In 1783 the Waterford Glass House was established after William and George Penrose petitioned parliament for aid to open an extensive glass manufactory in Waterford City. It cost the Penrose’s £10,000 to build and equip the factory. An Englishman from Stourbridge in Worcestershire called John Hill was a key figure in the whole enterprise as he knew the secret of mixing the glass materials. Another key innovation was to polish the glass after cutting which removed the frosted look and became one of Waterford’s key signatures. His stay in Waterford was short-lived, leaving in acrimonious circumstances but he did leave his formula for glass compounding with a clerk called Jonathan Gatchell. The company was put up for sale in 1797 and a new triumvirate called James Ramsey, Aimbrose Barcroft and Jonathan Gatchell took over. Jonathan Gatchell became sole proprietor in 1810 after the partnership was dissolved. He remained in command until 1823 and is seen as having the greatest influence on the Waterford glass house.
Jonathan married late in life as on his death he left a widow, Sarah, and three young children, George Frances and Isabella. On taking over, young George felt the need for some older head in the business and entered into partnership with a man called George Saunders until 1848. George then carried on alone until 1851. A lot of financial difficulties enveloped the glass-making industry and Waterford was hit hard by a duty placed on all glass made in Britain and Ireland in 1825. George did his best to keep the business afloat and resolved to maintaining previous standards set by the company which was recognised through industry awards. George Gatchell left Waterford in September 1851, and spent the rest of his life in England. His departure and the the glass manufactory’s subsequent closure in 1870 marked the end of the first phase of the story of Waterford Crystal.
Archival History ↴
Waterford Glass artefacts such as glass and ceramics were donated in 1987 to the National Museum of Ireland. It is reasonable to assume that the Waterford Glass Works Private Papers were part of this donation as there is no other documented correspondence between both of these parties.
Immediate Source Acquisition ↴
Content & Structure
Scope & Content: Gatchell, Jonathan
Wright, Jonathan ↴
This collection contains cashbooks and documents relating to the Waterford Glass company that was co-owned by the Gatchell family. It centres mainly on the years 1811 – 1841. There are two boxes of material consisting of 21 items/files. Apart from the cashbooks, the material includes financial records such as receipts and dividends of stock; notebooks belonging to Jonathan Wright; Gatchell family notes; letters and correspondence; contracts such as a marriage settlement certificate, a deed of partnership and a lease for the glass house and three dwellings; and finally two family trees of the Gatchell family.
Appraisal Destruction ↴
All items retained permanently
No further accruals expected
The collection has been processed and box listed by Archives Assistants. The documents and other materials have been arranged according to their type.
Conditions of Access & Use
Available only by appointment with the Archivist
Conditions Governing Reproduction
Reproduction is at the discretion of the Archivist
2 boxes, 21 files/items
Material Language Script
An item-level catalogue can be consulted at the National Museum Archives
Archive Web Link →
Some of the records survive in their original form, others are transcripts. The transcripts are handwritten, printed and typed.
Descriptive Control Area
Brian McGrath, revised by Emer Ni Cheallaigh
ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottowa: International Council on Archives, 2000. National Council on Archives: Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names. Chippenham: National Council on Archives, 1997.