three abreast         Midgley Clocks and Guns

William Midgley

Casement Clock face of clock Nick in England has inherited a grandfather clock through a family member. It is inscibed "William Midgley Sheffield", around the lower front of the face. Nick's Grandfather,Tom Patten, came down south from Sheffield in the 1930's, but he remembered it being delivered to his parents on the back of a horse & cart, when he was a young boy [early 1900's]and he said that the case was plain new oak wood. It has been stained or polished since and has had a new plinth made for it in recent years.
There was a William Midgley who made clocks in the 1720's-50's, so Nick thinks the mechanism might be much older than the case it's in.
Assessment by Brian Loomes: The clock dates from the 1740s. William Midgley of Sheffield is known as a clockmaker. I have documented six or seven clocks by him. They dated between 1740 and 1750. Unfortunately no actual dates are recorded for
events in his life, so we can only guess based on the clock's style. This is a thirty-hour clock with dummy winding squares (to give the impression of an eight-day one). This was a practice common at the time in the North. It has a small moon dial, known as a 'penny moon', which is a desirable feature. The clock has its original hands. The case is of oak and of a good colour, with the exception of the replaced base, which is sympathetically made but would benefit from re-colouring, which any professional polisher can do. The clocks by this maker seems to have much in common stylistically with those by Richard Midgley of Halifax, and I feel he must be related. There were known clockmaking trade links between Halifax and Sheffield, for generations. There were two clockmaking Richard Midgleys in Halifax, probably father and son, and details of their lives are only sketchy, but the name of Richard Midgley is respected by clock collectors.
Contact : Nick

Smith Midgley- Yorkshire Gunsmith.

Smith Midgley's grandfather, Joshua (born about 1801) was also a gunsmith in the Halifax district. Smith took his first name from his grandmother's surname. They were living at Mount Pleasant, Northowram in Yorkshire in 1881, Smith M. being born about 1862 in Queensbury Yorkshire. I do not yet know if his parents were alive at this time. It would appear that he moved his business to Birmingham.

Smith Midgley on the1881 census for Britain:

Dwelling: Mount Pleasant
 Census Place: Northowram, York, England
 Source: FHL Film 1342058     PRO Ref RG11    Piece 4424    Folio 88
page 16
 Marr Age Sex Birthplace
Joshua SMITH M 80  M Hipperholme, York, England
 Rel: Head
 Occ: Gun Maker
Mary SMITH M 80  F Horton, York, England
 Rel: Wife
Anne MIDGLEY U 21  F Queensbury, York, England
 Rel: Grand Daur
 Occ: Dress Maker
Smith MIDGLEY U 19  M Queensbury, York, England
 Rel: Gr Son
 Occ: Gun Maker ...

The type of guns manufactured in Birmingham  by Smith Midgley & Co.are known to have been high grade game guns. In the U.S.A. these are called "Double Guns". These guns were made under Smith Midgley's own name and "for the trade" to be retailed under other names2
The guns made in Birmingham were made as late as the 1920's or 1930's or later.2
Coincidentally almost one hundred years later in 1988 the Lord Mayor of Bradford was a Smith Midgley.

Waltham Watch Richard Midgley-Grandfather clock-maker.

Richard manufactured tall case clocks ("Grandfather clocks") in the mid to late 1700's. His clocks were engraved on the face, "Richard Midgley". They were made in or near Halifax, Yorkshire.3
There are a number of Richard Midgley's who were in Halifax at this time:

In the late 1960's John Franklin Midgley stumbled on a person by the name of John Fox Midgley at Illingworth near Halifax.John had "quite a collection of grandfather clocks" at this time9. (The Lord of Cullingworth Manor was James Fox esquire)

1.Richard Midgley who married Grace Stockdale Mid. on 3rd June 1599, this one is perhaps a little early4

2. Richard MIDGLEY (M)...................C: 5 Oct1722
Ba: C007493
Father: Richard MIDGLEY
Halifax, Yorkshire,

3. Richard MIDGLEY (M)...................  C: 30 Jan 1731 Long Case Clock (Grandfather Clock)
Ba: C007493
Father: Thomas MIDGLEY
Halifax, Yorkshire,

4. Richard MIDGLEY (M)...................  C: 13 May1744
Ba: C007493
Father: William MIDGLEY
Halifax, Yorkshire5

Baillie gives Richard Midgley of Halifax as a maker of long case clocks in Halifax between about 1720 and 17406. Brian Loomes gives the dates for making these clocks between  1745 and 1763. Loomes is usually the more trustworthy of the two since he was a professional genealogist who turned to researching clocks. Baillie tended to look at clocks and guess their dates except in the case from Exeter below where he must have fouind the date engraved on the clock in order to have it so precisely.This one other Richard Midgley who is known to have made a long case clock in Exeter has it dated as 17717.

  From Amazon Books:

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                 with source material has enabled him to undertake his own researches
                 into the lives of former clockmakers. As a dealer in antique British
                 clocks for thirty years he is aldo experienced in old clocks, especially
                 in the work of makers in the northern counties of England and much of
                 his writing is based on his own researches and experience. He lives at
                 Pateley Bridges in the York-shire Dales, where he and his wife run a
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                 This book records the life and of the most important clockmakers of the
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            From the Inside Flap

                 The North of England has a long tradition of clockmaking. The earlist
                 clockmakers trained in London in the late seventeenth century and then
                 moved north to take advantage of the growing opportunities there. Soon
                 a distinctive regional style developed, both in the dials- sometimes with
                 naive charm, but often with elaborate and high-quality decorative
                 engraving- and the cases. The longcase clock was the principal type
                 made in the North of England and local styles can be recognised, such
                 as: the Hull pagodatopped case( based on the London style, but quite
                 distinctive), the Leeds style,the mahogany liverpool case with much use
                 of dentil moulding, blind fretiing and a 'brickwork' base, and the high
                 quality case made by Gillows of Lancaster.

                 In this book the author describes the development of the trade from the
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                 Northumberland are recorded.

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                 by Brian Loomes
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                 Hardcover (July 1999)
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                 Availability: This title usually ships within
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                 In all some 850 makers and their work are included, illustrated by over
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                 movements are also included. The owners of most north-country clocks
                 will be able to find something here about their makers.

In a response to an enquiry  re Richard Midgley, Brian replied:

"Yes, I know this maker well, and we get clocks by him from time to time. There were probably two such, maybe father and son, as their work seems to cover too long a period for one man. The earliest clocks I've seen date from about 1720 (maybe even ten or twenty years earlier),
the latest from the 1760s, maybe 1770s. It COULD be one maker or two in succession. The later clocks are usually signed at Halifax, the earlier ones usually without a placename. It is thought he worked earlier at Ripponden.
 We usually own about  one every two to three years. Many are thirty-hour clocks."8

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Union Flag Sources:
1.L.D.S. CD-ROM 1881 British Census 1881.
2. Larry P. King, Appraisal Associates of Colorado, U.S.A.
3. Lisa Luntz, U.S.A.
4. Halifax Records, marriages.
5. I.G.I. 1994 version
6. Watchmakers and clockmakers of the world Part 1, Baillie.
7. Geoff White, Helsinki <gwhite@pp.htv.fi>
8. Brian Loomes, Calf Haugh, Farmhouse Street, Pateley Bridge, Nr. Harrogate HG3 5HW
    Tel & Fax: 01423 711163
E-mail: BrianLoomes@antiqueclocks.freeserve.co.uk
9. Midgleyana, John Franklin Midgley, Cape Town, 1968.

Other books by Brian Loomes:
                                          Brass dial clocks
                                          Painted dial clocks
                                          Antique British Clocks
                                          The concise guide to British Clocks
                                          Yorkshire Clockmakers
                                          British Clocks Illustrated
                                          The Early Clockmakers of Britain
                                          Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World

 © Copyright Tim Midgley March 2000, revised May 2009.