London Fecit, c1630
William Bowyer was probably the finest maker of lantern clocks in London up to the English Civil War and is one of the few makers who continued working through the war. The fine example shown here was made by Bowyer with balance wheel control. It then went through the customary 17th century conversion to long pendulum anchor escapement with the alarm being removed before being re-converted back to balance in more recent times. Interestingly, instead of Bowyer signing his name at the bottom of the dial in his usual manner, he has signed it on the bottom of the front fret 'William Bowyer, London fecit'. The dial centre is engraved with an interesting gothic, gadroon, pattern.
Above. John Endecott, (born c. 1588, probably Devon, England.died March 15, 1665, Boston), colonial governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and cofounder of Salem, Mass., under whose leadership the new colony made rapid progress. Image Alamy.com.
Below. COLONIAL SUNDIAL, 1630. Sundial made by William Bowyer of London, England, in 1630 for John Endecott of Salem, Massachusetts, governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony. Alamy.com
Little is known of Endecott before 1628, when, as one of the six grantees of the New England Company for a Plantation in Massachusetts, he was chosen manager and governor of their settlement. In that year Endecott, with about 60 fellow settlers, went to Naumkeag, a location already occupied by a group of seceders from Plymouth who were led by Roger Conant. According to tradition, the establishment of good relations between the two groups prompted the change of the name of the settlement to Salem (from the Hebrew word shalom, “peace”). When the jurisdiction of the New England Company was supplanted by that of the Massachusetts Bay Company (1629), Endecott briefly served as the local governor (April 1629–June 1630) of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was succeeded in 1630 by John Winthrop, with whom he worked in harmony despite strong religious differences. Endecott almost continuously occupied prominent official positions in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Above. Fine early lantern clock by William Bowyer of London. Date c1630. Private collection, Photographed by Lee Borrett.
Above. Showing a close-up of the dial centre which is engraved with an interesting gothic, gadroon, pattern. Private collection, Photographed by Lee Borrett.
Above. Cose-up of the fret which is signed 'William Bowyer, London fecit'. Private collection, Photographed by Lee Borrett.
Below. Showing a side view of the William Bowyer movement. Note the two original seperate rope pulley's and iron clickers are retained. Private collection, Photographed by Lee Borrett.
Below. Showing a close-up of the crown wheel and tapered arbours. Private collection, Photographed by Lee Borrett.
Below. Showing the top plate of the William Bowyer lantern c1630. The clock has gone through the customary conversion to anchor escapement with the alarm being removed before being re-converted back to balance in more recent times. Private collection, Photographed by Lee Borrett.
In summary the lantern clock shown here is a superb and rare survivor which is fast approaching four hundred years old. It was made by William Bowyer, who was probably the finest maker of lantern clocks in London up to the English Civil War. Hopefully by showing the clock alongside a very rare sundial which Bowyer made for John Endecott in 1630, together with a contempary etching of Endecott has helped bring back to life at least one of the fascinating and historical
events which happened around the time this clock was made!
I would like to thank the following for providing me with images and for allowing me to use any previously published material for this article.
The private collector who kindly allowed me to use images of their clock for this website.
My thanks go out to Bill Bruce who allowed me to use his own material for this website.
Bowyer made this clock in about c1630 and during same period he made a very interesting and historically important brass sundial for John Endecott of Salem, Massachusetts, governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Above. The fine William Bowyer lantern clock is signed on the bottom of the front fret 'William Bowyer, London fecit'