John Shafto succeeded his father Robert Shafto, MP (1732-1797) (Bobby Shafto of the song) at the family's seat at Whitworth, Co. Durham. His brother Robert Eden Duncombe Shafto, MP for Durham in 1804-1806 succeeded him at Whitworth and the inscription on the seat-rail of one of these bergeres may well relate to either man. It could equally refer to the Shafto family of Bavington Hall, Northumberland, whose seat was begun, although not completed, by that family in the late 17th century.
The caned bergere of this form, named the 'Ashburnham' chair, features in Gillows' 1803 Estimate Sketch Book, no. 1721 (City of Westminster Library). Sketches of similar chairs appear in the firm's early 19th century room plans preserved at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Its baluster arm evolved from a chair pattern illustrated in Thomas Sheraton's Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer's Drawing Book, 1793, p. VI, and its reeded back reflect Gillows' early 19th century Grecian style. The invention of such 'Library Reading Chairs' with book-rest fitments was credited to Morgan and Sanders of the Strand when illustrated in the September 1810 edition of R. Ackermann's Repository of Arts. One such chair, reputed to have belonged to Admiral Sir Thomas Hardy, was sold in these Rooms, 27 February 1992, lot 58. A pair of closely-related mahogany bergeres was part of a group of furnishings supplied to Morton John Eden (subsequently Davidson) for Beamish Park, Co. Durham who inherited the house and estate in 1812 and passed into the Shafto family of Bavington Hall, Northumberland. A group of thirty-nine lots was sold by Mrs R. D. Shafto, in these Rooms, 21 September 1995, including a pair of related bergeres, lot 140 (£23,000).
See also lot 729, another pair of caned bergeres.