The crest is that of Percy, for Sir Hugh Smithson, KG, (1714-1786) who married in 1740 Elizabeth Seymour (d.1776), only surviving child of 7th Duke of Somerset. In 1750, by Act of Parliament, he assumed the name and arms of Percy and was created the 1st Duke of Northumberland in 1766. He became, commencing in about 1755, the greatest patron of King George III's architect Robert Adam. During his career he worked extensively at Alnwick Castle, Syon House and Northumberland House in the Strand and it seems highly likely, therefore, that he designed the present candlesticks, although no design for them would appear to exist. In Michael Clayton's, The Collectors' Dictionary of Silver and Gold, 1985, p.65 fig.VII, there is however an exact line drawing which the author states, "illustrates the Adam style". Regardless of proof, their 'antique' or Etruscan design reflects the mature neo-classical style of Adam.
The candlesticks bear the date letter for 1777, and the maker's mark of Robert Makepeace and Richard Carter who were in partnership for less than a year from January 1977 to December 1778. Richard was probably a younger brother or cousin of John Carter II (Arthur Grimwade, London Goldsmiths 1697-1837, London, 1976, pp.459-460) who, in 1774, provided a set of four candelabrum to Adam's design for Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn. John Carter also executed The Temple Newsam candlesticks in 1767 from a design by Adam.
An identical pair of 1777, also by Makepeace and Carter, were sold Christie's, 14th December, 1920, lot 91. These are now in the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts. The present set of four candlesticks are recorded in an inventory of 1830 for 8 Portman Square, the London house of the 1st Earl of Bevereley, second son of 1st Duke of Northumberland. The present owner is a direct descendent of Hugh, Bishop of Carlisle, second son of the 1st Earl of Bevereley. The elder brother, the 2nd Earl of Beverley also became the 5th Duke of Northumberland in 1865 on the death of his cousin the 4th Duke.