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Brian & Joy Loomes

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Antique Clocks


Collecting Antique Clocks The Broderick family of clockmakers.

The Broderick family made clocks for about a century in Lincolnshire, in and around Boston, Spalding and Holbeach. They are a rather complicated family genealogically speaking, but the clockmakers were principally four brothers, possibly five, (and their offspring), who were sons of Thomas Broderick (senior) of Spalding. Thomas the father was himself was a maker of clocks, as clocks are known signed by Thomas Broderick of Spalding dating from the 1750s to the 1770s and probably later, though by the end of the century his son, Thomas Broderick Junior had begun to succeed him there. Clocks signed by Thomas Broderick of Kirton (known as Kirton in Holland as there are two Kirtons in Lincolnshire), about ten miles east of Spalding, are probably by this same man. It is not known where Thomas Broderick came from before he arrived in Spalding. The name is not local and is found earlier in London and Ireland but it is believed to be a Dutch name in origin.

Thomas senior seems to have lived at Spalding but it is not unknown for clockmakers to have held a clock 'surgery' once a week at a tavern in a nearby town, where they would accept repairs and also take orders for clocks. A resident of Kirton ordering a clock in Kirton at the surgery, would want it signing at Kirton, even if the clockmaker's base was in Spalding, and it is well known that rural clockmakers would sometimes sign a clock as if made at a place where they did not actually work or reside. It is inconceivable that there were two different clockmakers each named Thomas Broderick working ten miles apart at the same time. So Thomas senior may have worked at Kirton first and Spalding later, or just signed Kirton on some of his Spalding clocks.

I can find no baptisms for any of the several children (I know of at least seven) of Thomas senior at Spalding or Kirton or anywhere at all, and it is very likely he was a dissenter, as we know at least one of his sons, Jesse, was. The eldest child born to Thomas Broderick and his wife, Mary, at Spalding seems to have been William, born about 1745, then Thomas born about 1753 (though another source suggests 1766); then Ruth born about 1755; then a son named Creasey born about 1757; then John born about 1759; then Jesse born about 1760; then Esther born about 1761. Their years of birth are only approximate, guessed at from other records such as burials.

As a dissenter Thomas Broderick would not have had his children baptised in a local church. If he did, then these baptisms have eluded my searches. What we know about his family is therefore derived from what we can learn about his children. All Thomas's sons seem to have followed the clockmaking trade. What we know about the more colourful bits of their lives is derived from newspaper notices in the Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury, many of which were quoted by A. S. H. Wilborne and R. Ellis in their 2001 book "Lincolnshire Clock, Watch and Barometer Makers".

Full view of Broderick clock
The case of this Boston Broderick clock is in oak and dates from about 1790. This case style was used pretty well throughout East Anglia, though in Norfolk the hood pediment became even more ornate. Click for closer view.

Thomas Broderick Senior died at Spalding in 1808 or 1809. He must have been in his mid 80s. His will was signed on the 4th April 1807 and was proved at Lincoln on the 18th January 1809, value under £100. I don't imagine this means he was a poor man but that he had already passed on what he could to his children. He left one third of everything to his widow, Mary. Her maiden name may have been Creasey but the marriage has not been traced. The other two thirds he left to his daughter, Esther, then aged about 48, wife of Thomas Poppleton of Boston, a tailor and sole executor, whom she had married at Boston in 1788. I get the impression Esther was his youngest child and perhaps closest to her father, though by this time (1809) most of Thomas's children were already dead. Thomas Poppleton and his wife, Esther, were still alive at the time of the 1841 census aged 70 and 75 respectively.

The oldest son, William, may have worked initially at Spalding but later moved to Boston, where he was buried on the 11th August 1822 aged 77, probably succeeded by his son, William junior. Boston seems to have been the magnet which repeatedly drew members of the family there by offering a larger market for their goods. Thomas's second son, Thomas Junior, was born about 1753, and was married at Spalding in 1794 to Catherine Biggins. He was based in Spalding, presumably taking over his father's business there. He came to prominence when he took over the premises of his younger brother, Creasey Broderick, at Boston. Creasey had a short life, being buried on the 11th January 1793 at Boston aged only 36. His widow, Ann, decided not to continue the business and on the 28th January 1793, and again on 15th February, she placed a notice in the local paper:

"Mrs. Broderick returns her sincere thanks for the generous support which has been received from her friends, and the Public, and begs leave to acquaint her customers that she has declined the business in favour of Thomas Broderick Jun., clock and watch maker and silversmith, Spalding (brother to her deceased husband) and earnestly solicits the continuance of favours to the above person."

Thomas also placed his own notice twice in February, proud to announce his new branch: "Thomas Broderick Junr. (of Spalding) candidly begs leave to inform the inhabitants of Boston and the adjacent and remote villages that he has entered upon the premises and purchased the stock in trade of his late brother Creasy Broderick of Boston and humbly solicits ... New watches made upon the most approved principles and every advantage taken to render this minute machine, ornamental and an useful timekeeper. Watches repaired expeditiously and every possible mean used to discover and remove intricate defects which so often obstruct the performance of so curious a machine.
A new improvement applied to clocks to make them approach nearer equal time than usually done by means of an expanding and contracting apparatus to correct the irregular vibrations of the pendulum. Various articles are now ready in the silver line - watches in silver covered and in gold cases, and clocks fitted up in mahogany and fancy cases on moderate loans. Clocks put in order at the shortest notice, if in the County, will think it a matter of recreation. Also wanted immediately: a journeyman in the watch line. None need apply but good hands".

However all did not run smoothly as Creasey's widow and her brother-in-law were clearly incompatible, and within nine months they had fallen out. On the 1st November 1793, and again on the 8th, she placed another notice:

"Ann Broderick, of Boston, widow of Creasey Broderick, late of the same place watchmaker deceased takes the opportunity of informing her friends and the Public that through the ill treatment of her late Husband's Brother she is under the necessity of entering into the trade again in order to sell off the Remainder of the stock-in-trade of her deceased husband and hopes that these Friends who so liberally conferred their Favours on him will continue them to the Widow and Fatherless, and they may depend on them being served upon the lowest terms at her shop in West Street, Boston, aforesaid.

The said Ann Broderick begs leave to inform those parents whose children are or may be educated at Boston that she, with Ann Grimble of Boston, aforesaid has opened a Boarding House for taking in such children upon the most reasonable terms; and those who choose to interest them with the care of their children may be satisfied with their being kindly treated and every necessary attention being paid to them by Their humble servants Ann Broderick and Ann Grimble Boston October 28th 1793.

Thomas Broderick could not resist replying. "To the Public. Whereas A. Broderick, in a late advertisement in this paper complains of the ill treatment from her late husband's brother: this is only execrable subterfuge to obscure her lucrative views for fixing in business. As soon as I discovered her vile intentions I intreated her to accept of the Premises again, in case she would return a premium of £50, which she had secured, owing to a promise that she would relinquish any further interest in the Business: but her principles are such, that she was resolved to keep the Premium, and open a new shop in opposition to her late husband's own brother notwithstanding Creasey Broderick left about £2,000 properly for the support of his widow and two children, which children are half brought up; nevertheless this insatiate mortal, who is callous beyond all human feeling, solicited the future favour of Husband's customers. It is therefore now left to the discernment of a generous public, who is the aggressor. Thomas Broderick Junior."

One interesting conclusion we can draw from these statements is that Creasey and Ann had two children of their own, now 'fatherless' as she described them, and the fact that I could find no baptisms for them suggests that they too were dissenters. We are also aware that Thomas Broderick Senior, the father of these warring children, at this time (1793) is still alive and well at Spalding, approaching 70 and no doubt writhing in agony at the family fallout.

It is at this point that yet another brother enters this tangled story, Jesse Broderick. Jesse was born in 1760, was married at Boston on the 28th September 1777, aged only about 17, to Elizabeth King. They had three children born at Boston: Samuel born 1778, died 1779; Sarah born 1780 married 1798 to John Tonge; Ann born 1782 married 1800 to William Pocklington; but a fourth child, John, was baptised in 1784 at St. John's Hackney, London. It looks as if Jesse was trying his luck in the London area, when the sudden fallout between his older brother, Thomas, and his brother Creasey's widow, left an opening for him back in Boston. There seems to have been continued contact with London and it may even be that Thomas Broderick Senior himself came from there. By November 8th Jesse had replaced his departed brother Thomas as the new successor to Creasey's shop and wanted to distance himself totally from the family dispute which had already been broadcast in the press. On the 8th November 1794 Jesse published his own announcement to point out it his innocence as it was not he who was in dispute with his sister-in-law but her other brother-in-law, Thomas, (who had in fact only recently got married at Spalding to Catherine Biggin).

"Whereas by an Advertisement in this Paper 1st instant Ann Broderick assigns her reason for entering into Business again to be owing to the ill Treatment of her late Husband's brother, without informing the Public the name of the said Brother and thereby leaving it a matter of doubt and uncertainty to which of the two brothers the charge belongs; And finding as I do, in some instances that as I have entered upon the shop occupied by my late brother (he means Creasey) , it is supposed I am the person alluded to in the said advertisement: which opinion may probably operate to my prejudice; I therefore think it necessary to inform the public that my brother Thomas Broderick was the immediate successor of my deceased brother and that it was HIM (Thomas) that I succeeded and that I have had neither business nor dispute with the said widow. I trust this declaration will obviate any misunderstandings that may have arisen: I beg leave to recommend myself to my friends and the public in my Profession of clock and watchmaker, assuring them that as no person is better qualified in the business so none shall more gratefully acknowledge the favours conferred than ... their most obedient Servant, Jesse Broderick 5th November 1793."

But more misfortune yet was to strike this fated family. Jesse Broderick died within two years, being buried on the 8th June 1796 at Boston. In 1801 Broderick and Tonge were advertising in the trade, presumably being Elizabeth, Jesse's widow, in association with John Tonge, a brazier, who had married her daughter Sarah in 1798. Elizabeth, Jesse's widow, lived on till 1834. John Tongue lived on with his wife, Sarah, and three daughters into the 1840s. He was still alive at the time of the 1861 census, by now a widower aged 84 and an inspector of weights and measures, his three daughters being by then 'professors of music', which perhaps means teachers of music.

Hood of Broderick clock
The hood retains the original cresting, a kind of simpler form of one which was known as a 'whale's tail' cresting in Norfolk. The original finials survive too. Click for closer view.

John Broderick, the son of Jesse and Elizabeth, had been apprenticed in 1799 to Charles Kelvey of Spalding for seven years at a high premium of £40. It is significant that he was not apprenticed to his uncle, Thomas Broderick Junior of Spalding (and probably now too of Holbeach) or his uncle William of Boston, and his grandfather, Thomas Broderick Senior of Spalding was in his 70s and probably retired. The implication is that the family at large were not on the best of terms with each other, or at any rate with Thomas 'Junior'. I am not certain what became of Thomas Broderick Junior, but a watchmaker of that name still working in 1841 at Sutton was probably him.

John served out his time and in 1806 was married at Boston to Mary Bagshaw, a girl born in Stepney in the London area where John himself had been born. We know that by 1812 (and probably much earlier) John had himself set up in business in Boston, no doubt taking over from his mother and his brother-in-law, John Tongue, of Broderick and Tongue. But John did not prosper at Boston for in 1812 he was declared bankrupt. This focus on Boston is quite confusing as, from the time the first Broderick moved there, there seems to have been never less than two different Broderick concerns in competition there and at times maybe more.

John Broderick seems to have been a bit of a wanderer. He and his wife Mary (Bagshaw) had several children baptised at Boston between 1807 and1814. Then by 1818 he had moved to the London area again, attending the Providence Chapel in Marylebone, where several more children were baptised between 1818 and 1824. Of their nine children one named Creasey became a tailor, married and emigrated to New Zealand where he died in 1884; a son Jesse emigrated to Canada where he was still alive in 1881; a son Thomas emigrated to Salk Lake City where he died in 1864. With such a history of hostility in the family, I wonder whether the emigrants kept in touch with the family back home.

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