York; upholder (fl. 1695–d.1764)
George Reynoldson was one of the most eminent u and cm in York during the 18th century. He was a Catholic and this largely dictated both the path his life followed and, to an extent, the commissions he was given. He had a business in Stonegate and a woodyard on Manor Shore. He was presented as a Papist in St Helen's parish, 1733–35 and 1745 but moved to St Michael le Belfrey parish c.1743– 44. He was a friend of Francis Drake and subscribed to his Eboracum, 1736. He is acknowledged in the preface as supplying information about the ‘Trade and Navigation of The City’. He married Mary, daughter of Richard Brigham, a wool draper of York and she, too, was a Papist. She was related to many of the country gentry Papist families. They had eight children (although there is speculation that they may not all have been by the same woman). Reynoldson took the freedom of York as an u by redemption, paying £35 in 1715/16. He subscribed to Thomas Gent's History of York, 1730 and in the same year was Chamberlain of York. However, he was fined £70 in 1741 for avoiding the Sheriffdom, which he probably did on religious grounds. His stock in trade was insured for £300 on 29 September 1728. There are no records or accounts of business ventures before 1729. A Mr George Reynoldson, of the City of York was referred to in the Yorkshire Herald, 26 October 1731 for having invented a ‘Hydrographical Machine’ — to do with navigation. In 1754 Reynoldson subscribed to Chippendale's Director. He advertised himself from his Stonegate premises variously as an upholder, undertaker and appraiser, but never as a cm. On 1 October 1734 he advertised in the York Courant as follows: ‘George Reynoldson upholsterer, undertaker and sworn appraiser, in Stonegate, York. Makes all sorts of looking glasses and scones, in gilt Mahogany or walnut frames and coach glasses, by wholesale or retail, at the London prices; where old glasses are cut, polished and silvered, very reasonably. He also makes and sells all sorts of Beds, of Mohair, Silk and worsted Damasks, Camblets, Harrateers, cheneys and printed stuffs; Feather Beds, Mattresses, Blankets, Quilts, Rugs and Coverlets, Flanders and English Ticks, Paper Hangings, imbosed, damasked or plain, Tapestry Hangings, Silk, Worsted Bed-Lace, Turkey, Muscate, Persian and French carpets, List, Hair or Painted Floor Cloths, Dutch and Floor Matts, Wax Candles, Flambeaux, single or double Brass Arms, Gallery Hall or Door Glasses and Lamps, Mahogany and Walnut Desks and Book Cases, Breakfast and Dining Tables, Chamber and Card Tables, Cases of Drawers, scaloped and round Tea Boards, shaving Stands, Night stools, Chairs of all prices, Folding and Fire Screens, gilt or plain etc. He also undertakes Funerals at reasonable rates and in decent manner will perform them to any part of Great Britain, when required’. He advertised in the York Courant on various other occasions, often acting as agent for the sale of the contents of houses. Another advertisement in the York Courant on 25 December 1750 reads: ‘Since the 11th of December instant, there has been taken out of my wood-yard on the Manor Shore one (or more) dry Mahogany Boards ten feet six inches long and eighteen inches broad. If any such Board or Boards, is or shall be offered for sale, please stop them and give Notice thereof to George Reynoldson, in Blake Street, York, who will pay one Guinea on conviction of the offender; or if any person concerned will give information of his Accomplice, or who bought the same, he shall receive the same Reward, as above.’ Between 1718 and 1762, Reynoldson took ten apps: John Fowler, 25 March 1718; Richard Farrer, 7 November 1722; Martin Sandys, 5 April 1727; Henry Reynoldson, 18 June 1731; John Yates, 26 November 1733; Henry Smith, 29 September 1734; Nicholas Brigham, 7 February 1739; John Glenton, 6 November 1749; Joseph Northouse, 5 November 1755; Michael Dunn, 7 December 1762. Richard Farrar also subscribed to Chippendale's Director and there are many cases in which it has not yet, in practice, proved possible to separate the work of the pupil from that of his master. A case in point was some of the furniture supplied to William Constable of Burton Constable, Yorks. In William Constable as patron 1721 to 1791, Exhib. Cat., Hull, 1970, a walnut armchair and a mahogany chair are ascribed to either one or other cm. However, Reynoldson is known to have supplied various mirrors, gilt candlesticks and a variety of chairs (mostly in walnut) between 1747 and 1763. There are many accounts which indicate that Reynoldson was patronised by the Yorkshire gentry and evidence shows that the majority of his clients shared his Catholic faith. He also undertook Catholic funerals — of Lady Hungate and the Fairfax children, among others. There is correspondence between himself and the Grimston family of Kilnwick Hall for whom he arranged a funeral. He is presumed to have been paid £20 for this in August 1748. On 22 November 1752, Reynoldson wrote to John Grimston for instruction regarding the wallpapering and curtain making for the drawing room and principal bedrooms of Kilnwick. Between 1729 and 1730 he worked for York Corporation supplying a good deal of furniture to the City House, now the Mansion House, St Helen's Square. No doubt his being Chamberlain in 1730 was instrumental in securing this commission. Reynoldson and another u, Robert Barker, supplied furnishings to the York Assembly Rooms. There is no mention of George Reynoldson in the 1758 poll bk and the York Courant of 27 September 1764 announced his death. Reynoldson's will dated 5 October 1764, formed a trust ‘for the use of my children and grandchildren’, and among his trustees were his wife and Thomas Lupton, his ‘faithful servant’. His widow received £50 ‘for mourning’ and his gold watch. Of Reynoldson's children, Henry, Thomas, Joseph and Rowland carried on, for a proportion of their lives, a similar trade to their father. Henry was app. to his father as an u. Joseph, the youngest son, born about 1743, joined his mother to carry on the business when his father died. He was listed as a Papist being resident in St Michael le Belfrey parish in 1767. His house and ware rooms were insured for £1,200 in 1777, but in August of the same year the York Chronicle mentioned that he gave up his shop and business in Blake St. His name is mentioned in the accounts of Lord Fairfax, but these are mainly for various supplies rather than construction and craftwork. Thomas was an Upholder and took the freedom of York in 1758. He voted in the 1758 poll. His name does not appear in the 1767 census of Papists. It is possible that he turned out badly for in the York Courant 24 December 1754, his father announced that he would not be responsible for debts incurred by his son. On 11 December 1764, the York Courant announced that Reynoldson's widow, Mary, was continuing the business which she did with her son, Joseph and two faithful servants, Thomas Lupton and Henry Smith. The accounts, however, suggest a declining business. Mary's death, aged 88, was announced in York Courant, 4 March 1788 and Joseph sold his stock to Thomas Allanson, u of Blake St in 1777. TOWNELEY HALL, Lancs. (Richard Towneley). There is an extensive bill dated 25 November 1719 for mending beds, hanging and altering bedcurtains and window curtains, covering three chairs, paper hanging, making valances etc. The bill totalled £5 1s 4¾d. ALDBY PARK, Yorks. (Henry Darley). Brief account of furniture supplied. NEWBY PARK, Yorks. (William Robinson). A household inventory compiled by Reynoldson in June 1762. GILLING CASTLE, Yorks. (Fairfax family). Reynoldson's name occurs spasmodically during the 1740s to 1760s for trifling amounts. A bill for 11 May 1749 records Reynoldson supplying '3 Lustures' which may have been for the Gallery. Large bill for £153 2s 4d dated between 1763 and 1764 for 74 items, mainly soft furnishings. BRANDSBY HALL, Yorks. (Francis Cholmeley). Between 1745 and 1748 he supplied furniture and furnishings to the value of £113 17s 8½d. Over 80 items including curtains, papers, chairs. A conspicuous absence of cabinet furniture. KILNWICK HALL, Yorks. (John Grimston). Reynoldson was paid £20 in August 1748 for arranging funeral. Reynoldson wrote on 22 November 1752 regarding instructions for decorating drawing room and principal bedrooms. YORK ASSEMBLY ROOMS. Reynoldson supplied numerous items between 1730 and 1758 including ‘a glass 30 inches by 27 inches in a gilt frame with two double branches’, ‘two dozen of chairs … with Spanish leather bottoms the seat 21 inches by 10 inches, with brass nailes’ and ‘four Mahogany card tables … at one pound fourteen shillings each’. BURTON CONSTABLE, Yorks. (William Constable). Various mirrors, candlesticks and chairs, mostly walnut, supplied e.g.: ‘1741 September 24, paid Mr George Reynoldson for 3 swing glasses No 1393 £1.6.6’ and ‘1757 July 27, 6 Walnut chairs, cushion backs and seats … £6.0.6’. Also, walnut armchair and three mahogany chairs described in a manner typical of Reynoldson's (and Farrer's) terseness and thus in some doubt as to authorship. MANSION HOUSE, York. Bill for £17 8s in 1729 including ‘12 Walnut matted bottom chairs 13/6 … £8 2s; 12 Oake chairs 8/- … £4. 16s’ etc. Bill for £40 12s 3d in same year includes rugs, bankets, curtains, quilts and ‘one bed of broad grean cheany,… an oak foulding bed with curtains sack bottom… 2 close stools … one large oak Buroe’ etc. In 1736 ‘One Wallnutt framed setee bed with green furniture’ at £5 5s was ordered by the Lord Mayor.
Source: DEFM; Medlam, ‘Matthew Ward at Gilling Castle’, Furniture History (1990).