Page revised 12 August 2001

EDWARD LAW

THE ORIGINS OF THE SILVER TRADE lN SHEFFIELD.

2000 Edward J Law.

It is suggested that a goldsmith who was working in Sheffield in the l6th century would be enriching the hilts of knives, which had been produced in the town at least from the 13th century1. Another goldsmith in the town in the first half of the 18th century, may also have been working in relation to the staple cutlery trade. Robert Downes, of Sheffield, goldsmith, probably the same Robert Downes who in 1711 was assessed to the Highway Rate in respect of a house and shop in the Market Place2, was already a wealthy individual when in 1719 he provided 1,000 for the erection of St Paul's Church and an endowment of 30 per annum for the minister's stipend3.

Downes' "bountiful charity" resulted in a situation almost beyond belief. In the formal instrument relating to the founding of the church4, a chapel of ease to the Parish Church, it was noted that Downes would have the nomination of the minister in his hands, and the first incumbent was to be his kinsman Joseph Downes. The establishment and building of a substantial church does not go forward unnoticed, but no sooner had St Paul's been built than the Vicar and the Patron of the Parish Church objected to Downes' right of presentation to the living. If that were not disgraceful enough they persisted in their objection for nineteen years, a period during which no service was conducted in the new church. It is difficult to imagine how such a situation could endure so long. Perhaps it was just stubborness on both sides. The impasse was finally addressed on 30th April 1739 when Downes applied to the Quarter Sessions to have the building registered as a meeting place for Protestant Dissenters5. Was it his own piety and evident love of the established church which prevented him from taking this step somewhat earlier? With the possibility of losing the church entirely the Vicar and Patron of the Parish Church entered into negotiations with Downes with the result that St Paul's was consecrated in July 1740 with another of his kinsmen, John Downes, the first curate.

Little is known of Robert Downes. Hunter6 noted that he was the grandson of John Downes and great grandson of Robert Downes. The combination of names and occupations suggests a connection with a London goldsmith, John Downes "son of Robert Downes of Sheafold in the County of York cutler7" who was apprenticed in 1681.

It seems likely that there was another goldsmith working in Sheffield at about the same time as Robert Downes. What is described as the earliest piece of silver with Sheffield connections is a watch case, within which is a watch of the first quarter of the 18th century by the maker Josiah Travis of Sheffield. The watch case is said to bear the maker's mark, TB beneath a symbol, possibly a flory crown8; if the interpretation of the mark is correct it would indicate that Travis was not himself a working silversmith. However, it is likely that there was a silversmith of the name of Travis and one wonders whether the mark might be TR, the first two letters of the surname Travis, the format which marks of that period took. In the records of the Burgery of Sheffield9 are the following entries:

1714 Paid Mr Trevis [for] chains & badges for the waits in lieu of Ribbons 3.19.9

1716 Paid Mr Trevis for beadle chains ut per rect 1.14.4.

1729 Paid Mrs Travis for mending & boyling the waits Badges 2s.6d.

The Waits were musicians retained by the town to add to the grandeur of ceremonial occasions. It is said that Waits in the 1720s would wear riding coats but had previously worn heavy cloaks and it may be that the chains mentioned above were for fastening those cloaks. It is probable that both the chains and the badges were of silver. A silver badge of the Waits of Cambridge of 1723 by Benjamin Pyne is among that City's plate, it is oval, a little above 6" x 4" and decorated with the Arms of Cambridge10. That badge was made to be worn on the sleeve, but if the Sheffield Waits were wearing cloaks then the badges were probably born on the chest. The Company of Cutler's have among their plate a Beadle's badge11, also by Benjamin Pyne, which has been dated to c.1695, but which is actually of 1718 in which year their records note12 "Paid for ye silver badge & chaine 4-14-2".

No evidence has been noted to support the suggestion that one or more of the Watson family were silversmiths "before plating on copper was discovered13", but it is not beyond possibility.

The Sheffield silver trade, however, does not look to these early goldsmiths for its origins. The trade was established in the town as a direct result of the invention of Sheffield Plate in 1742. From the initial discovery by Thomas Boulsover the art of silver plating advanced to the point where almost anything which could be made from silver could also be made from silver plate. Boulsover took little part in the advancement of the trade. Having discovered the process he applied it in the manufacture of buttons and buckles: small wares, but a phenomenal trade; everyone wore them and in 1773 it was said that the buckle trade provided work for 5,000 in Birmingham and neighbouhood14. Even the approximate dates when those silver platers who followed Boulsover came to add silver manufacture to their businesses are difficult to establish. It no doubt took the form of a natural progression, as Watson said15 "It is but natural to expect that manufacturers of plated goods would now and again see openings for supplying their customers with silver ones. Thus probably combined trades would arise."

There is evidence in the early 1760s that the silver trade was in being in the town or would shortly be established. In an indenture of May 1763 a silverplating partnership was noted as being established from 1st January that year16. The partners were John Sherburn, Henry Tudor and Thomas Leader. Sherburn was described as a silversmith, and Hirst records17 that both Leader and Tudor had been apprenticed in London to a maker of watch-cases, snuff-boxes and instrument or etui-cases; Leader on the manufacturing side and Tudor as a chaser. Sherburn is described as a medical man of some property, settled in the town18; a clause in his will19 leaving 50 "to my apothecary" appears to confirm that profession. His residence in the town may have arisen from a connection with the Duke of Norfolk's local agent in the 1720s, another John Shirburn20. Hunter in his History of Sheffield records21 that Tudor and Leader came to Sheffield before 1760 "to make snuff boxes and small silver articles", whilst Turner states22 that it was about 1755 that Dr Sherburn provided the money to start the partnership. A clause in the agreement of 1763 that the trade was to be conducted in the workshops of all three partners indicates that the three were already in trade and statements that Tudor and Leader were recruited by Sherburn would suggest that they were in trade together. It is stated23 that Tudor was a button chaser with Young & Hoyland, presumably having been 'head-hunted' from London, which would explain how he came into contact with Sherburn. Whether Leader had come north with Tudor or was still then in London does not appear.

Whilst the firm of Tudor & Leader (through its earlier partnership) may perhaps have been the most influential in establishing the silver trade it is by no means certain that they were the first to come to the trade.

Joseph Hancock who is said24 to have been apprenticed to Thomas Boulsover is credited with widening the range of plated manufacture from small wares to the larger pieces which had traditionally been made in silver or pewter. However, the description of his occupation in an apprenticeship of 1753 as a turner and toymaker25 would suggest that he had not then made the transition. Toyman is an occupation perhaps best known in connection with the Birmingham trade and signifies one who worked in small wares. Hirst states26 that Hancock commenced the plated trade before 1750 which would seem much nearer the mark than the note in The Local Register of Sheffield that he commenced in July 1761. Whilst we know27 that William Hancock produced silver prior to 1773 we have no evidence in respect of his father and can only surmise that like other leading platers he would have received the occasional commission for items of solid silver.

John Hoyland also gained his knowledge of the plating trade from Thomas Boulsover, by whom he was employed as a traveller28, and seems initially to have followed a similar trade being noted as a button maker in 1763 in partnership with William Middleton29. The latter when making his wi1130 in 1767 described himself as a toyman, and the following year when the will was proved Hoyland was again noted as a button maker. It appears, however, that the two men were already in a partnership that was to be one of the early silver producers, for when John Hoyland & Co. registered their mark in the opening week of the Sheffield Assay31, Elizabeth Middleton was one of the partners, no doubt as the executrix of her late husband. Another partner in 1773 was John Trevers Younge; it seems likely that his role, initially at least, had been that of financier, for ten years earlier he was described as a mercer32

It is said that Thomas Law, Master Cutler in 1753, was pre-eminent among the plated haftmakers33, and the records of the Company of Cutlers throw light on both his ability and his enterprise34. In 1751 when the Company wished to make a presentation to the Secretary of War it was Law who was chosen to manufacture the gift, a "case of extra hafted knives and forks", which he did at a cost of 12.1.6. The Company of Cutler's periodically made forays into commercial ventures. Their instrument in one of these ventures, the box-trade of 1749, was Thomas Law. It appears that the Company wished to foster a new trade in the town and were prepared to make funds available to Law to tool-up and buy materials for the production of what are thought to have been brass snuff and tobacco boxes. The venture did not prove successful and was given up within two years, but it indicates that Law was considered to be one of the more innovative cutlers. It may be that knowledge gained in the attempt, at no great cost to himself, would stand Law in good stead in diversifying into the plated and silver trade; indeed it may be that he had aleady made a start in those trades and that he was chosen because of that.

Law's claim to be remembered lies, however, in the firms of silversmiths which had their origins in his workshops. John Winter, Samuel Roberts, Richard Creswick, John Elam and Matthew Fenton who were all involved in founding substantial firms were all apprenticed with Law36. Winter, who was to be pre-eminent in the manufacture of candlesticks, was made free of the Cutler's Company in 1755. That he and Law both became successful manufacturers of silver and plated wares may indicate that Law was producing plated wares at the time Winter was training with him, at about the time of the box venture or soon after.

Approaching 1773 and the creation of the Sheffield Assay Office we come to firmer ground in our search for the origins of the silver trade. In response to petitions presented by "the artificers in Silver Plate in the town and neighbourhood of Sheffield" and by Matthew Boulton of Birmingham, and a counter petition of the London goldsmiths, Parliament appointed a Committee to enquire into the manner of conducting the London Assay Office and those of the provinces. The evidence that remains from that enquiry36 gives us some insight into the emergence of the Sheffield trade. Joseph Hancock senior related that he had lived at Sheffield upwards of 50 years (he was born in 1711 and was Master Cutler in 1763) and that the manufacture of solid silver had been introduced in that time. Gilbert Dixon, clerk to the Cutler's Company (and later the first clerk to the Company of Guardians) brings the origins of the silver trade somewhat closer with his evidence that there were then 468 persons employed in the plated and silver trades but that 30 years ago there were not one twentieth of that number [we may say perhaps 25] and that they only made knife handles. In view of this statement we must suppose that if Robert Downes was in business as a silversmith in Sheffield in 1739 he was almost certainly trading as a haftmaker or embellisher.

Hancock noted also that great improvements had been made in the silver line, particularly in the manufacture of candlesticks, salts, bottle stands, caster frames and snuffer trays. A witness on behalf of the London petitioners, who were decrying the extent of the Sheffield manufactory, stated that they produced "slight silver candlesticks, knife handles, bottle stands and salts which are struck with fly presses". Further pressed on the subject he conceded that there were other lines; bread baskets or ink stands, but very seldom. Other witnesses for the 'opposition' in attempting to give adverse evidence extend the list of output to include punch ladles and snuffers, whilst William Hancock specifically mentions six tumblers which he had sent for assay. From this list of products it is clear that the trade in Sheffield was out of any experimental phase which it may have gone through.

Evidence from the two factions as to the number of establishments in the trade agree. Joseph Hancock, asked how many houses manufactured the items he had enumerated above, said there were four to his knowledge, and William Abdy said that he knew of "but four houses in Sheffield that makes silver candlesticks, but there are several partners in each house". Abdy, a silversmith, plater and plate worker in the City of London, had served his time in Sheffield which he had left 24 years earlier. It is interesting to note that Abdy had been apprenticed to John Osborne, Master Cutler in 1734, as had Thomas Law37.

Of the four Sheffield houses which these witnesses had in mind three would be William Hancock & John Rowbotham & Co.; Fenton, Creswick; and John Winter & Co., all of whom are in a list, presented to the Committee, of Sheffield silversmiths who had goods assayed in London in 1772-73. The fourth firm was probably John Hoyland & Co. whose London agent was among those giving evidence. If these were the four firms then a notable omission was the firm of Tudor & Leader. The absence of any evidence from them is surprising; as a large and well established company they may have been able to apply pressure to, rather than be subjected to it from, the London trade, but the establishment of a Sheffield Assay would be equally to their advantage, and indeed they were the first to use it.

Partners from all of the concerns except Hoyland & Co. are shown in the Report of the Committee to have registered marks at Goldsmith's Hall in London; they were: William Hancock, John Rowbotham, Matthew Fenton & Richard Creswick, John Winter and Henry Tudor. In addition there were two other Sheffield makers registered, John Hirst who was a haftmaker and Thomas Tyas junior who probably followed the same trade, both of whose marks are still to be seen in the smallworker's register of Goldsmith's Hall38.

The general aim of the London petitioners appears to have been to deprecate the quality and belittle the volume of Birmingham and Sheffield silverwares, and indeed figures presented to the Committee of the quantities of their plate assayed in London from 29 May 1772, a period of about nine months, indicate a miniscule trade; just over 250 lbs against an annual throughput of over 100,000 lbs.’ So why did John Wakelin, a leading London goldsmith, state "Vast quantities of plate is sold in London that is manufactured at Sheffield and Birmingham"? The answer, almost certainly, is that the quantity of 250lbs represents the plate assayed which bore provincial makers’ marks but that a much greater quantity bore the marks of London goldsmiths. The evidence of John Parsons, a partner in the firm of John Winter & Co. is conclusive. The "house he was concerned in worked up near 1,000 ounces per month for many months past, in the manufacture of solid silver candlesticks only" and they were obliged to employ a London agent who struck his mark upon the sticks and then sent them to the Assay Office. He said that he had tried sending candlesticks to London with his own mark on them but still the agent had struck his mark upon them. Cross-examined as to whether this "was not to give it the credit of London work"? he gave the forthright answer "he believed the people of Sheffield would be glad to have the credit of their own manufactures." The true output of Sheffield may be guaged from the average of 3,000lbs per year assayed there down to 1800.

This practice of the London silversmiths of stamping provincial silver as their own, accounts for the almost complete absence of identifiable Sheffield silver prior to 1773 which in itself gives rise to the impression that the trade developed at a stroke in that year. One of the scarce pieces of identifiable Sheffield silver bearing London hallmarks is a chamberstick of 1772 by Matthew Fenton & Richard Creswick39. The opening of the Sheffield Assay Office did not completely end the abuses of passing off its silver as that of other centres, notably London and Edinburgh, a practice which continued down to the 1790s.

Grimwade records40 of John Carter "His mark is found overstruck on that of candlesticks bearing the early Sheffield hallmarks." From the evidence of the latter that Sheffield candlesticks were made to his orders, and Parson's evidence that candlesticks he made for silversmiths in London were made according to their instructions and sometimes to their models and drawings, we may suppose that Carter was the London agent of Winter & Co., whose sole output was candlesticks.

The London trade was clearly very important to the firm of John Hoyland & Co., their agent Bernard Holbrook who took orders from shops for their wares, was allowed 10 a year for a warehouse and received a salary of 100 per annum. This may have been as much as the partners themselves received in salary and may be compared with the 70 per annum which Daniel Holy received in 1777 as the managing partner in the firm of Daniel Holy & Co.41. It is noticeable that several of the larger Sheffield concerns numbered a London partner among their composition. The firm of Samuel Roberts & Co. admitted Joseph Beldon, a London hardwareman, to partnership in 1780. Beldon may previously have been acting as a freelance agent; in June 1779 Matthew Fenton & Co. despatched to him in London: tea, dessert and table spoons, tea tongs and snuffers, "as patterns"42. William Ashforth of Bartholomew Close, London was a partner in John Parsons & Co.43 from 1783 and in its successor John Green & Co.44 down to 1805. He may well have been the London representative of John Winter & Co. before that, for Parsons was their successor and Ashforth was John Winter's wife's half brother45.

There is a suggestion of a 'London weighting' in place in 1810 when the partnership agreement of S & C Younge & Co.46, successors to J T Younge & Co., provided for Henry Walker to receive 200 per annum if he remained in London, but only 120 per annum, the same as the other managing partners, if he "retire into the country". This was probably not so much a weighting to compensate for higher London costs, as a recognition of the great value of business contacts built up over twenty years.

It is noticeable in the evidence given to the Parliamentary Committee that Sheffield manufacture was concentrated in the hands of a few 'houses' or firms. This is in marked contrast to the London trade where the great majority of silversmiths worked on their own account or in a family grouping. There are probably several reasons which led to both the plated and silver trades of Sheffield being carried on by partnerships, the principal one almost certainly was the amount of capital which was necessary to establish a viable concern. The earliest partnership for which we have details47 is that of Sherburn, Tudor & Leader in 1763, where the working capital, i.e. excluding the value of premises, was 3,000. By the end of the 1780s and the beginning of the 1790s, when the Sheffield trade had really taken off Daniel Holy & Co. had 10,000 capital, Staniforth, Parkin & Co. 12,000, comprising 7,000 equity and 5,000 loan, and Tudor & Leader 15,00048. Roberts49 noted in connection with the founding of Roberts, Cadman & Co. in 1784, "the trade required a considerable capital" though in actual fact their commencing capital60 of 4,000 was relatively low.

Another important reason for the concentration of the Sheffield trade in partnerships was to bring together specialists in various aspects of the trade; silver platers, silversmiths, die cutters, piercers, cutlers, travellers. By and large no distinction of occupation is evident from descriptions in partnership agreements, most of the individuals being described either as silver platers or silversmiths. The partnership agreement of Daniel Holy & Co. in March 180451 is unusual in showing several areas of specialisation. William Cresswell Webb, who had been recruited from Birmingham, was to undertake the firm's journies and voyages, and to be assisted if necessary by Daniel Holy's son George who was to be trained in the warehouse and counting house. William Hall was to work at the trade of a pierce worker and William Hadfield at that of die sinker.

Depending on their markets the Sheffield firms required travellers, a London agent or a London showroom. The trade had arisen not through traditional evolution of a trade, close to its major market, but as a result of innovative production; the principal outlets were still in London and the south, and orders had to be sought there and elsewhere. The importance of London representation has already been noted and many of the early partnership agreements specifically mention that one or more partners were to be responsible for making the firm's journies. The journies were regular tours through different parts of the country during the course of which, as well as selling, outstanding debts had to be collected. The weight of the products would preclude the travellers from carrying samples and the goods were sold from a 'catalogue', a volume of fine prints to actual size annotated with prices52.

One of the principal distinctions of the trade from that of London was that the goods were die-stamped, and the die sinker was a highly skilled craftsmen.

We are fortunate to have information53 to be able to consider the firm of Roberts, Cadman & Co. in some detail. The firm was started in 1784 by two young men, Roberts at 21 was just out of his apprenticeship whilst Cadman, who had also served an apprenticeship, was a few years older. Roberts' father was a man of some wealth, with partnerships in silver and plate, in cutlery and in merchanting. The circumstances of the firm are a little unusual; part of its raison detre was as a vehicle for Roberts senior to move into at the end of an existing, unsettled partnership in the same trade. It may have been because of this or because of a need for expansion capital, or a combination of the two, that within two years of commencing business the firm took a 'sleeping partner', Naylor, who had an equity share but no part in the management. Such an arrangement was not unknown in other houses, but arose naturally through the retirement of a partner who allowed his capital to remain in the trade. The premises of the firm were newly erected by Roberts and were probably brought in as part of his capital.

The need for capital for expansion which is given as a possible reason for the introduction of Naylor relates to the firm's entry into the silver trade. The firm did not enter a silver mark54 until June 1786 and no silver had been sent for assay in 1784 or 178555. If we may judge by the stability and continuity of the firm it was well managed, and the decision to start producing silver would be a concious one and the partners would wish to assure themselves of sufficient capital to carry the plan forward.

One of the most interesting of the firm's records is a stock book of 1787, perhaps the first stock-taking of the firm following the introduction of Naylor. We get an impression of the extent of the manufactory from the list of rooms: Cutting-out Room, Glass Room, Brazier's Shop, Candlestick Room, Garret, Lamp Room, Diecutter's Room, Stamp Shop, Boil House, Burnishing Room, Casting Shop, Hearth, Back Yard with stock of charcoal and small coal, Counting House and Warehouse. The stock in the warehouse shows that from the earliest days the firm were manufacturing all types of wares. It included: candlesticks; tea and coffee urns; tea, coffee and mustard pots; caddys; argyles; waiters; dish rings and dish crosses with lamps; sauce, pickle, soy, snuffer and ink boats; tureens; epergnes; ice pails; toast trays; salts; [wine] labels; fish knives; table, dessert and tea spoons; paddy shells; muffineers and cruets.

All stock was listed at selling price and subsequently discounted by 50% from which we may assume that the mark-up from cost price was 100%. The value, at selling price, in the warehouse was 615, a further 511 of goods were in the hands of John Pryor, their London agent. One process which the firm did not undertake was engraving, and 6 of goods were out with their engraver. A clause is contained in many of the Sheffield partnerships referring to the value of apprentices, and the stock of 1787 includes "Value of apprentices, Benjamin Smith 25, John Kirkby 15, 5 lads 50". Was one of these lads, one wonders, George Frost the apprentice to whom the firm presented a cup56 in 1794? The inscription "The gift of ROBERTS CADMAN & CO. TO GEORGE FROST, as a mark of their Approbation of his conduct during his Apprenticeship with them. 1794." suggests that Frost had completed his apprenticeship; as the usual term was seven years he may well have been a first year lad at the time of the 1787 stock take.

The company's fine silver was purchased from Roberts, Eyre, Beldon & Co., the firm in which Samuel Roberts senior was a partner, and the 325 ounces of stock was valued at six shillings per ounce.

Another interesting record is an award of 1816 in a dispute between Roberts, Cadman & Co. and John Clarke and Jacob West of Dublin, which had been put to arbitration. Clarke and West were the firm's agents in Dublin and the following list of stock in their hands shows both the variety of products and the importance of the Dublin trade:

12 Tea Urns 161.11.0
5 Coffee Urns 38. 1.0
32 Ice Pails 223. 6.0
15 Soup Tureens 216.16.6
8 Knife Trays 39.18.0
3 Tea Kettles with Stands 31.18.0
15 Bread Baskets 71. 8.0
14 Tea Pots & Biggans 54.11.6
3 Sugar Basons 8.16.0
3 Cream Jugs 4.15.0
11 Dish Covers 112.10.6
17 Egg Frames 64.16.0
16 Pickle Frames 113.16.0
25 Liquer Frames 95.13.6
12 Wax Winders 11.12.0
4 Ink Stands 6. 6.0
3 Soy Frames 5.16.0
139 Double Dishes 1,138. 1.0
3 Venison Dishes 47. 5.0
7 Meat Dishes 48. 8.0
11 Cruet Frames 50.19.6
9 Casseroles & Warmers 71.18.0
1 Coffee Biggan & Stand 8.18.6
1 Fish Plate 5.10.0
102 Toast Racks 85. 2.6
22 Snuffer Stands 14.11.0
50 Pair of Snuffers 32.10.0
44 Waiters & Salvers 267.13.0
28 Pair of Sauce Tureens 261. 9.0
4 Linings for Sauce Tureens 2. 8.0
4 Stands for Sauce Tureens 8. 8.0
38 Pair of Candlesticks 95. 7.6
40 Warmers 177.12.0
4 Butter Coolers 23. 2.0
4 Egg Boilers 17.18.0
66 Pair of Salts 100.13.6
53 Pair of Card Candlesticks 71.18.0
142 Pair of Candlesticks 379.12.0
25 Pair of Branches & 7 Pillar Candlesticks & Branches 264. 3.0
2 Nests & 5 Tumblers 13. 0.0
47 Pair of Coasters 64. 6.0
10 Goblets 8.18.0
4 Dish Rings 8.14.0
6 Skewers 2. 2.6
1 Pepper Caster 7.6
8 Dozen & 6 Egg Cups 18. 0.0
12 Spoons 3. 9.0
8 Saucepans 12.15.0
2 Wax Flats 13. 6.0
8 Mustard Pots 7.13.0
12 Funnells 7.15.0
1 Asparagus Tongs 2. 2.0
3 Jugs 3. 8.0
3 Mugs 1. 7.6
6 Dozen & 11 Corks 4.15.6
2 Funnell Stands 14.0
10 Pair of Candlesticks 30. 5.0
2 Toast Racks 2. 7.0
8 Epergnes 151.11.6
  [Sub total] 4,790.13.0
  Discount 25 p cent 1,197.13.3
  [Sub total] 3,592.19.9
  Duty 10 p cent 359. 6.0
  Amount of Stock 3,952. 5.9

If the mark-up remained 100% on cost, as seems to have been the case in 1787, it would appear that half the margin was allowed to the agent, and Roberts, Cadman & Co. would presumably have had to meet the shipping costs.

Under the agreement when Naylor joined the partnership in January 1786 the capital was set at 2,800, with Naylor making a loan of 1,200, in addition to his equity stake, which bore interest at 5%. The value of the partnership assets at 30 June 1787, apparently the first set of accounts of the firm, was just over 5,000. Approximately half the sum being money due from customers, a quarter representing work in progress and finished stock and the remaining quarter the fixed assets; buildings, tools and fixtures. The profit of 850 shown by the stock account represented a return of some 20% p.a. on equity capital, however, no indication was given of the soundness of the outstanding debts and the margin might eventually have been reduced by 'desperate' debts. The next partnership renewal that has been seen is September 1798, by which time Naylor had withdrawn, when the agreed capital was 6,000 with provision for 1,800 more to be introduced as it was wanted.

The length of credit given to, or more likely taken by, customers was clearly critical to the capital requirements of a firm. The minutes of a trade association57 which was commenced at about the time of the opening of the Assay Office by the principal Sheffield houses sheds some light on trading practices. The prime aims of the association were to set minimum prices for the various classes of goods and maximum discounts to be allowed. In August 1773 they resolved that the maximum to be allowed for prompt payment was 20% and for credit 15%. With money available at 5% it may be that they were prepared to countenance credit of up to a year. This was certainly the case for export sales; in 1782 a three tier scale was fixed with discounts of 25% for up to two months credit, 22% for up to six months and 20% for up to a year. There is an indication in the minutes of the association in January 1784 of the excellent market which the Sheffield houses had created. Joseph Beldon the London partner of Roberts, Eyre, Beldon & Co. reported that it was his feeling that the "price of silver candlesticks might be increased half a guinea a pair and the demand still be as considerable as the manufacturers wish". The association broke up soon after, at about the time that Roberts, Cadman & Co. was founded.

REFERENCES.

1 Trevor Brighton, The Sheffield Silver in the Collection of the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire.
2 Revd William Odon, The History of St, Paul's Church, Sheffield.
3 An Act for Making a Chapel etc., 23 George II.
4 Ditto
5 West Yorkshire Record Office (WYRO) QSI/7814.
6 Revd William Odon, Op Cit.
7 Arthur G Grimwade, London Goldsmiths 1697-1837, Their Marks and Lives.
8 Trevor Brighton, Op Cit.
9 John Daniel Leader, The Records of the Burgery of Sheffield.
10 P C Gray, A Cambridge Wait's Badge, Proceedings of the Society of Silver Collectors, No. 9, Spring 1967.
11 The Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire, Preliminary Catalogue, 1973.
12 R E Leader, History of the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire.
13 R E Leader, Reminisences of Old Sheffield.
14 Journal of the House of Commons, Vol. 34, 12.3.1773.
15 Arnold T Watson, The Sheffield Assay Office.
16 Sheffield City Library, Archives Division (SCLAD), YWD 1013/1.
17 SCLAD, BR 299 - R M Hirst, A Short Account of the Founders of the Silver and Plated Establishments in Sheffield (1832).
18 Ditto.
19 Borthwick Institute, York, Wills: Doncaster Deanery May 1772.
20 John Daniel Leader, Op Cit.
21 Joseph Hunter, History of Sheffield.
22 S W Turner, The Establishment and Development of the Silver and Plate Industry in Sheffield, Appollo Vol. 46, December 1947.
23 R E Leader, Sheffield in the Eighteenth Century.
24 Arnold T Watson, The Sheffield Assay Office.
26 R E Leader, History of the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire, (Apprenticeship of Charles Osborne).
26 SCLAD,BR 299.
27 Parliamentary Papers; Reports from Committees - Miscellaneous & East India, 1771-1773, Report of Thomas Gilbert Esq., 29.4.1773.
28 SCLAD,
BR 299.
29 WYRO, Registry of Deeds, AY 552 713.
30 Borthwick Institute, Wills: Doncaster Deanery October 1768.
31 The Sheffield Assay Office Register, 2nd Edition, 1989.
32 WYRO, Registry of Deeds, AY 553 714.
33 Samuel Roberts, Autobiography of Samuel Roberts.
34 R E Leader, History of the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire.
35 Ditto.
36 Journal of the House of Commons, Vol, 34, 12.3.1773. Parliamentary Papers; Reports from Committees - Miscellaneous & East India, 1771-1773, Report of Thomas Gilbert Esq., 29.4.1773.
37 R E Leader, History of the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire.
38 Arthur G Grimwade, London Goldsmiths 1697-1837, Their Marks and Lives.
39 Sheffield Silver 1773-1973, Exhibition Catalogue.
40 Arthur G Grimwade, London Goldsmiths 1697-1837, Their Marks and Lives.
41 SCLAD, MD 5241.
42 SCLAOD, BR 1.
43 Guildhall Library, London, MS 11936/317/484293.
44 Francis Buckley, Sheffield Silver Platers 1771-1806.
45 Borthwick Institute, Will of John Winter: Doncaster Deanery, March 1792.
46 SCLAD, WIL D261.
47 SCLAD, YWD 1013/1.
48 SCLAD, MD 3632 (Holy & Co.), MD 5249 (Staniforth, Parkin & Co.), YWD 1013/6 (Tudor, Leader & Co.)
49 Samuel Roberts, Autobiography of Samuel Roberts.
50 SCLAD, SIS I,
51 SCLAD, YWD 648/5&6.
52 SCLAD, The Bradbury Collection contains a number of these pattern books.
53 Samuel Roberts, Autobiography of Samuel Roberts; SCLAD, MD 6575; SCLAD, SIS 1; SCLAD, SIS 3; SCLAD, SIS 146.
54 The Sheffield Assay Office Register, 2nd Edition, 1989.
55 Sheffield Assay Office Archives, Day Book No, 2.
56 Sheffield Silver 1773-1973, Exhibition Catalogue.
57 SCLAD, MD 2086.


Return to EDWARD LAW: SHEFFIELD SILVER,

or go to the essay SHEFFIELD SILVERSMITHS: PART 1, PART 2, or PART 3 (APPENDIX).


LINKS to:

Edward Law, interests, bibliography, and the Victorian prize medals of Huddersfield College.

Anastatic printing, some brief notes, relating to photograph and crest albums and Cowells of Ipswich.

Crest Collecting, research findings, album publishers and scans of crests.

The Sheffield Assay Office, where you will find details of their publications for sale.