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Graham, Peter (1811–1877)

Graham, Peter

London; cabinet makers and upholsterers (b.1811 - d.1877)

Peter Graham was born in Kirk-Andrew upon Esk, Cumberland on 29 April 1811, the second of eight children born to William Graham and Elizabeth Armstrong. By 1828 he was working in London for his uncle, John Graham, a silk mercer and linen draper in High Holborn (John Graham had previously in a business partnership with Mr Nixon in Oxford Street). 

In 1836 Peter Graham joined with Thomas Charles Jackson to establish the firm of Jackson and Graham at 37 Oxford Street. On 28 December 1842, he married Emma Newton at All Souls, Marylebone, and they subsequently had five sons; Walter, Frank, William Edgar, Malcolm and John. In addition there were two stepsons, Richard Newton and Edward Newton and one surviving son from Peter’s first marriage, George Douglas Graham. Of these only Walter (born 1843) & William Edgar (born 1846) joined the businessJohn (born 1849) was later became a creditor of the business when it got into difficulties. Forster Graham (1829-1888), one of Peter’s younger brothers, also joined the company. Both the brothers became directors of The Langham Hotel Company Ltd, built 1863-1865 and opened in June 1865 by the Prince of Wales.   

Peter Graham’s home lived at 2 Palace Gardens Green, Kensington, where he maintained a household with five servants and a coachman [1871 Census]. He retired from active involvement in the firm through ill health in 1877 and died two later on 15 July 1877. The firm went into liquidation in 1882. His will left all his personal belongings, two annuities and the income from a moiety of the residue estate to his wife, with legacies to his sons, brothers, sisters, and others. His freehold estate in Cumberland was left to his eldest son, George and his heirs, and the other properties to his other five sons [The Furniture Gazette, 10 November 1877]. 

Although Jackson & Graham did not usually stamp their furniture, examples do exist of pieces marked Peter Graham & Forster Graham, for example, an ebony display cabinet with inlaid decoration (1866), formerly in the Charles and Lavinia Handley-Read collection and now at the Higgins Art Gallery and Museum, Bedford (HAGM:F.77  1-2).  

Sources: Edwards, ‘The Firm of Jackson and Graham’, Furniture History (1998); Wallis, ‘A Hand-List of the Handley-Read Collection’, The Decorative Arts Society 1850 to the Present (2016); Martin Graham.