The firm of Seddon was the largest furniture-making firm in London in the last quarter of the 18th century when it employed more people, held more extensive stocks and produced a wider-range of goods than any other furnituremaking business It remained of considerable importance throughout its history, yet few labelled or documented pieces are known so it is not possible to present a stylistic analysis of the output of this major firm.
Family tradition has it that in about 1750 George Seddon, of a Lancashire family of that name, went to London and set up as a furniture maker. [Seddon, Memoirs, 1858] It may well be that his great grandson was correct about his origins because there was a George Seddon, cm, who had to buy his freedom of the London Joiners’ Co. because he had not been trained by a member of that company. [GL, MS 8046/9, special court 11 June 1754] Other writers have claimed the founder of the Seddon firm as the George Seddon who came from Blacklea and Eccles in Lancashire and was app. to George Clematson of the Joiners’ Co. [Heal; Hall and Gilbert, LAC, vol. 68, 1971] However, this is contradicted by the entry in the Joiners’ Co. app. records which states that the George Seddon who was app. to George Clematson in September 1742 was the son of John Seddon, Clerk, of Warfield, Berks. The premium charged by the master was £16 and it was met by a charitable payment from the ‘Stewards of the Sons of the Clergy’. This same George Seddon became a freeman of the Joiners’ Co. in 1751. [GL, MS 8051/5]
Whatever his background, the George Seddon who headed the famous firm of that name, had purchased a two-acre site in Aldersgate St which included London House, the former residence of the Bishop of London, by 1753. The choice of site suggests that Seddon intended to establish a large firm from the outset. It remained in Aldersgate St until 1826. Directories gave the address as 158 Aldersgate St until 1770, whereafter re-numbering led to it being 151 and sometimes also 150 Aldersgate St. George Seddon took his first app. in 1753, and bound one per year until 1759. In 1754 he subscribed to Chippendale's Director. Despite a comment in 1786 by Sophie Von La Roche that Seddon was always ‘creating new forms’, the known work of the firm is mostly conventional in design terms and it is possible that, in the early days at least, pattern books such as Chippendale's were used frequently.
The firm expanded fairly rapidly in the 1760s. The number of journeymen regularly employed is not known but Seddon soon took advantage of a licensing arrangement which enabled him to employ craftsmen who were not freemen of the City of London. Between ten and twenty workers were thus engaged in 1760–61. In 1762 and 1763 twenty men worked under licence for Seddon and the number rose to thirty in the years 1764–67. In 1768 and 1769 one hundred non-freemen were employed. A fire at Seddons in 1768 was reported as consuming ‘upwards of eighty chests of tools’ and it would appear, therefore, that the majority of Seddon workers at that date had not been trained within a London Company. This does not automatically mean that they had been app. outside London but it is likely that some of them were provincially trained.
By 1783, when there was another fire, the firm employed nearly 300 ‘of the most capital hands’ in London while in 1786, Sophie Von La Roche, noted that Seddon was ‘fosterfather’ to 400 ‘apprentices’. Her figure must have included both journeymen and apps, and it probably also included metal and glass workers whom she stated worked on the premises. Seddon regularly took on apps, all of whom appear to have been bound for the traditional period of seven years. By 1757 there were seven in the firm and there were more than ten at any one time during the years 1766–69. In the 1770s the figures fluctuated between four and nine and in the 1780s between five and ten. In 1790 and 1791 there were ten apps, but the app. records note only one app. taken by George Seddon after then. The Inland Revenue app. records tail off at this time but the fact that there are no further entries for Seddon in the Joiners’ Co. records after 1794 suggests that George Seddon did not take on any further apps. Rough ratios of apps to journeymen can be calculated. When the firm was still establishing itself in the late 1760s, it had approximately one app. for every seven workmen but when it greatly expanded its workforce in the 1780s the number of apps did not rise proportionately, with only one app. for every thirty for forty workmen at that time. The expansion of the firm, therefore, was based on the employment of craft-trained journeymen rather than apps.
The improving fortunes of the firm are reflected in insurance and stock valuations. In 1756 and 1757 Seddon's insurance policies gave cover for £500 and included domestic residence, workshops and stock. By 1763–64 household and business goods were insured for £1,000 with the Sun Insurance Office but in 1763 Seddon also had a policy with the Union Fire Office for £1,000. There are a few references to George Seddon insuring with both firms but it is not clear whether this was done on a regular basis. Stock and goods were insured for £3,300 [Sun MS] in 1768 but in the latter year Seddon unfortunately allowed his policy to lapse before a fire did extensive damage to both premises and stock. He claimed losses of £7,700 but the Directors of the Sun Insurance Office only awarded him £500 compensation. He appears to have made good his loss fairly quickly and by 1770 had policies totalling £7,700 for both dwelling house and business. [Sun & Union] By 1787 the sum insured with the Sun Office was £17,500, of which £13,000 related to the business. Such very large sums confirm that George Seddon's business was the largest in London. The DEF states that the firm's stock-in-trade amounted to as much as £118,926 in 1789 (£21,702 for timber, £9,068 for carpets and £3,293 for contents of upholstery warehouse) but it has not been possible to verify these figures.
Sophie Von La Roche's description of Seddon's premises adds flesh to these statistical bones. She recorded that Seddon employed a variety of tradesmen on ‘any work connected with the making of household furniture- joiners, carvers, gilders, mirror-workers, upholsterers, girdlers- who mould the bronze into graceful patterns — and locksmiths. All these are housed in a building with six wings. In the basement mirrors are cast and cut. Some other department contains nothing but chairs, sofas and stools of very description, some quite simple, others exquisitely carved and made of all varieties of wood, and one large room is full up with all the finished articles in this line, while others are occupied by writing-tables, cupboards, chests of drawers, charmingly fashioned desks, chests, both large and small, work-and toilet-tables in all manner of wood and patterns, from the simplest and cheapest to the most elegant and expensive…. Chintz, silk and wool materials for curtains and bed-covers; hangings in every possible material; carpets and stair-carpets to order; in short, anything one might desire to furnish a house; and all the workmen besides and a great many seamstresses; their own saw-house too, where as many blocks of fine foreign wood lie piled, as firs and oaks are seen at our saw-mills. The entire story of the wood, as used for both inexpensive and costly furniture and the method of treating it, can be traced in this establishment …’.
It is not surprising to find the partners in such a large and comprehensive firm subscribing to Edward T. Jones, Jones’ English System of Book Keeping, Bristol, 1796.
There can be no doubt that all aspects of furniture making were carried out on the premises. Besides this, the firm probably also made some of its own metal work: Von la Roche noted ‘girdlers — who mould the bronze into graceful patterns’. She also claimed that ‘mirrors were cast and cut’ in the workshops. She may have mistaken finishing processes for those of manufacturing but George Seddon had close business connections with glass making. The firm's bill-heads of the 1780s and 90s refer to it as ‘Manufacturers of British Large Plate Glass’ and George Seddon had dealings with the British Plate Glass Manufacturers. In 1780 Matthew Boulton bought plate glass from this firm which he later found he could not use. He offered it to Seddon who had not only bought it cheaply but prevailed upon the company to lower the price originally asked of Boulton. [Birmingham City Ref. Lib. archive dept, Boulton papers] The evidence suggests that Seddon was a member of the Board and, taken with the evidence of the firm's bill-heads, it seems safe to say that Seddon was financially involved in a firm which manufactured plate glass for both windows and mirror glass. In all probability the large plate glass intended for the Empress of Russia and destroyed in the 1783 fire was made by the British Plate Glass Manufacturers. Whether it was made at Aldersgate St is another matter: one would like confirmation from other sources before stating that Seddon was the only known London furniture maker to branch out into glass making in the late 18th and early 19th century. In 1804 George Seddon's sons, Thomas and George, owed money to a glass company and tried to raise cash by selling glass in New York.
George Seddon was in the same entrepreneurial mould as Matthew Boulton who, in 1781, wished him ‘success in your great undertaking’. [Boulton papers, Letter Book M51] This could have referred to Seddon's glass making ventures or to the fact that he bought a copy of James Watt's copying machine. [Letter Book M. 72, see also H. W. Dickinson, James Watt, Craftsman and Engineer, Cambridge 1936, pp. 191–97 and Art Union, 1848, p. 193] This was a forerunner of the carving machines which were used commercially by certain furniture makers from the 1840s. It may be that Seddon attempted to use the machine to cut down the cost of roughing out carving which then had to be finished by hand. If so, Seddon again appears as a pioneer; on this occasion in terms of the mechanisation of the production process in furniture making. George Seddon trained his sons within the family firm and bound them through the Joiners’ Co. His first born, named George, was app. in 1769 but died sometime before Thomas was bound as a cm from 1775 to 1782. The younger son George was also bound through the Joiners’ Co. two years later but he was trained as an u. Although Seddon snr was in an influential position within the Joiners’ Co. (he joined the Livery in 1757 and became master in 1795) his son George was forced to become free of the Upholders’ Co. in 1787 upon threat of legal action by the company.
George Seddon took his sons into partnership in about 1785. From about 1790–95 his son-in-law Thomas Shackleton, u (who had married Mary, the eldest daughter) was also a member of the firm which then traded as ‘Seddon, Sons & Shackleton’. Thomas appears to have shared his father's enterprising spirit, if not his abilities. In the 1790s, at a time when he was working in the family partnership with his father and brother, he started in business for himself. Directories show him at 10 Charterhouse St (1790–97) and at 24 Dover St (1793–1800). He took on two apps, Aveline in 1791 for £105 and Holt in 1793 for £100 and in the former year independently subscribed to Sheraton's Drawing Book, giving the Dover St address. He formed a partnership with John Blease about 1802, at a time when he was in great financial difficulties. The latter eventually took over the firm, probably after Seddon's death in 1804, although it appears in directories as Blease & Seddon until the former's bankruptcy in 1811. [PRO, B3/274]
When he retired in 1798, George Seddon passed on the firm to his two sons. He allowed them to use £25,000 remaining in the business at 5% interest and they agreed to pay him £1,000 per annum to rent the Aldersgate St premises. On retirement Seddon made a will, supplemented by a codicil of 1799, to provide for his family after his death. His wife had died in 1788 but he had three daughters, Dorothy, Mary and Lydia who were each left £6,000. In order to assist his sons, to whom he left the residue of this estate, George Seddon specified that the money for the legacies be left in the firm for two years after his death whereupon half should be paid, followed by the other half in a further three years. George Seddon snr died in 1801 and two years later Mary and Lydia pressed for their legacies (Dorothy having died). The brothers found themselves unable to pay. Thomas Shackleton claimed that they had mis-managed the business and it is clear that what had once been a flourishing concern floundered after the retirement and death of its founder.
Despite the production of ‘patent’ furniture, using a mechanism developed and patented by Day Gunby in 1798 [Patent No. 2248], whereby a small reading desk or nest of drawers and pigeon-holes could be made to rise up from tables, desks and other items of furniture, by means of a system of weights, bolts and springs, the brothers were not successful in business. By 1804, the pair, who were both commissioned as officers in the volunteer army in that year (Thomas as Lieutenant Colonel and George as a Captain of the London (Loyal) 11th Regiment), faced bankruptcy.
The finances are somewhat difficult to disentangle. Some debts went back to the days of Seddon snr, as in the case of John Pollard, Thomas's father-in-law who was owed over £20,000 from the years 1795–1801. Thomas Seddon borrowed over £6,000 from Frank Cappell of Nottingham St (who had also loaned money to Seddon snr) without the knowledge of his younger brother and partner and escaped bankruptcy only by death. George Seddon II claimed in court that his brother had paid him an annuity in lieu of his interest in the family firm but this was not confirmed by anyone else and was probably the desperate claim of a desperate man. He made attempts to raise money to pay the firm's creditors by disposing of furniture and glass as far afield as New York and the Cape of Good Hope. 6s in the pound was paid to creditors in 1805 and an extra 2s in 1806, followed by further sums in 1814. By the time he died in 1815, George Seddon II had not redeemed the family fortunes but he had done sufficient for the family firm to continue.
The records of George Seddon's bankruptcy case reveal a number of tradesmen from whom he bought goods to use in his trade or whose services he used between 1804 and 1815. They included brass founders (John D. Griffith, Birmingham, Thomas Jones and Edward Barker, Birmingham, George Penton, New St Sq., London and Thomas Catherwood, Hoxton); japanners (Smith, Morley & Mason, St John's Sq., John Scott, Pentonville, and Boswell & Scott, Clerkenwell Green); horse hair manufacturers (William Lewis, Old St, and Cabel Welch Collings, Fleet St); carpet manufacturers/ warehousemen (John Lea, James Cole, John Cooper and Henry Talbot, all of Kidderminster, Francis Seward, Wilton, John Clarke, Market Harborough, Thomas Whitty, Axminster, Thomas Willows, Leicester Sq., Robert Richards, Finsbury Sq., Daniel Sutton, Southampton St and Henry Widnell, Holborn); glass manufacturers/glassmen (Thomas Quinton, East Smithfield, Thomas H. Fenton, West Smithfield, William Peckham, Grayston Passage and John Blands, Ludgate Hill); timber merchants (William Fox, Lambeth, Michael Crapping, Lambeth, Joseph Cross, Lambeth, J. McLean French, Marshall St, William Quincey, Albion Wharf, Surrey, James Yerroway, Blackfriars and Thomas L. Carter, Deptford); paper stainers (Benjamin Mind, Beech St and John Hall, Aldermanbury); blanket manufacturers (John Sheppard, Witney and John Henver, Witney); dyers (Joseph Landell, Old Change, Thomas Hughes, Bunhill Row, and James Eve, Rawstorne St); silk mercers (James Brant, Cheapside and John Fearn, Ludgate Hill); leather gilders (John Newberry, Upper Marylebone St and George Footman, West Smithfield); linen drapers (Harry Kemp, Islington Rd, John Waugh & James Reid, Edinburgh and David Greg, Kirkcaldy, Scotland); a glue manufacturer (Stephen Goom, Southwark); a bell hanger (Peter Odell, Goswell St); a furniture printer (J. Hill Darley, Sackville St) and an undertaker (Benjamin Holmes, Cripplegate). [PRO, B3 4464] This list indicates the number and type of manufacturers and suppliers with whom it was necessary to liaise in order to run a large scale furniture-making firm.
In the midst of his financial problems George Seddon II hoped that the firm would be able to continue as a family business after his death. In his will of 1808 he recommended his wife to take a partner who could manage the business and bring at least £8,000 into the firm in the event of financial difficulties after his death. He suggested, however, that if money was not withdrawn from the firm on his death then his wife should continue to run it on her own until their eldest nephew was of age. As it was, Thomas Seddon II, who had been app. to his uncle from 1806–13 and had obtained his freedom of the Upholders’ Co. in 1815, took over immediately after his uncle's death in 1815. He was joined by his brother, George III, soon after the latter completed his apprenticeship in 1817 and, together, they ran the family business until the 1850s.
Little is known of the firm between 1815 and 1826 when the brothers signed a prefatory recommendation to P. and M. A. Nicholson's Practical Cabinet Maker, 1826. In 1827 George Seddon III went into partnership with Nicholas Morel, who had been chosen by King George IV as furniture maker in charge of re-furnishing Windsor Castle [G. de Bellaigue and P. Kirkham] Morel did not join the Seddon family firm. It was only George Seddon who initially went into partnership with Morel in 1827, although Thomas stood surety for his brother and Morel when they signed a bond with George IV for £10,500 in the same year and joined the partnership in September 1830.
The firm of Morel and Seddon used Morel's address, 13 Gt Marlborough St, but the work was produced at the Seddon workshops in Aldersgate St. Morel needed the co-operation of a large established firm for the Windsor commission, which was eventually to amount to nearly £200,000, and Seddon probably offered the largest workshops in London as well as experienced draughtsmen, managers and skilled workers. Within the partnership, Morel generally took charge of the major artistic decisions while George Seddon ran the business side, negotiating advances and agreeing delivery details with the Treasury and Lord Chamberlain's Office. [G. de Bellaigue and P. Kirkham] Morel and Seddon employed designers who worked with assistants in the ‘artists’ room’ in Aldersgate St. They included Bogaerts; J.-J. Boileau; F.-H.-G. JacobDesmalter (furniture and furnishings in the Neo-classical style) and A. W. N. Pugin (furniture and furnishings in the Gothic style).
In June 1830 the Treasury refused to pay more than the balance owing on Morel and Seddon's original estimate of £143,000 rather than the sum of over £200,000 which they by then demanded. The whole question of cost was examined by a Select Committee which reported to the House of Commons in February 1831, but it was not until the end of that year that it was decided to accept a final bill of £179,300 18s 9d.
Apart from a very large commission to supply furniture worth over £15,000 to Stafford House for the Marquess of Stafford in 1830, the work of Morel and Seddon appears to have been restricted to royal work. Windsor Castle was the main commission but work was also done for other royal houses and palaces. Royal patronage continued after George IV's death and the firm altered a rosewood dining table for William IV in 1831. Morel's name disappears from the royal accounts in 1831. The work then passed to George and Thomas Seddon alone although they were not officially given the royal warrant until 1832. [PRO, LC3/60] The delay in payments relating to the Windsor work caused problems and in February 1832 creditors of Morel and Seddon requested the suspension of payments to the firm by the Lord Chamberlain's Office until its affairs were sorted out. [PRO, LC1/16] In August and October 1832 T. and G. Seddon experienced difficulty in extracting payments for royal work and complained of having to meet ‘heavy engagements’. The latter may have referred to expenditure involved in a move to Gray's Inn Rd from Aldersgate St which took place at about that time. The decision to move was made after a fire of 1830 did extensive damage to the premises: 100 tool chests belonging to Seddon workmen were destroyed. [Times, 11 and 13 August 1830] The new premises were designed by J. B. Papworth, who added large open sheds for drying veneers in 1836. The firm's finances remained in a delicate position. In 1840 a charge of bankruptcy was brought but annulled. [PRO, B4/48.190] The story of the firm beyond this date lies outside the remit of this dictionary, but an interesting glimpse of the family and firm can be found in J. Seddon, Memoirs, 1858. [GCM; DEF; Heal; C. Williams, (trans.), Sophie in London (1786), 1933; G. B. and T. Hughes, Small Antique Furniture, 1967; G. Wills, English Furniture 1760–1900; H. Spear (ed.), Memoirs of William Hickey, 1948, vol. IV, pp. 26 and 365; C. Life, 21 October 1933, pp. 415–18; C. Life, 27 January 1934, p. 102; C. Life, 20 January 1934, pp. 72–73; C. Life, 17 January 1947, p. 180; C. Life, 21 February 1957, pp. 330–31; Apollo, May 1957, pp. 177–81; Antiques, October, 1960, pp. 362–63; C. Life, 2 June 1966, p. 1400; Times, 22 June 1967; C. Life, 15 January 1970, pp. 130–31; C. Gilbert and I. Hall, ‘New Light on the Firm of Seddon’, LAC, 1971, 68, pp. 17–19; G. de Bellaigue and P. Kirkham, ‘George IV and The Furnishing of Windsor Castle’, Furn. Hist., 1972, pp. 1–34]
SAXMUNDHAM, Suffolk (Charles Long). 1766: Bill for mahogany sideboard, £4 13s. 1768: Bill (addressed to Bond St) for chest of drawers, chamber table, walnut kitchen chairs, bottle cistern. [Suffolk RO, HA/18/EC/4 and 14]
HULL, Houses in High St and Charlotte St (Joseph Robinson Pease). 1778: Bill for wardrobe, sideboard, dressing tables, writing table, billiards table, chairs, etc. £221 17s. [V&A Lib., 86 CC 45] 1781 bill. Total £352 13s 10d for drawing room furniture. Reprinted in full in LAC, no. 68, 1971, pp. 17–19.
STRETTON HALL, Staffs. (Mr Turner). 1780: Bill for pearl inlay on card tables, repairs, carpet etc. £2 13s 6d signed T. Cobham for George Seddon. 1782: Bill for mounting screen, varnishing chest, £1. [V&A Lib., Box 11.86.KK]
TOWNELEY HALL, Lancs. (Charles Towneley). 1780: Payment in account bk to Seddon for Pembroke table £5 10s, writing table £22 10s. [Account bk in possession of Mr Simon Towneley]
CROFT CASTLE, Herefs. (Sir Herbert Croft). c. 1780: Combined writing table and filing cabinet known as ‘The Croft’. [Nat. Trust Guide, Croft Castle, 1982, p. 23 and A. Heal, ‘The Croft: an 18th century writing cabinet’, C. Life, 17 January 1947, p. 80 (features piece with label which states it was manufactured and sold by Messrs. Seddon, Sons & Shackleton]
MRS ELIZABETH MONTAGU. Probably for 22 Portman Sq., London 1782. Seddon probably supplied Mrs Montagu with a piece of furniture ornamented with paintings by Boulton & Co. In that year Matthew Boulton informed George Seddon that ‘the paintings’ about which he had enquired and which Mrs Montagu wanted could be made fit for the object they were to ornament. [Birmingham City Ref. Lib., Boulton papers, Letter Book I, 912, MB to GS, 10 January 1782]
HON. H. FANE. The entry ‘To Siddons for a Bed’ in 1783–85 noted in his accounts presumably refers to Seddon. [Lincoln RO, Fane 7/1, April 1783 — £41 5s 0d]
RUSSIA, (Empress of Russia). 1783: Large plate glass intended for Empress destroyed in fire at Seddon's warehouse.
AUDLEY END, Essex (Lord Howard). 1783: Reflecting lanthorn £3 13s 6d. 1786: Wainscot bureau, mahogany chest of drawers, mahogany wardrobe £15 4s. [Essex RO, D/DBy/A41 and 44/10 respectively]
MASTER ROBERT HEATHCOTE, 1786; Account bk of Heathcote's expenses includes 8s ‘To Cash Paid Mr. Seddon Cabinet Maker For A Table Writing Desk’. [Lincoln RO, 3ANC 6/20]
HEATON HALL, Manchester (Sir Thomas Egerton, Bt). 1783: Bill to Seddon £18 14s. 1790: Bill to Seddon £4 10s 6d. [Preston RO, Bank deposit and account bks, DDEg. Unpaginated]
WILLIAM CLAYTON. 1787: Bill. Geo. Seddon & Sons. ‘Seddon's bill for Mariann's box’. Bill signed by John Jacobs for George Seddon. A satinwood work box and leather cover £13 8s. [C. Life, 20 January 1934, pp. 72–73]
BADMINTON HOUSE, Glos. (5th Duke of Beaufort). 1788: Received £93 as ‘Seddon & Co.’. 1789: Ibid., Received £42. 1791: Ibid., Received £56 7s. [Badminton papers, 5th Duke of Beaufort's copy of Hoare's bank bk, 1788–91]
CALCUTTA, India (William Hickey). 1791: Billiard table made by Seddon, purchased at price of 1000 sicca rupees (approx. £188). [A. Spear (ed.), Memoirs of William Hickey, 1948, vol. IV, pp. 26 and 365]
HAUTEVILLE HOUSE, St Peter Port, Guernsey (D. Tupper). 179–: Bill of Geo. Seddon, Sons & Shackleton for £414 11s 4½ for furniture including 18 painted satinwood elbow chairs which cost 73s 6d each. Three French stools (window seats) were made to match at £15 15s each and a settee for £17 10s. Also supplied were mahogany chairs, a pair of girandoles and screens. [DEF, vol. 1, p. 301, fig. 241; E. F. Strange, ‘Seddon Furniture’, Old Furniture, 1928, vol. v, pp. 118–20, and M. Harris & Sons, Old English Furniture, 1935, pp. 62–63] A window seat resembling those from the set described above was sold at Christie's [Apollo, December 1960, p. 225, figs a & b] while a pair of chairs were sold at Sotheby's, 20 November 1970, lot 191. One seat rail stamped ‘IP’, the other stamped ‘WR’, twice. Lot 190 was a matching semi-circular card table.
BRIDWELL HOUSE, Dorset (R. Clarke). 1792–93: Bill.
Seddon Sons & Shackleton for furniture £139 0s 4d. This included matching satinwood card and Pembroke tables with leather covers, £25 for the three; two white and gold tripods with cut glass, £21; and ten white and gold elbow chairs covered with the owner's own needlework, £46 and a matching sofa, £12. The original bill, together with a letter from the firm, was sold with the ‘white and gold tripods’ catalogued as ‘painted and parcel-gilt, torchères [with] cutglass drop-hung foliate drip-pans … 167 cm high’ at Sotheby's, 19 June 1981, Lot 109. Later sold through Hotspur Ltd.
NORWAY, Ulefoss Manorhouse, near Posgrunn (Niels Aalls). In 1793 Seddon exported 28 pieces of furniture (mainly mahogany) though several items were ‘japanned’ i.e. painted white). The bill totalled £73 3s. [Apollo, May 1955, p. 144, May 1957, pp. 180–81, figs V–VIII]
WOBURN, Beds. (Francis, 5th Duke of Bedford). 1793: 4 satinwood pillar & claw octagon tables £20. [Bedford Office, London]
MASSINGBERD. 1793: May 23: Mr Siddons ‘A Mattress. £3 4s 6d D°, A Door Rug 2s. — £3 6s 6d’. ‘Sept 31: Mattress, Siddons Bill. £3 5s’. These entries presumably relate to a Seddon commission. [Lincoln RO, Massingberd, MM 9110]
SPAIN (King Charles IV). 1793: Cabinet made to order of King Charles IV of Spain. Designed by Sir William Chambers, decorated with panels painted by Sir William Hamilton and made by Seddon, Sons & Shackleton. Name of the main craftsman involved (R. Newham) and date on which it was finished (28 June 1793) inscribed inside. The cabinet was broken up after 1908 when it was shown at the Franco-British Exhibition. [Conn., XVIII, 1907, p. 211; DEF, III, pp. 68–69]
PHILADELPHIA, USA (William Bingham). The traveller Henry Wansey noted that the drawing room chairs in Bingham's ‘magnificent house’ in Philadelphia were from Seddon's in London. They were in ‘the newest taste; the back in the form of lyre, adorned with festoons of crimson and yellow silk’. [H. Wansey, Excursion to the United States of North America in the Summer of 1794, quoted in C. Montgomery, American Furniture: The Federal Period, 1966, p. 42]
KENWOOD HOUSE, London (2nd Lord Mansfield). 1795: Payment noted in bank account of Lord Mansfield to Seddon & Co. £35 10s. (Hoare's Bank]
THE MANOR HOUSE, Lee (Lewisham) (Thomas Baring). 1798: Bill for supplying items including a crib bedstead and repairing and cleaning a dressing table and folding bedstead. The firm charged £1 2s 10d for cutting Baring's own plank of satinwood into veneers (120 feet of them). Total bill £17 19s 10d. [Private archive]
DEVONSHIRE PLACE, London (Lord Deerhurst). 1799: Bill from George Seddon and Sons to Lord Deerhurst, son of the 6th Earl of Coventry, totalled £1,068 12s 11d. It included chairs, dining tables, bedstead, carpet, music stand, cushions, glove stand, repairs, etc. mainly for his London house. [Herefs. RO, Croome Court archive, account 128, 1799] There is a further long bill [account 138.n.d.] which includes stuffing a sofa, laying a carpet, and supplying chimney glasses, a writing table, breakfast table, floor cloth, Pembroke table, dining tables, festoon window curtains, Venetian window blinds, hall chairs and other items which probably also relate to the London house).
LONGFORD CASTLE, Wilts. (3rd Earl of Radnor). 1801: Payment in Longford Castle accounts to Seddon & Co.
GORHAMBURY, Herts. 1807: 5 March. Mr Seddon's Bill for Furniture in the Drawing Room, £75 4s. [Herts. RO, Gorhambury account bk XI, 77]
JOANNA SOUTHCOTT. 1814. Cradle for ‘Prince of Peace’, the Messiah which Southcott announced she was expecting. It was reported that her followers subscribed £1,000 towards the cost (which was given by Wheatley as £500) and flocked to see it at London House. [H. B. Wheatley, London Past and Present, 1891, vol. 1, pp. 22, 24; C. Life, 21 October 1933, p. 417]
STONELEIGH ABBEY, Warks. (Henry Leigh). 1819: rosewood dressing table £24. [Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Leigh receipts, DR 18/5]
HAMPTON COURT, Leominster, Herefs. (John Arkwright). 1829: Bill for furniture including ‘rosewood occasional table £18 and Davenport £21. Total £42 3s. [Herefs. RO, A63/161, Hampton Court Coll., dispersed 1912. NB. see later commission of 1840]
LORD MACARTNEY. 1790: Bill from Thomas Seddon, 24 Dover St. [Heal Coll., BM]
HENRY THOMAS, LORD VISCOUNT FALKLAND. 1794: Thomas Seddon, Dover St. Furnished house for Lord Viscount Falkland who rented the furniture (total value £1,400). [PRO, C12 198/30]
BADMINTON HOUSE (?), Glos. (5th Duchess of Beaufort). 1793: Seddon, Sons & Shackleton supplied a large square mahogany sofa. Received £33 2s 6d. [Badminton papers, The Duchess of Beaufort's red leather account bk]
PRINCE OF WALES and DUKE OF SUSSEX. Blease & Seddon's label on sideboard: ‘Upholstery, Cabinet & Carpet manufacturer’, Dover St. [Christie's, 15 April 1982, lot 95]
WINDSOR CASTLE. 1827–32: Morel & Seddon, 13 Gt Marlborough St. [See G. de Bellaigue and P. Kirkham]
STAFFORD HOUSE (Marquess of Stafford). 1830: Receipted bill 30 March 1830, £15,410 8s. [Staffs. RO, D 593/R/2/10/6]
ROYAL COMMISSIONS [Royal Warrant, October 1832, PRO, LC3/60)] T. & G. Seddon, 1829–40: work at Brighton Pavilion; Belvedere, St James's Palace; Royal Lodge, Windsor; Kew Palace and Cumberland Lodge. Early work was mainly jobbing and repairs. Other work included: December 1832 (Brighton Pavilion) for Her Majesty's own use. A Spanish mahogany writing table £26 and September 1834 (Windsor, for corridor) 6 square framed scagliola thermes £78 [Windsor Royal Archives, Box 1, Item 17, Estimates] December 1835. 8 wainscot sofas in ‘Elizabethan character’ very similar to specification for Thomas Turner December 1835) covered in crimson plush £374 [Windsor Royal Archives, Box 1, Item 2] 1839/40: Among bills for ‘Extra Expenses for the Accommodation of HRH The Prince Albert’ at Windsor prior to his marriage with Victoria is one for a 6’ maple 4–post bedstead with richly carved pillars and footboard and elaborately inlaid cornice and centre ornaments £124. [PRO, LC11/107] March 1839: Suite of maplewood bookcases and cabinets inlaid with purple wood statuary £430. December 1840: A rich mahogany and gold cot and two mahogany wash hand stand. Total £300. [Windsor Royal Archives, Box 1, Item 2] [The main references for this royal work are PRO, LC11 and Windsor Royal Archives, account bks, estimates]
GOVERNMENT HOUSE, Prince Edward Island, Canada. 1835: Some of the furniture supplied by Seddon. [Information from Mrs P. Mackenzie, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island]
HAMPTON COURT, Leominster, Herefs. (John Arkwright). 1840: Bill for a 9′ mahogany wardrobe £112. [Herefs. RO, A63/161]
SEDDON, SONS & SHACKLETON (labels). Mahogany writing table or ‘croft’: 20ʺ wide. [Sotheby's, 1 November 1946, lot 156]
Mahogany pedestal writing table, rectangular top. 5′ 6ʺ × 3′ 5½ʺ. [Sotheby's, 30 May 1975, lot 93]
Dressing table c.1800. Mahogany, inlaid in mahogany, box, satinwood and ebony with painted floral borders on cabinet doors. Glass roll-top in centre enclosing four turned satinwood toilet boxes 58ʺ × 32¾ʺ × 16ʺ. [MMA, NY Acc. no. 19.66 (illus. Antiques, October 1960, p. 363)]
THOMAS AND GEORGE SEDDON 1798–1804 (labels). n.d. Mahogany architect's table, rectangular top concealing pigeon holes, rising drawing table 30ʺ × 33ʺ (Day Gunby patent) engraved brass tablet PATENT. SEDDON NO. 6.
[Sotheby's 20 July 1951, Lot 180. Illus. C. Life, 21 February 1957, pp. 330–31]
n.d. Writing-cum-Pembroke table, early 19th-century, brass label. PATENT SEDDON NO. 45. [Illus. Heal, p. 260]
n.d. Mahogany mechanical writing desk, brass label engraved PATENT SEDDON NO. 13. Rectangular top concealing double bank of pigeon holes (Day Gunby patent). [Sotheby's Parke Bernet, 27 September 1980 and Christie's, New York, 17 October 1981, lot 159]
n.d. Sofa table with mechanical works, counter balance etc. to convert to writing table or adjustable reading desk (Day Gunby patent). [Conn., June 1950, p. 46]
SEDDON'S UPHOLSTERY & CABINET WAREHOUSE, 24 Dover St, Piccadilly (labels). c.1800. Amboyna and satinwood tea caddy recorded (Figs 19–21).
n.d. satinwood tea-caddy, tulip cross-banding and, yew panels. [Conn., October 1957, p. 97, fig. 10]
BLEASE & SEDDON (c.1802–11), 24 Dover St (label). n.d. Mahogany pedestal sideboard with brass rail and top inlaid with chequered lines. [Christie's, 15 April 1982, lot 95]
T. SEDDON (punched stamp). n.d. 3 single chairs, bird's eye maple and gilt, leaf carved toes on sabre legs and back uprights: stamped T. Seddon. [Advert. Conn., July 1978]
THOMAS & GEORGE SEDDON, London House, Aldersgate St (labels). n.d. c.1825 small writing table. T. & G. Seddon label bears no. 1214. [Heal, p. 260]
n.d. c.1825, rosewood tea caddy, label bears no. 1901. [C. Life, 2 June 1966, p. 1400]
n.d. rosewood in Empire style Davenport, brass mounts. [Randolph advert, n.d.]
n.d. rosewood escritoire, Regency period. [Antiques, May 1953, p. 404]
n.d. rosewood escritoire, Regency period, label bears no. 6048. [Conn., June 1950, p. 45]
THOMAS & GEORGE SEDDON, Gray's Inn Rd. n.d. rosewood writing table on two end supports. Frieze fitted with six drawers. Label no. 2151 inscribed ‘Roso’ in manuscript. [Christie's, 14 May 1981]
n.d. writing table on two end supports recorded with label no. 2866 inscribed ‘H— Lowther’ in manuscript.
[GL, records of Joiners’ Co., Upholders’ Co., Insurance Companies and Livery lists; PRO, bankruptcy B3/4464; Inland Revenue app. records (IR) and Lord Chamberlain's Office Records (LCO)) and V&A Lib. (86 M. M. 13. A. W. N. Pugin. Notes for an uncompleted autobiography 1812–31). See also the following newspapers/journals: Annual Register, July 1768; Daily Advertiser, 15 July 1768; Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, 18 July 1768; Public Advertiser, 18 July 1768; Newcastle Chronicle, 23 July 1768; Norfolk Chronicle, 8 November 1783; Times, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 16 August 1830] P.K.