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Grendey, Giles (1693-1780)

Grendey, Giles, London, cm (b. 1693–d. 1780). Giles Grendey was born in Wotton-under-Edge, Glos., the son of William Grendey, and his wife Anne (neé Hall). In 1709 he was app. to William Sherborne, a second-generation London joiner. [GL, Indenture] His seven years expired in 1716 when he became a freeman, and by 1726 he was taking apps, one of whom, Christopher Petfield, then petitioned at the Middlx general sessions for his discharge from his apprenticeship to Grendey, and also for the repayment of the ‘consideracon money’ of £5. The order for discharge recorded that Grendey ‘beat the in a very barbarous manner, sometimes with a great stick and at other times knocking him downe and then kicking him in the face and other parts and in stead of learning him his trade of Joyner sett him to sawing large timber which noe ways relates to the trade and hath likewise often theatened to be the death of the s.d peter’. In 1720 Grendey, of St Paul's, Covent Gdn, married Elizabeth Van Knyven of St Gregory, London, at St Mary Magdalen, Old Fish St. Grendey was elected to the Livery of the Joiner's Co. in 1729. [H. L. Phillips, Annals of the Worshipful Company of Joiners, London, 1915] and became a freeman of the City of London. Indication of Grendey's status in 1731 is provided by newspaper accounts of a fire which attacked his workshop in Aylesbury House, St John's Sq., Clerkenwell, in the early morning of August 3rd. [Daily Courant, Daily Journal, Daily Post, Daily Advertiser, all 4 August 1731; Read's Weekly Journal or British Gazeteer, 7 August 1731] The fire started on the premises of Mr Briggs, an organ maker, but Grendey, described as ‘Cabinet-Maker and ChairMaker’, was the greatest loser, among the stock destroyed being ‘an easy Chair of such rich and curious Workmanship, that he had refus'd 500 Guineas for it, it being intended, ’tis said, to be purchas'd by a Person of Quality who design'd it as a Present to a German Prince’ and furniture to the value of £1,000, which he ‘had pack'd for Exportation against the next Morning’. However the house and Grendey's stock were insured. In 1731 Grendey began again to take apps. The full list, with date, name, and sum of consideration is as follows [PRO, IR 1/12/–18, and GL, Joiners’ Co. bindings]:

July 24 1731William Dickenson£10 Dec. 20 1731James Ludford£15 Apr. 15 1735Edw. Airey£15 Oct. 3 1737John Tudgey£20 Nov. 18 1737John Holloway£21 June 18 1741James Tomlyn£40 Sept. 30 1741James Turney£10 April 14 1747Wm. House£15 June 1 1747James Simpson£10 Dec. 5 1752John Ashton£43 June 11 1754Joseph Lawed£30

Tudgey came, like Grendey, from Wotton-under-Edge. Simpson had already served three years with Philip Box. From 1732–39 Grendey supplied furniture to Richard Hoare of Barn Elms, and in 1739 he worked for Sir Jacob de Bouverie of Longford Castle. In 1740 his wife, Elizabeth died at her house in St John's Sq., Clerkenwell; she had borne Grendey several children, Mary (bapt. 18 January 1721, buried 1 December 1722), Elizabeth (bapt. 23 October 1722); a second Mary, another daughter, Sukey, and a son, Samuel (bapt. 7 January 1723). Grendey was on the occasion of his wife's death described as ‘a great Dealer in the Cabinet Way’. [London Evening Post, 9 August 1740] In 1743 Grendey bought a house in Middlx. [Daily Advertiser, 22 April 1743] From 1746–56 he supplied furniture to Henry Hoare of Stourhead. In 1747 Grendey became Upper Warden of the Joiners’ Co. and advertised himself in the Daily Advertiser as ‘cabinet maker in St John's Square Clerkenwell’. He is listed in the London Directory of 1755 as ‘Grindey, Giles, St. John's Square’ and in the same year, on 31 March, his daughter Sukey married John Cobb, the great cm (Grendey was described as ‘an eminent Timber Merchant’, General Evening Post, 1 April 1755): Cobb's bank account at Drummonds records substantial payments to ‘Mr Grendey’ in 1759 and 1763. On 16 January 1758, Grendey ‘of St John's Square Clerkenwell’ insured ‘his fine house only No 2 Lyon St in Clerkenwell in tenure of £1000’ and on 13 April of the same year ‘his household goods utensils stock in trade (glass excluded) in dwelling house & warehouse £800. Stock in yard £200. Total £1000’. [GL, Sun MS vol. 121, p. 542; vol. 122] In 1762 Grendey supplied mahogany to Kedleston Hall, Derbs. In 1757 Grendey again became Upper Warden of the Joiners’ Co. and in 1766 Master, thus emulating his master, Sherborne, who had filled the same post in 1726. However Grendey, by then aged 72, seems to have neglected his duties; in June 1767, the Clerk was directed to write to him to request better attendance and that he was to be present at the next Court, or ‘such methods will be taken as shall be adjudged proper, which ‘tis hoped he will prevent as the same will be equally disagreeable to the Court as to himself’. In 1755 Grendey, still at Clerkenwell, made his will leaving £1,000 to each of his daughters and leaving the rest of his property to be shared equally between his two sons-in-law both described as merchants, Goodson Vines, of Bedford Row, who had married Elizabeth, and Frederick Rasch, of London, who had married Mary. The former was a son of Samuel Vines and Christiana Goodson, who had married in 1730 at Wottonunder-Edge, and thus a fellow-townsman to Grendey, whose own son, Samuel, presumably died before his father. In 1770 the premises of George Seddon, insured for £4,300, were mortgaged to Grendey. [GL, Sun MS, 1770, ref. 281763] By 1779, when he added a codicil to his will, Grendey, then described as ‘gentleman’, had moved to Palmer's Green, where he had ‘a dwelling house, Coach House, Stable building, and ground … lately purchased … and which I have since converted into five cottages’. He died there on Friday, 3 March 1780 aged 87. [London Evening Post, 7–9 March 1780, Gents Mag., 1780, p. 154] Grendey labelled at least some of his products, and surviving labels have allowed their identification. Two labels are known; one reads ‘Giles Grendey In St. John's-square, Clerkenwell, London, Makes and Sells all Sorts of Cabinet-Goods, Chairs and Glasses’; the other adds ‘Tables’, has different typography and lay-out, and a small variation in wording (Fig. 31). The labels have been noted on a wide variety of pieces all apparently dating from about 1735 to 1755; there is no obvious conclusion to be drawn from the type of label used. Seat furniture by Grendey is sometimes stamped with initials: ‘HW’, ‘EA’, ‘GIL’, ‘TM’, ‘IT’. ‘TT’, ‘MW’, and ‘ID’ have been noted (Fig. 30). Such initials are likely to be those of individual chairmakers employed by Grendey. Grendey's known works are listed below in chronological order of discovery or publication: most fall into three stylistic groups: neat well-made pieces in walnut and mahogany, similar pieces lacquered in scarlet for the Spanish market, and a minority of more elaborate works with idiosyncratic carved decoration and shaped panels. Grendey seems not to have worked to any great extent for the nobility and gentry, and the portrait which emerges from the existing evidence is of a provincial immigrant to London who made good through middle-class goods for the home market, specialized goods for the export trade, and was also active as a timber merchant.

[R. W. Symonds, ‘Giles Grendey (1693–1780), and the Export Trade of English Furniture to Spain’, Apollo, 1935, pp. 337–42; R. Edwards and M. Jourdain, ‘Georgian Cabinet-Makers VIII — Giles Grendey, and William Hallett’, C. Life, 1942, pp. 176–77; R. W. Symonds, ‘In Search of Giles Grendey’, C. Life, 1951, pp. 1792–94; GCM; C. Gilbert, ‘Furniture by Giles Grendey for the Spanish trade’, Antiques, XCIX, 1971, 544–50 (see also c, 1971, 919); C. Gilbert, ‘A Chest of Drawers by Giles Grendey’, LAC, 1973; S. Jervis, ‘A Great Dealer in the Cabinet Way’, Giles Grendey (1693–1780), C. Life, 1974, pp. 1418–19] BARN ELMS, Surrey (Richard Hoare). 1732 bill for chest of drawers, ‘Burow Table’. dressing glasses, chimney glasses, ‘Wrighting Disk’, etc. Total £38 14s 6d; 1732 bill for wall sconces, gold frames for glasses, tables, chest, etc. Total £14 16s 6d; 1737 bill for dressing chair, cabinet with glass doors, etc. Total £21 17s; 1739 bill for alterations to furniture, glass frames, etc. Total £17 6s 6d. [V & A Lib., English manuscripts, tradesmen's bills, Sir R. Hoare, 1731– 54, 86 NN3] LONGFORD CASTLE, Wilts. (Sir Jacob de Bouverie). 1739 ledger payment: ‘May 14 Greenday the chair maker a bill with an allowance of £8 8s for a sidebord table he had from Red Lyon Street’ £68. STOURHEAD, Wilts. (Henry Hoare). 1746–56 account book payments, including 29 April 1746 £64 for chairs; March 27 1751, £133 2s 9d; June 24 1752, £10 17s. [Wilts. RO, MS 383/6] KEDLESTON HALL, Derbs. (Lord Scarsdale). 1762 bill of 13 January for ‘1 Fine Jamaia. Mahog. Plank …, £21.0.0. To Sawing I Cut in Do 1s. 4d, to Carrying to the Swan Inn 1s 6d, Total £1210 Receiv'd Josh. Lawes’. [Kedleston Hall archives] LABELLED FURNITURE. Armchair and chair, mahogany, boldly carved. [P. Macquoid, Age of Mahogany, 1906] Armchair, (Fig. 29) chairs, day-beds, mirrors, tables, and tripod candle-sticks, deal, oak and beech with scarlet japanning, at least 77 pieces, Duke of Infantado, Lazcano Castle, Spain, now widely scattered. [R. W. Symonds, 1935, C. Gilbert, 1971]

Wardrobe, mahogany, broken pediment, shaped panels. [R. Edwards & M. Jourdain, 1942]

Cabinet, mahogany, scrolled pediment, mirrored doors, carved apron, Colonial Williamsburg. [R. Symonds, 1951] Mirror, in farmhouse in Southern Norway. [Joy, Conn., CLXIX, 1968, 18]

Chest of drawers, mahogany. [Sotheby's, London, 15 October 1971, lot 73]

Double chest of drawers, walnut. [C. Gilbert, 1973]

Mirror, walnut, gilt eagle in roundel, private collection, Norway. [S. Jervis, 1971]

Six chairs, walnut, ladderback, Newport Church, Essex. [S. Jervis, 1974]

Table, mahogany, drop-leaf. [Sotheby's, London, 9 November 1977, lot 47]

Chest of drawers, mahogany. [Christie's, London, 30 November 1978, lot 97]

Twelve chairs, walnut, cabriole legs. [C. Gibbs Ltd, London, 1979]

Four chairs and small sofa en suite, mahogany, boldly carved, same pattern as Macquoid chairs. [Gunton Park, Norfolk, Sale, 25 November 1980, lot 2014]

Three chairs, and armchair, walnut, shells on legs and top rail. [Sotheby's, NY, 21 November 1981, lots 233–35] S.J.

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