Rye in East Sussex Town Guide

Clockmaking Family: Gill

Interested in getting in touch with anyone who has info about the Gill family, clockmakers in Rye, esp. Daniel Gill ca 1795

23 responses to “Clockmaking Family: Gill”

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    Hello Celia, I’ve just come across your message having googled “Gill Clockmaker”. I have a clock purchased by my Great, Great, Great Grandfather from Daniel Gill. I also have a photo of the plaque on the wall of the house in Rye stating that they were clock makers from 1680 to 1791. Followed by the words ” Daniel Gill, Banker 1791″. Do you know if Daniel went from making clocks to banking? Sorry I haven’t any info on the family to help you.
    Kind regards,

  2.  avatar

    Dear Joanna Monnington,By sheer chance, I “happened upon” your message only recently; after all this time you have almost cetainly forgotten about replying to my query! Yes, I have seen, again by chance, the plaque in Rye and also found a little info about the Gills in the Public Library, but was surprised not to find more. Have also discovered (on Ancestry.com website) that the family came from the Hastings/Eastbourne area. We have a 30-hour Daniel Gill clock: in an oak case with brass dial. When we bought it the label said “1795” but I am not convinced that is correct. Would be interesting to see a picture of yours! Regards, Celia

  3.  avatar

    Are you aware that Daniel Gill became a partner in the private partnership bank – Rye Bank – sometime around 179x-1829. Barfoot & Wilkes’ Universal British Directory has him as ‘silversmith, watch & clockmaker, agent for the Royal Exchange Fire Co.’. The bank existed from 1790-1893 when it was taken over by Lloyds Bank.

  4.  avatar

    Thank you Brian, that would explain “Banker 1791” on the plaque – obviously a man of many talents.

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    Dear Celia, so sorry I have only just realised you answered my comment in 2009! I think this conversation is quite lengthy!!! They must have improved the website as I actually received an email telling me Brian had commented but had no idea you had done so a couple of year’s ago! My clock has no date on the dial but as Daniel Gill went out of business in 1794 and my ancestor who bought it was born in 1771 – I’m assuming it was one of his later clocks. it is about 6’6″ tall, wooden case (mahogany?)with a pretty dial. Gold coloured filigree in the corners and a silvered face with flowers engraved on it as well as “Daniel Gill” and “Rye”. It has large Roman numerals and smaller Arabic numerals in the outer circle. Would send you a picture but don’t seem able on this message board. If you are happy to put your e-mail up here I could then send a pic. My clock originally had a rope driven movement but someone replaced this with chain which then damaged the pins in the wheels. My father then had it repaired in the 80s. Kind regards, Joanna

  6.  avatar

    Dear Brian Conway, Many thanks for the info, which has also had the happy side-effect of putting me in touch with Joanna Monnington again! Yes, I knew that Daniel Gill was a banker, but had no further details about this part of his career. Fascinating what can be done on the Internet, isn’t it? Always happy to hear anything else that might turn up! Regards, Celia Syversen

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    Dear Joanna, I attempted to send you a fairly lengthy reply immediately after writing to Brian Conway, but it hasn’t appeared on the Message Board! Will wait some days to see whether it turns up. Regards, Celia

  8.  avatar

    Hallo again Joanna! No, my message hasn’t appeared, but in the interim I have discovered two interesting things: under the heading “Daniel Gill – 1795” on the Rye Message Board, a Dane called Rene Breck posted a message in 2010; I have also discovered, quite by chance, a picture on www.antiquesrye.co.uk/Gill_clock_Rye.htm

    This shows a clock, remarkably similar to our “Daniel” (as he is affectionately called) with the caption: ca 1770 SOLD. Struck me that this could possibly be the clock purchased by Rene Breck … We shall, perhaps, see! Regards, Celia

  9.  avatar

    Dear Celia, that happened when I messaged you last time – the website seems to log you out if you take to long. Luckily I went back and found what I’d written still in the box! If it’s easier my email is [reveal email] Kind regards, Joanna

  10.  avatar

    Hello Celia, that photo is amazing – the case and face look identical to mine – just not sure what is on the silvered dial due to the reflections. Well done for seeing that other thread – I’m just getting used to how these message boards work! I think the reply I sent to you yesterday has just appeared as well! Kind regards, Joanna

  11.  avatar

    I’ve just found another interesting snippet regarding Daniel Gill – From the Sussex Weekly Advertiser.
    17 September 1810
    The unfortunate convict, Wilson, who was executed on Saturday the 8th
    inst. at Horsham for a burglary in the shop of Mr. Gill, watchmaker, at
    Rye, wrote a letter a few days prior to his execution to Mr. Gill, informing
    him in the most solemn manner, that he had given three of the stolen
    watches, all new ones, to a Corporal of the regiment to which he belonged;
    two to Privates, and that two others were hid in a wall at Winchelsea; he
    also stated that an accomplice named Hodges had all the rest of the stolen
    property with which he deserted soon after the commission of the robbery.
    In consequence of this information, Mr. Gill went to Dover where the
    regiment then was and endeavoured to recover some of his property; but
    the parties accused by the letter of the convict denied ever having had the
    watches; and all he has been able to recover is two, one or both of which
    have been found in the wall at Winchelsea.
    Shows how things haven’t really changed that much for shopkeepers/jewelers (apart from the execution)!

  12.  avatar

    Know this is a long shot Celia but just today looked on back of an old pocket watch and found Dan Gill and a No. S43S. I am in Australia and know family moved from Sussex area in about 1830s. Am thinking this watch must have been made earlier than that if Daniel stopped watch making in 1794.


    Carol Smith.

  13.  avatar

    Delighted to hear from you, Carol, especially as I thought the trail had “gone cold” long since! Is there a small “l” after Dan, indicating an abbreviation? This is how the name is engraved on our longcase clock. Some years ago we went to Rye and just scraped into the Public Library before closing time: there we found “The Clockmakers of Sussex” by E.J. Tyler, publ ca 1987 by The Watch & Clock Book Society, P.O.Box 22, Ashford, Kent. An entry shows: “DANIEL GILL, Rye b 1759. Only clockmaker in Rye in UBD (Univ British Dictionary) 1798; paid by church 1805-10 for work on clock. thirty-hour LC brass dial birdcage movement. Another, silver centre to dial. Another, George Hotel Rye (NB by me: this clock has been stolen, said the hotel!!) Verge watcges known. Eight-day LC movement plain silvered arch dial. Was also a banker. His shop in High Street now bears a plaque.” As Daniel Gill made verge watches and was active until at least 1810 (still only in his fifties), surely it’s quite possible that he made yours? Wonder where the S43S came from? Does the watch still work? Our “Daniel” as we call him keeps remarkably good time, although he did have a major overhaul some years ago, which cost even more than we paid for him at the outset! Yes, we always refer to our clock as “him”.) Believe there were other Gills – a Samuel in Rye and a William in Hastings. Good luck with your further search. All good wishes, Celia

  14.  avatar

    Glad to hear I have helped you progress.

    British Banking History Society

  15.  avatar

    Hello again Celia,

    Yes, Dan Gill is engraved clearly on back of watch workings and has a small ‘l’. I had thought that was a mistake made while engraving and didn’t realize it was an abbreviation. The number would be a serial no. but am having no luck finding any records of them. Have checked out the hallmarks and found the makers of the case. The date mark is ‘I’ which signifies 1803-04.Also in the case between the watch and outer case are several pieces of paper l assume were placed there as packing? Some of these are printed business labels of other watchmakers…Dibley and Bourn. Can’t find any info on them …maybe they worked for Daniell. There are also some intriguing hand written notes on back of some referring to my family name but so old and fragile l cant make out the writing. The watch is missing its small hand and is not going. I have not fiddled with it though and will find someone suitable to repair. Thanks for your interest and help.



  16.  avatar

    Was this not Samuel Gill, Daniels son who had watches stolen? I think Daniel had turned to Banking by 1810 and son took over business until 1817. Brian

  17.  avatar

    Brian, As member of BBHS perhaps you have more information on the early history of Rye Bank. The first partners in the UBD 1791 are not the same as those in John Orbell’s book. The partners he lists, EJ & Wm Curtis, Woollett & Dawes were the partners up to 1814 except that Daniel Gill had joined by then. You mention he joined by 1810 but he is mentioned as a banker in a deed of 1808 at ESRO. Do you know if he stayed banker until he died in 1833, or did he retire earlier? Do you know the address or addresses in the High Street for the bank? It seems not to have been the same as Daniel & Samuel Gill’s clockmakers, since the bank is rated separately, at least from 1799. The partners changed dramatically in 1814, but Daniel Gill stayed & was named in Pigot 1823. He describes himself as a banker in his will made 1829. I am preparing a biography of Daniel, so any help is appreciated, either through the message board, or email [reveal email] . Thank you

  18.  avatar

    Hallo Celia … By accident I found this site about the Rye clockmaker Daniel Gill. I am just about to advertise his Grandfather Clock in the Rye local newspaper. The clock I have was made and signed by Daniel Gill about 1760. A beautifully carved dark solid Oak case with a silvered dial. I purchased the clock while living in Brighton in 1975. If you want a photo of the clock or any further information I might have, just e-mail me. Sincerely. Dennis Kenyon.

  19.  avatar

    Dennis, your clock sounds interesting, and I would love to see pictures. Not sure about e-mailing on this site, I’ll have to find out. This message is to say you are too early on the date. Daniel did not start in Rye until 1784. I have spent today working on his biography, which I hope to have ready by Easter., and that date is certain. Look forward to your reply. Bob

  20.  avatar

    Hello Bob been reading your messages about the Gill family of clockmakers, and would value your opinion on the following. I have been offered a “Tinder lighter” marked “Gill” on one side and “Rye” on the other, would have been made about 1800. Would Gill have made other items other than clocks? I look forward to your reply with interest. Thank you for your time. Kind regards, Trace.

  21.  avatar

    Trace, while it is not impossible for William Gill to have made the tinder lighter – clockmaking does involve whitesmithing and silversmithing – I think it more likely that it was bought in for sale in the shop. It was quite common for shopkeepers to add their name to items they sold.
    It would be nice to see an image, but that doesn’t seem possible on this site

  22.  avatar

    Thanks for your prompt reply Bob. I saw the tinderlighter at an arms fair, and hope to do a deal that will bring it my way, it has no stand and it looks small enough to fit into a pocket just as the “Flinker” I think its called? that was used by smugglers for signalling? will get some images to you somehow if I get it, Trace.

  23.  avatar

    I have Samuel Gills workshop Regulator That timed Samuels watches. it is dated 7th March 1810 about the time when Samuel and his new wife Mary (ne Heath)took over his fathers business. However I don’t believe Samuel ever made a clock in his life. As the works resemble the hand writing of Robert Apps of Battle. Brian Houghton

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