Extant John Willis, Willis & Goodlad, Goodlad and other wind instruments associated with the 3 Angel Court and 25 Villiers Street workshops

Instruments with low (3 digit) serial numbers are here assigned a leading '0' to aid sorting, though of course this wasn't the practice on the instruments themselves. Instruments without serial numbers are not generally included here as the purpose of this table is to test the theory that there is a continuous sequence of numbered instruments from the latter workshop, and that this included flutes made for and branded by other resellers. The few exceptions to this are here given the arbitrary serial number 0000, and are included because they are interesting or exceptional in some way. The designation XXXX indicates that the instrument probably has a serial number, but I don't yet know it. I have not yet found an instrument stamped with address of John Willis's first workshop (3 Angel Court, Strand, London) which has a serial number, although the lowest numbered instruments in the list (up to c.#200) might have been made there. It's likely that all the flutes made by Willis for George Rudall, stamped 'GEO. RUDALL/WILLIS FECIT/LONDON' were made at Angel Court. 5 Clement's Inn was Rudall's home and business address, but as he was not an instrument maker it's unlikely he had workshop facilities there. I have not yet included these flutes in my survey, though I'd be grateful for details of any such instruments. 

We know that John Willis had moved his workshop across the Strand from Angel Court before 27 February 1822 because on that day the owners (or more probably lessees) of the property—John Woodcock of Watford, Herts and John Davison of East India House—record a ‘Willis flute maker’ at 25 Villiers Street. Willis himself only survived until 7 March 1823: long enough to work for only a few months at what was now also the family home. After that the Willis & Goodlad partnership was run by his wife Mary Ann and John Dunkin Goodlad. This partnership was dissolved on 26 June 1826 (London Gazette , 16 June 1826, p.1652) leaving Goodlad to run the Villiers Street workshop until 1838. It is unclear whether Goodlad himself made flutes, and the Willis & Goodlad and subsequent Goodlad businesses may have been sustained for at least some time by completing John Willis’s remaining stock. Goodlad, who was primarily an entrepreneur and businessman, may well have been involved in keymaking, and in 1828 entered his silver hallmark as a ‘small worker’ at Goldsmiths Hall, which is why Goodlad-era instruments sometimes have hallmarked keys. The workshop appears to have made flutes for Fentum, Monro & May, Pearson, Simpson, Bates (Dressler’s Improved) and others, so it was not unsuccessful, despite obvious competition from elsewhere.

 

The bulk of the instrument making was probably carried out by Willis's ex-apprentice Henry Wylde, and associate (and possibly also ex-apprentice) Thomas Ingram. Both Ingram and Wylde also made flutes for and at the Rudall & Rose manufactory, indeed they were both, at different times, probably the senior foremen there. Villiers Street continued as a significant workshop and centre of flute-related activity after Goodlad left in 1838, and Henry Wylde took over as ratepayer for the property. Wylde and Ingram continued their activities there (the latter sometimes working as Ingram & Morland, although they were never ratepayers at the property) and the workshop's continuing viability is indicated by the fact that in the 1851 census Henry Wylde, described as ‘Flute Manufacturer empl[oying] 1 man’, was still living at Villiers Street with his family, which included the 20-year-old Henry junior, by now also a ‘flute maker’.

The role of John Willis's brother, Isaac, in the various businesses is not entirely clear, but he was essentially a reseller. His company 'Willis & Co' - seemingly run simultaneously from addresses in London and Dublin, the latter at the premises in which he'd previously effectively been George Goulding's agent in Ireland - marketed and published music, but the flutes with this stamp were undoubtedly made by John Willis. 

If you have details of a flute, or other wind instrument, appropriate to this list, or corrections to the data below, which will be updated regularly, please contact me directly (see 'About/Contact' above). As the site is developed, links will be available (via the serial numbers in the list below) to pages giving photos and additional details of the individual instruments, where possible.