The arms are those of Cecil impaling Chambers for Brownlow, 8th Earl of Exeter (1701-54) and his wife Hannah Sophia, who he married in 1724. Hannah Sophia was the daughter and co-heir of the prosperous merchant Thomas Chambers, and the marriage resolved the great debts left to the 8th Earl.
The 8th Earl made a number of important purchases from London's most renowned silversmiths. In 1724, he finally completed the purchase of a silver wine cooler by Phillip Rollos, which had been ordered by his grandfather, the 5th Earl, but had not been delivered due to lack of payment. In 1728, the Earl purchased a wine cistern and fountain by Thomas Farren. In 1731, he ordered a pair of silver baskets, including the current lot. The matching basket remains at Burghley House.
John Edwards served as subordinate goldsmith to the King from 1723-1742 and his mark can be found on a number of finely executed pieces, many with cast animal or marine creatures.
Image caption: Brownlow, 8th Earl of Exeter (1701-1754), courtesy the Burghley House Preservation Trust