Ince & Mayhew were closely involved with the architect William Chambers in the replenishment of Blenheim Palace for the 4th Duke of Marlborough in the 1760s and 1770s up to 1789. Ince & Mayhew’s directory The Universal System, published in book form in 1762, was dedicated to the Duke.
Hugh Roberts has written about their work for Blenheim Palace in his article for the Furniture History Society ‘NICELY FITTED UP': FURNITURE FOR THE 4TH DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH.[i] Apart from providing a great deal of furniture including the State Bed, some beautiful Commodes, chairs for the Hall, the Dining room and the Saloon, and a pair of mahogany steps for the Duke’s Observatory in 1785, the firm was also involved in decorating and refurbishment. They provided items such as silk damask curtains and leather table covers, and they cleaned the tapestries. They also provided bell glass lamps and a Triangle Mahogney Musick stand.
I was interested to read that they provided a number of mahogany doors for the palace in 1776-7 and again in 1787. These doors all had a three-panelled design, some plain, some with fluted panels. The locks on some of the doors were stamped E. Gascoigne, and some of the hinges were stamped INVENTER. In 1787 these were provided by Mrs Gascoigne. The Stewards Day Book noted that on May 18 1787 Came from Mr Mayhews 3 pr. Mehogny doors ..4 Pair of Mehogny doors… from Mrs Gascoigns 2 Strong locks for Iron Doors; 7 mortice locks, 42 hinges, and furniture for 7 Pr. of door.
Writing in the Catalogue of Commodes[ii], Lucy Wood relates that the Gascoigne family worked from 37 Bury Street, Westminster, the address from a 1789 bill to Lord Monson from R. Gascoigne. James Gascoigne paid the rates for this address for 1777-78 and 1784 to 1787. Edward Gascoigne paid for 1780 to 1782 and Rachael Gascoigne paid from 1786 to 1795. Edward was presumably the inventor of the high precision self-closing hinges.
According to the Freemasonry Membership Records[iii], Edward was described as a lockmaker when he became a freemason in 1772. He was buried in St James Piccadilly in 1785 and it may have been that he had met William Ince or John Mayhew through church, as both the Ince and Mayhew families had their children christened there. Alternatively they may have met through the freemasons. Both William Ince and Edward Gascoigne were members of Lodges that met in New Bond Street in the 1770s, William of the Lodge of Felicity and Edward The Corner Stone Lodge. Or the firms may have been employed independently.
It is worth noting that the lockmaking business was continued by Racheal Gascoigne, who may have been the sister, daughter or widow of James or Edward, just as William Ince’s mother, Mary, continued the glass-making business when her husband, John, died in 1745: two examples of women business proprietors in eighteenth century London.
[i] Roberts, H. (1994). 'NICELY FITTED UP': FURNITURE FOR THE 4TH DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH. Furniture History, 30, 117-149. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/23407923
[ii] Wood, Lucy, Catalogue of Commodes 1994 London:HMSO p.184
[iii] Library and Museum of Freemasonry; London, England; Freemasonry Membership Registers; Description: Register of Members, London, vol I, Fols 1-597
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.