22. 16s. 12 mahog. front easy chairs with sunk grooves, on turned legs & castors, each with a loose cushion covered in buttoned Morocco£110. 8s. ST JAMES'S PALACE 4 hanging dressing glasses in mahog. frames for Servants’ Rooms£1. 12s. ST JAMES'S PALACE, Lord Chamberlain's Office [PRO, LC 11/89] A good mahogany chest of drawers on turned feet £5. 16s. ST JAMES'S PALACE, Footmen's Rooms [PRO, LC 11/92] 4 hanging dressing glasses in mahogany frames£1. 16s. ST JAMES'S PALACE, Lord Chamberlain's Office [PRO, LC 11/95] 8 Feb. 1837: Japanned bamboo wash handstand, lifting top enclosed under, with a drawer, a plugged basin & fittings & tin receiver£8. 0s. KENSINGTON PALACE, Housekeeper's Apartments 7 March 1837: Tent bedstead with mahogany sides£9. 14s. 2 single japanned French bedsteads£8. 0s. 3 japanned chests, each of 5 drawers£10. 4s. 2 mahog. Pembroke tables with turned legs, a drawer in each £6. 6s. 2 single ½-tester servant's bedsteads£7. 2s. 12 birch caned-seat runner chairs£5. 14s. 1 double japanned wash handstand with washboard, 2 drawers & shelf£3. 10s. 1 Spanish mahog. dressing table, 2 drawers, on turned legs £3. 18s. 1 swing dressing glass, 18ʺ × 14ʺ, in mahogany tray frame 12. 8s. ST JAMES'S PALACE, Sec. to the Board of Green Cloth [PRO, LC 11/98] 3′ 6ʺ Honduras mahogany chest of 5 drawers£5. 5s. BUCKINGHAM PALACE [PRO, LC 11/104] 2 × 3′ 6ʺ Span, mahog. chests of 5 drawers, on turned feet £16. 0s. 1 × 4′ Span, mahogany chest of 6 drawers, turned feet £10. 10s. 3 × 3′ 6ʺ good mahog. chests of 5 drawers, on turned feet £18. 10s. BUCKINGHAM PALACE, Prince Albert's Wardrobe [PRO, LC 11/110] 4 mahogany wardrobes with moulded cornices & mahog. pilasters£33. 0s. Another£14. 14s. Another, matching, to form a closet£9. 14s. BUCKINGHAM PALACE [PRO, LC 11/100] A bed chair stuffed and covered in Manchester stripe £2. 0s.

The 1841 Census recorded William Francis living at St George’s Terrace, Paddington, where he died on 7 January 1841. He was succeeded in the business by his son, William Webb Francis, whose name occurs in the Lord Chamberlain’s accounts from 1845, if not before. Between the end of 1855 and the beginning of 1857, with the firm of Mealing & Son, William Webb Francis supplied over 100 Windsor chairs for kitchens and servants’ quarters at Buckingham Palace, Kew Palace and Windsor Castle. He continued to supply furniture to the Royal Household until at least 1870. He was listed in the London Post Office Directory 1845 at the New Bond Street address.

Sources: DEFM; Joy, ‘The Royal Victorian Furniture-Makers, 1837-87’, The Burlington Magazine (November 1969); Geoffrey Castle, personal communication, 20 January 2021.

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