Porringer

about 1695–1705
David Jesse (American, born in England, 1669–1705 or 1706)


Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

Dimensions

4.5 x 18.3 x 14.2 cm (1 3/4 x 7 3/16 x 5 9/16 in.)

Accession Number

1984.515

Medium or Technique

Silver

Not On View

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Silver hollowware

The porringer, with center point, has a wide dome in the base and a convex bulge in the side walls, rising to a slightly everted rim. The cast handle, broken at its tip, has a pierced geometric pattern with seven voids and two open circles. A pitted area under handle may be an unidentified mark. The bottom has been reattached.


David Jesse was apprenticed to London goldsmith Alexander Roode in 1682 and probably immigrated to Boston shortly after becoming freeman of the company in 1691. He married Mary Wilson, originally of Hartford, Connecticut, about 1698. This marriage once led scholars to believe that Jesse was born in Hartford, but he may have met his future wife or father-in-law, merchant Phineas Wilson, during one of the latter’s business trips to Boston.
Jesse’s London training and his wife’s considerable dowry provided him with the necessary skills to establish himself in the colonies. The quality of the surviving objects bearing his mark — two of which were purchased by churches in Dorchester and farther afield, in Farmington, Connecticut — suggest that his work was esteemed. The paucity of surviving examples can be partly explained by Jesse’s early death, in his mid-thirties. In addition, he may have encountered difficulties in becoming established in the Boston community, which was already close-knit by his arrival in the 1690s.2 He may have supplemented his income by lending money, weighing hard currency, and cutting down foreign coinage for local use. His widow and three small children were in difficult straits by the time of his death. This early porringer, despite the loss of the geometric handle tip, is an important record of the silversmith’s small oeuvre.

This text has been adapted from “Silver of the Americas, 1600-2000,” edited by Jeannine Falino and Gerald W.R. Ward, published in 2008 by the MFA. Complete references can be found in that publication.

Inscription

On handle facing bowl in shaded Roman letters (over effaced engraving), "E * F". On bottom of bowl, incised later: "9-0-0".

Markings

On everted rim to right of handle is the mark "DI" in Roman capitals with a circle, having an annnulet above and a pellet below.

Provenance

The original owners are unknown due to the effaced initials over which appears the engraving “E * F.” The first known owner was probably Elizabeth Vergoose (1694 – 1727), m. Thomas Fleet (1685 – 1758) in 1715.

According to family history, the Samuel Burt teapot, David Jesse porringer, a London-made creampot, a cup by Nathan Hobbs, and a small cann by Harris Stanwood and company, all of which were made a gift to the Museum, were acquired at different dates and passed along the matrilineal line in the following manner: The teapot passed to Mary Fleet (1770-1815), the daughter of Elizabeth and John Fleet, who in 1796 married Ephraim Eliot, M.D. (1761-1827), the son of Rev. Andrew Eliot D.D. and Elizabeth Langdon; to their daughter, Mary Fleet Eliot (1808-1897) and her husband, Ezekiel Lincoln of Hingham, Massachusestts; to their daughter Helen Frances Lincoln, wife of Rev. Charles Williams Duane; to their daughter Louise Duane, wife of Bodine Wallace; by inheritance in 1947 to her daughter, Emily Wallace, who donated the teapot in 1985 with her husband, Franklin H. Williams.

Credit Line

Gift of Mr. and Mrs Franklin H. Williams in memory of Louise Bodine Wallace