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The family business was set up by James McCabe I in 1780. They exported to India and were well known for fine watches and clocks. McCabe signed his watches in three ways. The highest quality work was signed ‘James McCabe, London'. The medium grade work was signed ‘McCabe, London’ and the budget range was signed ‘Beatson’.

James McCabe I of London was from Lurgan in Ireland where he was recorded from c. 1760 to c. 1770 probably with his father Patrick McCabe a watchmaker in Lurgan who died in 1766. James then worked in Belfast for a time, probably with his brother Thomas who had a watch making business there, and then moved to London in about 1775. He was recorded in London at 2 Salisbury Court, Fleet Street in 1780. James was made an Honorary Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers in 1781 and the same year he was recorded at 11 Bells Buildings, Fleet Street, London. James married Elizabeth Burn in 1775 and they had at least 12 children between 1782 and 1801.

By 1782, James had moved to 34 King Street, Cheapside where he stayed until at least 1804. From 1788 to 1790 James took over the partnership in a Belfast cotton business called ‘Francis Joy & Co. (Formally Joys, McCabe & McCracken) from his Brother Thomas. The company was dissolved in 1790. By 1794 James was living in Stoke Newington, London.

In 1805 and until at least 1811 James was recorded at 97 Cornhill, London (also known as 97 Royal Exchange). James worked there with his son James(2). James was made a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers in 1786.

In 1811, James was made a Warden of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers. He died the same year and his son James (2) succeeded him.

James McCabe II of London was born on New Years Day 1787. James was apprenticed at Reid and Auld of Edinburgh from about 1801 to about 1808. He took over the company from his father in 1811 and traded as James McCabe until 1814. From 1815 to 1824 he traded as James McCabe and Son. James (2) was admitted to the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers in 1822. He was still working in 1838.

Thomas McCabe of London was the third son of James McCabe I and became a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers on the 5 June 1815. Thomas was a watchmaker at 97 Cornhill. Not a lot else is known about Thomas, he is believed to have been a manager in the company rather than a working watchmaker.

Robert McCabe of London was the fourth son of James McCabe I born about 1796 . Robert became a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers on the5 Feb 1821. He traded at 97 Cornhill from at least 1821 to at least 1830. From 1831 to 1838 Robert was at 32 Cornhill as McCabe and Son. Robert was also involved with McCabe & Strachan from 1821 to 1832, McCabe & Co. from 1836 to 1837 and Robert McCabe & Co. in 1838.

Robert Jeremy McCabe of London was the son of Robert McCabe. He was born in 1836 in Sidmouth Street London. Robert J took over the business at 32 Cornhill, trading as McCabe & Co. until he closed the business in 1883 having declined all offers to sell. As far as we know no McCabe workbooks survived the sale of the business.

In 1861 Robert J was at 14 Southwick Street, unmarried and a watchmaker. Living there was a cook and a housemaid.

The 1871 census shows Robert J (35) living at Dyrehave, Auguster Road and he gave his occupation as a ‘Watch Manufacturer employing 50 people’. Living there was his wife Emily(31), his brother Thomas J McCabe (25) a watchmaker’s assistant, his cousin Jessie Franck (9) a visitor and 4 servants.

The 1881 census shows Robert J and Emily boarding at a house in Brighton. He gave his occupation as a ‘House Proprietor’

After Robert sold the business in 1883, the 1891 and 1901 census’ show him and Emily living off ‘their own means’ from the sale of the business.
Robert Jeremy died in 1902 in Newbury Buckinghamshire and his obituary in the Horological Journal read:-

The death is announced of Mr. Robert
Jeremy McCabe, the last representative of
the celebrated house of McCabe. He suc-
ceeded his uncle, James McCabe, at 32,
Cornhill, and continued there till 1880,
when he retired to Newbury, closing the
shop and refusing all offers for the good-
will of the business, which was a valuable
one; the McCabe watches being highly
esteemed, especially in India. He did not
allow his retirement to become an excuse
for discontinuing his support to the trade
charities, to which he remained a liberal

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