Bradburne held the Royal Warrant of ‘Upholsterer to his Majesty and Cabinet
-Maker to the Great Wardrobe’ and was responsible for supplying considerable quantities of furniture and furnishings to the Royal Household between 1764 and 1777. His name first appears in the Royal Household accounts in 1764, when he succeeded William Vile, but he is credited with having produced some of the finely carved
furniture provided during the 1750s and early 1760s by the firm of Vile & Cobb, cm and u, of 72 St Martin's Lane. Several payments to him are noted in Cobb's account at Drummond's Bank between 1759 and 1763. On the 24 August 1763 he was also mentioned in William Vile's will. However a codicil was added to the will on 9 November 1764 stating that if Bradburne was no longer a ‘servant’ to Vile, the £20 legacy was to go instead to Mrs Vile.
Bradburne was established in Hemmings Row, off Long Acre, in 1758 and during the 1760s owned three houses in the street. In 1764 he went into partnership with William France and their joint names first appear on a billhead dated 13 July 1764 sent to Sir Lawrence Dundas for work done at his house in Arlington St, London. The following year France paid the rates on premises at 8 Long Acre, which some years previously had been occupied by William Linnell, and after France's death in 1767 Bradburne continued to pay the rates there until 1776. Bradburne is noted at this address in Lowndes London Directory for 1773 and 1775. William France's branch of the business was continued by Edward France, who later went into partnership with Samuel Beckwith. Bradburne was responsible for supplying much furniture for the Royal residences betwen 1764 and 1777, and in particular for Buckingham House, which had been acquired by George III in 1761. In her Journal for 1768 Lady Mary Coke noted ‘Bradburn, the King's upholsterer has been with me this morning and tells me that he has been at the Queen's Palace’. [Letters and Journals, 1756–74, vol. 11, p. 264] Apart from George III and Queen Charlotte, he also worked for other members of the Royal Household such as Lady Charlotte Finch.
None of Bradburne's designs have been identified, but he charged £1 10s in 1767 for drawing a mahogany glass case to stand on top of the Queen's ‘Secretary’ which had been supplied by William Vile in 1762. [G. de Bellaigue Buckingham Palace, p. 112] He worked to the architect Robert Adam's designs when providing sofas for the 6th Earl of Coventry in 1765 and pier tables billed to Sir Lawrence Dundas in 1765. His account for supplying a glass case for one of George III's clocks in 1766 included an extra charge of £1 10s for ‘extraordinary trouble and attention in blowing the glass according to His Majesty's direction’.
As late as 1773 Bradburne receipted payment for an account headed ‘John Chute Esq For the executors of my late partner William France and all demands on their account and mine’. When he retired from business in 1776 Bradburne vacated Long Acre and after his resignation in July 1777 the Royal Warrant of Cabinet-maker to the throne was granted to William Gates. Bradburne's death was recorded in the Gents Mag., 6 October 1781 where it was stated that he was ‘Formerly Upholsterer to his Majesty, but had retired some years’. The will of ‘John Bradburne … of the Parish of Wandsworth in Surrey … Gentleman’ is dated 19 August 1780. A mourning ring and £50 each were bequeathed to his mother Margaret, his wife Elizabeth and his ‘good friends’ James Ely of the Lord Chamberlain's Office, Thomas Knight the Elder, glass grinder of Soho, and Samuel Naylor, Attorney at Law of Gt Newport St. ‘My son Thomas Bradburne … my daughter Ann Holloway, my daughter Mary Hinchcliffe … my son George, my daughter Charlotte and son Samuel Bradburne when they arrive at the full age of twenty one years £500 stock … unto my grandson John Bradburne lawful son of my aforesaid son Thomas £200 stock … to my nephew Thomas Bradburne … he worked at White Fryers glass house some years ago but at present do not know where he is … my sister Sarah Bod residing at Boyle in Ireland …’. [PRO, Prob. 11/Webster 462, p. 15]
CROOME COURT, Worcs. (George William, 6th Earl of Coventry). Bill dated 28 December 1763 to 15 September 1764 totalling £343 13s 2d was made out to Wm France and John Bradburn and receipted on 4 January 1765 ‘For me Wm France’. Amongst the entries for supplying or repairing furniture and furnishings is one dated January 1764 ‘For altering the crimson velvet church furniture to Mr. Lamb's directions’. A large bed with ‘corinthian capital’ foot posts and a dome is itemised in July 1764. A second bill dated 4 March 1765 totalling £352 16s 6d is receipted by Jno Bradburn ‘for partner and self’. It concerns the fitting up of various bedrooms and the supply of mahogany chairs for the Eating Room. There is also a reference to the moving of a bed to the London House in Piccadilly. A third bill dated 1765 for various items of furniture, includes ten mahogany ‘scrole’ sofas, which were executed to a design billed by Robert Adam in February 1765 and carved by Sefferin Alken. (A sofa is now at Kenwood House). There is also an entry for the cornice of the Library window, which was ‘prepared for Mr Alkin to carve’. [Worcs. RO, 4025/r970.5.73]
106 PICCADILLY, London (George William, 6th Earl of Coventry). Bill dated 25 May 1765 totalling £69 12s 6d made out to Wm. France and John Bradburn was receipted by Bradburn ‘for partner and self’. Includes the hire of furniture and supplying a gilt ‘Sideboard table’ and window cornices for the Eating Room. In addition there is a charge of £1 5s for a pattern hall chair ‘left with Mr Adams for determination’. [Worcs. RO, 4025/r970.5:73]
RICHMOND LODGE (George III). In 1764 Bradburne charged £7 7s 0d for a book desk’ to lye upon a table’. [PRO, LC 9/ 293]
BUCKINGHAM HOUSE, London (George III and Queen Charlotte). Between 1764 and 1777 Bradburne is mentioned in most quarterly bills for furnishings for the Royal residences and in particular for Buckingham House, referred to as the Queen's House or Palace. [PRO, LC 9/293, 294, 316–24] Amongst the various items are a tent frame supplied in 1764 for the Queen's House, St James's [PRO, LC 9/293] and a ‘breakfast table’ and ‘A neat inlaidcabinet with drawer and neat wrought brass ornaments and gilt curious locks … £31.5.0.’ in 1765. It has been suggested [G. de Bellaigue Buckingham Palace, pp. 158, 220] that Bradburne supplied the case for an astronomical clock for which Eardley Norton was paid in July 1765 and for which Bradburne charged £38 15s for supplying a gilt bracket in the ‘Antique’ style, when it was put in George III's Dressing Room in 1766. Bradburne also supplied a glass case for the clock and charged £1 10s for ‘extraordinary trouble and attention in blowing the glass according to His Majesty's Direction. In 1766 Bradburne supplied a ‘Very grand organ case’ carved with a ‘variety of ornaments viz. satyr boys, musical instruments, drapery curtains, foliage, palms, festoon of husks etc’. [GCM] In the same year a carved ‘chimney glass’ with ‘21 plates of glass and 48 brackets for china’ was supplied for the Queen's closet. During 1767 Bradburne supplied a mahogany tea board with a ‘rich cutt work border and black and white mosaick work on the edge of it … £1.13.0’, ‘An extraordinary neat mahogany round table’ for the Queen's Library in the North Wing [H. Clifford Smith, Buckingham Palace, p. 76] and a ‘Mahogany octagon pillar and claw table neatly carved, on castors and covering the top in needlework in being … £6.6.0.’. [Clifford Smith, p. 91; GCM, fig. 68] Two gildedcandlestand ‘terms’ with marble tops were supplied for Queen Charlotte for £55 15s together with two ‘girandoles with silvered nossels’. [PRO, LC 9/294] A number of items were supplied for Mrs Kroms, the Princess Royal's governess, including a mahogany ‘cloaths press’ and a ‘Mahogany corner beaufet’. Bradburne also paid a visit to Richmond Lodge to show the Queen a ‘Drawing’ of a ‘Mahogany glass case’ to stand on top of her ‘Secretary’. He charged £1 10s for the drawing and £24 10s for the ‘Neat mahogany glass case’, [PRO, LC 9/314, 61, quarter to Midsummer 1767; G. de Bellaigue, pp. 113–14, repr.] In 1768 Bradburne altered cabinets for recesses in the Mathematical Room or Gallery and supplied ‘A neat mahogany piece of work for papers’ for the King's New Dressing Room. A mahogany chamber horse was delivered for the ‘Nursery at the Queen's House … to carry 4 children at once … £10.15.0.’. [Clifford Smith, p. 90] In 1770 he supplied ‘A neat mahogany press for Linnen … with extra good guarded tumbler locks and 2 Dutch bow'd keys … £84.10.0.’. [Coleridge, Chippendale Furniture, pl. 388] and a ‘Mahogany case with glass doors for ‘India figures … £7.7.0.’. In 1774 the Princess Royal was supplied with ‘A neat mahogany secretary with drawers in front and a writing drawer made to draw forward, and a neat bookcase at top with looking glass doors … £20.0.0.’. [Coleridge, Chippendale Furniture, fig. 387]
19 ARLINGTON ST, London (Sir Lawrence Dundas). An account dated 13 July 1764 to December 1765 totalling £990 12s 11½d is detailed in a bound notebook for ‘House furniture … furnished to Arlington Street and Moor Park’. It is headed ‘To Wm France and Jno Bradburn’ and is the first occasion that Bradburne's name is included in the work that France was carrying out for Sir Lawrence Dundas. An entry for 12 January 1765 for a ‘Circular Frame for a Marble Table richly carv'd with ramsheads … and gilt in burnished gold …’ at £37 10s was executed to a design by Robert Adam. A second table to the same design was invoiced again at £37 10s by France & Bradburne on 30 December 1765. [Apollo, September 1967, p. 204, fig. 1; Christie's, 26 April 1934, lot 77; Christie's NY, 28 March 1981, lot 213; N. Yorks. RO, Zetland archive, ZNK x 1/730]
NORMANTON PARK, Rutland (Sir Gilbert Heathcote). Five large accounts survive for furniture supplied during 1765–66 by France & Bradburne. [Lincoln RO, Ancaster MS 8/8]
CHARLES ST, London (John Chute). Bill headed ‘To John Bradburne and the Executors of the late Mr Wm France’ for furnishings supplied between March 1765 and January 1767 totalled £1,052 4s 1½d. The items include hall chairs, a giltchandelier, ‘a shed in the yard for hens’, a pair of ‘half circle sideboard tables’ [Coleridge, Chippendale Furniture, fig. 391] and a set of three mahogany ‘sophas’ and eight armed chairs [Coleridge, fig. 390] The nineteen-page bill is preserved in a book, which was annotated in 1884: ‘The bill must have been chiefly for the London House in Charles Street but the hangings and mirrors were probably moved to the Vyne’. [Hants. RO, 31 M57/634]
THE VYNE, Hants. (John Chute). 1765–67. See entry for Charles St, London. [C. Life, 1963, pp. 214–16]
PRINCESS AUGUSTA. Bill from Bradburne totalling £21 13s for a ‘Mahog. case for a turning machine with drawers etc.’ was receipted on 8 February 1769. [Windsor accounts for Dowager Princess of Wales, RA 55539] Bill of 1770–71 totalled £241 5s 3d. [Duchy of Cornwall, Household accounts, Princess Augusta, LVII (1) 1770–71]
2 GROSVENOR SQ., London (Marquis of Carmarthen). Bill survives from ‘John Bradburne, Cabinet-maker, Upholder, Appraiser, Undertaker etc.’ totalling £2,576 3s 9d and receipted in November 1775 for fitting out entire house between June 1774 and March 1775. The furnishings included curtains, carpets, pier glass, ‘hollow splat’ back chairs, painted tables, a marble topped mahogany ‘commode table’, two tulip wood corner commodes, French back-stoolchairs, ‘cabriolet’ chairs, a ‘confident’ and a mahogany stand for bird cages. [YAS, Duke of Leeds papers, DD5/Box 136/22]
KEW (Prince Ernest). In 1777 Bradburne charged £4 for a ‘Mahogany hanging shelf with four shelves for books, the end cut through like Chinese rales, a drawer at the bottom’. [V & A archives]
ST JAMES'S PALACE, London (Lady Charlotte Finch). Bradburne charged 4s 6d ‘for 2 brass hooks to hang Lady Charlotte's watch and fixing do. by the side of the chimney with brass plates and long gilt nails’. [DEF] J. H.