How old is my Clock?

The Clockmakers’ Company receives many letters and e-mails every year, containing requests for information about the makers of their clocks. Please direct all such enquiries preferably by e-mail to curator@clockmakers.org, and ensure that you give a full explanation and attach a photograph.

Have you checked out the links at the foot of this page – you might get the answer to your query there? or check out our Manuscript and Archive pages.

Genealogists seeking information about their ancestors should try Sources for clock and watchmakers at Guildhall Library; these links might also be helpful … the City of London Family History page, or LMA Parish Registers,  London Generations, or cemetery registers.

Many correspondents forget that the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers is a London-based guild, whose many members in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries came almost exclusively from in or near the City of London. They are disappointed that the Company is unable to produce manuscript material on makers who worked elsewhere.

The Clockmakers’ unique collection of early manuscript records (see John Bromley’s “The Clockmakers’ Library” [Sotheby, Parke, Bernet, London 1977] contains almost no references to provincial English makers, and even fewer references to makers working outside England. There are however an increasing number of published lists of English provincial clockmakers, county by county and town by town, which are generally available and can be consulted in many public libraries. A selection is listed in the bibliography given here.

The best general work is G.H. Baillie’s “Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World” first published by Methuen, London in 1929, but subsequently republished many times by the N.A.G. Press, London. Baillie’s volume has been substantially  augmented (but not superseded) by B.A. Loomes’s “Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World Volume II” (N.A.G. Press 1976). Mr. Baillie was a freeman of the Clockmakers Company himself, becoming Senior Warden in 1944.

Although in theory all London clock and watch makers were obliged to become freemen of the Clockmakers’ Company, many avoided doing so, because they did not wish to pay the dues. Those that did were recorded on becoming freemen or free brothers. Apprenticeships were also recorded, (sometimes giving the name and address of the apprentice’s father) as were the dates when apprentices became free. If a maker was promoted to the “livery” of the Company, that too was recorded.

Unless a freeman went on to become a member of the Company’s Court, or a Warden of the Company, or Master, it is rare for any further mention of him or her to be made.

The basic records of the Company containing all these names and dates have formed the basis of a number of published reference works, which are again available in many public libraries. The best general work is undoubtedly F.J. Britten’s “Old Clocks, Watches and their Makers”,first published under a slightly different title in 1894. It has been republished many times since. The most comprehensive edition is “Britten’s Old Clocks, Watches and their Makers” (9th edition, Methuen, London 1986) edited by C. Clutton, G.H. Baillie and C.A. Ilbert. F.J. Britten was also a freeman of the Clockmakers’ Company.

A more detailed look at the 17th century records of the Clockmakers’ Company can be found in B. Loomes’s “The Early Clockmakers of Great Britain” (N.A.G. Press, London 1981)

A list of the Company’s apprentices from 1631 to 1931 was published privately for the Company by C.E. Atkins, a Past Master of the Company in 1931.  Similarly, Dr. George Daniels (also Past Master ) published the “Freemen of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers 1631-1984” (Isle of Man 1984). Copies are available for consultation in Guildhall Library, if not elsewhere.

Details of chronometer makers who were freemen of the Company (together with those of many others) can be found in Tony Mercer’s “Chronometer Makers of the World” (N.A.G. Press, Colchester, 1991). Mr. Mercer is a Past Master of the Clockmakers’ Company.

Click here for:- Sources for clock and watchmakers at Guildhall Library

Still wondering how old is my clock? You might find this link helpful

Try searching this database of clock maker names.

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The Clockmakers of London

New 88 page edition of “The Clockmakers of London” now published by Sir George White, with substantially revised text and a large number of stunning new illustrations. Read more about it  …. & you can buy it for £15 on this link.

Training to be a Clockmaker?

If you are looking for information about the training opportunities for a career in clock and watchmaking, see A HELPING HAND FOR STUDENTS Further details can be obtained from clerk@clockmakers.org

Antiquarian Horological Society (AHS) Lectures

A formal affiliation was signed in 2014 between the WCC and the AHS. WCC Liverymen and Freemen are encouraged to attend the excellent AHS Lectures, which are free to WCC members and include teas before and wine afterwards, so are very social and interesting events. List of forthcoming lectures in London is on the AHS site.

National Benevolent Society of Watch & Clock Makers