The Clockmakers have a long and honourable history of charitable giving to those in need, to promote education, and to the preservation of heritage. Many clockmakers, including Henry Jones, Charles Gretton, George Graham and William Frodsham, left charitable funds, some of which were intended in part to finance apprenticeships.
A large number of historic gifts and bequests have been received, and this tradition continues through to the present day, with strong support from members of the Company, all celebrated in an annual Benefactors' Day. The Clockmakers’ Charity (reg. no 275380) continues to include funds named after their donors, bequeathed largely to advance education. More information about some of the grants that might be available can be found here.
Potential donors are requested to contact the Clerk to discuss the most effective way to carry out your wishes. Please also remember the Clockmakers' Museum and its Charities in your will.
Click on the tabs to learn more about some of our historic benefactors.
The first charitable bequest recorded in the Company's archives was that of Sampson Shelton, who left £50 in his will of 1648. Shelton is one of the heroes of the Company. Named in the Charter as one of the first Wardens, he advanced the funds personally that were needed to pay off crippling debts the Company had incurred. He was Master in 1634 and 1638. The income from his legacy was 'to bee yearly given to the honestest and neediest of poore of the said Company'. It was first put to use within a year, to support the widows of four members of the Company.
The Company had no item signed by Shelton until 2015 when it was finally able to purchase a fine watch for the Museum, fittingly using funds left as a bequest precisely for this sort of purpose by the late Alfred Kent.
The sculptor Anne Seymour Damer (1749-1828) was one of the first people outside of the Company to donate an object to its newly formed collection of books and 'specimens'. The Company gratefully received her gift of a French watch by M Martinot (c.1700) in 1817, and noted in their minutes their happiness at receiving a gift 'by a person unconnected with the Trade' and cherished the hope that 'the example of the celebrated Lady will not long remain a singular instance of Persons of Distinction and Rank interesting themselves in the Scientific pursuits of the Clockmakers Company.'
Damer received training in sculpture by John Bacon and Giuseppi Ceracchi, and produced sculptures in terracotta, bronze and marble in a neo-classical style. Her work includes portrait busts of Admiral Nelson and the naturalist Joseph Banks, as well as her close friend and author, Mary Berry.
Rev. Henry Nelthropp FSA (1820–1901) began his career as a curate in Bristol. He then served as Chaplain to the British Legation in Switzerland (1851–1858) but after receiving an inheritance, retired to London. He indulged in his fascination for horology and began to collect, building up a remarkable knowledge, although few reference works were available to him. He developed a great respect for a number of contemporary London makers, in particular George Blackie and Samuel Atkins. In 1873 he wrote A Treatise on Watchwork, Past and Present and in 1881 became a freeman of the Clockmakers’ Company. He was rapidly appointed to the Court and was generous in his gifts to the Company’s collection. He took a close interest in the antique clocks and watches offered to the Company and was frequently entrusted with their purchase. In 1891 he persuaded the Court to purchase Harrison’s 'H5' marine timekeeper for 100 guineas, today the Company’s greatest treasure. Nelthropp became Master in 1893 and in 1894 presented his entire personal collection valued at £2,000 to the Company, together with a detailed catalogue. More details of his fine portrait can be seen here.