John Gillies, who made this table, was born in 1836 in Stirling, Scotland and became an apprentice cabinetmaker in Scotland before emigrating to Australia in 1858. Finding the Australian climate did not agree with his health, Gillies headed for New Zealand on the steamer Lord Ashley and landed at Port Chalmers early in 1862. In 1863 he married Isabella McLean and in 1865 he established his furniture manufacturing and retailing business, which was initially known as Craig and Gillies. The firm began with a shop in the Octagon, later relocated to Princes Street and in the early 1870s had a new imposing four-storied building (with a hydraulic lift to access each floor) constructed in George Street. The George Street store was supplied by a three-storied workshop in Great King Street where cabinet making was conducted on the ground floor, upholstering on the second floor and mattress making on the top floor. From the mid-1880s the factory produced mostly furniture made from red and white pine. John Gillies retired in 1926, aged 90, and died in 1935, in his 99th year.
John Gillies