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Traherne, Edward (1637-1675)

Traherne, Edward

Bedford Street, London; cabinet maker and looking glass maker (b.1637-d.1675)

Born in 1637, Edward was the sixth child of the gentleman Thomas Traherne of Lugwardine, Hereford. In June 1654 he was apprenticed to John Burrowes, a cabinet maker at ‘Ye Looking Glass’ on Cornhill and became free of the Joiner’s Company in June 1661. A year later he indentured his first apprentice and bound eight more before his death in 1675.

By April 1666 he was located in Fleet Street and by spring of the following year had moved to Bedford Street, just south of Covent Garden near the Strand, perhaps as a result of the Great Fire the September before. His household included his wife, five children, three apprentices and probably several journeymen. It comprised thirteen rooms, four of which were used for business purposes, two workshops and two cellars. 

He sold a substantial collection of luxury furniture from his ‘Greate Warehouse’: cabinets on stands, chests of drawers, tables with matching stands and mirrors, secretaries and a variety of boxes, veneered in ebony, walnut, princes and cocus wood, some decorated with floral marquetry or japanned, and many with silver embellishments and gilt brass mounts. He also silvered glass and constructed frames in two workshops and a ‘Fileing [foiling] Room’ in the attic. At the time of his death in 1675 he employed nine journeymen, a glass grinder, a frame maker, two carvers and gilders and had three apprentices. 

Traherne’s Court of Orphans’ inventory of November 1675, appraised by Gerrit Jensen, showed few materials to indicate he actually produced cabinet ware, suggesting he subcontracted most if not all of this work. The inventory documents his association with five cabinet makers who may have supplied much of his stock-in-trade, three which are named: Mr Wiseman; Mr Naylor; and Jasper Bream, who was a marqueteur. In total he worked with twenty-three tradesmen of whom ten were members of the Joiners’ Company. The inventory also noted payments to two journeymen, one named Mr Gumwright.

Traherne’s clients included:

  • Queen Catherine of Braganza
  • Princess Mary of York
  • Princess Anne of York
  • Nell Gwynne
  • Barbara Palmer
  • 1st Duchess of Cleveland
  • Charles Lennox, 3rd Duke of Richmond
  • George Villers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham
  • Henry Bennet, 1st Earl of Arlington.

Traherne was also a building contractor involved in rebuilding domestic premises after the Fire of 1666 and like many, he was a landlord. His inventory listed a lease for a piece of land ‘lying on Shooe Lane and parte in Fleete Street on which is built 5 houses for 54 yeares to come where upon is reserved the yearly rent of £42: Valued at £620’, and also leases on a single houses in Shooe Lane, Fleet Street and The Strand and two houses in Ludgate Hill. He owned a few bonds in 1675 and had also put £20 into an unspecified ‘Adventure beyond the seas’. The total value of Traherne’s estate was £3,873 1s 4d.

Sources: DEFM; Bowett, ‘A Princes Wood Strong Box Made for Elihu Yale, c.1685’, FHS Newsletter (February 2005); Lindey, ‘Apprenticeships in the London Joinery Company’, Regional Furniture (2008); Lindey, ‘A Restoration Cabinet and Looking Glass Maker’, Furniture History (2014); Solomons and Broughton, ‘Cocuswood and Kingwood Cabinets of the Early Restoration Period’, Furniture History (2014); Lindey, The London Furniture Trade, 1640 - 1720 (unpublished PhD thesis), Institute of Historical Research, University of London (2016).

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