London Metropolitan Archives - Item Details


Date of Creation:

1503 - 1992

Reference Code:


Scope and Content:
  • Records of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, 1503 - 1992, including copies of charters and bye-laws; Court and committee minute books; financial accounts; lists of liverymen; registers of freemen; registers of freedom admissions; registers of apprentice bindings; papers relating to duties and taxes on clocks and watches; papers relating to patents, hallmarks and foreign imports; letter books; Clerk's papers and papers relating to charities. Please note there is no public access to Ms 2710/17-20, Ms 20384 or Ms 22353 without permission from the Company.

    Please note that records of individual clockmakers and clockmaking families, which were previously catalogued among the Clockmakers' Company trade records have been recatalogued to form separate collections. These include:

    LMA/4804: Arnold, John
    LMA/4807: Harison. John and William
    LMA/4813: Vuillamy family

    All requests for reproductions for the purposes of publication should also be referred to the Company. More information is available from staff.
Extent: 216 production units
Classification: LIVERY COMPANIES
Site Location: Guildhall
Level of Description:

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Administrative History:
  • The Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, the sixty-first London livery company in order of precedence, was founded on 22 August 1631 on receiving the Royal Charter from King Charles I. Before then, English clockmakers were mostly involved in the production of large clocks for towers and churches, and so they were members of the Blacksmiths' Company, as well as of companies that were not related to the clockmaking craft. Smaller clocks and watches were either imported or produced by immigrant craftsmen, who were encouraged to settle in England by King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I. Their numbers in London were dramatically cut by the bubonic plagues of 1593 and 1603. It was only during the reign of King James I that the local production of clocks and watches began to prosper, and it became necessary to establish a company dedicated entirely to the craft. The first Master of the new Clockmakers' Company was David Ramsay, former Chief Clockmaker to King James I and the creator of the iconic star-shaped 'Nativity' watch which is one of the highlights of the Company's museum collection.

    London's clock and watchmaking started gaining international reputation for excellence from 1660 onwards, when the restoration of the monarchy and technological advances - such as the balance spring and jewel bearing - allowed it to flourish even further, ushering in the trade's Golden Age. Its most celebrated achievement was the development of the marine chronometer by John Harrison in 1735, which solved the problem of calculating the longitude at sea and won him and his son William the coveted Board of Longitude prize. Although Harrison, a Yorkshireman, was never a member of the Clockmaker's Company, he was assisted by the Company members - such as George Graham - both financially and professionally.

    The Clockmakers' Company never owned a hall, originally meeting in taverns or on other companies' premises. Its documents and treasures were kept in the great chest, which resided in the Master's home and was moved every year. The chest and its contents survived the Great Fire of 1666, so the Company's records, including its ordinances, go all the way back to its foundation. Like then, the Company is governed by the Master, three Wardens and a Court of Assistants. Its motto is 'Tempus Rerum Imperator'

    The Company is still actively involved in supporting, promoting and preserving horological crafts and industries, which in 2019 were added to the Heritage Crafts Association's Red List of Endangered Crafts. It does so through grants, prizes, mentoring, networking, library, and the Clockmakers' Museum - the oldest dedicated collection of clocks and watches in the world - which has been housed at the Science Museum in London since 2015.

    The administrative office of the Clockmakers' Company is located at 1 Throgmorton Avenue in the City of London.
Creator: Worshipful Company of Clockmakers
Copyright: Depositor
Source of Acquisition:
  • These items, and other records of the Company, have been deposited with the Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library at various dates since 1922. The Manuscripts Section merged with London Metropolitan Archives in 2008. The records have been catalogued by various members of staff over many years.
  • 1950/004
  • 1950/006
  • 1951/005
  • 1968/004
  • 1974/003
  • 1983/031
  • 1986/034
  • 1987/037
  • 1988/016
  • 1992/013
  • 1993/059
  • 1977/017
  • 1977/044
Access Restrictions: These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information may be subject to access restrictions Not available for online ordering. Please see staff
Arrangement: As the archive is large and complex, and to assist the user, the catalogue has been arranged in sections, each with an archival classification code as follows:
CLC/L/CD/A Constitutional records
CLC/L/CD/B Court records
CLC/L/CD/C Membership records
CLC/L/CD/D Financial records
CLC/L/CD/E Trade records
CLC/L/CD/F Clerk's records
CLC/L/CD/G Charities and estates
Related Material: Clockmakers' Company rough court minutes (1712-15) and Clockmakers' Company list of apprentice bindings (1716-19) have been bound with the records of the Worshipful Company of Cutlers - see CLC/L/CL/B/002A/MS00660/001.

The printed works of the former Clockmakers' Library are held at the Printed Books Section of Guildhall Library. The Company has never had a hall, so its collection of clocks and watches, formerly held in a museum in Guildhall Library, now forms The Clockmakers' Museum located within the Science Museum in South Kensington.

The Clockmakers' Company has deposited the following collections of clockmaking-related organisations, businesses and individuals:

CLC/002 Antiquarian Horological Society (Ms 20575 only, rest deposited by the Society)
CLC/039 British Horological Institute
CLC/125 National Benevolent Society of Watch and Clockmakers

CLC/B/024: Birch and Gaydon Limited
CLC/B/043: Charles Frodsham and Company
CLC/B/057: Connell Family
CLC/B/064: Daniel Desbois and Sons
CLC/B/073: E. Dent and Company Limited (except MS23814-22 relating to Dent Family which were part of a British Records Association deposit)
CLC/B/118: Hobson, Charles (clock restorer)
CLC/B/138: Joseph Preston and Sons (clockmakers)
CLC/B/141: Kullberg, Victor (watch and chronometer maker)
LMA/4823: Lupton, C
CLC/B/176: Parkinson and Frodsham
LMA/4810: Rowley and Parkes (clockmakers)
LMA/4824: Sills, Edwin Robert
LMA/4811: Turner, William
LMA/4812: Usher and Cole (chronometer and watchmakers)
LMA/4813: Vulliamy family (clockmakers)
CLC/B/223: William James Barnsdale and Son

LMA/4804: Arnold, John and John Roger (chronometer makers)
LMA/4821: Atkins, Samuel Eliot (clockmaker)
LMA/4829: Barnsdale Family
LMA/4636: Daniels, George {watchmaker, member and a master of the Company)
LMA/4807: Harrison, John and William (clockmakers}
LMA/4806: Haswell, Archibald (watchmaker)
LMA/4822: Jump Family (clockmakers)
LMA/4808: Maskelyne, Nevil (astronomer)
LMA/4809: Mercer, Vaudrey (clockmaking historian)
LMA/4825: Thwaites, John
LMA/4826: Upjohn, James

B22/012: Jarvis, Roland (clockmaker)
B10/161: Bertele, Dr H. Von (clockmaking historian) Please see Business Guide for further details of records relating to clockmakers
Publication Notes:

For further details of the printed and manuscript library of the Company, see John Bromley ed., "The Catalogue of the Books and Manuscripts in the Library of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers" (1977). For a history of the Company see "Some account of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers of the City of London" (1881) by S.E. Atkins and H.C. Overall. The story of John Harrison's endeavours, details of the timekeepers and watches and further available sources are given in Humphrey Quill's "John Harrison, the man who found longitude" (1966) and Dava Sobel, "Longitude, the true story of a lone genius who solved the greatest scientific problem of his time" (1995). A number of other printed works are available on Harrison and longitude as part of the Clockmakers' Company Library, now deposited with the Printed Books Section of Guildhall Library.

For further information relating to Livery Companies, particularly using the company records for family history, please see Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section “Livery Company Membership Guide” and Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section “Leaflet Guides to Records: Searching for Members or those apprenticed to Members of City of London Livery Companies” (both available online).

For a general introduction to the history of the City of London Livery Companies please see entry in “The London Encyclopaedia”, ed Ben Weinreb and Christopher Hibbert.

'The Clockmakers of London: An account of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, its Library and its Collection' by George White second edition 2018 (published by Worshipful Company of Clockmakers) [received for addition to Library April 2018]