Martin Jackson son of Martin of Helmdon Row, Brancepeth, Durham was baptised on 20th July 1671. He was just one of a number of boys from the village who were trained as metal workers; John Dowthwaite trained as a goldsmith in Newcastle, Francis Batty was apprenticed to John and the Threlkelds, Deodatus and his nephew William trained as clock and watchmakers, while William’s younger brother Ralph trained as a goldsmith also in Newcastle.
Martin Jackson was apprenticed to John Nelson, clock and watchmaker in Durham 1685-1692. John Nelson, son of William a deceased yeoman of Carlton Huthswaite, Yks., had been apprenticed to Gilbert Nelson in the Blacksmiths’ Company c 1669 and freed in 1676. John Nelson signed a document in London in 1677 turning over some property to his sister, but he was in Liverpool and married by 1680, in York by October 1681 and in Durham by June 1683 and worked there until c 1695 when he moved to Newcastle and died there in 1700. John’s family appeared to have stayed in Durham where his sons John and Ralph became clockmakers.
Martin Jackson may have worked as a journeyman to John Nelson in Durham but was probably in his own workshop by 1695 when he appeared to take an apprentice, Jasper Harrison, son of Lawrence of Chester-le-Street, Dur., who was baptised there on 3 May 1680. Martin moved to London in 1697, taking Jasper Harrison with him. William Threlkeld of Brancepeth also went to London about this time. He was the son of Henry Threlkeld of Stockley baptised at Brancepeth on 3rd Nov. 1674 and probably apprenticed to his uncle Deodatus in Newcastle 1688-1695. William Threlkeld had set up his workshop in the Strand but did not join the Clockmakers’ Company, but Martin Jackson did join the Company as a brother on 1st Nov. 1697. A lost watch made by William Threlkeld, was advertised by the London Gazette in 1701.
Martin did not bind any apprentices in the C.C. until 1710 but Jasper Harrison would have completed his apprenticeship about 1702 and probably remained with Martin as his journeyman. Jasper married Abigail Richardson on 5th Aug. 1707 at St. Botolph, London but may have already set up a business in Newcastle because he was registered as a warden at St. Nicholas church Newcastle from 1709-1712. Martin Jackson was mainly making watches for other clock and watchmakers which was confirmed by his inventory when he died and was buried on 10th May 1723. Fortunately, he did make some clocks, one fine ebony, spring table clock by Martin Jackson, London was sold by Evans and Evans some years ago (Fig. 1). The movement had verge escapement, striking and repeating work for the quarters on four bells and was made 1697-1700.
Martin had been elected as a steward in C.C. in 1710, an Assistant in 1716, a Warden in 1718 and Master of the Company in 1721. He had married quite late in life when he married Maria Webb on 27 Oct. 1715 at St Anns and St Agnes, Aldersgate, London. They had a son John baptised on 9th Nov. 1719. Unfortunately, Martin died shortly after being master, in May 1723. His inventory proved to be very interesting giving his address as St Clement’s, Eastcheap and listing his stock which consisted mainly of watches and watch movements in various stages of completion. There were silver and gold watches, some with jewels and repeating work but only two longcase clocks, one in a lacquered case and the other in a black case. Both were valued at £6-10s each. The watches and clocks were valued by Joseph Windmills, a past master who died a few months later in 1724 and John Berry who was the master of the C.C. in 1723. Martin’s work tools and implements were valued by Thomas Yates and Martin’s apprentice Richard Davis (Davis may have been working as a journeyman to Martin because he was owed £22 when Martin died). Among his customers who owed Martin money were Quare and Horseman and his former apprentice Jasper Harrison of Newcastle. Daniel Quare who had probably been buying gold repeating watches from Martin also died in 1724 after Joseph Windmills. Martin, like a number of other watchmakers, including William Threlkeld, was buying his watch cases from Jacques and Lee. William Jacques senior had died in 1719 and his inventory lists all his customers (debtors who owed him money for his watch cases).
Keith Bates is an amateur horologist who has been researching clocks, watches and chronometers and their makers for over 30 years.