4 Chandos St, Covent Gdn, London; cabinet maker (fl. 1763–78)
In the period 1763–65 recorded in directories as James & Peter Lawson but after 1767 solely as James Lawson. Carried out extensive commissions for Sir Lawrence Dundas for Moor Park, Herts., Aske Hall, Yorks. and his London house at 19 Arlington St. Between June 1763 and April 1764 goods to the value of £399 6s 9½d were supplied and from April 1764 to October of the same year bills from this maker totalled £359 9s 7½d. After this, amounts became less, and from December 1764, to September 1765 only £68 18s 3d was due. A document of c. 1770 exists, in which Sir Lawrence totalled the sums paid to craftsmen in connection with his houses in England and against Lawson's name the sum is listed as ‘about £1,100’. Detailed invoices survive for the furniture supplied in 1763 and 1764 including a lady’s dressing table the bill for which noted the use of Indian rosewood (Dalbegia latifolia), one of the earliest references to this wood. A great quantity of Lawson's furniture for Sir Lawrence was useful rather than highly decorative, for this patron was also emloying Samuel Norman, France & Bradburn, Thomas Chippendale and Fell & Turton to provide furniture for him at this time. He did however buy from Lawson one expensive suite of giltwood furniture. A hall chair, one of a set of five originally supplied, a pair of mahogany serving tables and a mahogany clothes press, all now at Aske Hall have been identified as items supplied on these invoices in 1764. Another house in which Lawson's name is recorded in the accounts is Burton Constable, Yorks. Here an account survives for a mahogany writing table ‘with a top to rise’ which was invoiced on 10 August 1771 at £7 10s. In 1778 he was paid £11 8s by Sir Edward Knatchbull of Mersham-le-Hatch, Kent for ‘putting up, cleaning the walls & for brown paper’.
Source: DEFM; Bowett, ‘Furniture Woods in London and Provincial Furniture 1700-1800’, Furniture History (1986).