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Traherne, Edward (1637-1675)

Traherne, Edward

Bedford Street, London; cabinet maker and looking glass maker (b.1637-d.1675)

Born in 1637, the sixth child of Thomas Traherne, gent., of Lugwardine, Hereford. In June 1654 apprenticed to John Burrowes, cabinet maker at ‘Ye Looking Glass’ on Cornhill. Two of his brothers were also apprenticed in good trades; Philip as a goldsmith in 1651 and John as a haberdasher in 1654. The eldest brother, Thomas, inherited the family estate, Middle Court, and subsequently apprenticed his son, Benjamin, to Philip. Edward became free of the Joiner’s Company in June 1661. He indentured his first apprentice in 1662 and by April 1666 he was located in Fleet Street. Following the Great Fire in September that year, by spring of 1667 he had moved to Covent Garden and acquired 3 more apprentices. On 3 April 1669 he provided the Royal Household with ‘a pair of stands of Jamaica wood for the Kings Closset in the Newe Lodgeings at Whitehall’, costing £1 15s. [PRO, LC9/271, p. 140]. Traherne lived with his wife, 5 children, and three apprentices and probably journeymen in the large house of 13 rooms, four of which used for business purposes, two workshops and two cellars. From 1662-75 Traherne took on a total of 7 apprentices. He sold a substantial collection of luxury furniture from his ‘Greate Warehouse’: cabinets on stands, chests of drawers, tables with matching stands and mirrors, secretaries and a variety of boxes; all in contemporary styles and designs, veneered in woods such as ebony, walnut, princes wood and cocus wood, or decorated with floral marquetry, or japanned, often with silver embellishments and gilt brass mounts. He also silvered glass and constructed frames in his two workshops and a ‘Fileing [foiling] Room’. At the time of his death in 1675 he employed 9 journeymen, a glass grinder, a frame maker, 2 carvers and gilders and 3 apprentices. These apprentices were Samuel Burrill, apprenticed 2 August 1670; George Flower apprenticed 4 August 1674; Charles Mason apprenticed 4 May 1675; Traherne’s Court of Orphans’ inventory of November 1675 showed few materials for the making of cabinet ware so he may have sub-contracted this work - the inventory showed that he was associated with 5 cabinet makers; he paid ‘Mr Wiseman Cabbinett maker: £58’, ‘Mr Naylor Cabbinett maker £2’ and Jasper Bream, marqueteur, £13. In total he worked with 23 tradesmen of whom 10 were members of the Joiners’ Company. The inventory also noted payments to journeymen; ‘Mr Gumwright’ paid £2 and another ‘journeyman’ £3 15s 6d. He also made or stocked cane chairs as ‘five cane chairs’ and strong boxes were in his workshop in 1675. Some of the strong boxes were unfinished at this date such as the ‘Strong ebony box 2 foot 4 inches the gilt worke some not Burnished’ and the inventory listed components for these boxes including sets of brass fittings and locks: ‘...3 suites of brasse guilt worke for strong boxes one suite more of guilt work for a strong box 2 large suites more of gilt worke for strong boxes two locks for strong boxes...’. Traherne’s clients included Queen Catherine of Braganza, the princesses Ladies Mary and Anne of York; two of the Charles II’s mistresses, Nell Gwynne and Barbara Palmer, 1st Duchess of Cleveland, one of the King’s illegitimate sons, Charles Lennox, 3rd Duke of Richmond and two members of the King’s court, George Villers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham and Henry Bennet, 1st Earl of Arlington.

Traherne was also a building contractor, involved in rebuilding domestic premises after the Fire of 1666, and a landlord; his inventory contained a lease for a piece of land ‘lying on Shooe Lane and parte in Fleete Street on which is built 5 houses for 54 yeares to come where upon is reserved the yearly rent of £42: Valued at £620’, and also leases on a single houses in Shooe Lane, Fleet Street and The Strand and 2 houses in Ludgate Hill. Traherne owned head leases on these parcels of land, the Freeholds were mostly owned by public bodies. The inventory recorded building materials in his Covent Garden house and debts to building material suppliers and workmen. He owned a few bonds in 1675 and also had also put £20 into an unspecified ‘Adventure beyond the seas’. The total value of Traherne’s estate was £3,873 1s 4d.

Sources: DEFM; Lindey, ‘Apprenticeships in the London Joinery Company’, Regional Furniture (2008); Lindey, ‘A Restoration Cabinet and Looking Glass Maker’, Furniture History (2014); Solomons and Broughton, ‘Cocuswood and Kingwood Cabinets of the Early Restoration Period’, Furniture History (2014); Lindey, ‘Thomas Warden (c.1660-1701) and Cane Chair-Makers in the City of London’, Furniture History (2016); Bowett, ‘A Princes Wood Strong Box Made for Elihu Yale, c.1685’, FHS Newsletter (February 2005).

The original entry from Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, 1660-1840 can be found at British History Online.