Some collectors call chests of drawers such as this one “side-locking chests,” but others call them “Wellington chests,” after Arthur Wellesley, first duke of Wellington.
Wellesley was born in Ireland in 1769. He was part of a prominent family and was commissioned as an ensign in the British army in 1787. He had attained the rank of colonel by 1796, and in 1799, after distinguishing himself in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War, he was made governor of Seringapatam and Mysore in India.
It is said by some that Wellesley carried a specific chest with him when in the field. It was a campaign style with swivel handles, brass angle pieces to protect the corners, short removable feet and a frame on the right-hand side that overlapped the drawer fronts. This strip of wood was fitted with a lock for security purposes.
These “Wellington” chests generally had six to 12 drawers, and they are also — and perhaps more correctly — called “side-locking chests.” Most of the side-locking chests found in this country are English in origin
The side-locking mechanism was very important for securing one’s belongings in an establishment. These are interesting pieces, and collectors seem to love them.