This set of six small spoons with Old English style terminals seems to be by James Heyland of Cork. In Collecting Irish Silver
, Douglas Bennett lists James Heyland's working dates as 1784-1812 while the authors of Cork Silver and Gold
mention him as operating from 39 North Main Street, Cork during the years 1795-1810. He registered with Dublin in 1784 according to Douglas Bennett in Irish Georgian Silver
. James Heyland apparently used a much larger pellet between his initials IH than John Hillery or John Humphreys hence my attribution of these spoons to him. Do others agree?
Further research on James Heyland is really needed as what I have discovered so far leaves unanswered questions. First of all, when was he born? On an online Australian ancestry website, Daniel Heyland shows a photo of a Cork spoon circa 1790 by James Heyland and states the silversmith was born in 1770, a date at odds with Bennett's start date of 1784. James Heyland does not appear in the list of Freeman of the City of Cork
. Green's Index to Marriage Licence Bonds of the Diocese of Cloyne
mentions James Heyland marrying Mary Connor in 1792. In Cork historical documents, namely Cecil C. Woods's The Goldsmiths of Cork
and M.S.D. Westropp's similarly titled paper, Heyland is only mentioned from 1795. Jackson's Silver and Gold Marks
concurs with this date.
However, Lucas's Cork Directory 1787
- lists James Heyland as a Toyman, which throws into doubt a birth date of 1770 as the occupation of Toyman involved an apprenticeship. Heyland could hardly have completed an apprenticeship by the age of 14 (Bennett's 1784) or 17 (Lucas's 1787). Unfortunately, no further Cork Trade Directories are available until Holden's Triennial Directory 1805-7
in which Heyland is not mentioned at all. Shortly after that, West's 1809-10 Directory
- lists him as a Silversmith working from North Main Street so it seems likely that Holden omitted his name in error. Is it possible James Heyland worked as a Toyman from 1784 until 1795 when he styled himself as a Silversmith, the year mentioned by both Woods and Westropp?
This rather interesting reference appears in the Index to the names of those who received sentence of transportation in Cork (City or County Courts), as reported in Cork newspapers, or were transported as confirmed by Australian sources.
Fitzpatrick, John ------ Stealing 8 silver shoe buckles from James Heyland's shop ------ City Court Apr 1797
Although no actual sentence is shown, the usual term for such an offence was 7 years, so for stealing from James Heyland, it is likely John Fitzpatrick was transported to Australia for at least that long in servitude to a free man. Cork jail was not a pleasant place, "This gaol was constantly very crowded, and in a shocking state of decay." Also, "These convicts often had to wait for periods of up to two years, before they were actually transported to Australia."
By 1807 James Heyland was clearly a well respected Cork silversmith as he was a signatory to the petition for a Cork Assay Office made that year [Ref. The Goldsmiths of Cork
by M.S.D. Westropp, Journal of the Cork Historical & Archaeological Society, 1906
"In 1807, they presented to the Right Hon. John Foster, Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer, a memorial respecting the establishment of an assay office in Cork, signed by Carden Terry, John Toleken, Isaac Solomon, James Conway, Samuel Reily, John Nicolson, Nicholas Nicolson, James Heyland
, Thomas Montjoy, Joseph Gibson, John Whelpley, and William Byrom."
Returning to the spoons, it seems the silversmith made some brave attempts to stamp his maker's mark and STERLING on the narrow shafts with mixed results. The marks have sustained some wear in the intervening years but otherwise the spoons are in very good condition. The boar crest features in many armorials of Irish families so tracing who the spoons belonged to is proving difficult. The dots on the boar indicate gold and the vertical lines sable (black) so I think it may be for a branch of the Sweeney family who used black boars on a gold shield, as it was and still is a popular name in Co. Cork.
To me, these are unmistakably coffee spoons rather than teaspoons but am I correct in this assumption? They only measure 12.2cm in length, the bowls just 3.9cm x 2.3cm. I've seen sets of antique silver Cork teaspoons but I cannot recall coming across Cork coffee spoons before. As far as I understand, spoons specifically made for tea and coffee began to appear mid 18th century but I rarely see small Georgian spoons described as coffee spoons. Neither Douglas Bennett nor the authors of Cork Silver and Gold
mention coffee spoons although the latter do mention a set of six teaspoons by John Nicholson measuring 13.9cm long so perhaps this is typical of the size of Cork teaspoons around the time my spoons were made (I only own a later teaspoon 15cm in length shown in one photograph for comparison). However, on the other hand, I've come across mid to late 18th century Dublin spoons as short as 12.5cm-13cm described as teaspoons that to me look more like coffee spoons. Is this just semantics or is there a size at which collectors and dealers should differentiate in their descriptions?