This information has been updated with many thanks to Miles Harrison, who has recently published a new book "Exeter and West Country silver 1700-1900". This is an extremely comprehensive book and can be bought directly from Miles - simply click HERE
William Welch I (of Plymounth Dock) first sent work for assay in 1760 and
was last mentioned on 28th February 1800. William Welch II (of Exeter)
was first mentioned on 20th March 1801, and his last entry was on 28th
January 1828. There is a good deal of discussion over the William Welch
maker's mark, particularly concerning whether or not there was a pellet
between the two W's.
March 1801 William Welch of Exeter sent in 8 pairs of tongs for assay.
The important note is that the Assay office register specifically states
that it was William Welch - Exeter. This is clearly a different
William Welch to the one at Plymouth Dock.
From this, I conclude that most (if not all) sugar tongs seen with the "WW" maker's mark will have been made by William Welch of Exeter, not William Welch of Plymouth Dock. The curiosity is the 89 pairs of tongs sent for assay on 6th June 1782 by William Welch of Plymouth Dock - were these a special commission - perhaps for the captains of the King's ships? There were also 2 pairs of tongs sent for assay on 17th November 1781. If a pair of tongs turns up without the duty mark, then they are likely to be one of the 91!!
Click on a picture for more details
Click here to see tongs by William Welch of Exeter