Crafting The Past
18th century woodworkers plane image by Rubbish Seaside


The rebuilding of York into a modern city meant that by the middle of the 18th century the demand of the various joinery and toolmaking trades started to increase.
There are approx 794 tradesmen recorded in the Freeman Rolls for the century, of which 253 were carpenters, 358 were joiners, 8 turners, 23 carvers and 65 cabinet makers. Until the 2nd quarter of the century there were no cabinet makers listed, and only 6 by 1750. Showing the growth of the industry as the century progressed. As this grew then the demand for toolmakers also grew, with a trade in more specialised tools such as planes, which became a major industry in the city. 50% of wood carvers worked in London and 50% of those elsewhere were in York. A specific type of plane set was also developed known as a York plane. This had it’s blade set at 50 rather than 45 degrees, making it much easier to work the newly fashionable woods such as mahogany used in the style of cabinet making favoured by the growing gentry in the city


Phineas Turner isn't listed in any of the freeman records of York, which were necessary to be able to practice a trade in the city.
He was in partnership with John Green Snr from approx 1767- 1771. he has a workshop in Spurriergate and a shop in Coney Street, living in Feasegate. when the partnership was over he is found in Coppergate the following year, There is no record of what happened to him after 1773

Book on John Green & the wood trade in York

John Green was a Plane Maker, and had a family business throughout the 18th century.
He isn't listed as an Apprentice in the city so it is possible he wasn't initially from York and moved there as a Journeyman. He  moved away briefly after the death of his first wife. He remarries in Skipton in Craven  approx 1750ish and moves back to York and is in Coney Street in approx 1760. His wife Anne's mother was a Raper, a common surname in York across a number of professions

He wasn't initially a plane maker, as only 2 existed outside London by then Richard Wood on Spurriergate, Master to Thomas Chippendale, and possibly Phineas Turner, although they both could have worked for Richard Wood

He becomes a freeman in 1767 and enters into partnership with Phineas Turner until 1770.

He is advertised as taking over their old shop on Coney Street (possibly 50/8)* with his son John Green, originally apprenticed to his father but then progressing his own business into the early 19th Century. Between the 2 they took on many apprentices, who then went on to be the woodworkers listed in the trade directories of the Victorian period
He started selling other bought in tools and ironmongery in the Coney Street shop too as he became older. Continuing to list himself as a joiner and planemaker

He is also listed as a window tax collector 1768-1769, and also as an Assessor in 1770-71.
He becomes Church Warden and overseer of the poor for St martin's Coney Street in 1776, for 20 years

* in trade directories after John Green snr's death John Brookbank, his son in law is listed at number 50/8 Coney Street. Mr Brookbank and his Wife Eleanor had moved in with the Green's on their marriage. A 3rd of John Green's estate is held in trust for Eleanor, John and their heirs it's possible the house formed part of this

John Green Jnr was apprenticed to his father in 1768 and became a freeman in 1776, then went into partnership with his father in there Coney Street shop.

He married in 1780  and took a premises on Davygate. it is possible this property backed onto the Coney Street shop if it was 50/8.
He moved to Castlegate in approx 1784 and then bought 2 buildings on Micklegate in 1787, one of which was rented out, and the other a home and workshop.
He took on a number of apprentices. He died in 1808

William Ferrand was a nephew of John Green Snr on his wife's side . He was apprenticed in 1784 and continued to work for both John Green snr & jnr. He took over the business with another former apprentice and journey man Robert Wilkinson, when John Green jnr died.

Robert Wilkinson was an apprentice of John Green Jnr. He took over the business with William Ferrand after his death


apprenticed to his father John, freeman 1801


apprenticed to father 1812

Carpenters and Upholsterers

Barker, Robert jnr, at ‘The Chinese Bed and Sopha’, Coney St, Spurriergate, York, u, appraiser and undertaker (b.c. 1734–80). Eldest son of Robert snr, of Petergate, York, bapt. 30 November 1734. Admitted freeman by patrimony, 1758; polled in 1758, 1771 and 1774. On 29 June 1762 announced in York Gazette the opening of his shop in Coney St, but the business failed in 1765 when his assignees issued a notice to his creditors. [York Courant, 5 November 1765] His household furniture and stock were put up for sale shortly afterwards. [York Courant, 4 February 1766] Took out a Sun Insurance policy in 1765 totalling £1,000. [GL, Sun MS ref. 216066] 

Three letters from Robert Barker to Sir Rowland Winn concern the furnishing of Nostell Priory, 1763–64, and include designs for bookcases. [Nostell archives, C3/1/5/1–6, 3–4; Furn. Hist., 1974, pls. 17 and 18A] In 1780 Robert Barker took an inventory of furniture etc. of C. S. Duncombe, Esq. [York freemen rolls; poll bks] Records do not always make it clear whether it is Robert snr or Robert jnr who is being referred to. A.E. 

In 1741 poll book as Joiner

In 1741 poll book as Carpenter

Robinson, Mark, Coney St, York, cm and joiner (1776). Advertised in York Courant, 4 June 1776, offering thanks for past support, and recommending Christopher Sedgwick, his late servant, who was taking over the

The deed records show that Mark Robinson builds that house that is now Waterstones, an was both York Courant and Herald

 British History Online 


Lonsdale, Robert, Coney St, York, carpenter, joiner and cm (1787–91). In November 1791 took out insurance cover of £800. [D; GL, Sun MS vol. 381, p. 606] 


British History Online 

Beal(e), Thomas, York, cm and u (1787–1838). Addresses at Micklegate Bar, 1787; Grape Lane, 1798; Minster Yd, 1809–11; Stonegate, 1818–23; and 49–50 Coney St, 1830. Announced in York Courant, 18 August 1806 taking nephew, George Beal, into partnership. Named in the account book of the Rev. John Firth on 23 June 1791 being paid £5 2s 4½d. [Mumby family papers] Advertised in York Herald, 29 July 1797, and York Courant, 26 July 1802. Subscribed to Sheraton's Drawing Book, 1793. [D; York Courant, 11 March 1816] 


British History Online 

Smith, Jeremiah, York, u (1758–71). Son of John Smith, joiner. Free 1758 and in this year living at Coney St. Employed by Richard Farrer, and in partnership with Matthew Browne he took over his former employers’ shop in High Ousegate in November 1766. Took Christopher Blackburn as app. jointly with Matthew Hearon on 19 January 1767, and on 24 June 1771 George Bradley jointly with his partner Matthew Browne. [Freemen rolls; app. reg.; York Courant, 25 November 1766]

Davies, Peter, York and London, cm (1783–1818). Polled in York, of London, in 1784. Trading in Coney St, York, 1805– 18. Son of Richard Davies, mariner, deceased; admitted freeman of York in 1783. Former apps admitted freemen: George Williamson in 1796; James Mitchell in 1806; John Ellison, 1809; and John Stout, 1819. [D; York freemen rolls] Possibly of Davies & Wilson.

Beal, George, York, cm and u (1806–40). Announced in York Courant, 18 August 1806 entering partnership with his uncle, Thomas Beale, and recorded in partnership at Stonegate in 1823 and 49 Coney St, 1837–40, no. 50 in 1828. Took apps named John Brown, 4 April 1807, John Webster, 5 October 1811, George Meynell, 17 October 1814, John Skilbeck, 8 March 1826, Henry Rhodes, 31 July 1828, John Chapman, 14 June 1835 and Edward Lund, 21 April 1836. [D; York app. reg.]


John Mattison's accounts for Temple Newsam contain many payments to Thomas Ventris Senr.and Jnr.,of Coney Street, York,for carving garden ornaments in the form of heraldic beasts. Two typical entries read:11 Feb.1637, Thomas Ventris, the younger, for 13 beasts made of stone for Temple- newsome at 6s.a piece is78s.21Jan.1638, Old Ventris, by my masters appo: in part of g5 for 20 beasts made for Sheriff Hutton=10s.Three examples of the stone beasts carved by the elder Ventris have survived in the garden at Sheriff Hutton



Farrer, Richard, York, u (1722–d. 1780). Recorded in Spurriergate, 1735–41; Spurriergate and/or Coney St, 1742; and Coney St in 1758. Owned property in Micklegate Bar Without in 1763; let his house in Stonegate in 1766; and retired to Manchester in 1770. Son of Richard Farrer; app. to George Reynoldson, u, on 7 November 1722 for seven years, and admitted freeman in 1730. In 1733 he married Margaret Napier who, with two infant children, was presented in 1735 as a papist in Spurriergate. She bore Farrer six sons, most of whom died young: Richard, buried on 7 March 1736; Edward, 1 August 1740; James, 27 March 1746; Richard, 26 March 1756; Luke, who died in 1784 [York Courant, 20 July 1784] and their eldest son, John, who died in 1756, and whose business, unspecified, was to be ‘continued by his surviving partners Messrs. Tasker & Routh.’ [York Courant, 21 September 1756] A prominent civic figure, Richard Farrer was Chamberlain, 1736–37; and appointed to the Committee of Leases and to audit the Mayor's accounts, 1741–47. He was elected Sheriff in 1751, trustee of Wilson's Charity in 1752, Alderman in 1754, 1758 and 1763; and Lord Mayor in 1756 and 1769. His wife died in 1764, and in 1766 he let his house in Stonegate, selling his stock of upholstery and furnishings. He was succeeded by two of his former employees, Jeremiah Smith and Matthew Browne, who opened a shop in High Ousegate. [York Courant, 4 and 25 November 1766] He retired to Manchester in 1770, marrying Mrs Gorton, a wealthy widow from that city, on 6 December 1778. He died at Manchester on 15 July 1780, and was buried at St Michael-le-Belfrey Church, York. His will, made on 1 July 1779 and proved, 6 December 1780, left everything to his only remaining son, Luke. Farrer appears to have been most active as a tradesman in the 1740s, when he occasionally advertised in the York Courant: on 15 January 1740 and 17 February 1741 regarding the let of houses at Acomb and Holdgate; on 23 February 1742, 22 June 1742, and 29 April 1746, sales of household furniture; on 24 September 1745 as assignee in Caesar Wood's bankruptcy; and on 3 June 1746 the sale of a sedan chair. Took apps named Theophilus (William) Garencieres on 27 July 1744; William Cross on 1 November 1753; Matthew Brown on 15 November 1756; Hewson in 1761; and Michael Simpson of Leeds. Subscribed to Chippendale's Director, 1754. Little is known of his career as an upholder, but some furniture at Burton Constable is attributed to him, including frames for portraits of Alderman James Rowe (1707–72) and his wife, Mary (d. 1783) by Henry Pickering, commissioned for the Mansion House, York. [York app. reg. and freemen rolls; York City archives, B43/69, 96–97, 128, 233, 225, 488, 490; E94/53/b; poll bks; will at Borthwick Institute of Historical Research, York; Catholic Recusancy in York; Burton Constable Exhib. Cat., Hull, 1970; C. Life, 3 June 1976, p. 1476] A.E. 

York; carver, gilder and composition maker (fl.1770–87)

Working in partnership with James Officer before 1772, the partnership being dissolved in that year. Admitted freeman of York by order in 1776, after being threatened with prosecution for not taking up his freedom. At that time recorded in Micklegate, but in Coney St by 1787. Took apps named Robert Tomlinson, admitted freeman in 1789; Mark Barfe, freeman in 1784; John Hunsley, later turned over to Robert Tomlinson, freeman in 1795; and Joseph Baskett, freeman of Sheffield in 1795. Blakesley was much employed by John Carr for ornamental carving and composition work. Engaged in 1772 at Thirsk Hall in company with James Henderson and Dodsworth, the latter another York carver. At Chatsworth his work included ‘3 window cornices carved & gilt with burnished gold at £5.15s.6d’. [Chatsworth papers, voucher 77, 5/12/85]. At Wentworth Woodhouse in 1784 John Carr suggested that the gilding in the new Drawing Room should be executed by Blakesley who would do it ‘as well as anybody out of London’.

Sources: DEFM; Wragg, The Life and Works of John Carr (2000), p. 79.

The original entry from Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, 1660-1840 can be found at British History Online.

Robert Tomlinson was indentured to Robert Blakesley wood carver on Coney Street in 1777.

Became a Freeman in 1788

He was Master to Thomas Ferrand in 1802

Officer, James, York, carver and gilder (1771–84). Son of Thomas Officer of Leeds, hatter. App. to George Gibson, carver and gilder, on 1 August 1764. Free by servitude in 1771 and living at Coney St in 1774 and North St in 1784. [Freemen rolls; poll bks] 

 British History Online 

Staveley, William, York, carver and gilder (1781–1809). Free 1781 and immediately set up business in Coney St. He took as app. John Staveley 15 December 1781 and by 1793 had formed a partnership with him which was to endure until 1809. Other apps of William Staveley were John Dove who was free in 1800 and James Binnington, free 1808. Soon after the formation of the partnership the business was moved to Stonegate, where directories list them in 1808. Trade card states they could execute ‘every Branch of House Carving in the most fashionable taste. Also Glasses & Picture Frames, Girandoles, Firescreens &c. Chimneypieces made & finished with Wood or cast Ornaments. Likewise a new & curious immitation of variagated Marble for Chimneypieces which has a beautiful effect & takes the highest polish. Composition cast ornaments Manufactured’. After the breakup of the partnership in 1809 William Staveley continued to trade for a time on his own behalf. In January 1795 the partners received a payment of £88 14s for picture frames and other items supplied to Swinton, Yorks. Their trade label is recorded on a simple black and gilt wooden picture frame in the Gascoigne Coll., Lotherton Hall, Yorks. [D; freemen rolls; app. reg.; C. Life, 14 April 1966, p. 875] 


British History Online 

Warham, —, Coney St, York, carver and gilder (1805–08)

examples of Thomas Ferrand's work can be seen  here 
and also

Ferrand, Thomas, York, carver, gilder and frame maker (b. 1786–d. 1852). Trading in partnership with William Dodgson in Coney St, 1814–16, when the partnership was dissolved. Ferrand is recorded alone in Stonegate in 1823; and at 7 Mount, 1828–30. [D] Son of William Ferrand, planemaker of York; app. to Robert Tomlinson, carver and gilder, on 11 May 1802 for seven years, ‘no consideration in money being given’. Admitted freeman in 1809. [York app. reg. and freemen rolls] Marriage to Miss Dove at St Martin's Church, London, on 31 May 1814 reported in York Courant, 6 June. Notice regarding the dissolution of partnership with William Dodgson occurred in York Courant, 24 June 1816, when Ferrand announced the continuation of the carving and gilding business opposite the ‘George Inn’, Coney St. Dodgson moved to a shop in Coney St ‘lately occupied by Mr. Baker, Confectioner, where he will continue the business of CARVER and GILDER … N.B. An Apprentice wanted.’ Ferrand was imprisoned twice as an insolvent debtor, and his discharge announced in York Courant, 28 July 1821 and 10 October 1829. On 15 March 1823 it was announced in the same paper that his shop in Stonegate had been taken over by a clock and watchmaker. Ferrand's death on 4 April 1852, aged 66, was reported in Yorkshire Gazette, 9 April. His trade label, with the Coney St address, is found on a pair of early Georgian-style looking-glasses on loan to the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and also on an Adam-style looking-glass of oval form framed by swagged husk chains and surmounted by a vase. [Antiques, May 1968, p. 648, illus.] Label also recorded on a painted satinwood cabinet, decorated with garlands, arched panels of Classical landscapes, flowers and foliate scrolls; containing drawers and compartments enclosed by a pair of doors, the stand raised on turned and reeded tapering legs with stretchers. [Phillips’, 26 March 1963, lot 62]

The original entry from Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, 1660-1840 can be found at British History Online.

apprenticed to William Dodgson as a Carver and Gilder in 1821.

Freeman claim in 1828

Brocklebank, David, 47 Coney St, York, carver, gilder and looking-glass maker (1829–d. 1849). Advertised in York Gazette, 4 April 1829. Took C. Arundel (late five years with Mr Terry, Davygate) into partnership in October 1829, and recorded in partnership with him in 1830. Moved to 32 Stonegate on 3 November 1832. Declared bankrupt, York Gazette, 15 November 1834, and died in July 1849. [D] 


British History Online 

Woodworkers and carpenters on Coney Street York. Using deed records and British Furniture Online we have been able to find out information

Cabinet Maker

Ratcliffe, John, York, cm (1740–67). Recorded at Coney St in 1740; Low Ousegate in 1743; ‘next Door to the Sign of the Blue Anchor upon Ouse Bridge’ in 1746; and in St Helen's parish, 1759–67. Advertised in York Courant, 12 August 1740 as ‘John RATCLIFFE from Amsterdam, now living in Coney Street, York, Makes all Sorts of Cabinet-Work after the newest English, French and Dutch Fashions; Likewise Glass and Picture Frames; Pictures clean'd and refresh'd; also all Sorts of English and Dutch Varnish, and Lacquer made and sold by him.’ Advertised again on 9 August 1743 as a framemaker in Low Ousegate, who ‘Makes all Sorts of gilded or black Frames for Pictures or Prints’; and on 4 March 1746, announced sale at his shop on Ouse Bridge, ‘on Wednesday in the Assize week’ of ‘all Sorts of CABINET WORK … viz desks with Brass Mountings all other Sorts of Desks, Glasses, Tables and Chairs, &c.…’. Probably the JR, cm aged 50, recorded as having been resident for eight years in St Helen's parish in the 1767 Census of Roman Catholics. [Catholic Recusancy in York] 


British History Online 

Indentured to Thomas Longhorn 1746
Freeman claim 1785

Officer, James, York, carver and gilder (1771–84). Son of Thomas Officer of Leeds, hatter. App. to George Gibson, carver and gilder, on 1 August 1764. Free by servitude in 1771 and living at Coney St in 1774 and North St in 1784. [Freemen rolls; poll bks] 

 British History Online 

joiner and cabinet maker. freeman 1796, apprenticed 1786 to John Barber in Goodramgate


Dodgson, William Fawcett, Coney St, York, carver and gilder (1816–25). Recorded at no. 3 in 1823. Partnership with Thomas Ferrand dissolved in 1816. Admitted freeman in 1818. Took son William as app. on 28 January 1825. [D; York app. reg. and freemen rolls] 


British History Online 

apprenticed to father james wilson freeman claim in 1845

apprenticed to father 1872, born 1863

Hardy, Charles, York, turner, fancy case maker and cm (1824–40). Trading at 6 Coney St, 1838–40. Son of John Hardy, turner and cm; app. to his father on 7 December 1824. [D; York app. reg.] 

British History Online 

6/9 coney street york


Sedgwick, Christopher, York, cm (1758–84). Son of William Sedgwick, carpenter and father of William Sedgwick, cm. Free 1758, and in the same year shown at Coney St. In Blake St, 1784–87. [D; poll bks; freemen rolls] See Thomas and William Sedgwick of Blake St. 


British History Online 

Officer, James, York, carver and gilder (1771–84). Son of Thomas Officer of Leeds, hatter. App. to George Gibson, carver and gilder, on 1 August 1764. Free by servitude in 1771 and living at Coney St in 1774 and North St in 1784. [Freemen rolls; poll bks] 

 British History Online 

Doughty, Joseph & Martha, Minstergate and 6 Coney St, York, turners, toymen and cm (1755–1824). Born in 1755, Joseph continued his father's business in Minstergate selling fishing tackle and ivory, bone and wooden ‘toys’. Admitted freeman in 1795, when he opened a shop at 6 Coney St in partnership with Marshall. Advertised their ‘new invented spinning wheel’. A wheel in the Castle Museum, York, is inscribed ‘Doughty, York’. Doughty died in 1801, and his widow, Martha, announced her intention of carrying on the business in York Courant, 8 March 1802. Further advertisements in 1805 and 1807 show her trading as a ‘Toy, Tunbridge & Cabinet Manufacturer’; and on 28 March 1814 appears as ‘M. MARSHALL, (Late Doughty)’, having either married Doughty's partner or reverted to her maiden name. In Yorkshire Gazette, 8 May 1824 she announced sale of business to John Hardy, and expressed thanks for favours conferred upon her during the last thirty years. [Furn. Hist., 1978, pl. 29B]

Barber, John, Coney St, next to ‘The Black Swan’, York, turner, maker of ladies's spinning wheels, fire screens, writing tables etc. (1785–1806). Advertised in York Courant, 23 August 1785. Account with Mrs Woodhouse for 12 mahogany chairs and 2 with arms, paid on 13 May 1791, totalled £19 4s. [York archives dept] A John Barber, York, cm, is recorded taking apps named John Barker, 14 April 1790, William Fawbert, 10 October 1791; Henry Pullon, 1 November 1791; John Ward, 1 August 1794; Charles Scott, 14 October 1794; William Fawdington, 19 October 1801; and George Kelley, as toymaker and turner, 1 September 1806. [York app. reg.] 


British History Online 

Hardy, John, Coney St, York, turner and cm (1824–43). Announced that he was taking over the business of Martha Marshall (or Doughty) in Yorkshire Gazette, 8 May 1824. Made spinning wheels (one in the Castle Museum, York, bearing the stamp of ‘Hardy York’) until c.1832, when his advertisement in the Yorkshire Gazettemade no mention of this branch of his business. Notice of business closure appeared in the same paper, 30 September 1843. See Charles Hardy. 


British History Online