Georgian living: John Fawell’s worldly goods

Georgian living: 1791

In 1791, George III was on the throne. His son Frederick, Duke of York, married Princess Frederica Charlotte of  Prussia. Composer Joseph Haydn arrived in England. And the Ordnance Survey was founded.

It was also the year that a tanner called John Fawell died. The inventory of his possessions is a wonderful glimpse into life for the ‘trade’ class of the day.

Who was John Fawell?

I am claiming John Fawell as a Cumbrian Character without knowing how he fits into the Cumbrian family.

Generations of Fawells lived in Temple Sowerby, where they prospered in the 1700s as tanners. The epitome of Georgian living, really.

A number of them made their way to London.

Fawell is a rare name, and while there were Yorkshire//North East Fawells who also had links with London, the fact John was a tanner really suggests a connection to the Cumbrian family.

John Fawell was of High Street, in the parish of St George, in the county of Surrey when he died. That is, Borough High Street, Southwark.

In 1778, he was a leather factor, The Maze, Southwark. And in 1780, his trading address was Layton’s Yard.

That ran off the High Street.

A Cumbrian coincidence

Coincidentally, Layton’s Yard was next door to the King’s Bench Prison.

‘The prison was burnt down by the Gordon Rioters in 1780 but was quickly rebuilt. The apparent laxness of the prison led to it being described as “the most desirable place of incarceration for debtors in England.”  But that was for those prisoners with money. Enforcement of the regulations could be lax but equally they could be enforced with violence.  It is estimated that whilst perhaps one third of prisoners lived “in the rules”, the remaining two thirds lived within the prison walls. ‘

Source: Exploring Southwark.


I say ‘coincidentally,’ because in 1772, George Fawell (born in Temple Sowerby in 1743) died in the King’s Bench Prison. He left a will, and I think he may have been in jail for defrauding the bank he worked for, rather than for debt.

Back to Georgian living!

Anyway, John Fawell’s 1791 inventory, as presented by his widow Charlotte:

No. 1

A half tester bedstead with red check curtains. A feather bed bolster and pillows, two blankets and quilt. A wainscot table, a cradle basket and a curtain.

No. 2

A four-post bedstead with red check curtains. A feather bed bolster and pillows, two blankets and quilt, curtains and rod, and a large ticker mattress.

No. 3

A mahogany double chest of drawers, a large mahogany dining table and green cover. A looking glass in a mahogany frame. A Japanned corner cupboard. A walnut tree chest of drawers. A wainscot table. Four chairs. A clothes horse and fishing rods. A chimney blind.

China and glass

Eight dishes, 17 plates, 15 smaller ditto, 10 cups, 9 saucers, 2 tea pots, 4 cups, 4 saucers, and a basin. 6 coffee cups, 13 plates, a tea pot,. Two sauce boats and a ladle. A small dish and a tin for puddings. Seven bone dishes, 5 ditto fish plates. A coffee pot, a jug, and a milk pot. Four rummers (type of drinking glass), four salts, 11 wine glasses, 2 tumblers. A set of castors and stand. Two glass decanters.

No. 4 kitchen

A long fender, tongs and poker. A large copper pot, a ditto and smaller ditto. A stew pan with cover and saucepan and cover. A copper warming pan. A pair of pinces. Metal candlesticks, 3 candlesticks and a saucepan. A pair of bellows. A steel a Footman and etc. Five flat irons and stand. Two iron frying pans, a spit and cuckold, a Dutch oven. A coffee pot, a chocolate pot. A basting ladle and a copper stew pan and cover. A —-. Two large tin saucepans and covers, 10 smaller ones. A tin pot and 3 cannisters. A large mahogany voider (?) and a tea tray. A mahogany knife case with 12 large and 12 small knives. A large mahogany knife tray with 4 knives and 4 forks. A bread tray. Two brushes. A pair of snuffers and stand. A tack – – complete four chairs and a table.

Linens and wearing apparel

Six pair of sheets. Three table cloths. Two breakfast cloths. Two hand towels, seven towels. Six shirts, 6 neck handkerchiefs, 6 pairs of stockings. Four pillow cases and two towels. Three caps, 2 coats, 2 pairs of breeches. Four coats and 10 waistcoats. Pair of drawers. Corded waistcoat and breeches. Great coat and leather breeches. A pair of boots, 9 pairs of shoes. Two round hats and one new cocked hat.

No 4.

A bath stove, a fender shovel, tongs and poker. A bath stove and fender, a mahogany table and glass. A mahogany card table, a deal table and glass. A mahogany pillar and claw table. A walnut tree chest of drawers. Six mahogany chairs with 2 elbows to match. A mahogany four-poste bedstead with red and white cotton furniture. A goose bed bolster and 2 pillows. A mattress, 3 blankets. A fine cotton counterpane, 2 pairs of window curtains to match and a tea board.  A Scotch carpet, a stair carpet and brass wire, a large Wilton carpet.


A ditto cloth.

No.5 parlour

One large glass, a desk and book case. A basket of books. 24 sundry books. Bottles.

Georgian living: what it was worth

All of which foregoing were sold by public auction for the sum of £76 four shillings. That’s something like £10,000 today.