William Eley I was the son of George Eley and was apprenticed to William Fearn in 1770. His first mark was registered in 1778, in partnership with George Pierrepont (46 Little Bartholomew Close). Soon after, William Eley I registered various marks alone; in 1778 (4 New Street, Cloth Fair and 2 George Street, Martins-le-Grand), 1785, 1790 and 1795 (14 Clerkenwell Green). Marks, in partnership with William Fearn, were registered in 1797 (14 Clerkenwell Green) and 1802 (1 Lovell’s Court, Paternoster Row).
In 1808, William Chawner entered into the partnership and a new mark was entered with the initials of William Eley I, William Fearn and William Chawner.
In 1814, William Chawner left the partnership and new marks of William Eley I and William Fearn were entered in 1814 and 1824.
William Eley I had three sons: William II, Charles and Henry. All were apprenticed to their father and became silversmiths. William Eley II was apprenticed in 1808, and obtained his freedom in 1815. Charles was apprenticed in 1811, and obtained his freedom in 1818. Henry was apprenticed in 1814, and obtained his freedom in 1822.
William Eley I died in 1824, and his sons William Henri I, Charles Eley and Henry Eley entered a conjoined mark in the same year. The partnership had a short duration, and William II and Charles Eley entered their own mark on 19 January 1825. William II entered further marks in 1815 and 1826. He died in 1841.
There is some confusion in the genealogy and marks of Eley family. There are discrepancies between different authors. On this page we followed the chronology of John P. Fallon in his Marks of London Goldsmiths and Silversmiths, Georgian Period, (c. 1697 – 1837).