This fascinating George III silver tray is a work of skillful English artistry, intricately chased and engraved it represents a prestigious commemorative gift for service. The tray rests on 4 bracket feet with oval handles and a delightful gadrooned border. The tray is distinguished by a spectacular engraved inscription of unmatched quality that bears a presentation inscription. The inscription is surrounded by a laurel wreath border with arms, two coat of arms and flags, two of which bear the monograms for King George III and George Spencer 2nd Earl of Spencer.
The tray is engraved with the following inscription: "Presented on the 7th of March 1807, by James Marquess of Salisbury COLONEL OF THE HARTFORDSIRE REGIMENT OF MILITIA, To Robert Chester Esquire LATE LIEUTENANT COLONEL, as a mark of his personal Esteem and Regard for the uniform Conduct and unremitting Attention shewn by him while Lt. Col. in having brought the Regiment to that high state of Discipline which received the Approbation of His Royal Highness The Duke of York COMMANDER IN CHIEF, His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge Lord Charles Fitzroy &c. &c.at Ipswich in the Years 1805 & 1806"
The recipient of the tray was Sir Robert Chester Esq. The lineal representative of the Chesters of Royston and Cokenhatch, Hertfordshire, he was the eldest son of Sir Robert Chester Esq. who was served as a Deputy Colonel of the Hertfordshire Militia before his death in 1790. Robert Chester, the son, was educated at Westminster School and at Christ Church, Oxford. In 1793 Chester entered the service of the Hertfordshire Militia as Ensign in 1793 and rose to rank of Lieutenant Colonel which he held until 1804. In 1794 he was appointed Gentleman Usher Quarterly Waiter to King George III and then he filled subsequent roles in the King's court. In 1796 he was promoted to Gentleman Usher of the Privy Chamber and Assistant Master and Master of Ceremonies to King George III. In 1797 He was Groom of the Privy Chamber and in 1798 Gentleman Usher of the Privy Chamber. In 1818 he was promoted to the Office of Master of Ceremonies and received the honor of knighthood.
The tray was presented to Chester by James Cecil the 6th Earl and 1st Marquess of Salisbury. He served as Lord Chamberlain from 1783 to 1804 and was Colonel of the Hartfordshire Regiment of Militia. Both men exist in all documentation of the peerage of the British Empire and all official records of Baronage in England.
The Hertfordshire Militia was formed in 1688 in response to the threat posed to the throne of King James II by Prince William of Orange. In 1751 a royal warrant declared that the regiments should no longer be known as the name of their colonel but instead by their number in order of precedence. The Regiment then became known as the 16th Regiment of Foot. By 1881 the militia amalgamated with the Bedfordshire Militia and the Bedfordshire Regiment of Foot and the Regiment became the 16th Bedfordshire Regiment of Foot. During the time that Chester served as Lieutenant Colonel of the Militia they were more commonly known as the "16th Foot."
Chester received the approbation of the Royal Princes and Lord FItzroy, as inscribed on the tray. At the time of the ceremony the Duke of York was Prince Frederick the second son of George III and the Duke of Cambridge was Prince Adolphus the seventh son of King George III. Lord Charles Fitzroy was an equerry to the Duke of Cambridge and served him during his time in Flanders.
This exquisitely carved tray is not only a masterpiece of English silverwork but also an important historical document and is sure to be an important addition to any collection of important silver.
Bears the makers mark for London 1806 Hannam & Crouch
L: 29 1/10"
Vanessa Brett, The Sotheby's Directory of Silver: 1600-1940, item 1092, page 243
The Gentleman's Magazine (Volume XXX 184)(July - December, 1848) London: John Bowyer Nichols and Son.