John Telfer was born in Jedburgh Scotland. He arrived in Otago in the early years of the gold rushes, having previously spent some time in Melbourne. Here he established a furniture warehouse in George Street operating under the name A & J Telfer. At the Dunedin Exhibition of 1865 Telfer and Laurie were awarded an honorary certificate for this Davenport desk. The jurors declared it, and a loo table made of red pine also exhibited by this firm, hardly second, in point of workmanship, to anything of the class in the Exhibition. John Telfer continued to work as a cabinetmaker in Dunedin in the 1860s and 1870s. He died here in 1887.