The design for this model of chair is in the Gillows Estimate Sketch Book, (see illus.), dated Aug 30 1832. ( Westminster City Archives ref. 344/103 p.3874). The journeyman maker is named in the accounts as Robt Lawson and the carver of the crest is named only as Farmer.
The present lot was part of a larger group of furniture supplied by Gillows of Lancaster to Thomas Butler Cole in 1832 which included a large mahogany hall bench, matching the chairs.
Robert Lawson referred to in the account book is recorded in other Gillows accounts as making a number of other chairs for the period from 1821 to 1832. On May 14 1835 he was listed with twenty-four other workmen in the firm`s payroll; he was paid £14. 16s. 6d. which was the fourth highest payment. The Farmer referred to is almost certainly Robert Farmer. There are almost 160 references to `Farmer' in the Estimate Sketch book indexes. He was a Master carver who was employed by Gillows from the late 1820s until the late 1840s. He carved amongst other documented pieces, an Albera wood sofa in July 1828 also made by Robert Lawson, illus. Susan Stuart, Gillows of Lancaster and London 1730-1840, 2 vols., 2008, pl. 218, p.227 vol. I. He was an exceptionally prolific carver. He headed the list of Gillow & Co `s twenty five workmen employed on 14 May 1835 when he received £63. 14s. 5d.. On the same date his account shows that he had earned £223.3s.2½d.
The crest comprising a horse is that of the Butler family of Kirkland in the parish of Garstang, Lancashire, granted in 1560 and recorded at the 1664-65 Heralds` Visitation of Lancashire. The crest comprising a lion`s head is that of the Cole family of Cote in the parish of Bolton le Sands, Lancashire, similarly recorded at the 1664-65 Visitation of that county.
The College of Arms records a pedigree in 1915 showing that Thomas Butler of Kirkland ( 1695-1748) married in 1728 Dorothy, daughter and heir of Edmund Cole of Cote. In 1816, their great-grandson, Thomas Butler of Kirkland and Cote (1795-1864) was authorised by Royal Licence to take the surname of Butler Cole.
Such royal licences often give additional permission for the bearing of quarterly arms, bringing with it the right to bear two crests. The royal licence granted to Thomas Butler Cole contained no heraldic provisions, perhaps because he would in any event have been entitled to quarter the arms of Cole with those of Butler by the normal rules of heraldic inheritance. However, without the authority of a royal licence, he would not have been properly entitled to bear anything other than the Butler crest. The crest which appears on the chairs of course incorporates those of the Cole and Butler families.
Thomas Butler Cole seems to have been rather a colourful character. Following his marriage in August 1817 to Louisa Grimshawe of Preston, he was sued for breach of promise by Mary Alice Orford, the action being tried at Lancaster in March 1818. His actual marriage seems to have ended unhappily because the Butler-Cole Collection in the Lancashire Record Office contains a deed of separation between Thomas Butler Cole dating from 1839. Butler-Cole is described as `an eccentric man' in the Victoria County History, citing Anthony Hewitson, Our Country Churches and Chapels (1872), p. 456.
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