A George II Cup and Cover by James Shruder
A good George II silver Cup and Cover, London 1752, by James Shruder, the lid surmounted with the crest of Onslow, [an eagle attacking a partridge], the lid and body engraved, on opposite sides, with the arms of Onslow and Bristow in pretence, and with the script cipher ‘T.S’: each engraving set within a rococo cartouche. The underside of the foot and the interior of the lid rim are engraved ‘Thos. Smith, Westr.’ A scratch weight of 77ozs. 9dwt. Is engraved under the foot.
This cup was evidently made as an heirloom by Thomas Smith, then a Chief Clerk at the Exchequer Office, after the death of his wife, Martha Bristow in May 1753. The Onslow arms and crest imply Thomas Smith’s claim to be a member of that family and the arms of his wife are engraved ‘in pretence’ over those, she being a co-heiress of her father, John Bristow, vintner of St. Margaret’s Westminster, deceased. The Cup is, in fact, mentioned by Thomas Smith, in his will, written in 1754, as having been given by him to his eldest son, Thomas Onslow Smith, then an child aged eight, together with his ‘Mourning Diamond Ring’ and ‘Cricket Picture’. Thomas Onslow Smith also received his father’s silver and gold repeating watches. He was subsequently apprenticed to a Grocer  and became free of the Grocer’s Company, trading as a Corn Factor in the City of London. He died intestate in September 1793.
The background of Smith and his relationship to the Onslow family remains unclear. Whilst he mentions a number of relations of his first wife [he was married again in December 1753 to Janet Guthrie at West Wickham in Kent], the only direct relative he mentions in his will is his ‘Sister Gonson’: Mary Smith, aged 22, had married the well-known magistrate, Sir John Gonson in November 1741 at St. Katherine by the Tower.
However, Thomas Smith ‘of the Exchequer’ and ‘Elizabeth Smith’ had been left Two Thousand pounds apiece in the will of Lord Onslow written in 1738 and proved in 1740. Then, in his will, Thomas Smith left ‘Two thousand to George Onslow, son to Arthur Onslow Speaker of the House of Commons’. His three Executors were to be George Onslow, son of the Speaker, George Onslow, son of General Richard Onslow, and Sir Crisp Gascoyne, each exucutor receiving £30 for a mourning ring.
The marriage between Thomas Smith, then probably living in Charles street, Westminster, and Martha Bristow was recorded in the newspapers. The St. James’s Evening Post of July 11th 1745 announced ‘On Thursday last, Thomas Smith, Esq.; one of the Chief Clerks of the Exchequer, was married to Miss Bristow, Daughter of Mrs. Bristow, of Charles-Street, Westminster; a beautiful young Lady, with a considerable Fortune.’ The marriage took place in Leyton in Essex. Later the same year, the Daily Post reported the promotion of Smith: ‘The Rt. Hon. Horace Walpole, Esq; one of the Tellers of His Majesty’s Exchequer, has appointed Thomas Smith, Esq; to be Chief Clerk in his Office, in the room of Robert Pennant, Esq; deceased.’ Horatio Walpole had succeeded Lord Onslow as Teller in April 1741.
After the death of Martha, Thomas Smith married Janet Guthrie, then aged seventeen, at West Wickham in Kent. Janet was the daughter of John Guthrie, a merchant at the ‘British Factory’ in Cadiz, who had died at Newark in Nottinghamshire on the way back to his native Scotland to recuperate from illness. Janet’s mother, Mary, was still in Cadiz at the time of her daughter’s marriage in December 1753. There were no children from this second marriage.
Thomas Smith died in November 1759 and was was buried at St. Margaret’s Church in Westminster.
The crest finial is unmarked and is secured to the lid with a bolt and interior nut. The body is fully-marked underneath and the lid part-marked on the inside. The current weight of 76.98 ozs. [2394.4 gms.] suggests that the cup has lost only half an ounce since the scratch weight was engraved.
See the ‘Research’ tab of this website for an essay on James Shruder. Silver marked by this maker, who became a papier maché modeller in later life, is relatively rare. No silver pieces with Shruder’s mark have been noted after 1753, the year of this cup and cover, which has sharply defined handle ornament and an unusual projecting gadrooned rib on the body and matching detail on the lid rim and foot.
Very Good. Some solder pallions visible on the finial.
Height – 31.50 cm.; Width – 31.90 cm.; Depth – 16.30 cm.; Weight – 2394.40 gms.