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Greenwood, Isaac (1753-1818)

Greenwood, Isaac

Lancaster, Lancs.; cabinet maker (b.1753-d.1818)

He was one of four sons of Robert Greenwood of Boxtree estate, Lupton, who became an ironmonger of Kirby Lonsdale. Isaac's brother Robert became a Lancaster cabinet maker before working in London. Another brother became a cooper. His youngest brother, Thomas Greenwood (1758-1825) became a West Indies sea captain famed for his bravery. Thomas exported furniture to the West Indies and brought back logs of mahogany, some of which he probably sold to Isaac.

Isaac was apprenticed to Robert Thorney of Lancaster on 23 February 1767 and made free 1773-74. After completing his apprenticeship he began working for Gillows and made a wide variety of furniture. For example, on 22 September 1774 he made 'old splat back’ pattern chairs with veneered plain legs. In 1776 he made three commodes, three sideboard tables, one with plain term legs, a bookcase with pitched pediment, three card tables, seven chairs with new upright splats, three cheese wagons, eight brackets for card tables and several night tables. In August 1776 he made a small bookcase for Lord Derby with a secretaire and an arched pediment which took him six days at 2s. per day. In February Richard Mashiter helped him by ‘...setting out stuff for a commode’ and he was assisted by Michael Savage in August. From January to August 1776 he earned in two instalments a total of £33 9s 8½d. He made a cylinder desk with two top drawers with ‘black angles' in the legs in January 1780. A similar desk with a Gillow’s stamp is known and another in similar piece has Greenwood's own oval label in the drawer. However, this was a popular table and John Wilson made one described as: ‘... like one made by Isaac' about the same period. See Stuart (2008), pls B14 and B15 for a press cupboard with Isaac Greenwood's paper label.

Isaac Greenwood was purchasing wood, rum, deal, rings, hinges, handles, screws, glue, wax and oil from Gillows in 1780 which was settled, or part settled, against furniture he made for the firm. He was clearly making his own furniture at this period in addition to working for Gillows. In July 1780 he made ‘4 beech armed chairs wth, term’d legs like one in wareroom [for] Vans Agnew'. In August 1780 he made 6 sateen wood Chinese chairs square plain legs' at 5.3d. each; and he also made ‘sateen wood’ Pembroke tables. Amongst the furniture he made in 1783 were eight mahogany chairs ‘with compas seats upright waving plan backs-turned legs & rails like Mr. Dilworths’; and a sideboard table with a centre drawer, shaped front  with one end drawer with deal partitions for six bottles and the other end drawer empty and a pot cupboard. He also made a secretaire or with a ‘new sort of writing drawer’. The ‘upright waving splats’ appear on chair no.10 in the 1785 journeymen's agreements. He was paid £16.18s.7½d. from January to the end of May

Greenwood signed the 1785 Lancaster wage agreement with thirty-two other workmen. In 1797 he made an inlaid clock case with a scrolled pediment, whose clock dial bears his name in the dial arch. A copy of a bill or invoice with the date '16 December 1797' and 'Isaac Greenwood cabinetmaker Green Air' exists. The case was inlaid with two vases of flowers in the hood either side of the dial. He was listed in the Gillow’s Petty Ledgers from c.1773-1804 when he purchased brass furniture and timber from the firm.

An indenture exists dated 23 July 1823 concerning the ground rent for a peppercorn sum from the Corporation of Lancaster of Isaac Greenwood's shop, house and warehouse which he had occupied from 13 February 1789 (illus, Stuart (2008), pls B16-B18). The property was on Damside Street, now North Road. In December 1792 Greenwood also purchased two plots on which to build his workshops on adjacent Pitt Street from James Isherwood, merchant. In 1805 he had premises at Cable Street but in 1809 at Green Street, Lancaster.

He married Ellen Allman, spinster, on 11 May 1780, at the Priory Church of St. Mary, Lancaster. The witnesses were Thomas Batty and Margaret Proctor. His son, John Greenwood, who became a freeman in 1797-98, worked with his father for a while since they took on an apprentice jointly on 2 April 1807, but by 1815 John Greenwood was working alone. Isaac Greenwood had a thriving business since he took on twelve apprentices from 1789-1807. These were: Thomas and William Barrow and Thomas Baines 1789, Thomas Bradley and John Garnett 1790, John Jacques Fotheringham and John Shaw 1791, Edward Blackburn 1797, John Thomas Fayrer and William Sutton Fayrer 1804. Charles Winston 1806 and Thomas Hardy bound in 1807 to Isaac and his son John.

Captain Thomas Greenwood exported furniture from Lancaster which he probably purchased from his brother, and on at least two voyages he brought back eighty-five logs of mahogany per voyage from the West Indies (in 1791 and 1795), some of which were probably intended for Isaac.

Sources: DEFM; Stuart, Gillows of Lancaster and London 1730-1840 (2008), II, pp 240-42.