While it is not entirely clear who the initials on the present lot are for the most likely suggestion is that the pieces are engraved for John Kent, the celebrated horse trainer who was known to be close to the Bentinck family, particularly Lord George Bentinck (1802-1848). Lord George was a racehorse owner and made a number of successful bets based on the advice of Kent. One such bet was placed on Red Deer, perhaps the most famous horse to have been trained by Kent, which resulted in such a spectacular win that Lord George wrote to Kent saying 'I received every farthing due to me, much to my surprise, as on no previous occasion have I escaped loss from defaulters when I betted on the same scale.'
This suggestion is confirmed by an entry in the 1893 Inventory prepared by James Garrard of the Gold and Silver Plate of His Grace the Duke of Portland which notes of the teapot, salver and mustard pot that they were 'Used by the late Lord George Bentinck at Goodwood, and given by John Kent to the present [6th] Duke'. While it would be entirely possible that the pieces could have been presented to the 6th Duke they could not have belonged to Lord George as his death in 1848 predated each of the pieces.
The other possible suggestion is that the initials could be those of John Kelk, the son of a Soho ironsmith who went on to become one of London's foremost building and public works contractors of the day. Among his works were the Great International Exhibition (1862), later the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Albert Memorial (1864) and Victoria Station (1858-60). He was also to serve M.P. for Harwich and was made 1st Baronet of Tedworth in 1874.
Having already refurbished two country houses he purchased, in 1875, 3 Grosvenor Square, London, almost completely rebuilding it and furnishing it in lavish style. After his death in 1886, 3 Grosvenor Square passed to his son, Sir John, 2nd Bt., who sold it in 1890 to William Cavendish-Bentinck, 6th Duke of Portland. It would seem that the 6th Duke purchased the property furnished, perhaps including the present silver and plate as well as a table (Christie's, London, 7 July 2011, lot 33). The Duke retained the property until 1936 when it was demolished.