The Webster family clockmaking business in London

 

The Webster family clockmaking business was founded by William Webster (i) in 1711 and passed from father to son for almost 200 years.

William Webster (i) was apprenticed to John Barnet in March 1701 and transferred to Thomas Tompion where he completed his apprenticeship and worked as a journeyman.

Webster became a freeman of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers in 1710 and started his own business at Exchange Alley, London in 1711. 4 days after Tompionís death on 20 November 1713 Webster placed a newspaper advertisement stating that he had worked for Tompion and was now working on his own at the Dial and Three Crowns in Exchange Alley.

William Webster (i) was elected to the position of Junior Warden in the Clockmakers Company in 1734 but died during his year in office on 13 August 1735.

The business passed to from William (i) to his son William Webster (ii). William Webster (ii) was apprenticed to his father on 15 January 1727 and became a freeman of the Clockmakers Company in 1734. He married a relation, Sarah Webster in 1739 and was Master of the Clockmakers Company in 1755.

William Webster (ii) died in 1770. William Webster (ii) had two sons William (iii) and Richard (i). William (iii) died soon after his father and the business passed to his brother Richard (i).

There is no record of Richardís apprenticeship but he became free of the Clockmakers Company in 1779. Richard was not a good businessman and ran up gambling debts which were paid by selling his London home and the stock.

Richard (i) died in 1807 but before then, in 1802, the business passed to his son Richard (ii) who was only seventeen at the time. Richard (ii) was apprenticed to Joseph Jolly in April 1800 and became a freeman of the Clockmakers Company in 1807. Although he inherited the business when only an apprentice he was able to build up the business again and in about 1813 moved the business from Exchange Alley to Cornhill.

The business eventually passed to his son, Richard (iii) in 1849 when Richard (ii) died. Richard (iii) was apprenticed to his father in 1834 and became a freeman of the Clockmakers Company in 1844.

Richard moved the business from Cornhill to Queen Victoria Street in 1872 and traded there for 10 years, prior to his death in 1882. The business then passed to Richard (iii)ís son Richard Godfrey Webster, who remained at Queen Victoria Street until he moved to Gracechurch Street in 1902.

Richard Godfrey Webster was not very successful and the business passed out of his control to Richard Webster Ltd around 1904. By 1914 the firm had ceased trading.

The first 5 generations (William i & ii, Richard i, ii & iii) of the Webster family were all accomplished horologists, best known for their clocks and watches. The three Richards are also known for a small number of marine chronometers.

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