Saturday, 11 August 2012

Laurence Butler- Ch. 17: Cabinetmaking Business

During the years, Laurence Butler built up a profitable cabinet making business and is acknowledged as Australia's first cabinet maker of note. The noted researcher of Colonial Furniture, Kevin Fahy, wrote a number of articles on Laurence's furniture. The book "Unfinished Revolution" by Anne Maree Whitacker  mentions Laurence:
" Laurence Butler (Altas2), a cabinet maker who has been described as 'the most important figure on the Sydney furniture scene during the Macquarie period'." [i]

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:  :

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.

Chest of drawers c 1806 attributed to Laurence Butler
(Clyde Bank Collection- now in the Mint Museum, Macquarie Street, Sydney)

In November 1809, James Ezzy was apprenticed to Butler for three years ‘to learn his art of work’. [ii]
Apprenticeship Indenture James Ezzy 6 Nov 1809
(Old Registers One to Nine)

Indenture Thomas Hodgkison * Aug 1811
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.

Sydney Gazette 2 Nov 1811

In September 1811, he engaged another two apprentices:
September 14th 1811
Indenture of Apprenticeship dated 3rd August 1811 between Thomas Hodgkinson and Thomas Upton of Windsor of the one part and Laurence Butler of Sydney of the other part. The said Thomas Hodgkinson doth put himself apprentice to the said Lawrence Butler for 5 years to learn his art as a Cabinet Maker and joiner, the said Master to furnish his said Apprentice of diet and lodging. Signed by the parties and witnessed by Alexander McGuire and Thomas Bowman with Recognizance for the true performance of the same. [iii]
(NB Thomas Bowman previously mentioned as a long term employee of Butler.)

 In May 1812, he brought before the Courts his apprentice, William Ezzy, (probably James Ezzy) charged with “improper conduct and neglect of his work”, and John Boulter charged with harbouring his said apprentice and instigating and encouraging him to disobey the lawful orders of Lawrence Butler.
 The verdict was that Ezzy was to be ‘bound by his indentures of apprenticeship to the said Lawrence Butler himself for the full term thereof, and his hours of work shall be from 6-6 with usual allowance for meals and be allowed to sleep at his father’s until he makes default to this order’.” [iv]

However, the case was reported in the “Sydney Gazette” Saturday 2 May 1812, and gives an entirely different light to the story:
“An application was this day made to a Bench of Magistrates by an apprentice, praying that his indentures might be cancelled upon the grounds put forth in a memorial which was read. The circumstances of the case were, that the young man, when nearly 19 years of age, had bound himself to his master, who is a cabinet maker in Pitt Street, for the space of three years, 6 or 7 months prior to the expiration of which he arrived to full age, and considered that as one sufficient ground for the application. Secondly, he complained of oppressive treatment, in being kept at work from day-light till 10, and sometimes 11 at night, whereas that 12 hours was by the established custom of the place considered fair and sufficient day’s work for journeymen as well as apprentices. In support of the first principle, namely, that the perfection of the age of twenty-one was to vitiate an indenture, a reference was made to the 18th G.S.c.47, which relates only to the power invested in churchwardens and overseers of binding poor apprentices until they come to the age of 21; which did not at all affect the present case; whereupon the Bench ordered that the apprentice should continue with his master until the term for which he had bound himself should expire; but that upon the other hand the master should not exact from him a greater proportion of labour than custom authorized; which appeared to be 12 hours a day; viz, from 6 to 6.” [v]
Whether Laurence was a hard task master, or whether he was making Ezzy work long hours as he was neglecting his work quota, is difficult to gauge. It is possible that he was taking so many orders at that time and was having difficulty completing them on time, and therefore requiring his employees to work overtime.

In a letter written in 1812 by Michael Hayes, he stated that Butler employed five men [vi].
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”:
" Whilst no example of furniture by Laurence has yet been positively identified, a veneered and cross-banded casuarina specimen cabinet inscribed 'James Packer Sydney NSW an a Prentice (sic) 1815' is known. This cabinet made in Laurence's workshop and under his supervision, is a key documentary piece, providing us with the means of firmly attributing and dating, with regards to style, materials and construction, several examples of furniture attributed to Laurence and his workshop." [viii]
 It is in the collection of the National Trust of Australia (NSW) at Old Government House, Parramatta.
Also according to Fahy “ It is an exceptional piece of documented Australian furniture and indicative of the level of workmanship found in his workshop at this time.” The cabinet is the earliest documented piece of Australian-made furniture.

Packer cabinet in Old Government House Parramatta

Packer cabinet label

Confirmation that Laurence Butler’s cabinet-making business was a substantial one comes from a series of advertisements in the ‘Sydney Gazette’:
2 November 1811, p 1:
 Lawrence Butler, Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer, 7 Pitt-Street, most respectfully begs leave to inform his Friends and the Public in general, that they may be furnished with all kinds of the above furniture at the shortest notice, and on the most reasonable terms.
9 November 1811, 16 November 1811 and 23 November 1811, p 2:
The same advert as above, plus:Also, a quantity of screws.’

11 February 1815:
Lawrence Butler, Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer, 7 Pitt Street, wishes to inform his Friends and the Public that he has a large assortment of Cabinet furniture. - Upholstery done in the first style of elegance and fashion, bed and window curtains, mattrasses, chairs and sofas, with every other article of Cabinet and Upholstery, completed on the most reasonable terms and shortest notice.

Sideboard serving table c 1815 attributed to Butler
(Powerhouse Museum Sydney)

9 December 1815, repeated 16 December 1815 p 2, and 23 December 1815, p 2:
Lawrence Butler, Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer, 7 Pitt St, begs to acquaint his Friends and the Public in general that he has for Sale: Chairs, tables, and sofas, drawer and clothes presses, patent dining tables on pillars, of the newest construction, dressing and shaving boxes, with glasses, card tables, an elegant cabinet and escritoire, bedsteads and mattresses, &c. made under his immediate inspection, and warranted of the best materials. Wanted to the above business an Apprentice.

Breakfast table attributed to Butler,
(Old Government House Parramatta)
NB. there is no evidence that this was made in Butler's workshop

Sydney Gazette 9 Dec 1815

13 January 1816:
FOR SALE at the HOUSE of L. Butler, Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer, 7 Pitt-Street, Furniture of all descriptions … .

4 May 1816:
Lawrence Butler, Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer, 7 Pitt-Street, begs to acquaint his Friends and the Public in general that he has for SALE the following ARTICLES: Viz, Furniture of every description on the shortest notice.

9 November 1816:
Lawrence Butler, Cabinet-maker and upholsterer, Pitt-street, begs leave to inform his Friends and the Public, that his ware-rooms are constantly supplied with every Article of Household furniture in 3 Branches.
(NB. The ‘3 Branches’ may refer to the fact that Butler had  two other premises (one at No.6 Pitt-street and the other in Kent-street as well as at No. 7 Pitt-street)

Sydney Gazette 4 May 1816

9 August 1817:
Sydney Gazette Sat 9 August 1817 p4

6 November 1819 (Mr Bevan, auctioneer, advertising an auction):
On the Premises of Mr L. Butler, 7 Pitt Street, on Friday next at 12 o’clock: …  Also a Quantity of Furniture: viz. chairs, tables, drawers, clothes presses, &c.

Sydney Gazette Sat 6 November 1819 p2

As previously outlined, Laurence was sued by trader, Walter Laing, in 1813 for non payment of goods sold to Laurence.  [ix] Laurence claimed a Set-off against the claim, for furniture supplied to Laing. During the Court case, the prices charged for various pieces supplied to Laing, were outlined. This information is of particular importance to the history of Australian Colonial furniture, as it is the only substantial evidence of prices charged for furniture as early as 1812. As the set-off was determined at £13, this indicated that Laing’s furniture order was in the vicinity of £85, a considerable order.

The evidence produced in the court case claimed that the following prices charged by Laurence were fair and reasonable.
Prices were quoted in sterling:
6 cedar chairs without bottoms- £9
elbow chairs- 50 p. extra
two tables -£10
four post bed without ironwork- £12
camp bedstead (ie. one that can be folded), without iron work- £4
large mattress bolster (ie a large cylindrical pillow or rest, also used at the ends of couches) and pillows for a bedstead 7 ft long and 6 ft wide- £5
sopha/sofa- £12
two kitchen tables were also mentioned, but the only comment was that they were “charged very cheap”.
A comment was made by one witness, Andrew McDougall, a cabinet-maker who was farming at South Creek, that the work he saw was ‘very well made’.

“Laurence’s work was apparently highly regarded, and of sufficient merit to warrant his providing the furniture for the New Courts of Justice and for the chamber of Jeffrey Bent, the Judge of the Supreme Court.” [x]
The £214 payment, in sterling, for this work was made from the Police Fund in March 1816 and authorized by D’Arcy Wentworth.
‘Macquarie’s account of payment records, “I this day paid Mr Laurence Butler, cabinet maker of Sydney, by a draft on the Police Fund the sum of  £214 .10.0 Stg. Being the amount of sundry articles of furniture, desks, book presses, writing table, etc. made and furnished by him some time since for the use of the new Supreme and Government Court Rooms and retiring rooms, including furniture for the chambers of the judges of the Supreme Court.” [xi]

The contract having been entered into early in 1815, and was a substantial order. For the quarter ending 31st March 1816, the only other order that exceeded Laurence’s, was to William Cox  Esq, for erecting a new Depot and other necessary buildings for Government ₤225. This gives an indication of the quantity of furniture in the order.
Further work was done at the Supreme Court House by the order of Mr Justice Bent and was paid for on 3 May 1817, to a total of  £4.9.6’ [xii]

The Deputy Judge Advocate, Ellis Bent, brother of Jeffrey Bent, wrote to his mother in England 4 March 1810, describing the local furniture:
“There is a great plenty of good mechanics but the dearness of labour makes everything else dear. Furniture is accordingly very expensive. The Wood, generally used, is that of Cedar, which tho’ coarse, somewhat resembles mahogany. The Beef Wood is very pretty, but it is very hard and will not stand in the solid and is therefore used only in veneering. For a decent chest of drawers you must pay £15.”

In a further letter dated 8 March 1810, he wrote;
“ I have given orders for a writing Desk to be made here and of the Beef Wood of this Colony, which I shall request your acceptance of in return for yours which I am now writing upon. I hope to be able to send it by Colonel Paterson in the “Dromedary”.[xiii] This desk was most likely made in Laurence’s workshop.

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.
In a series of letters to Gov. Macquarie, Mrs Bent expresses her dismay at the swiftness of her removal from their house and requests that the government pay for several new fixtures to the dwelling that her husband had personally paid for, which was agreed to. The following is an itemised list, including 'Venetian Blinds' and '6 Green Doors' supplied by L. Butler and their cost (HRA, Vol 9, p302):

Colonial Furniture expert John Hawkins wrote in his article “The Art of the Cabinet Maker 1788-1820:
“The objects made between 1800 and 1820 must qualify as among the finest surviving pieces of colonial furniture. It is a quirk of history that the cabinet maker responsible, in my opinion, Laurence Butler, an Irish political convict, had the necessary skills and expertise to raise the level of cabinet-making within the primitive colony of New South Wales to a standard that has not been surpassed in the succeeding 160 years.” [xiv]

This advertisement by J. B. Hawkins Antiques appeared in “Australiana” magazine February issue 2009

In October 1816, Laurence applied to Gov. Macquarie to take a ship to Shoal Haven in search of cedar for his "manufactory" and permission was granted for one trip.
His petition stated:
Laurence Butler of Pitt Street Sydney, cabinet maker, most humbly begs leave to remind Governor Macquarie of his gracious promise made some months since to allow him to send a vessel to Shoal Haven or other places on the coast (Newcastle excepted) for cedar for the purpose of being worked up in his manufactory and respectfully prays for His Excellency’s permission accordingly.   
Signed L. Butler

Macquarie replied in a hand written note:
Answer: Mr. Bowman’s vessel called the ‘Mary’ is to be permitted to clear out for one trip to Shoal Haven to bring cedar from there paying the prescribed duties for the same on being landed at Sydney.
4 Nov 1816.
Signed L.M.  [xv]

Governor Lachlan Macquaire's handwritten reply to Butler's request (see footnote)

Interestingly, Laurence wrote that he begs leave to remind Governor Macquarie of his gracious promise made some months since. That would seem to indicate that Macquarie had given him a verbal promise made personally to Laurence a few months previously. One could speculate on the circumstances of this meeting.

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.

The Macquarie Chair made by Temple and Webster 1821.
Macquarie's crest is used as the carved finial.

Laurence’s Customers

It is highly likely that many of Sydney’s elite had furniture made in Laurence Butler’s workshop, including many of the free-settlers he had a known association with, such as Darcy Wentworth, the Blaxland brothers, John Oxley, the Macarthurs, Captain John Piper, Major George Johnston , John Connell, etc, as previously discussed.
Gregory Blaxland, Elizabeth Macarthur, John Oxley, Captains Birnie and Apsey, who endorsed Laurence’s 1810 petition, recommended Butler on the basis that he ‘was an honest industrious man and deserving of that clemency that may be granted to Good Characters”. This was three to four years before his merchandising business was fully established, and would therefore indicate that they knew him as clients. However, the only irrefutable records of furniture sales are to John Blaxland, Walter Laing, and the Government order for the Courts of Law.
There are several other customers of Laurence’s that we know of, who may have been clients of his cabinet-making business, or of his merchandising business.

As previously outlined, the following orders may have been for furniture, but may also have been for general merchandise: The “Sydney Gazette” notice concerning the loss by Mr R. Brookes, Pitt St (ie Richard Brooks of ‘Atlas I’ fame), of a promissory note ‘drawn in favour of Lawrence Butler on Lt Governor Col. Molle’ value ₤17.19s.7d. sterling, in January 1815 [xvi].  As this is a rather substantial amount, it would suggest  pieces of furniture.
The payment on 11 February 1815, totalling £ 2.10.0 made to Laurence and recorded in the Hassall account book, for 4 combs and a ‘set of desk furniture’ [xvii]. The ‘desk furniture’ may have included a writing box of slope, but the words suggest simply a pen and ink set, with accessories.

In the case brought against Laurence by Absalom West, John William Lewin gave evidence bearing on the issue whether payment had to be in local currency or in sterling. Lewin stated:
Mr Butler has had a current account against me for some time- in currency- I paid him lately in sterling money. He allowed me 25%. Some of the goods were furnished to when currency was at 75%- I have paid him currency some times at 50%.[xviii]
This statement of Lewin’s gives no indication of what it was for, except that he had made a payment on it for ‘goods’. That may suggest for merchandise, but it does not rule out the possibility that Lewin used the account to purchase furniture as well. John William Lewin came to NSW on a free passage on the ‘Minerva’ in 1800. He was a famous naturalist and became Australia’s most famous painter of Australia’s wildlife- his book “Birds of New Holland with their Natural History”, pub London 1808. He also painted several watercolours of Sydney as shown in this document. [xix]
These are the only documented customers, but there is no doubt he supplied furniture and  general merchandise to many of the wealthy and influential Colonists, with whom  he was associated and acquainted.

Interestingly, there have been three recent private sales of colonial furniture attributed to Laurence Butler’s manufactory, although unproven due to the lack of a maker’s mark:

1. The first was an 1810 sideboard which was sold at auction in Newcastle on 2 May 2002 for $83,250 inc. buyer’s premium[xx]

The ‘Newcastle Herald’, Friday 26 April, reported:

When the sideboard that Sid Brown is leaning on was being made by hand in a Sydney workshop, the penal colony that has become modern Australia was in its infancy. Mr Brown whose company Swan Murray and Hain is featuring the museum quality piece as the highlight of a 450-lot antique auction... dates it from about 1810. Such early furniture rarely carried labels or maker's marks, but Mr Brown believes the 'bow-front, six leg cedar sideboard with casuarina cross-banding and pine stringing' probably came from the workshop of the Irish convict cabinet-maker Lawrence Butler.

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)

Bonhams described:

An important early Australian casuarina, beefwood and cedar chest of drawers attributed to Lawrence Butler c. 1810. The rectangular cedar top with beefwood cross-banding within a pine strung border, with a triple reeded edge above four long casuarina and beefwood cross-banded drawers with cock beading and pine stringing, with solid cedar sides, raised on elegant ring-turned casuarina feet.
3. The third piece was a beautiful sideboard from the Okey Collection, Denham Court Ingelburn NSW, put up for auction at Sotheby’s Auction House Australia dated 15 May 2010.
 It was sold for $204,000 ($170,000 Hammer Price plus Buyer's Premium).
 It was described as:

Richard Brooks was owner of Denham Court from 1812-1833 and arrived as ship's captain on the infamous 'Atlas 1' in July 1802. Brooks lived in Pitt Street, two doors down from Laurence Butler, and therefore would have bought furniture from Laurence Butler's workshop. However, he was not, as stated by Sotheby's, the master of the 'Atlas 2' in which Laurence Butler traveled, arriving in October 1802. 

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.

Sotheby's Australia- $204,000

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.

(photos courtesy of E. Wheeler)

Laurence’s business also included ironmongery and general merchandise, selling a wide variety of other items. He probably imported these items from the Far East- vessels carrying merchandise from the Far East visited Sydney regularly. As previously discussed, the letter written by James T. Bell to the Colonial Secretary asking for his nomination to act in Sydney for the company Messrs Palmer and Co. of Calcutta, an importing company, in which he outlines the claims for unpaid accounts to Palmer & Co., including L. Butler ₤40, indicates one of the importing companies Laurence dealt with. [xxi]

It is difficult to determine when he branched out into general merchandising, but his first advertisement in 1811 included hinges and screws for sale.
His first 1811 advertisement included reference to ‘a large assortment of butt hinges, imported per Providence at the rate of 50% cheaper than any in the colony’. Later ones added ‘and screws’ to ‘hinges’. That offer was a limited one, and may, of course, have been nothing more than getting rid of a surplus of hinges and screws bought for his cabinet-making business.
However, as previously outlined, a claim made against him in 1813 for 100 pounds sterling by Walter Laing for non-payment of goods supplied to him by Laing indicates that Laurence was heavily involved in merchandising by the middle of 1812. The list of the goods supplied to Laurence by Laing has not been preserved, but we do know that 349 gallons of elephant seal oil were among them.

Then, in January 1814, Laurence was sued by Absalom West for 87 pounds 3 shillings for non-payment for a large keg of tobacco supplied to Laurence in the middle of 1813. Obviously, the amount could not have been for personal use.  Like the record of the action brought by Walter Laing, this is clear evidence of an expanding merchandising business.

Laurence began advertising his merchant business in the same year.
On 19 March 1814, an advertisement in the Sydney Gazette read:

On sale at the premises of Lawrence Butler, Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer, No 7, Pitt-St, the following articles, Viz:
Tea, sugar, tobacco, candles, Bengal and English soap, longcloth and calicoes, English and India prints, ladies and gentlemen’s gloves, ladies dressing and hair combs, silver thimbles, ribbands, threads, tapes, pins and needles, superfine broadcloth, yellow and brown nankeens, cotton checks, cotton stockings, silk and cotton handkerchiefs, flannels, lines and twines, a large assortment of China, glass ware and ironmongery, viz. rasps and files, pit and cross-cut saws, hand and tenon saws, door, cupboard, drawer, and box locks, brass and iron butt hinges, brass cocks,  brass and copper wire, brass and iron bolts, mortice chisels and firmers, a variety of brass furniture, tea and tablespoons, knives and razors, shoemaker’s tools, plated gig furniture, bridle bits and stirrup irons, beds, gimblets of sizes,  and numerous other useful and valuable Articles.

This was followed up in the Sydney Gazette on 21 May 1814:

On Sale, at the Warehouse of Lawrence Butler, Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer, No 7, Pitt-St, the following articles, Viz.- Tea, sugar, coffee, tobacco, English and Bengal soap, candles, calico, longcloths, English print, cambric and muslin handkerchiefs, silk and polecat do. Thimbles, thread and tapes, ribbands, Ladies’ dressing and hair combs, yellow, blue and white nankeens, a large assortment of door locks, hinges, and bolts, window bolts, brass butt hinges, draw locks and furniture, plated gig furniture, bridle, bit and stirrup irons, cloak and curtain pins, scissors, cutlery of all kinds, looking glasses, hair brooms and brushes, shoemakers’ and carpenters’ tools of all kinds, and a child’s chaise, &c. &c. &c.

On 24 September 1814, an advertisement appeared in the Sydney Gazette offering an even wider range of goods for sale at Butler’s premises at 7 Pitt Street:
Tea, sugar and coffee, plumbs and currants. Spices of all kinds, salt and salpetere, calico, longcloths, and punjums, Europe and Bengal prints, hosiery, blue, white and yellow nankeens, flannels, bed ticking, blue gurrah, Europe and Bandannah silk handkerchiefs, bundle and pocket handkerchiefs, thread, bobbing, tape, silk, twist, hall cotton, pins and needles, sail needles, shoemaker’s tools, ladies dress and hair combs, small looking glasses, cutlery of all sorts, stationary, viz. foolscap and letter paper, memo, and account books, quills, ink powder, and wafers, ironmongery, viz. locks, bolts, and hinges, drawer furniture, sash pullies, brass and copper wire, bell cranks, brass cocks, files, bridle bits and stirrup irons, a few sets of plated gig furniture, tea and table spoons, platted and plain shawls, striped cotton and calico shirts, soap and candles, wholesale and retail, and numerous other articles, at reduced prices.

His advertisement on 9 December 1815, repeated 16 December 1815, p 2, and 23 December 1815, p 2, also went well beyond  furniture. He offered:

carpenters’ tools of all kinds, brass and ironmongery, viz. nails, locks, hinges and bolts, axes, hoes, frying pans, tea kettles, saucepans, smoothing irons, spades, English and Indian earthenware, calico, prints, Irish linen, check, punjum and sheeting, men and women’s stockings, ginghams, corduroys, dimity, fustian, handkerchiefs, waistcoats and shirts, blue, white and yellow, and British nankeen, toys &c &c. N. B. -  Bridle bits, stirrup irons, and plated mounting for chaise harness.

His advertisement on 13 January 1816, p.1 (repeated 20 January), was also not confined to furniture. It included:

Stationary, ironmongery, hosiery, cotton counterpanes, ladies’ dresses, black book muslin, black net, grey and green twilled jaconet(?) muslins of different colours, silk fringes, trimmings, thread a nd cotton lace, artificial flowers and feathers, worked book muslin, Cambridge muslin trimmings, lace veils and lace muslin handkerchiefs, printed cotton shawls, romal handkerchiefs, black and red silk handkerchiefs, sarsnets, crapes &c. – English cheque, calico, blue and yellow nankeens, Bengal prints and tablecloths, children’s toys, sewing silk, cotton, thread, tales, earthenware, grocery, soap and candles, and various other articles.

Sydney Gazette 13 January 1816 p1

Butler’s advertisement on 4 May 1816 concentrated on merchandise:

… 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.

And so did his advertisement on 9 November 1816 (repeated 16 January 1816, p 2). Having referred briefly to his furniture business, it continued:

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.

Sydney Gazette 9 Nov 1816

There were no more advertisements by Laurence. However, in the Sydney Gazette on 6 November 1819, an auctioneer, Mr Bevan, advertised the sale of both furniture and other articles from Butler’s premises on the following Friday at 12 o’clock:
IRONMONGERY, consisting of Locks, Hinges, Garden Rakes and Hoes; some Cutlery, Brass work for all Types of Cabinet Work, comprising Handles, Knobs, Drawer Locks, Screws &c.

Sydney Gazette 6 November 1819

Laurence Butler's death in December 1820

After Laurence Butler’s death in December 1820, his wife Ann continued the cabinet making business for a few years. An advertisement appeared in the Sydney Gazette 4 April 1823, and included:
A superb sideboard, a gentleman's writing desk, 1 set elliptic corniced tables, 1 set card ditto, 4 pembroke ditto, 4 round ditto, 2 round stands, a highly finished mahogany tent bedstead, 3 handsome ditto, 3 chests of drawers, 3 wash-hand-stands, 2 dozen cane bottom chairs and a dozen ditto.

On 16 December 1820, she advertised both businesses in the Sydney Gazette:

Mrs Butler, of Pitt-street, Administratrix to the last Will and Testament of Mr Lawrence Butler, deceased, begs Leave to inform her Friends and the Public in general, that she has for SALE, at very reduced prices, the following ARTICLES of Furniture in the Cabinet Way; viz. chests of drawers, chairs of different patterns, tables, wash-hand stands and bedsteads of every description, clothes’-presses, sofas, a quantity of brass and iron locks of every description, castors of all sizes, an assortment of cloak pins, knobs and drawer handles, screws of all sizes, table, butt, and box hinges, bed-screws, bell cranks and springs, brass pins and screws, augers and gouges, chisels of all sizes, turning, key-hole, and hand saws, coffin furniture, thumb latches, bolts of all sorts, plane irons, sheep shears, bridle bits, sail needles, small ditto, brads of all sizes, gimblets, pins, needles, thimbles, a quantity of thread lace, silk and cambric trimmings for bonnets, threads, laces, bobbing, table spoons, different sorts of spices, tea and sugar; also improved balls for cleaning leather breeches, best polished steel snuffers, &c. &c. &c.-The Cabinet Business carried on in the usual manner. Orders will be thankfully received, and executed on very reasonable terms, with neatness and dispatch. Such persons as have claims on the above Estate, will please to forward their accounts forthwith.

However, it would appear that Ann concentrated on the cabinet making business and reduced the scale of the merchandising business, as no further advertisements appeared advertising merchandise, apart from various articles of ironmongery associated with the furniture manufacture, probably superfluous to their requirements, and a few other items such as raisins and thread and tape.

Ann’s advertisements:

On 4 August 1821:
CABINET and UPHOLSTERY WAREHOUSE, NO 7 PITT-STREET – Mrs Butler, widow of the late Mr. Lawrence Butler, deceased, begs to return her thanks to her Friends and the Public for the many favours she has already received, and has now to inform them, that she still carries on the Cabinet and Upholstery Business, in all its various branches; and has on Sale all sorts of furniture; viz. chests of drawers, dining and drawing-room tables, Pembroke and dressing ditto, cane bottom chairs, wash-hand stands and bed-steads, &c. writing desks, with all sorts of brass work of the latest fashion, and various other articles, too numerous to mention.

On 28 June 1822, Supplement p 2:
TO be SOLD, at Mrs. Ann Butler’s, Pitt-street, Sydney, the following ARTICLES: viz. handsome wardrobe complete, a sofa, sets of drawers of various descriptions, cane-bottomed chairs, Pembroke, dining, and breakfast tables, sideboards. – Also various sorts of brass work for the cabinet and upholstery trade, with every description of ironmongery. NB. Every description of cabinet and upholstery work done at the shortest notice, in the best style of workmanship.

On 20 December 1822:
ON SALE, at Mrs. Butler’s, No. 7, Pitt-street, Raisins 1s 6d per lb, tea, sugar, soap, and candles, sets of drawers, sideboards, chairs, and tables, cane-bottom sofas, bedsteads and bed castors, hinges of all sorts,  brass furniture, door and cupboard locks, files and screws of all sorts, coffin furniture, thread, tape, and bobbin, carpenters’ tools, cramps, and seasoned cedar.

On 27 March 1823, Additional Supplement p 1:
On Sale at Mrs Butler’s, 7 Pitt-street, a quantity of iron rim locks, stock and other locks of various descriptions; pit, cross-cut and other files; bed castors and brass work of every description; ironmongery of all sorts; also a superb sideboard, and chest of drawers; cane and wooden bottomed chairs; tables of every description; bedsteads; raisins 1s 3d per lb. in taking 6 lb lots, 1s; and good seasoned cedar. Orders in the Cabinet Line will be punctually attended to.

On 13 November 1823, Mr John K Dayton advertised an auction at Mrs Butler’s ‘Furniture Warehouse’, 7 Pitt Street, on the same day. This would be her final advertisment:
A QUANTITY of New and Valuable HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE, comprising a gentleman's writing desk, 2 sets of tables in 3 pieces each, 1 set elliptic corniced tables, 1 set card ditto, 4 pembroke ditto, 4 round ditto, 2 round stands, a highly finished mahogany tent bedstead, 3 handsome cedar ditto, 3 chests of drawers, 3 wash-hand-stands, 2 dozen cane-bottom chairs and a dozen cedar ditto.

Just eight months after the death of her husband Laurence, Ann placed several advertisements concerning her “runaway apprentices”.
In August 1821:
Whereas, William Haslam and Michael Byrne, two Apprentices to Mrs Butler, of Pitt Street, Sydney, have absconded this week from the services and protection of their Mistress:- All Persons are hereby cautioned against harbouring, encouraging, or employing the said Absentees on Pain of prosecution.” [xxii]

And again:

Sydney Gazette 22 Sept 1821 p2

Ann continued to run these advertisements in September, for Michael Byrne in particular. As this occurred only eight months after Laurence’s death, one would assume that they were originally apprenticed to him, and possibly by Miles Leary who ran the cabinet-making business after Laurence's death. It is unknown whether Byrne returned to finish his apprenticeship, however, a Michael Byrne, aged 16, was listed as an apprentice to Thomas Shaughnessy, cabinet maker, in the 1822 General Muster of NSW, but not with Ann Butler. In the 1823/24/25 General Muster, Michael Byrne is not listed. If this was the same Michael Byrne, he would have been 15 when he absconded from Ann Butler and Miles Leary, so probably started his apprenticeship when he turned 14. 
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. 
Michael Byrne the elder arrived on the 'Minerva' in 1800, on a 7 year sentence for 'political crimes', his trial at Kildare, aged 24/23, and died in Sydney in 1827. Administration of his estate was granted to the executors of his Will, Miles Leary and Edmund Burke, as appears in the 'Sydney Gazette' dated Monday 10 September 1827. However, on the 4th October, William Byrne advertised that he "now being of age, requests that all claims of the Estate of my father Mr Michael Byrne late of King Street, deceased, be presented to me for payment, etc." The link between the Byrne family and Miles Leary would seem to validate the identification of the apprentice named Michael Byrne. Interestingly, in the Will of Michael Byrne, the father, he left a large estate of property, good and chattels, and bequests to his son William, his siblings in Ireland, his servant, and two Catholic priests, etc, but no mention of his son Michael. It would appear to indicate that they were estranged, possibly due to his son's absconding from the employ of Ann Butler and Miles Leary who was obviously a close friend. 
William Byrne would marry Anne the daughter of Hugh Vesty Byrne who arrived with relative Michael Dwyer on the Tellicherry in 1806. In 1828, William and Ann and children were living in Campbelltown in the Airds district, and brother Michael was living with them, both aged 21, indicating a birth c.1806/07. It would appear that Michael died in 1831 aged just 25 (NSW BDM- 9467/1831 V18319467/ 2C). 
Hugh Vesty Byrne's son, also named Michael, was also living in Campbelltown, known for building the rather grand home, Glenalvon in 1841. The two Byrnes named Michael living in the same area, has led to some confusion over the years.

Ann Butler advertised in the 'Sydney Gazette' on 27 October 1821 for a 'steady man to supervise the cabinetmaking business'. Whether she had had an argument with Miles Leary who was working with her, resulting in the advertisement is difficult to determine.

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.

On 16 July 1821, just seven months after her husband’s death, Ann Butler was given
 “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]

In July 1822, Ann was assigned a convict, who was re-assigned in October. She received a second convict in December 1823.

Miles Leary, who was running the cabinet-making business, was assigned several convict “mechanics” between December 1821 and June 1822, another in March 1823 and another in April 1824. [xxiv]
He continued the cabinet making business at No. 7 Pitt Street, and was listed in Pitt Street with several carpenters in the 1828 Census. [xxv] However, a general merchant named A. Pollock was advertising general merchandise at No. 7 Pitt- street from May to October 1825. [xxvi] On October 27, Pollock informed his customers that he was opening a store in a two story brick building in George Street, although his advertisement still gave his address as 7 Pitt Street. He also advertised the Cutter ‘Sally’ for sale on that date. However, on 10 November he announced the opening of his large store called Waterloo House at 61 George Street. So, whether the Pitt street property included two buildings -the manufactory, as well as the merchandising business which was leased to Pollock for some months in 1825, is unknown. Refer to chapter of “The Properties” for further analysis.

 An article in The Australian reported Miles Leary’s death in 1834 [xxvii], in a Supreme Court application by his executors, John Leary and William Davis (Wexford rebels), to be granted probate. Shortly before, in the Sydney Directory, Leary was listed as a carpenter at Pitt Street, so it seems likely he was still at the same address.

In 1835, the coach-making business of James Hamilton commenced at No. 7 Pitt Street. [xxviii] His advertisement stated that the premises were “lately occupied by Mr Thompson, Carpenter”, and so the wood working workshop continued on for a short period.

© B.A. Butler

Contact email address:  butler1802  (NB. no spaces)

Link back to Introduction:

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

[i] A. M. Whitaker, Unfinished Revolution United Irishmen in New South Wales 1800-1810, Crossing Press, Darlinghurst NSW 1994, p.198, The book quoted from another book- K. Fahy 'Furniture and Furniture-makers' in Broadbent and Hughes 'The Age of Macquarie' pp127-8.)
[ii] SRNSW; Old Registers One to Nine, Book 5 page 111 No. 714, pub Kingswood Sydney 2008
[iii] SRNSW: Old Registers One to Nine, Book 5 page 43 No.500, op.cit
[iv] SRNSW Minutes & Proceedings of the Bench of Magistrates 1811-1813, 2 May 1812,  SZ773, COD 234, Reel 658
[v] Sydney Gazette” Saturday 2 May 1812 page 2
[vi] M. Hayes, Letters, Letters 1799-1833, NLA MS 246 (copies in State Library of NSW and National Library of Australia, originals in Franciscan Archives, Dun mhuire, Killiney, Dublin.) Thirteen letters written between 1799 and 1825 by Michael Hayes to his mother, sister and two brothers, plus three letters written by F. Girard, Sydney (son-in-law) to Patrick Hayes in Ireland written in 1831-33, Letter 25 Nov 1812, to brother Richard
[vii] Carol J. Baxter (ed), General Muster of NSW 1814, ABGR in assoc with SAG, Sydney 1987.
[viii]  K Fahy, & A. Simpson, Australian Furniture, Pictorial History and Dictionary, Casuarina Press, Sydney, 1998, p32
[ix] SRNSW: Court of Civil Jurisdiction; NRS2659; [5/1109, No. 382]; Laing, Walter vs Butler, Lawrence, 21 Oct 1813.
[x]  K Fahy, & A. Simpson, Australian Furniture, Pictorial History and Dictionary, Casuarina Press, Sydney, 1998, p32
[xi] John Hawkins, The Art of the Cabinet–Maker from the first settlement 1788 to 1820- Part 2, p52, in The Australian Antique Collector, June-Dec 1983; and, Sydney Gazette, 11 May 1816, page 2, Government and General Orders; and, SRNSW: Colonial Secretary, [SZ759, p.197]; Payment from Police Fund for furniture etc.; Reel 6038.
[xii] Sydney Gazette, 3 May 1817, Government and General Orders
[xiii]  K. Fahy, C. Simpson, & A. Simpson, Nineteenth Century Furniture , David Ell Press, Chippendale, NSW, 1985, p39, (their source  ‘The Bent Papers’ National Library of Australia)
[xiv] J. Hawkins, The Art of the Cabinet-Maker 1788-1820 The Known Survivors- Part 3, p57, in The Australian Antique Collector, Jan-June 1984
[xv]  SRNSW: Colonial Secretary; [4/1736, pp150-151]; Seeking permission to send boat etc.; 28 October 1816; Reel 6046
[xvi] Sydney Gazette, 14 January 1815
[xvii]  Hassall Account Book 1811-1819, Mitchell Library A 861-864 (as ref in J. Hawkins, op.cit)
[xviii]  SRNSW: Court of Civil Jurisdiction; NRS2659; [5/1110, No. 121]; West, Absalom vs Butler, Lawrence, 24 Jan 1814.
[xix] ADB, Vol 2, MUP, 1967, pp111-112, P. Mander-Jones, Lewin, John William (1770-1819)
[xx] Newcastle Herald, Friday April 26, Saturday 27 April, and Thurs May 2, 2002 (sale report)
[xxi] SRNSW: Colonial Secretary; [ 4/1736, pp 47,48,48a]; Butler, L; 1816 Jan 24; re claim against for debt; Reel 6046
[xxii] Sydney Gazette, 18 Aug 1821, p4
[xxiii] SRNSW: Colonial Secretary; NRS 937 Copies of letters sent within the Colony 1814-1825; Item 4/3504, p.153
[xxiv]  SRNSW: Colonial Secretary; [Fiche 3290, 4/4570D, pp7, 32]; [ Fiche 3291, 4/4570D, 125]; [Fiche 3293; 5/3821.1, p8]; [Fiche 3296; X53, pp. 5, 6, 18, 31, 46, 62, 76]; [Fiche 3291, 4/4570D, p. 106]; On list of Assigned convicts/mechanics:
[xxv] M Sainty & K Johnson (ed.), Census of NSW 1828, rev edit., CD, Library of Australian History, Nth Sydney, 2008
[xxvi] Sydney Gazette, 5 May, 4 August, 21 July, 27 October, 10 November 1825
[xxvii] The Australian, 3 & 7 June 1834
[xxviii] Sydney Gazette, 23 July 1835