As previously discussed in Chapter 9: 'Life as a Convict in NSW', from early in his arrival, Laurence was establishing his private cabinetmaking business in his free time after his government commitments at the Lumber Yard where he was also making furniture for government orders (such as Governor King's secretaire bookcase dated c.1805, attributed to Lawrence Butler, now in the National Art Gallery of Australia- see Chapter 9).
A video by Dr Robert Bell of the National Gallery of Australia, describing the features of this cabinet can be seen at: : http://vimeo.com/61856417
During this period, we have evidence of private cabinetry orders for William Orr (1803-1805) and John Blaxland (1807-1808), which were earning him a very good private income.
In November 1809, James Ezzy was apprenticed to Butler for three years ‘to learn his art of work’. [ii]
Laurence's first commercial advertisement appeared in the "Sydney Gazette" 2 November 1811, and describes him as “a cabinet maker and upholsterer at 7 Pitt Street”, the address at which he remained until his death. His workshop was of some size, employing several journeymen (tradesmen) and apprentices.
In the General Muster of NSW 1814, Laurence Butler is listed as having four apprentices, William Parker (sic. William Packer?), James Morris, Thomas Upton and Thomas Bladey,[vii]. One of Butler's more notable apprentices being James Packer (1794-1881), also known as William James Packer about whom Kevin Fahy and Andrew Simpson wrote in “Australian Furniture: Pictorial History & Dictionary 1788-1938”:
Ellis Bent died in November 1815, and his wife was ordered to vacate their house for the incoming Judge Advocate in December 1816. At the time of his death, he was ‘financially embarrassed’, leaving his wife and five young children in a ‘very unprovided and destitute state’. A new house had been built for Bent by the government in 1812 which Macquarie described as superior to Government House.
Colonial Furniture expertJohn Hawkins wrote in his article “The Art of the Cabinet Maker 1788-1820:
The names of two of Butler's journeymen are known. Thomas Bowman, a chairmaker from London worked for Butler for several years. Found guilty of theft and burglary along with four others, he was sentenced to death, commuted to transportation for life, arriving in the colony in 1803 aged 28. He only ever received his Ticket of Leave and died in 1818 leaving a wife and son. Bowman gave evidence on Butler's behalf during the Laing and West court cases.
William Temple, cabinetmaker, was another convict who arrived on a life sentence in February 1814, and during his free time from government service worked as a part-time employee of Butler between 1814 and 1817 at which time he was given another prison sentence and sent to Newcastle. By 1820 he was exclusively employed at Government House. In 1821 he and John Webster, carver and gilder, made the pair of famous chairs for Governor Lachlan Macquarie.
2. The second was a chest of drawers c.1810 which sold at auction in November 2011 for $AU42,000 inc. premium.
(Bonham's Auctions- from the Dale Frank Collection of Early Australian Furniture)
It should also be noted that there is no evidence that this piece was produced in Laurence Butler's workshops, and may even be of Tasmanian origin.
4. In 2011, the Art Gallery of South Australia acquired the following tea caddy, c.1810, which has been attributed to Lawrence Butler. Again, there is little evidence that it came from Butler's workshop.
… thread, lace and edging, ladies dresses and trimmings, coloured and white cambric muslin, black do. English and India prints, ginghams, longcloth and calico, Canton cloth, shawls of all descriptions, blue, white and yellow nankeens, a quantity of slops, counterpanes, thread; tape, and bubbing, pocket and silk handkerchiefs, stationary, hosiery, knives razors, and scissors, Ironmongery, consisting of locks, hinges, bolts, axes and hoes, table and tea spoons, &c. &c. brass furniture of all kinds, carpenters’ and joiners’ tools of all sorts, kettles, frying pans, spades and scythes, English and India earthenware, tea, sugar, tobacco, soap, candles, and a variety of articles.
L. B. has now on SALE the following ARTICLES of late importation; viz – Longcloths, punjums, counterpanes and palempores, white and coloured cambrics, fine and coarse India prints, double sheeting, table cloths and diaper, English and India ginghams, English printed calico, blue, white, and yellow nankeens, fustians of shades, blue gurrah, English checks, fine and coarse calico, Irish linen, dimity, crapes and ladies’ dresses, of shades; English thread lace, shawls, silk handkerchiefs, caps, ribbands, artificial hawsers, threads, tapes, bobbins, stationary, a general assortment of hardware, consisting of brass, mortice, and other locks, spring do for hall doors, hinges and screws, brass and other drawer, chest, cup board, and box locks of the very best quality, patent portmantua double bolted and common padlock, brass furniture mounting, plated do for chaise harness, plated and iron spoons, English glue, capenter’s tools, shoemaker’s tools and hemp, frying pans, sauce-pans, kettles, and India stew pans, sheep shears of sizes, materials for bell hanging, prime teas, best, second, & coarse sugars, plumbs, spices, fish and other sauces, tobacco, soap and candles, oils and colours, turpentine, painter’s brushes of sorts, a great variety of earthen ware, in sets or otherwise, glass butter tubs with covers, decanters, tumblers, and wine glasses; slops, and many other articles on the most reasonable terms.
It would appear that Michael Byrne was the son of Michael Byrne, a brewer who owned property in 19 Pitt Street and in King Street. He had another son named William Byrne who was the same age as Michael, ie. 16, as revealed in the 1822 General Muster (where William was working as a servant to his father), so probably twins.
In the previous May, only five months after the death of Laurence, Leary advertised in the 'Sydney Gazette' (18 May 1821) warning people "not to settle accounts with any person, since he would not honour any settlement with someone else since the death of Lawrence Butler." This would seem to have been aimed at the possibility of a debt owed to him personally being treated as a debt of Butler's estate. It also suggested that he had worked for Butler.
Ann responded to Leary's advertisement, in an advertisement of her own in the “Sydney Gazette” on May 26 1821: “I do hereby Caution the Public against trusting or crediting, on my account, any Person whatsoever; and I desire those to whom I am indebted to send in their accounts. Also, those who are indebted to me to pay the same without delay; or they will be sued by Legal Process immediately.”
They must have come to some sort of amicable agreement after her advertisement in October, as Leary was in charge of the business by December 1821.
“permission and authority to procure twenty thousand feet of cedar in the District of Illawarra and to employ thereover the undermentioned persons: Jn Balance and Wm White- Sawyers and Free Men; David Anderson and Jn Murphy- Carriers and Free Men.”[xxiii]
Contact email address: butler1802 @hotmail.com (NB. no spaces)
Links to all the chapters in this blog:
The 1798 rebellion
Laurence Butler's trial for his role in the Rebellion
Analysis of Butler's trial
Laurence Butler at the Battle of Tubberneering
Laurence Butler's imprisonment
Butler's life and family in Wexford
Laurence Butler's transportation to Sydney in 1802 on the Atlas 2
Conditions on Convict Ships
Life as a convict in Sydney
Laurence Butler's property investments in Pitt Street Sydney
Sydney Town in 1800-1810
Laurence Butler's petitions to the Governor
Laurence Butler's 100 acre land grant in District of Petersham
Butler's membership of the Commercial Society of Sydney
Laurence Butler's court cases
Laurence Butler's business interests in Sydney
Laurence Butler's cabinet making business
Laurence Butler's property investments in Sydney
Laurence Butler's colonial family
Laurence Butler's death in 1820
Laurence Butler's issue- Walter, Lawrence Junior and Mary Ann
The Catholic Community of Sydney up until 1820
Genealogy- Butler's possible ancestry and possible descendants in Ireland, and BDM records
Butler's fellow Irish rebels transported to Sydney
Conclusion about the life of Laurence Butler