Although this elegant cylinder bureau does not faithfully follow the Gillows design for a ladies tambour top writing table in their Coloured Sketch Book, design elements and a strong Weld family connection with the firm strongly support an attribution to Gillows. The handle design was often used by Gillows, such as on a chest of drawers of circa 1790-1800 (see S. Stuart, Gillows of Lancaster and London 1730-1840, 2008, vol. II, p. 335, pl. D9 (b)).
Both Lulworth Castle, Dorset, and Stoneyhurst, Lancashire were owned by the Weld family, and they were Gillows customers, as were the Blundells of Ince Blundell who married into the family. Of particular interest is the relationship between the firm and Thomas Weld (d. 1810), whose bookplate is pasted inside the drawer. Thomas Weld sponsored at least two apprentices to Gillows in Lancaster in the 1780s and 1790s. Thomas Baker, of East Lulworth, Dorset was sent to Lancaster in January 1780, and after three years, Baker went to London, probably to gain more experience in the London shop. Another apprentice, John Davis, went to Lancaster in about January 1788 and was noted for his unruly behavior and extravagant spending. Two bills survive in the Dorset Record Office that demonstrate that Richard Gillows was unable to curb Davis' spending despite his efforts (one is reproduced op.cit., vol. I, p. 70, pl. 41). The relationship is also supported by records of Gillows sending a workman to Stoneyhurst in January 1787 to inspect some felled timber to determine if it was Dutch elm or English elm, which they desired (op.cit., vol. II, p. 148).
A finely carved mahogany pedestal and vase once at Lulworth is illustrated op.cit, vol. I, p. 310, while a set of six George III giltwood armchairs was sold by an heir to Thomas Weld, Christie's, London, 22 January 2009, lot 6.