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Plate, early Qianlong c.1740, arms of Lennard with Chadwick in pretence — made for the godmother of the novelist Jane Austen.

A rare and finely decorated plate (several available), c.1740, with the arms of Lennard with Chadwick in pretence.  The rim decoration incorporates some of the decorative motifs from the end of the Yongzheng period which were still in use during the first years of the Qianlong emperor (1736-1796). These include the delicately shaded peonies in rich tones of famille rose on bright green and turquoise leaves; the spray of yellow and pink orchids, and three different gold butterflies on the rim.

The use of rich yellow enamel (another feature mainly confined to this 1730-40 decade) on the armorial is unique in that this extends to the ducal coronet as well, and even to the yellow spikes at the back of the dragon’s head. One other service of this period (Spearing / Denskine) has a yellow enamel shield though with different border and no coronet, while two very fine services of about 1730 (Byng and Mathews) have a rich yellow cell-diaper on the rim, though not on the arms. In heraldry the colour yellow is interchangeable with gold (as are white and silver) but virtually all other armorial services use gold rather than yellow.The motto ’Shining among the clouds’, not recorded elsewhere, perhaps also reflects this sunshine yellow.

The arms are those of Lennard, while the escutcheon ‘in pretence’ in the centre is of Chadwick.  The service was made for Samuel Lennard, ‘natural’ son of Sir Samuel Lennard, 3rd Baronet of Wickham Court near Bromley, and his wife Jane Chadwick, who married in 1740, undoubtedly the occasion for this service.  The baronet left no legitimate heirs and the Wickham estates and advowson (the church living and its income) passed to his son, and after his death in 1755 to Samuel’s widow Jane Chadwick and their daughter Mary Lennard – a legacy strongly contested by his relatives in court. 

Jane’s claim was fought and won by her solicitor, Francis Austen, who she married three years later in 1758.  The Wickham church living would later pass into the hands of the Austen family (and the name utilised by the novelist in Pride & Prejudice).  ‘Uncle Frank’ Austen was a family patriarch, taking in his nine year old nephew George (father of the novelist Jane Austen) and his sister Philadelphia when they were orphaned and paying for their education. In 1764 he bought George his first ‘living’ (parish church) at Deane before the family moved to the parsonage at Steventon, where Jane and her siblings were brought up.  After Jane’s birth in 1775, it is perhaps not surprising that the Revd George asked his stepmother, also called Jane Austen (previously Lennard and neé Chadwick) to be godmother and gave his daughter her name, while Jane’s elder brother by a year was named Frank (later becoming Admiral Sir Francis Austen).

George’s sister, Philadelphia, also a ward of her uncle, as a young woman ’in want of a husband’ (though without ’possession of a good fortune’) petitioned the Court of East India directors for leave to sail to India by the Bombay Castle, there meeting and marrying in 1753 the Company Surgeon, Tysoe Saul Hancock, at Fort St David (Bombay). As ‘Uncle Frank’ was attorney to Hancock, it seems more than likely that this trip was arranged and funded by him.

An excerpt from a letter by Henry Thomas Austen (brother and publisher of Jane Austen) to his nephew Revd. James Edward Austen-Leigh reads:

" . . . My Father’s Uncle, old Francis Austen set out in life with £800 and a bundle of pens, as Attorney, & contrived to amass a very large fortune, living most hospitably, and yet buying up all the valuable land round the Town — marrying two wealthy wives. He was a kind uncle too, for he bought the presentations of Ashe & Deane, that your Grandfather might have, which ever fell vacant first — it chanced to be Deane. He left your Grandfather a legacy of £500.

. . . The Wickham estate & advowson was the property of a Mr. Lennard some ninety years ago. He left it to his widow for life, & afterwards to his & her only child, a Lennard. The widow was legally attacked by the nearest male relations of the defunct — she flung her cause into the hands of my Great Uncle, old Frank Austen: he won the cause & the wealthy widow’s heart and hand. A very pleasing amiable woman she was; I remember her about 1780, & thought her a great deal handsomer than her Daughter . . . "

First Illustration: plate with a couple of reverse frits filled. £3,200

Second illustration and close ups: plate with short fine line at 5 o’clock consolidated and now totally invisible. £2,800

Individual photos and conditions can be emailed.

Reference : Howard, David S.; Chinese Armorial Porcelain, Volume II, p. 286 (but with considerable new information above).

Condition :
Several available, all in excellent decorative condition

With a few very small reverse frits or chips filled : £3,200.

With either a base glaze line or a short rim line, in each case consolidated and totally invisible : £2,800

Size : 9 inches diameter

Stock Number : 44004

Price : £2,800 to £3,200

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