University Collections of Art and History

Object Record

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Catalog Number 2008.9.200
Object Name Cup, Coffee
Description This cup displays the arms of a descendant of a husband and a wife who was a heraldic heiress, meaning that she had no brothers and so inherited her father's coat of arms. Her descendents are entitled to "quarter" her arms with those of their father.

'Quartering' is the method by which the shield is divided to display more than one coat, indicating descent from an heiress. While quartered arms are typically divided into four, in fact there can be as many "quarters" as needed to display the arms of various heraldic heiresses. With quartered arms the principal, or male, coat must always remain in the top left position on the shield, although can also be repeated as the last quarter.

These are the arms of Nathaniel Cholmley (1721-1791), who was the son of Hugh Cholmley and Catherine Wentworth, the half-sister and heir of Sir Butler-Cavendish Wentworth. Upon his father's death in 1755, Nathaniel inherited his father's and mother's arms, which he quartered. Thus the Cholmley arms (his father's) appear in the viewer's upper left and lower right quarters, and the Wentworth arms (his mother's) are in the upper right and lower left quarters.

Nathaniel Cholmley served in the army, and was wounded at the battle of Dettingham in 1743 during the War of Austrian Succession. In 1750 he married Catherine Winn. They had two daughters. Following Catherine's death, he married Henrietta-Catherine Croft in 1757. They also had two daughters. Following Catherine's death, he married a third time to Ann Jessie Smelt.

Nathaniel and his family lived at their Yorkshire estates of Whitby Abbey, the Cholmley family seat, and at Howsham Hall, which he inherited from his mother's family. Nathaniel served as a member of Parliament and was active in the county government. He generously donated money to build a town hall in Whitby, and developed a large water mill. He was described by a nineteenth-century historian as someone who "well sustained the position of dignity and usefulness which he had inherited from his fore-elders."

Like many pieces of armorial porcelain, the arms are copied from a bookplate.

Portrait of Nathaniel Cholmley
Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1762
Sewerby Hall Museum and Art Gallery
Year Range from 1760
Year Range to 1765
Material Hard Paste Porcelain
Place of Origin Made in Jingdezhen, Decorated in Guangzhou (Canton), China
Collection The Reeves Center
Credit line Gift of H.F. Lenfest and Beverly M. DuBose III
On View Reeves Center, Chinese Armorial Gallery
Gallery ID Number 2205