John Powley

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The Powley family were well-known and highly regarded clock makers in the Westmoreland region, their movements are always of the highest standard, as in this example, with fine, slender movement pillars and wonderful work to the strikework. There were four clockmaking members of the family and the clocks were signed in a variety of ways. That this one is signed ‘Powley, Asby’ would indicate it being a possible collaboration between William (working from circa 1700) and his son John (working from circa 1730) and made circa 1740. The single brass hand is a throwback to the early lantern clocks and is noted on other longcase clocks they made as are the four season corner spandrels. The oak case has a primitive feel to it with the almost lantern case attributes to the hood and the proportions of the trunk. The engraving on the ten-inch square brass dial is particlarly fine, especially the decoration at the half-hours. John was known to have dug his own copper from the surrounding hills to use in both their clockmaking and in the making of watch cases which they sold as ‘like Pinchbeck’. This was a century before a copper mine was officially established at Great Asby.


William Powley, born 1681, was he son of the Asby clockmaker John Powley and his wife Ellen Willan who John married in 1679. William married Agnes Taylor in 1707 with whom he had six children between 1708 and 1720, including John, his eldest, who joined his father in the business. William died in 1768 aged 87.


John Powley, born 1708, was apprenticed to his father and remained a bachelor all his life. It is therefore quite possible that he remained in the family home for the duration and worked alongside his father in the workshop. He died in 1779, eleven years after his father. It is known that both he and William signed clocks under their own names, but in some cases, such as this, a clock would be without an initial or first name and would’ve been a collaboration between the two

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JOHN POWLEY (1708-1779)
An Oak Thirty-hour Longcase Clock
An unusual oak longcase clock signed Powley, Asby, the ten-inch square brass dial has a raised chapter ring engraved with black Roman numerals and...
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