A Masonic Master’s chair (fig. 49) signed by Benjamin Buck trout gives an undisputed look at high quality carved furniture produced in the I lay shop.’1’ Details of this signed chair have an affinity to those of the preceding three pieces, not an unexpected development considering Bucktrout’s association with I lay and his eventual ownership of the business.
The Bucktrout chair w as taken to the Kdenton, North Carolina Unanimity Lodge No. Seven in 1778, according to an entry in the minute books there. Further information on the piece is found in their library, w here a letter from Norfolk Lodge No. One, dated 1811, claims the chair and states that it was taken to Kdenton to save it from destruction by the British... >
Furniture Attributed to Hay
As w ith Peter Scott’s work, no signed or labeled furniture made by Hay is know n. Significant evidence concerning his shop’s production, however, is garnered from important pieces w ith Williamsburg histories, from archaeological excavation of the I lay shop site, and from the physical evidence presented by Bucktrout’s signed Masonic chair (fig. 49).
I laving noted the fairly homogenous nature of early W illiamsburg pieces and the extremely consolidated approach in the Scott group, it should be stated that products attributed to the 1 lay shop are far more varied in design and construction... >
F. dmund Dickinson is first associated with the I lay shop in a Gazette daybook entry of August 7, 1764; on that date he picked up miscellaneous items for 1 lay at the newspaper office. Dickinson’s exact position in the shop at that time is unclear, but the long-held assumption that he w as an apprentice, based upon the fact that he ran the same type of errands as 1 lay’s sons, is not valid.39 Benjamin Bucktrout appears in the same daybook performing essentially the same task, and his status as journeyman at that time seems relatively secure.
Dickinson does not appear in records between 1766, when he served under I lay, and 1771... >
I forewarn all Persons from harbouring him, and Masters of Vessels from carrying him out of the country.30
Bucktrout, like I lay, expanded his business beyond his craft. After moving from the I lay shop, he operated a retail store where he offered upholstery services and materials, and sold general merchandise. Like Hay’s venture at the Raleigh Tavern, it was apparently cpiite successful, although Bucktrout actively continued cabinetmaking and upholstering. In 1775, having firmly established his second business, he advertised to the public that he “still” carried on the cabinetmaking trade and ended w ith a note that reinforced his intention to continue doing so:
I should be glad to take one or two apprentices of bright Genius, and of good Dispositions, and such whose Friends ar... >
Proposes carrying on the business of cabinet making, at the house where Mr. Pelham now lives. Any of those Gentlemen who have been customers to Bucktrout and Kennedy*, and all other who please to employ him, may rely on his best endeavours to give satisfaction.
*1 le has no intention to rob Mr. Bucktrout of his old customers, nor does he think he can as yet properly call any his own.25
The partnership seems to have been completely dissolved by August ЗI, when Bucktrout advertised for journeymen by himself.26 lie must have remained at the shop throughout 1770, but Hay’s death in December of that year appears to have concluded his stay there. In January of 1771, less than a month after I lay’s death, Edmund Dickinson advertised from the shop... >
Benjamin Bucktrout is of extreme importance to the study of Y’irginia furniture, due largely to his stamped signature on the back of an important Masonic Master’s chair (fig. 49). It is currently the only known piece of signed Williamsburg work and is a cornerstone in the study of the 1 lay shop.
Bucktrout, who referred to himself as a cabinetmaker from London, probably served his apprenticeship in that city and may have come to Williamsburg as a journeyman or identured servant to Anthony Hay.19 An entry in the Virginia Gazette Day Book for September 28, 1765 shows that he paid five shillings toward sundry accounts for Hay, a common practice among shop employees and one that clearly links the two men during Bucktrout’s earliest period in America.
By the summer of 1766, however, Bucktro... >
I lay’s new business as proprietor of the Raleigh Tavern was an important move and reflects the tendency of successful eighteenth-century artisans to step into the realm of the business and mercantile community. An interesting analysis of I lay’s new venture and of its dependence upon his previous success has been made by Mills Brown in 1959 when he was historian at Colonial Williamsburg, in a research report entitled Cabinetmaking in the Eighteenth Century:
That Hay abandoned his craft and turned to tavernkeeping as a livelihood might be interpreted to mean that he had not done well in the former occupation—but, in fact, quite the opposite seems to have been the case... >
The earliest document concerning Anthony Hay in Williamsburg is found in the Virginia Gazette daybook of 1750-52. On July 27, 1751, Hay purchased a copy of Compleate Housewife and in the following month he bought stationery, a slate, and pencils. From that point on, I lay kept a running account for similar items and books. I le often sent family members and shop employees to pick up these articles, all of w hom are noted in the daybooks.4 They included his sons “Joe” and “Thomas,” Edmund Dickinson, Benjamin Bucktrout, and “Wiltshire,” the latter a slave.
On November 7, 1751, Hay placed his first advertisement in the Gazette: “Wanted. A cabinet or chair-maker, who understands his business. May such man hear of Employment on applying to the Printer... >
Unquestionably the most important cabinet shop in Williamsburg, and one of the most important in America, the Anthony I lay Shop on Nicholson Street was in use for over twenty years and was operated by at least four masters. From this shop came the most extraordinary group of ceremonial chairs produced in colonial America.1
It appears as though Anthony I lay founded the shop and served as its first master. I le, in turn, w as followed by Benjamin Bucktrout, William Kennedy, and Kdmund Dickinson. Two professional carvers, James Wilson and George I lamilton, were also employed there, and numerous appeals for journeymen cabinetmakers, chairmakers, and apprentices indicate that there were many others whose names are unrecorded... >
The career of Peter Scott (1694-1775) spanned five decades and is distinguished as the longest of any Williamsburg cabinetmaker. I le is first documented in the town during 1722 and had established his shop on the south side of Duke of Gloucester Street, opposite Bruton Parish Church, by 1733.’ Little is known of his early years, and most of the important details regarding his life and business are gathered from six Virginia Gazette notices. It is significant that the earliest of these, the only one placed by Scott, was printed more than three decades after his first known appearance in Williamsburg. It was not intended to promote his business but instead to settle his affairs and announce his intended departure for England:
To Be S C) L I)
BEFORE Mr... >