Matthew Lamb was a successful lawyer and money lender, who served some of the most prominent members of the aristocracy in the 18th century. Lamb amassed a fortune through his professional associations, inheritance and advantageous marriage to the heiress, Charlotte Coke. His real estate holdings included Melbourne Hall in Derbyshire, acquired through his wife, Brocket Hall in Hertfordshire as well as a house in London. To demonstrate his wealth and position of influence, Lamb commissioned silver from some of the leading silversmiths including Paul de Lamerie, the Royal Goldsmith, George Wickes and Edward Feline. His Lamerie purchases included a set of four waiters, four sauceboats and four salt-cellars. His Wickes purchases included a soup-tureen and six dishes.
On his death in 1768, Lamb's estate, valued at nearly £1 million passed to his son Peniston Lamb, later created 1st Viscount Melbourne. Of his silver Sir Matthew made special note in his will that it should be 'kept and preserved'. His son not only preserved the collections but added to them with orders of further plate from Parker and Wakelin to make additions to the dinner service. This included a matching soup-tureen to one by George Wickes which his father had commissioned and almost certainly the branches which accompany the present lot. The tureen, like the branches here, is dated 1768, the year that Peniston inherited his father's fortune and the year before his marriage to Elizabeth Milbanke (1751-1818), daughter of Sir Ralph Milbanke, 5th Baronet.