St Paul's Churchyard, London, cabinet maker, upholder and undertaker (fl. c.1773–97)
A member of the Brewers’ Co. though there is no evidence that he practiced this trade. Partner with William Henshaw from c. 1770 and subsequently his successor trading at 18 St Paul's Churchyard. In 1774 took over the business of Philip Bell at 23 St Paul's Churchyard and thereafter appears to have centred his business at this address.
Trade label of Henry Kettle at 23 St Paul's Church Yard (Heal,28.114), c. 1774. © The Trustees of the British Museum
Took out licences to employ nonfreemen 1778–81. In 1793 subscribed to Sheraton's Drawing Book. Used his trade label to identify productions. The collection at Saltram House, Devon contains two items so marked. One is a mahogany secretaire bookcase with three long drawers beneath the secretaire drawer. Carved paterae and swags are featured on the frieze of the bookcase section. The other item is a fine Pembroke table in satinwood inlaid with kingwood and incorporating panels of mahogany. A further Pembroke table without a label also appears to be Kettle's work. The label in the drawer of the first Pembroke table gives the address at 18 St Paul's Churchyard and was probably produced in the early years of Kettle's sole control of the business. The bills of 1796–97 at Saltram are headed ‘Oakley & Kettle’ suggesting a short-lived partnership with George Oakley at this period. Other pieces of furniture noted with labels include a bureau bookcase, chests of drawers including ones with shaped fronts, a wardrobe, tables with drawers beneath, Pembroke tables and dwarf bookcase. These are mostly in mahogany, some with boxwood stringing and crossbanded but the use of satinwood was also a feature of some of his furniture.
Apart from the items at Saltram which were probably purchased new by the Parker family, other commissions for country landowners are known. The notebook of Edward Knight of Wolverley House, Worcs. records the payment of £3 13s 6d to Kettle on 6 July 1780 for a writing desk. On 18 July 1781 a bookcase was invoiced for Burton Constable, Yorks, costing £11 11s, while Ralph Leake of Longford Hall, Salop patronized the firm in 1793. A number of examples of labelled furniture, including some of those mentioned above, and labels with both the 18 and 13 St Paul’s Churchyard addresses are illustrated in Gilbert (1996), figs 541-556. [Heal; V&A archives; GL, City Licence bks, vols 9, 10; Nat. Trust, The Saltram Collection, p. 51; Furn. Hist., 1966; C. Life, 16 August 1962, p. 351; 7 November 1974, p. 163; Conn., April 1968; January 1976, pp. 25, 29; Christie's S. Kensington, 14 October 1982; Kidderminster Lib., Knight MS; Burton Constable vouchers].
Source: DEFM; Gilbert, Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture 1700-1840