'Willim Selwood, at
The small early lantern clock shown here was made by Wiliam Selwood and is signed 'Willim Selwood at ye Maremaid in Louthbury'. The clock is very unusual for Selwood in having integral round-based pillars. These have the early round-shouldered urn finials and ball-and-ring feet. The ring-of-roses theme is apparent. This early form of meeting-arrowhead half-hour marker is very different from that found towards the end of the century and is sometimes called a ‘sword-hilt’. The fret is an unusual one of two grotesque boars heads. It thought that William Selwood was working as a clockmaker in London from around 1628 and it was in this very year that the well known Favourite of King Charles I, George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Lord Admiral was stabbed to death, on 23 August 1628, at the Greyhound Pub in Portsmouth. Buckingham had been very unpopular and during the course of the duke's incompetent leadership, Parliament had twice attempted to impeach him. The king had rescued him by dissolving Parliament both times, but public feeling was so inflamed as a result that the duke was widely blamed as a public enemy.
Above. George Villiers (1592–1628), 1st Duke of Buckingham. Daniël Mijtens, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Parliament had twice attempted to impeach Buckingham due to his sheer incompetence, but the king had rescued his Favourite by dissolving Parliament on both occasions and this made Buckingham very unpopular with the public.
Above. Trial of George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham. 28 August 1592 – 23 August 1628. The Commons tried to impeach him for the failure of the 1625 Cadiz Expedition. Being a Favourite of King Charles I meant the king dissolved Parliament to prevent the impeachment. Alamy.com
Below. Assassination of George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham. Favourite of King Charles I: 28 August 1592 – 23 August 1628. Stabbed by John Felton in Portsmouth, due to Buckingham having been promoted over him Alamy.com
'The Mermaid '
William Selwood established the famous workshop ‘The Mermaid’ in Lothbury, which is a street near the Bank of England in the City of London. He was baptised in 1607 at Appleton with Eaton, near Abingdon in Berkshire, the son of a yeoman farmer. His younger brother, John, was baptised there in 1613. William was making clocks in London before the formation of the Clockmaker’s Company in 1631. His brother, John, came to join him in the business at a later date. If we assume they were making clocks by, but not before, the age of twenty-one, that would put William's date of starting work in his craft at about 1628 and John's at about 1634.
Above A Fine early lantern clock by William Selwood which stands just over 12 inches high.The clock is very unusual for Selwood in having integral round-based pillars. These have the early round-shouldered urn finials and ball-and-ring feet. Private collection, Photographed by Lee Borrett
Above The fret is an unusual one of two grotesque boars heads and is signed 'Willim Selwood at ye Maremaid in Louthbury'. Private collection, Photographed by Lee Borrett
Above Showing the dial centre. The ring-of-roses theme is apparent. This early form of meeting-arrowhead half-hour marker is very different from that found towards the end of the century and is sometimes called a ‘sword-hilt’.. Private collection, Photographed by Lee Borrett.
Above. Showing a side view of the William Selwood movement. Note the two original seperate rope pulley's and iron clickers are retained. Private collection, Photographed by Lee Borrett.
Above. Showing a closer side view of the William Selwood movement. The clock has gone through the customary conversion to anchor escapement with the alarm being removed before being re-converted back to balance. Private collection, Photographed by Lee Borrett.
The lantern clock shown here by Selwood is a rare and unusual example by him that was possibily made during the very early period of his working life. William Selwood was probably apprenticed to a lantern clock maker, as was his brother, John, but if so, we don't know who that master was. William would have been apprenticed about 1621, and at that time there were precious few who could have taught him. Robert Harvey, the first native-born maker of lantern clocks in London, by whom only four examples are known to survive today, had died in 1615. Of those who made lantern clocks by 1621, only two stand out as prolific makers, each of the half dozen others being known through only very few examples today. Peter Closon and William Bowyer are the two most prolific makers of that time. Bowyer was making clocks in Leadenhall Street by the 1620s, Closon 'near Holborne Bridge' by 1630, which makes Bowyer the likeliest in terms of date. However, the individual character of each maker's clocks suggests no carryover of style in Selwood's work from either of these men. So we can make no guesses as to who taught him.
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 Brian Loomes for allowing me to use part of his own article entitled 'William Sellwood of the Mermaid in Lothbury, lantern, clock maker' for this website.
My thanks go out to Bill Bruce who allowed me to use his own material for this website.