Was John an important cabinet maker?
John may have been John BELCHIER (apprenticed 1699, d. 1753), a significant craftsman of furniture, mirrors and glass, who traded at the sign of the Sun, to the rear of St Paul's churchyard, Covent Garden. See Citations for his portrait and resume. His work has sold at Christies and Sothebys and some of his japanned cabinets have sold for in excess of £160,000.
The son of an apothecary from Deddington in Oxfordshire, John BELCHIER was apprenticed through the London Joiners' Company on 2 January 1699/1700. His father by this time was deceased. He was bound to John BELCHIER, who originally came from Barford St John, an adjacent village to Deddington and was John's uncle.
He gained the freedom through servitude on 9 September 1707 and by the autumn of 1713 had bound his first apprentice, also called John Belchier. Their relationship is uncertain but because his apprenticeship indenture states he was the 'son of John Belchier' he may have been his cousin, the son of his first master.
In 1719 he apprenticed Edward COOKE, and in 1720, Edward SEABROKE. Two further apprentices are recorded: Thomas Atkinson in June 1741 and William Albrook in November 1741. Thomas ATKINSON would eventual take over his premises at 'The Sun' after John's death in 1753.
Precisely when he was established at 'The Sun' on the south side of St. Paul's Churchyard is yet to be determined, but the first known record is on the 26 July 1717 when insurance was effected ‘for goods and merchandise in his said Dwelling House’.
In May 1737 John BELCHIER, 'joyner', sponsored the marriage license of two minors: Thomas Miles ARNOLD, a grocer and Elizabeth POTTER4.
The death of John BELCHIER, cabinet maker, was announced in the London Evening Post on 23 March 1753, described him as ‘for many years past a very eminent cabinetmaker aged near 70 at his house in St. Paul's Churchyard’. He was also stated to be kinsman of William Belchier, one of the MPs for the borough of Southwark.
He estimated age of 'near 70' at death suggests a birth year of 1683-1686, with an apprenticeship beginning in 1699 indicating a date later in that range. A John BELCHER was baptized by Samuel and Beata BELCHER in Deddington on 4 March 1685/863. Samuel was brother to John's apprentice master John BELCHIER, and was also born in Barford St John.
John married Catherine BELCHER, daughter of Thomas BELCHER, on 16 Sep 1707. Compellingly this is exactly one week after the above cabinet maker gained his 'freedom through servitude' on 9 Sep 1707. Catherine may have been another BELCHIER cousin.
Catherine and John had eight children between 1709 and 1721. The move to the dwelling in St Paul's Churchyard, Covent Garden in ~1717 is consistent with the needs of a growing family.
Their eldest child, Rebecca, was born 1709. In June 1741 a receipt, on behalf of John Belchier of The Sun for the payment for some chairs, was signed by 'R Belchier'. Was Rebecca, for whom no marriage record has been found, working for her father at 'The Sun'?
Their second daughter, born Feb 1711/12, was my 6x Great Grandmother, Elizabeth BELCHIER. Elizabeth married Zacharias BROOKER in 1736 and lived in St Giles ward (i.e. Covent Garden). Their son Zacharias, was a butcher of Broad Lane, Drury Lane, Covent Garden. Once more this is consistent with John being the cabinet maker.
A John and Elizabeth BELCHIER baptized a girl Beata in 1715 in London. Was this girl named for the cabinet maker's mother Beata? If so then the cabinet maker was not married to Catherine BELCHER, and the Elizabeth BELCHIER bap.1711/12 by John and Catherine could not be his daughter.
- Elizabeth is the cabinet maker's daughter, but her baptismal record is missing.
- Elizabeth is the daughter of John BELCHIER and Catherine BELCHER. The cabinet maker is not (closely) related.
- Elizabeth is the daughter of another BELCHIER family.
In summary we don't know enough to confirm Elizabeth's line.