Lower Grosvenor St, London; upholder (fl.1781–1825)
Charles Smith traded on his own account at 69 Lower Grosvenor St, 1784–90, and by 1790 his firm was claiming to be ‘Upholsters to Their Majesties’. By 1791, however, he was in partnership with Robert Donald Smith and the business changed its trading style to Charles Smith & Co. The partnership was still in existence in 1794. By 1803 a new partnership had been formed with George Key and in that year Smith & Key were included in the list of master cabinet makers in Sheraton's Cabinet Dictionary. This partnership was dissolved from 1 January 1806 and Charles Smith retained their former premises which by this date had been re-numbered 70. George Key set up his own business at 74 Lower Grosvenor St at which he traded until 1835. By January 1810 a further partnership had been formed, this time with John Bywater, which appears to have lasted until 1825. His trade card is in the John Johnson Collection, Bodleian Library, Oxford. In 1783 Charles Smith married Lucy Gilroy. The name Lucy Smith is recorded in the Lord Chamberlain's accounts from the early 1780s to 1805 in connection with furnishings for royal residences and offices. She also fitted out the royal yachts ‘Mary’ and ‘Royal Charlotte’. These commissions may have been undertaken in the name of Charles Smith. She is also known to have receipted an account of 1791 submitted by Charles Smith for chair cases and cushion covers for Lady Ann Conolly. The business grew over the years to a substantial size. Additional premises were used in Grosvenor Mews. These were described in 1791 as a stable and coach house but in 1810 as a warehouse and sawpit. By January 1810 insurance cover totalled £3,500 for the stock and utensils used in the business.
Apart from the Royal commissions, an impressive list of patrons can be drawn up. AUDLEY END, Essex. In April 1811 the 2nd Lord Braybrooke paid Smith £9 4s 6d. DRURY LANE THEATRE, London. Between February 1794 and January 1795 fitted up the boxes of George III and the Prince of Wales at a cost of £2,011. Henry Holland's accounts of 1794 also show Charles Smith as a supplier of goods to the value of £150. HAREWOOD HOUSE, Yorks. The Harewood accounts show regular purchases from Smith between July 1791 and July 1810 amounting to some £1,800. The largest payment was £400 for furniture on 23 April 1801 with a further payment of £200 on 21 July of the same year. A sum of £300 was paid on account on 15 March 1809 and sums of £200 each on 15 July 1806 and 6 April 1807. HEATON HALL, Manchester. Sir Thomas Egerton paid Smith 14s on 10 March 1782. SHUGBOROUGH, Staffs. Supplied a suite of fourteen armchairs and two large sofas in 1794 at a cost of £296. The two sofas and ten of the chairs survive and are displayed in the Red Drawing Room. Other items of furniture supplied to the house include wardrobes, dressing stools, ‘Chamber Tables’ for various bedrooms and mahogany chairs and bergères covered in red morocco for the Library. STRETTON HALL, Staffs. On 14 December 1790 charged Lady Ann Conolly £1 15s ‘for mounting needlework screen in gilt frame on carved white & gold stand’. On 18 April 1791 the same patron was charged £1 4s 6d for chair and cushion covers. OTHER PATRONS. Patronised by Mrs David Garrick from January–July 1786 when £27 19s 7d was spent on chairs, chair repairs, covers, curtains, stools etc. Six japanned chairs with rush seats were provided at a cost of £3 18s. A substantial payment of £184 16s was made to Smith, 1789–90 in connection with a house in Manchester Sq., London but the patron is not indicated. Between 1792 and 1799 Richard Cox of Quarley, Hants., a banker of Pall Mall, London, made substantial payments to Charles Smith. His total payments came to £527 18s but some appear to be to an u at Salisbury, also named Smith. It is possible that the two were related.
Source: DEFM; Stabler, ‘Furniture Makers' Trade-Cards and Bill-Heads in the John Johnson Collection’, Furniture History Newsletter (May 2007).