Following on from the card tables from Clytha Castle, I wondered what card-games were in vogue in the eighteenth century. I found mention of Whist, Loo – which could cause spectacular ruin, Brag – a forerunner of Poker, Pope Joan - a mild and homely gambling game for all the family, especially that of clergymen, Reversis – an ancestor of Hearts and Speculation – a mild domestic gambling game mentioned by Jane Austen. Edmond Hoyle wrote A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist in 1742; the twelfth edition contained the new laws of ... whist, as played at White's and Saunders's chocolate houses[i]. In 1770 Mr. Hoyle’s Games was published containing Easy Rules for Playing the Games of Whist, Quadrille, Cribbage, Piquet, Chess, Backgammon.
The German cabinet-maker David Roentgen produced an ingenious games table (c.1780-83) which has different leaves for playing different games. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has produced an animation to show how it unfolded.
Ince & Mayhew produced three round Loo tables for the Prince of Wales at Carlton House in 1788-89[ii]. They were billed at £5, £9 and £9 9s and the most expensive had a central mahogany pool, five counterwells and a three branch adjustable light. The third Lord Monson hired card tables and chairs from Ince & Mayhew presumably for a party at his home, Burton Hall in Lincolnshire. Sir John Griffin Griffin Bt. paid for a neat Morroco Backgammon Table and Leather Boxes in 1774 at a cost of £2 for Audley End or his London residence 10 New Burlington Street. At Goodnestone Park, Kent there were a pair of Ince & Mayhew yew-wood card tables with ebonized borders inlaid with engraved flowersprays bought by Sir Brook Bridges. Sir Brook’s daughter, Elizabeth, married Edward Austen, the brother of Jane Austen. Jane would visit them at Goodnestone and started writing Pride and Prejudice immediately after staying there in 1796[iii]. Did she perhaps play Speculation on an Ince & Mayhew card table?!
[i] British Library catalogue
[ii] Roberts, H and Cator, C. 1986. Mayhew, John and Ince, William. In Beard, G and Gilbert, C eds. Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660-1840 Leeds,London : Furniture History Society: W.S. Maney & Son Ltd, pp. 589-598.
I was recently contacted about some Ince & Mayhew furniture from Clytha Castle, described by the National Trust as one of the outstanding 18th-century follies of Wales. It stands on top of Clytha Hill, on the edge of an old grove of chestnuts, and is currently cared for by the Landmark Trust.
The Castle has rather romantic origins as it was built by William Jones as a memorial to his recently deceased wife, Elizabeth. The dedication, inscribed on a tablet set into the walls, reads as follows:
This Building was erected in the year 1790 by
WILLIAM JONES of Clytha Houfe Efq
Fourth Son of JOHN JONES
of Lanarth Court Monmouthfhire Efq and
Hufband of ELIZABETH the laft furviving Child
of Sir WILLIAM MORGAN of Tredegar KB
and GrandDaughter of the moft Noble WILLIAM
Second Duke of Devonfhire
It was undertaken for the purpose of relieving a mind
fincerely afflicted by the lofs of a moft excellent Wife
whofe Remains were depofited
in Lanarth Church Yard A.D: 1787
and to the Memory of whofe virtues
this Tablet is dedicated.
Though on a different scale, the castle has been likened to the Taj Mahal in its purpose. However a contemporary commentator also pointed out that Elizabeth, the grand-daughter of the Duke of Devonshire, had given her husband a huge fortune.
The castle was designed by William Jones himself, assisted by the architect John Davenport, who had earlier designed an orangery for Warren Hastings at Daylesford House – Warren Hastings was also a client of Ince & Mayhew. William Jones kept a handwritten account book, recording all the costs of building and furnishing the castle, including craftsmen’s wages, transport costs and building materials. From 1791-1792 he paid Ince & Mayhew £1000 for ‘Gothic style’ furniture for the house.
In 2013 Sotheby’s New York sold two games tables from Clytha Castle for $100,000, and now a mahogany dumb waiter, also by repute from Clytha Castle and attributed to Ince & Mayhew, will be on sale at the San Francisco Antiques Fair this October.
Did Ince & Mayhew supply any other furniture for William Jones? If so, where is it?
Francis Ince (1841-1920) one of William Ince’s great grandsons, played an important role in the introduction of electricity to the domestic home.
According to his daughter’s book[i], Francis was a practical man of business, by temperament excitable, impetuous and impatient of quick results. A lawyer by profession he was a passionate amateur scientist with a great interest in the technicalities of electrical science. In 1881 he met Sebastian de Ferranti, then aged 17, but already an ingenious inventor, who was then working for Siemens. Francis Ince recognised Ferranti’s talent and set him up in business with the company Ferranti, Thompson and Ince.
Ferranti was a pioneer in electrical engineering, having grasped that electricity could be made on a large scale in one place and then distributed to all those who needed it. One of his aims was to use electricity to help women with their domestic chores. He was appointed to the London Electric Supply Corporation with Francis Ince on the Board of Directors. At the age of 24 he helped establish the world’s first high voltage AC power station at Deptford with the ability to create 10,000 volts. He also invented cables to carry high voltage electricity; the transformer to reduce the voltage for use and the voltmeter to measure use. This is much the same system that is still in use all over the world today.
By 1893 Francis Ince was a Member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, Director of the London Electric Supply Corporation and Chairman of S. Z. de Ferranti. In 1889 he had been amongst the party to meet Thomas Edison when he visited the Deptford works.
Francis left Ferranti’s company in 1899, but they remained firm friends. Ferranti had married his daughter, Gertrude, in 1888 and was a support to Francis during his final illness.
A blue plaque for Sebastian de Ferranti has recently been erected in his birthplace, Liverpool. An excellent explanation of his contribution to our world can be seen at http://www.sebastiandeferranti.co.uk and http://www.ferranti.me/sebastian-1864.html
[i] Ziani de Ferranti, Gertrude and Ince, Richard, The Life and Letters of Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti, London 1934
In the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London there is an oil painting called A Cabinet-Maker's Office. It shows a cabinet-maker pointing to a coloured design for a commode and bookcase. The desk in the background shows the order book and account books. The figure to the right, holding a pen, is possibly the book-keeper. The notes supplied by the V&A point out that only a substantial business would require a full-time book-keeper. The painting would have been commissioned by a wealthy member of the new middle-class to show off the business he had built up. The design shown in the paper held by the cabinet-maker suggests a date of 1770. The artist is unknown.
Interestingly at the Huntingdon Museum in California there are two portraits of children of John Mayhew: one of Isabella who was the daughter of his first wife, Isabella Stephenson, and one of James Gray at the age of ten. James Gray Mayhew was the fourth son of John and Bridget and became an architect and a surveyor, working for the Westminster Fire Office. He is the man who became the Receiver for Ince & Mayhew in 1824. Both portraits were painted by Charles Ansell and are dated 1780.
Looking at the faces of all three, is there any family resemblance? Could the cabinet-maker in the V&A painting be John Mayhew? He had commissioned the family portraits, and there may have originally been more paintings of his other children, which have since been lost. Could he have commissioned a portrait of himself?
The main argument against this is that Ince & Mayhew’s accounts were in such a mess when the partnership was dissolved, it is unlikely they employed a book-keeper. However, if you will forgive a flight of fancy, suppose the man on the left is John Mayhew and he is pointing to an alteration in the design that needs to be made by the man on the right holding a pen, that could be William Ince!
The Huntington Art Gallery, originally the Huntington residence, contains one of the most comprehensive collections in America of 18th and 19th century British and French art. The collection can be viewed on their emuseum, and includes five watercolours by Joseph Murray Ince, grandson of William Ince.
Sarah Ingle is the great great great great grand-daughter of William Ince and has been researching her family history for a number of years. She thoroughly enjoyed the detective work involved in tracing William’s lineage.