For sale, a late eighteenth century Napoleonic
period leather bound and studded campaign trunk by Thomas Griffith of
Marylebone Street, Golden Square, London.
In absolutely superb condition, this
rare travelling trunk has all of its original leather, decorative brass
studwork and protective ironwork straps. The pine carcase comes complete with
its original paper lining with the trade card of Thomas Griffiths attached to the
lid. It states:
“Griffith Trunk Maker, Marylebone,
Golden Square, London. All sorts of cases for liquor canteens, portmantues,
vallees, strong cases for plate, china and glasses, Campain and leatherwork at
the lowest prices.”
Griffith’s business was first announced
in the Public Advertiser in 1753 where he seems to have taken over the business
of Steven James to whom he was apprenticed. He also took over the sign of the
acorn which can be seen in an another of his trade cards (image provided). Griffith
died in 1772 leaving his estate to his wife Elizabeth.
The top of the chest has a brass plaque
stating ownership to David Thomas Esquire, Paymaster General with a further
travelling card stating: “June 1st 1833, ED Thomas Esq, Railway
Station, Ludlow, Shropshire.”
David Thomas’s death was announced in many
of the Gentleman’s magazines of the period in 1814 stating that he was for many
years Accountant General to the Army Pay Office, Whitehall. Thomas was part of
the landed gentry (descending from the Thomas of Llywn Madoc family) and
resided at Wellfield House in Radnorshire, Wales which he built in 1787. It was
described in Lewis’s 1833 “Topographical Dictionary of Wales” as a “spacious
and handsome mansion, with a portico of the Tuscan order, finely situated on a
lofty eminence, and embosomed in flourishing plantations. The grounds embraced
a fine view of the rivers Wye and Irvon winding through their respective vales.”
According to records held at The
National Archive it would seem that Thomas was deeply involved in army
accounting during the high cost period of the Napoleonic Wars. In 1804, letters
exist from Thomas stating the payments (or non-payments) received from Counties
of England in contribution for the war effort. Wellington’s efforts in the
Peninsula Wars were continually dogged by severe lack of funding and this is
evidence of the issues that the Army faced. Thomas’s job would have been a
tremendously difficult post to execute but he seems to have continued in his
role as he is further recorded in The House of Commons records as being resident
accountant at Horse Guards and providing evidence of sums of moneys issued to
Army Agents during 1805 & 1806 to the sum of £6.5 million.
His early career is somewhat shadowy
but there is reference to a David Thomas in the 1770’s being an accountant to
the army in New York. It would suggest that he travelled with the British Army
during The American War of Independence but research so far has not uncovered
any further definitive links. Wholesale research on Thomas would be required to
learn more on this interesting character of the Napoleonic period.
Following Thomas’s death, his nephew
Edward David Thomas took over the estate and continued use of the travelling
luggage can be evidenced by the travel card to the top of the trunk.
A fabulous trunk with a great history
and in super condition. A very rare piece.
Please call me on 07815 046645 to
discuss carriage, condition or for any other queries, alternatively, you can
also message me and I will endeavour to come back to you as soon as possible.
I have a number of beautiful antiques
for sale, so please feel free to browse my other items.