Gerrge Fox, 1624-1692

     eeting arrow heads with  'C ' scrolls, for half-hour markers plus the inclusion  of the word 'of ' in his signature, are all features of  John  Sanderson's  earliest work dating from the  early 1690s. He seems to have stopped using this type of half-hour markings around c1695 and dropped using the word ' of ' about the same time.

  n July 1653, George Fox (Founder of the Quakers) visited and stayed at Tiffinthwaite Farm, near Wigton. This was the home of  farmer William Pearson,  where Fox met a small group called Seekers, who had separated from the established Church. Following this meeting with George Fox, William Pearson built a Meeting House on his land and also provided land for a burial ground, but on a second visit that year George Fox was turned away by angry townspeople. He returned however, to his host William Pearson ten years later and the scattered seeds had obviously born friut as he found the meeting 'very large and precious'. William Pearson died in 1674. The Meetings, however, continued and according to the records, Monthly and Quarterly Meetings were held regularly and other meeting houses were built in and around Wigton to accommodate the growing movement population.  

 

  he Wigton School of Clockmaking - (as it has become known), was  founded by John Sanderson. Born at the  Quaker settlement of Low Tiffenthwaite in 1671, he was the son of Robert, a blacksmith who may have worked for William Pearson (host to George Fox back in 1653). John's  father died when he was only 12. Young John then lived with his paternal Uncle John Sanderson and Aunt Mabel in the 'Grand House' at Highmoor and it is thought it was during this time that he started working as an apprentice under the Quaker Clockmaker John Ogden of Bowbridge in Yorkshire (Highmoor later became a Quaker School in 1815). But  I must point out  that, at the moment, there is no concrete evidence that John Sanderson was actually indentured to Ogden, my assumption is based on the information  gleaned from reference books and my own private research which includes, comparing  17th century examples by Sanderson to known examples by Ogden from the same early  period. In 1691, John Sanderson cut that apprenticeship short and returned to Tiffenthwaite where he married Quaker girl Elizabeth Pearson (William Pearsons Daughter or Grandaughter). They lived at Tiffenthwaite, where John Sanderson began to make his first clocks and signed them 'Of Wigton Fecit', probably because nobody more than a dozen miles distant would have heard of Tiffenthwaite. Elizabeth died only two years later, and Sanderson became a Quaker himself for many years after that.  He worked at Wigton and nearby, having married twice more, untill his death which was probably in 1754 or shortly thereafter, athough his burial record has never been found.His 30-hour clocks often have a religous verse engraved in the dial centre, and this is usually: 'Remember man, That die thou must, And after that, To judgement just'. Some of his clocks also warn ' memento mori' ('bear death in mind' ). Other verses are known, but all in the same vein. The school appears to have been made up of three main makers , which were John Sanderson, John Ismay and Richard Sill.

 

   arly clocks by all three makers have very similar features, and  have all come out of the same workshop. Other  interesting Cumberland makers who seem to have a connection with 'The Wigton School '  from a very early period  were Joseph Calvert of Wigton (one clock and one dial-only known - both with religious verses), Henry Sheppard of Wigton (one clock known - with religious verse) and Redge Buckell of Skelton near Wigton (one dial known - with religious verse). Joseph Calvert was not a professional clockmaker, but he did make a very interesting  8-day longcase around 1700 (probably aided by Sanderson who was his neighbour). Research shows that he was born in 1654 and lived and worked as a yeoman farmer - about a quarter of a mile from John Sanderson's home.The clock is an important find, with a facinating provenance, the history of which is shown on this website.  John Ismay, who is somehow related toJohn Sanderson was born in 1699, and WAS  apprenticed to John Ogden in 1711.He Died in 1755.  Richard Sill was working at Wigton by 1704, when he married a local girl. Unfortunately little is known about this maker who died at Wigton in 1729. T he question arises as to whom these early clocks (with religious verses) were being made. My opinion is that because John Sanderson was making the clocks in a stronly established Quaker settlement, and was surrounded by many Quakers in the region, he may well have been making them for Quakers and non conformists alike. The clocks and their verses were an obvious statement, an afformation of their faith and a constant reminder that time was passing and should be used wiseley and well. This is only assumption on my part, and the subject is certainly open for discussion and lively debate!

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 The Wigton School of Clockmaking

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George Fox b.1624- d.1691

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30-hour religious versed  clock by John Sanderson

dating from his first period of clockmaking in Wigton.

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   he primitive brass dial (only) illustrated here is most  interesting. It was made by John Ismay of Oulton (near Wigton) from around c1715-20. It has the religious verse 'Memento Mori' (Bear Death in Mind), typically engraved to the dial centre, along with some cup-and-ringing. However, unusually there are winged angels that are up in the clouds and looking down whilst blowing a trumpet and shooting arrows from a bow.

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Brian Loomes book entitled ' Brass Dial Clocks' has a whole chapter on The Wigton School. This book is a must for collectors interested in this subject. Much of the above information was taken from the book, along with an article written for Clocks Magazine of April 2006, also written by Brian Loomes. I would like to thank Brian for allowing me to use this information on my website for whom I am truly grateful.

     true lantern clock by John Sanderson which  dates from his first period of clockmaking in Wigton. Sadly converted later to Fusee movement

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howing a close up of a second angel to the opposite corner.

 

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howing a close up of the dial centre ' Memento mori ' (Bear Death in Mind)

 

igned John Ismay, Oulton Fecit (Made It)

 

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howing a view of the whole John Ismay dial.

 

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