Skip to main content

Gumley, John (1691–1727)

Gumley, John

Strand, London; cabinet maker (fl. 1691–d. 1727)

No information has yet been discovered of Gumley’s origins or training. He was certainly well established in business by 1691, as witnessed by the following receipt among the accounts of Caspar Frederick Henning, Treasurer to the Groom of the Stole and 1st Gentleman of the Bedchamber to William III: ‘Octob 2d 1702. Received from Mr Henning the Summe of Sixty pounds being in full for a lookeing-glass of 96 Inches by 46½ delivered for his late Majties use in the Year 1691 And in full of All Claims and demands whatsoever on acct of his sd Late Majtis privy-purse, I say, recd by me John Gumley’. He was mentioned in advertisements in John Houghton's A Collection for the Improvement of Husbandry and Trade, 6 April 1694 and in the London Gazette, 21 June 1694. The first of these announced that ‘At Salisbury-Exchange in the Strand, where the Manufactory was kept, by John Gumley, Cabinet-maker, at the corner of Norfolk-street …is a Sale of all sorts of Cabinetwork, as Japan Cabinets, Indian and English, with Looking-glasses, Tables, Stands, Chests of Drawers, Screutores, Writing-Tables, and Dressing Suits of all sorts…’. The 1694 four shillings in the pound tax reveals he paid £11 per year rent and had about £100 of stock, which seems a low valuation for such a prime trading situation, but that might be explained by the above mentioned sale of stock. On 13 August 1703 Gumley insured with the Hand in Hand Insurance Co. ‘… a brick house on the South side of the Strand and the East side of Norfolk street … being his dwelling House…for seven years, £600’.

A bill of 19 June 1695 survives for furniture supplied to Col. James Grahme of Levens Hall. It included altering a scrutore by adding a base to it while making its frame into a table and altering a scrutore to make it into a cabinet by cutting its door down the middle [Bowett, 2002].

A glass manufactory was established at Lambeth by Gumley and others by 1705, Gumley himself being admitted a freeman of the Glass Sellers’ Co. as a ‘Looking Glass Grinder’ on 22 June 1704. The Lambeth concern was immediately attacked by a firm in Southwark, the Bear Garden glasshouse, whose proprietors conducted a pamphlet war and then went to Parliament where their claim for a monopoly was disallowed. In 1714 Gumley announced in Richard Steele's The Lover, 24 April: ‘These are to give Notice. That John Gumley hath taken for a Ware-house, and furnished all the upper Part of the New Exchange in the Strand…with the largest and finest Looking Glasses in Frames, and out of Frames…Likewise all sorts of Coach-Glasses, Chimney Glasses, Sconces, Dressing-Glasses, Union-Suits, Dressing Boxes, Swinging-Glasses, Glass Schandeleres, Lanthorns, Gilt Brockets, Desks and Book-Cases, India Chests and Cabinets, Screens, Tea Tables, Card-Tables of all kinds, Strong Boxes, and the like … Also John Gumley's House and Shop the Corner of Norfolk-street, is to be Lett…’.

ROYAL PALACES. In 1714 Gumley entered into partnership with James Moore, an association that endured until Moore's death in 1726. Numerous bills survive in the Lord Chamberlain’s accounts for furniture supplied during this period, most notably for looking glasses and gilt tables. In the Public Dining-room at Hampton Court Palace is a large looking-glass, one of a pair having the central plate flanked by vertical pilasters of looking-glass. The pilasters are divided by narrow strips of giltwood, one of which is lettered ‘GUMLEY’. THOMAS, 1st DUKE OF LEEDS. The Duke paid J. Gumley the undermentioned sums: 3 May 1700, £54; 17 May 1705, £77; 3 May 1706, £108. DUKE OF BEDFORD. In December 1702 John Gumley supplied Wriothesley, 2nd Duke of Bedford with a ‘neat panel of glass with a top’ for £60; ‘a plain black table’ for £1 10s; and ‘a gilt table made to an Indian table’ for £4 10s. WILLIAM, 1st DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE. 1702: ‘Pd the Smith for 18 stayes for the Looking glasses at 4d a pair 6/–; 21 hooks for Looking glasses 3/6. 1703: ‘Paid Mr Gumley for 2 large Looking Glasses £200. Paid Mr Chadwick for going to Chatsworth with ye glasses £16’. One of the pair bears the scratched inscription ‘John Gumley 1703’. 1703: ‘Pd Gilbert Ball Carriage for 2 large Looking glasses & frames 2 other large Cases with furniture chair frames £6. 10s’. 1705: July ‘for 280 squares of [plate] glass for West front £280’. JAMES 1st DUKE OF MONTROSE (The Duke of Montrose's Lodging in the Drygate, Glasgow). 1714: Receipted account for a walnut Desk and Bookcase £11. 1717: 18 June ‘Bought of John Gumley a neat walnut tree chimney glass £5. 10. 0’ plus 5/s for a packing case. 1718: For the Duke's London house in Bond St: ‘Hanging glass’ £5 10s; ‘Glass lanthern’ £3; ‘Walnut tree Desk’ £8; ‘3 Dressing glasses’ £5. Total £21 10s. For the same residence also in 1718 payment of £56 8s to ‘John Gumley, Cabinet Maker, London’ for goods supplied. 1722: 28 February ‘Rec. from His Grace the Duke of Montrose by the hands of Mr Andrew Gardner (Montrose's secretary) £2 10s. sterling for a dessert table received by me for my Mrs (mistress) Elizabeth Gumley, John Draper’. 1723: Receipted account for ‘a neat Virginia Walnut tree clothes chest £5. A small square mahogany table bordered with manchineel, £1,10. 0.’. PAUL FOLEY (The Temple and Little Ormond St, London; Newport House, Almeley, Herefs.). 1720: ‘Bought of John Gumley/March 26th A Dutch Table 12s./A packing Matt and Cord for Ditto 1/6d./Aprill 9th A neet Swinging Glass in a blue Japand frame £1. 4s./One Ditto in a black Japand frame £1./A packing for the glasses 2/6d./A neet hand tea Table done in Jerran 15s./July ye 1st A large Wallnuttree Burow Table £6./A packing Case for Ditto 9s.’ Total £10. 4s. Receipt dated 5 July 1720 and signed by ‘Eliz Gumley’. 1730: ‘Bought of Elzath. Gumley/June 1st Two New Glasses and a New Door to a Lantern Agreed at 12s.’ Receipt dated 2 June 1730, signed on behalf of Mrs Gumley by Wm Flack, witnessed by Cha: Parkes. JOHN MELLER (Erddig Park, Wales). 1724: ‘Bought of Elizabeth Gumley December 3 A Sconce in a Carv'd and Gilt Frame £4. 5s. Rec'd at the same time the full contents of the above and all Accompts — pd: me Eliz Gumley’. JOHN MORGAN (Tredegar Park, Monmouthshire). 1726: ‘June 1 Mrs Gumley for a walnut tree Quadrille table £3. 10s.’

These last bills and receipts in Elizabeth Gumley’s name might indicate the John Gumley was less active in the business, perhaps due to ill health, obliging his mother, Elizabeth, to take his place. He died in 1727, leaving a widow, Susan, three sons and four daughters. By this time, he was clearly a man of substance, since one daughter, Anna Maria, married the politician William Pulteney in 1714, who became Earl of Bath in 1742. Another of Gumley’s sons, Samuel, held a Colonel’s commission, and by the time Susan Gumley died in January 1751 [Gents Magazine, 24 Jan 1751] he was her only surviving son. In his will Gumley stated firmly that his eldest son, George, was ‘very profligate and disobedient’, and was left £150 per annum so long as he did not ‘obtrude himself upon or molest my wife’. His second son, John, succeeded his father as a partner in the glass manufactory of Richard Hughes & Co. of Vauxhall, and Gumley House, Isleworth was settled on him in ‘strict entail’. In 1727 John stood for Parliament for Bramber, Sussex, but was defeated through Walpole influencing the handful of voters in favour of his cousin, James Hoste.

Sources: DEFM; Bowett, English Furniture from Charles II to Queen Anne (2002); Bird, ‘The Furniture and Furnishing of St James's Palace’, Furniture History (2014).