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Ask a Genealogist: Researching a Colonial clock maker.

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I am a research member who has not used your services (I live in Houston, TX) I am seeking information about Peter Stretch, a clock maker born in Leek, Staffordshire County, England in 1670, who emigrated with his wife Marjorie Hall and son Thomas to Philadelphia, PA in 1702. Peter Stretch was a Quaker, lived until 1746, producing a number of tall case clocks. Our MFA location here (Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens) owns and displays one of them. My task is to give a paper (read powerpoint presentation) about Peter Stretch, his sons, their clock making and the milieu of Philadelphia (1720-50) in which Stretch worked, for the Bayou Bend Study Group this fall. Could you possibly suggest sources? (e.g. personal diaries of fellow citizens, civic actions, other avenues) I am aware of and have ordered a forthcoming book by Donald Fennimore of Winterthur, but want to go beyond that source and call upon your expertise!


 Many of the searches online, as I am sure you are aware, are the result of entries for specific clocks that Peter Stretch and his sons made throughout their careers. However, I did find that there is an article in the Minutes and Special Articles, 1934 Jan. 13 – 1940 April 6 of Boston’s Clock Club. The club was founded in Boston by 62 clock historians and collectors. Most of their research was never published. In this particular issue of their publication is an article entitled “Peter Stretch, Clockmaker.” This issue of the club’s publication is located at the Boston Athenaeum, 10 ½ Beacon St., Boston, MA 02108, phone 617-227-0270. There is also a published volume by James W. Gibbs, Pennsylvania Clocks and Watches: Antique Timepieces and Their Makers (University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1984).

Thomas Stretch, son of Peter, served as the first governor of The Fishing Company, a club, from October 1732, and was reelected each year until 1765 when health issues required him to retire.

Also, because the family were Quaker, if you are interested in finding out more about their lives outside of their occupation, you may want to turn to Hinshaw’s Quaker Records as well as the actual Quaker minutes which may be located at Swarthmore College.

There are a number of volumes that you may also want to investigate in regard to the history of Pennsylvania, rather than the history of clockmakers to see what other ways the Stretch family interacted in their town. One such book that mentions Peter Stretch is David S. Shields’ Civil Tongues and Polite Letters in British America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997).

Posted by David Lambert at 08/01/2013 11:46:43 PM | 

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