The Cary family firm of globe-makers was founded in the late eighteenth century by John Cary (1755-1835). The son of a Wiltshire maltster, Cary was in the engraving and map-selling business from about 1782 at Johnson's Court, Fleet Street, London and then at the Corner of Arundel Street, Strand. He had previously been apprenticed to William Palmer and become a freeman in 1778. The first globes by Cary were advertised in the Traveller's Companion in January 1791. The advertisement mentions that the 3, 9, 12 and 21 in. diameter terrestrial and celestial globes were made 'from entire new Plates', presumably a proud boast for a maker launching his globes on the market for the first time, in a climate where the copper plates for gores were commonly bought or inherited and altered or otherwise amended. The address of the company at this time was 181 Strand, and the company was commonly known as J. & W. Cary, to recognize the contribution of John's brother William (c. 1759-1825). Both brothers produced a number of instruments and maps aside from their globes and in all projects other than their globes, the brothers operated as separate business entities. William himself was primarily an optician and nautical instrument maker, having been apprenticed to Jesse Ramsden and had his own premises further down the Strand at numbers 272 (until 1790) and at 182.
The Cary family swiftly became one of the leading London globe-makers along with the family firms of Newton and Bardin; 1816 saw the introduction of an 18 in. pair to their range, and in 1820, William moved into the premises at 181 Strand and John moved to 86 St James's Street. John's two sons George (c. 1788-1859) and John (1791-1852) also moved into 181 Strand in 1822 where they conducted their own business making and selling globes. When John snr. died in 1835 the company was run by Henry Gould, although it retained the trading name of William Cary until 1890, the Post Office directory recording Cary & Co. at 7 Pall Mall in 1892, and then Cary, Porter & Co. at the same address from 1894-1904.