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The Baron Delaware's Chest of Drawers

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A joined enclosed American walnut, white oak, pine, beech, maple, krappa (crabwood), and letterwood Boston chest of drawers with lidded top


Ipswich/Boston, Massachusetts, 1650-1670

On the inside of the lid is a sticker with a drawing of the chest of drawers and a text reading: from Lord Sheffield’s sale at Sheffield Park 1910. 24. OLD CABINET in chestnut wood with panels of walnut + turned enrichments of ebony. The upper part is in the form of a chest with a lift up lid, the lower portion contains 3 drawers which are enclosed by a pair of doors. The wood is of good colour, free from stains. H. 3ft 9ins W. 3ft 10ins Depth 2ft 4ins Price £18.

H. 124 x W. 122 x D. 71 cm

Sheffield Park, United Kingdom; their sale,
1910, lot 24; [...]; Private collection, the Netherlands

Sheffield Park was in the ownership of the De La Warr family already in 1292. It passed through various other hands including those of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk in the mid 16th century and the Sackville family in the late 16th century. It was purchased by the Neville family in 1623, but apparently owned and occupied again by the De La Warr family latest in 1700 when the Deer Park was partially formalized by John West 6th Baron and 1st Earl De La Warr who planted avenues of trees radiating from the house and cleared areas to establish lawns. In 1769 John West (1729-1777), the 2nd Earl De La Warr sold Sheffield Hall to John Baker Holroyd (21 December 1735-30 May 1821), who in 1780 was raised to the Peerage as Baron Sheffield, and advanced as Earl of Sheffield in 1783.
The 3rd and last Earl of Sheffield, Henry Holroyd (1832-1909), had three house sales in Sheffield House, in 1907, 1909 (a four-day sale) and 1910. The first two sales were by Oakden & Co of Eastbourne and the last by Christie’s London where the present cabinet possibly was sold. The house itself was sold to Arthur Giltrap.

Sheffield House in Sussex was owned in 1700 (or earlier) by John West
6th Baron and 1st Earl De La Warr (Sussex, [Sheffield House?] 1663 - 1723 Westminster). His ancestors include Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr (Wherwell Abbey, Hampshire, 9 July 1577 - 7 November 1618 at sea), great-grandson of Mary Boleyn, English politician for whom later the bay, the river and the state Delaware were named.

Thomas was the first governor of Virginia to arrive in Jamestown in 1610. Because of bad health, he returned to England where, in 1616, he introduced John Rolfe and his native American wife Pocahontas, daughter of the Chief of the Powhatan people, in London, to raise money for the colony in Virginia. Thomas died at sea while travelling from England back to Virginia in 1618. His brother John West also was governor of Virginia from 1635 till 1637. Thomas’ son, Henry West 4th Baron De La Warr (1603-1628) died young and was buried at Wherwell Abbey. Thomas, his brother John and his son Henry all died before this chest was likely to have been made, between 1650 and 1670. Henry had one son, Charles West 5th Baron De La Warr (1626-1687), born in Sussex, (Sheffield House?) and buried at Wherwell Abbey in Hampshire. The 6th Baron De La Warr, alternatively described as Baron Delaware, was John West (Sussex {Sheffield Hall?}1663 - London 1723, buried at Westminster). Neither Charles nor John ever were in America. John’s son, John West the 7th Baron De La Warr and 1st Earl Delaware (4 April 1693 – Westminster, 22 November 1766) was a soldier and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1715 to 1722. He was the 7th Royal Governor of New Jersey, and in June 1737 was appointed Colonial Governor of New York. That same year, in September 1737, he resigned before taking up his duties in New York. John, the 7th Baron and 1st Earl Delaware, in his second marriage, married Anne Neville (?1641- after 1701) widow of George Neville, 1st Baron Bergavenny (1659-1720), daughter of captain Nehemiah Walker. Nehemiah was the. son of a London goldsmith and stockholder in the Hudson’s Bay Company (officially “The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England, trading into Hudson’s Bay”), established by King Charles II in 1670. Nehemiah himself also was stockholder in the Hudson’s Bay Company and sailed for
the Company to America several times but being an ill-tempered drunkard he was dismissed. In the 1909 Sheffield House sale a 17th century fire-back once belonging to Anne Neville (born Walker) was sold. A bookplate that belonged to The Honourable John West, Lord De La Warr, stamped Martin & Allardyce, Asbury Park New Jersey, was recently sold in auction. John West the 2nd Earl of Delaware (Wherwell Abbey, Hampshire 1729 – London, 1777) sold Sheffield Hall in 1769 to John Baker Holroyd.

We only know for certain that the chest was in the 1910 sale at Sheffield house. How and when the cabinet came to Sheffield House is difficult to establish with certainty, but there certainly are enough connections between the Barons Delaware and America through which the cabinet could have come to Sheffield House.

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