I wonder if anyone could help me to find out a little more about a watch that has come to me through the family? It has an interesting story attached which explains its current, appalling state, having seemingly been passed carefully through the family for generations until it was spotted by two naughty uncles... who basically destroyed it...
My maternal uncle in Australia was moving house and getting rid of various bits and bobs, and he posted over some family heirlooms, among which was this badly damaged old pocket watch once owned by his father, which turns out to have belonged to my great, great, great grandfather. All my uncle knew about its origins was that it had the inscription 'James Walters 1842' - not a family name - although he did have this story/confession to tell:
https://imgur.com/gSlSsdmYour uncle Paul and myself built ourselves a trolley and found the watch in father’s desk – it seemed like a perfect speedometer to fit to the dashboard of our creation. Naturally it suffered somewhat in its new role! Boy did we cop it! So I felt I had in some-way earned the right to own it, at least for a while. I’m not sure whether it could ever be made to work again, it would no doubt cost a lot to fix, but it does have history!
The watch really is badly damaged, as you can see from the pictures. However, I did do some digging and found out a few things. Firstly, the engraving on the nicely decorated movement: 'Ja.s Hinksman Brosley No. 188'. The town of 'Brosley' was also frequently spelled: 'Broseley.'
https://imgur.com/ncLTpTCLoomes Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World. 21st Cent. Edt. lists two watchmakers of interest:HINKSMAN. __ Madeley (Shropshire) c.1750.HINKSMAN, J.A. Broseley (Shropshire) early 19c?Loomes goes on to state that the second Hinksman had worked with the first at Madeley, a village on the opposite side of the Ironbridge gorge. The village of Broseley is considered by some to be the true birthplace of the industrial revolution, Thomas Telford is reputed to have had his first iron smelting works in the village, apparently not at the nearby town of 'Ironbridge' which lays claim to the title.
Secondly, I have managed to establish the original family link between the inscribed James Walters and my mother's Burton family name. Having researched the family tree on ancestry.co.uk, I found a Mary Ann Walters, who married my ancestor James Burton (1814-1885) in 1834 at Sedgely, Staffordshire. Their first child, Uriah Burton, was born in 1848. Mary's father is recorded as a James Walters (matching the inscription), so it seems likely that Mary Ann inherited her father’s watch, which has now been passed down to me. Assuming the watch originated with her father, then my mum’s great grandfather, Uriah Burton (1848-1920) was the maternal grandchild of James Walters, the original owner of the watch. So the watch belonged to my great, great, great grandfather.James Walters (the name on the watch) > Mary Ann Walters (married James Burton) > Uriah Burton > John Burton (b.1878) > Leslie Burton (1906-1961) > my mother > meHaving communicated my findings to my uncle back in Oz, he replied: One thing puzzles me - how come someone so poor could afford such a thing? Presumably, before the days of cheap, mass-produced watches, a silver cased pocket watch, with such an ornate movement, would not have been cheap. I recall my father saying that either his grandfather, Uriah (wonderful Black-country name!) or great-grandfather, John, started work down a coal mine aged 11 but was then promoted topside to mind a beam engine. The first Burton engineer! As such the family cannot have been even moderately well to do. Maybe Mary Ann married beneath her station?This peeked my interest. Having originally assumed the watch to have been produced circa 1842 (as per the inscription), I had a look at hallmarks and have ascertained that it was probably made quite a bit earlier than that. Either 1737, 1779 or 1819.
I have no idea if the watch could ever be repaired, or how that might cost, but I have sent the details to this company: https://www.weclarkwatchrepairs.co.uk/home-4/ and look forward to hearing back from them. I am unsure whether repair / restoration is the right thing to do even if possible, and would be interested in what people here might think about that too.
I hope you have found this story interesting. If anyone here has any information about the kind of watch, the maker, or anything else of interest, it would be lovely to hear from you.
I forgot to add after this: 'This peeked my interest. Having originally assumed the watch to have been produced circa 1842 (as per the inscription), I had a look at hallmarks and have ascertained that it was probably made quite a bit earlier than that. Either 1737, 1779 or 1819.'
Perhaps my ancestor was able to afford the watch as it was obsolete technology by the time he acquired it in 1842, and so potentially much cheaper on the secondary market (as these watches appear to be today too).
Apologies, I've now worked out how to upload pics directly but am unable to edit this post to fix.