|Born||March 30, 1697|
Leek, Staffordshire, England
|Died||October 19, 1765 68) (aged|
|Spouse(s)||Mary Anne Robins|
|Children||Peter Stretch II|
Thomas Stretch (March 30, 1697 – October 19, 1765) was an American clockmaker and a founder and first Governor of the Colony in Schuylkill, later known as The State in Schuylkill, or Schuylkill Fishing Company. In 1753 he erected the first clock at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, a large clock dial and masonry clock case at the west end of the structure.
The Schuylkill Fishing Company of Pennsylvania, also known as the State in Schuylkill, was the first angling club in the Thirteen Colonies and remains the oldest continuously operating social club in the English-speaking world.
Independence Hall is the building where both the United States Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were debated and adopted. It is now the centerpiece of the Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Born at Staffordshire, England, he came to America with his father, Peter Stretch, in 1702.The earliest known clockmakers in Leek, Staffordshire were members of the Quaker family named Stretch. Samuel Stretch, Peter Stretch's uncle, was making lantern clocks in Leek in 1670.
Peter Stretch was among the most prominent early American clockmakers and among the first makers of scientific instruments in America.
Thomas Stretch married July 29, 1743, Mary Anne Robins,who died and was buried in Friends' Burial Ground, Philadelphia, October 10, 1781, in the sixty-ninth year of her age. Although Thomas followed his father's example in his craft and philanthropy, he did not do so personally. Thomas married out of the Quaker faith and was censured by the Monthly Meeting. As a result, "Thomas Stretch brought in a paper [to the Meeting] signed by himself & Wife condemming their unchaste freedom before Marriage as well as their disorderly procedure in Marriage," surely an embarrassment to his parents.
Of their five children only one lived beyond childhood, Peter Stretch II (1746-1793) who married Sarah Howell (1754-1825), daughter of Samuel Howell (1723-1807), eminent Philadelphia merchant and a financier of the American Revolution and Sarah Stretch (1727-1770), a daughter of Thomas's brother Joseph Stretch. Thomas and Mary's daughters: Mary Stretch (died 1744); Elizabeth Stretch (died 1747); Ann Stretch (died 1750) and Sarah Stretch (died 1756).Thomas Stretch was buried at Friends Burial Ground, Philadelphia, on October 19, 1765.
Samuel Howell was a Quaker who became a prominent merchant in colonial Philadelphia and a leading patriot, proponent, leader and financier for American independence.
Philadelphia, known colloquially as Philly, is the largest city in the U.S. state and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the sixth-most populous U.S. city, with a 2018 census-estimated population of 1,584,138. Since 1854, the city has been coterminous with Philadelphia County, the most populous county in Pennsylvania and the urban core of the eighth-largest U.S. metropolitan statistical area, with over 6 million residents as of 2017. Philadelphia is also the economic and cultural anchor of the greater Delaware Valley, located along the lower Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, within the Northeast megalopolis. The Delaware Valley's population of 7.2 million ranks it as the eighth-largest combined statistical area in the United States.
His son Peter, who was not of age when Thomas made his will in 1760, was left his clocks, watches, tools, etc. Half of his property went to his beloved wife Mary. Thomas Stretch's brother, Joseph, and his nephew Isaac Stretch were his executors. The will is proved October 23, 1765.
Thomas Stretch's father, Peter Stretch, became one of the most important clockmakers in colonial America, noted for his magnificent tall case clocks, intricate watches and clocks, and scientific instruments. His shop was at the southeast corner of Front and Chestnut Streets, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, then called "Peter Stretch's Corner at the Sign of the Dial".Soon after the death of his father, Thomas Stretch sold his father's property at the Sign of the Dial and established himself a block farther west, at the southwest corner of Second and Chestnut Streets.
During his prime years, Thomas Stretch was probably the most competent clockmaker in Philadelphia. In 1752, when Isaac Norris (statesman) was selecting a man to build the first clock for the State House, today known as Philadelphia's Independence Hall, he chose Thomas Stretch, the son of his old friend and fellow council member, to do the job.
In 1753 Thomas Stretch erected a large clock dial and masonry clock case at the west end of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. That equipment, which resembled a giant tall clock (grandfather clock), had been removed in about 1830.The clock's dials were mounted at the east and west ends of the main building connected by rods to the clock movement in the middle of the building. The western end had a masonry structure designed to look like the clock case. The acquisition of the original clock and bell by the Pennsylvania Colonial Assembly is closely related to the acquisition of the Liberty Bell. By mid-1753, the clock had been installed in the State House attic, but six years were to elapse before Thomas Stretch received any pay for it.
During the summer of 1973 a replica of the Thomas Stretch clock was restored to Independence Hall.The $159,000 replica included a 14-foot copy of the clock case atop a 40-foot soapstone column, just the way it looked during the Revolutionary War. To lessen danger of deterioration, the original delicate wood carvings were instead cast in polyester bronze. The only major concession in modernism: the clock, with an eight-foot dial painted red-brown and Persian blue, is powered by electricity rather than wooden works and weights.
While conducting a study of early clockmakers in Philadelphia, Carolyn Stretch located in the Philadelphia area twenty clocks by Peter Stretch (1670-1746), seven by his son Thomas Stretch (1695-1765), and two by Thomas' brother William Stretch (1701-1748). Watches made by Thomas Stretch were also greatly treasured by their owners. That she had not been so successful in locating many of the clocks made by Thomas Stretch is attributed to the fact that they have reached the hands of dealers and been scattered across the country. By 1710, the Stretch clocks had not only a minute hand but also a second hand. The most sophisticated Peter Stretch clock found was owned by The State in Schuylkill.
Among the known tall case clocks with works by Thomas Stretch are one exhibited in the Governor's Palace at Colonial Williamsburg; one with a walnut case at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (see Ruth Davidson, "Museum Accessions", The Magazine Antiques (July 1970:60)); and one illustrated in William Distin and Robert Bishop, The American Clock, 1976, no.37. An eight-day tall case clock by Thomas Stretch, circa 1740, is at Keith House-Washington's Headquarters, the historic home of Gov. William Keith, located at Graeme Park and administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
A Queen Anne carved and figured mahogany tall case clock, by Peter Stretch, Philadelphia, circa 1740, was bought at auction by Winterthur Museum and Country Estate on October 28, 2004 for the highest price ever paid for an American clock: $1.7 million.
Thomas Stretch was one of the founders of Pennsylvania Hospital and a member of the Union Fire Company, also known as Benjamin Franklin's Bucket Brigade. He was a director of the Philadelphia Contributionship (Hand-in-Hand fire mark) from 1758 to 1761.
In the Pennsylvania Gazette of May 29, 1755, Thomas Stretch appears as one of the largest subscribers (with Benjamin Franklin and others) to the fund for the Pennsylvania Hospital. In essence, the Stretch family and Benjamin Franklin provided half of the original capital to found the hospital. The list of subscribers reads:
Thomas Stretch and Joseph Stretch were sons of Peter Stretch (1670-1746) and Margery Hall (1668-1746). It is likely the reference to Isaac Stretch is to Isaac Stretch (1714-1770), son of Daniel Stretch (1694-1746), another son of Peter Stretch and Margery Hall. The Stretch family were Quakers.
Joseph Stretch, mentioned above, was at this time "His Majesty's Collector of Excise for the City and County of Philadelphia", as may be seen from a notice in the Pennsylvania Gazette of October 28, 1756; and subsequently, in 1768, he was "His Majesty's Collector of Customs, etc., for the Port of Philadelphia". Robert Harding was pastor of St. Joseph's Church.
The founders of the social club known as Schuylkill Fishing Company numbered twenty, each of whom was either then or later prominent in Philadelphia's business and civic life.
Like Thomas Stretch, many of the early members were Quakers. When its organization took on formal shape, it was an emulation of Pennsylvania's provincial government. Thomas Stretch was named the club's first governor in 1732, and re-elected annually until his death in 1765. He was member No. 1, elected May 1, 1732.
Under Governor Stretch, the colony in Schuylkill prospered in its peaceful pursuits. In the year 1747, for their more convenient accommodation, they resolved to build a "Court House" for the meetings of the Governor, Assembly and colonists, on the slope facing the river, amid the stately walnut trees, some of which furnished the timber. Its members, in 1748, built their first Court House near the City of Philadelphia, on the west side of the Schuylkill River where the Girard Avenue bridge now crosses. The place was then a wilderness, its denizens the fowls of the air, and the fish, which in quantities almost incredible, filled the river.
With much mock formality and discipline, the Schuylkill Fishing Company pursued its piscatorial and fowling interests, upon the success of which depended their meals. Fish or game not caught or killed by its members was not allowed to be served. The annual election of officers, at which Governor Stretch was regularly returned, took place each October. Something of the flavor of the Colony's procedures may be sensed in a proclamation issued by Governor Stretch on September 29, 1744, "the twelfth year of my Government". Evidently in an effort to encourage his colonists to promote game for the year's final meeting on October 4, Stretch called to their attention by Proclamation:
Colony of Schuylkill, ss.
To and all other Schuylkillians whom it may concern.
Whereas great quantities of rabbits, squirrels, pheasants, partridges, and others of the game and kind have presumed to infest the coasts and territories of the Schuylkill in a wild, bold and ungovernable manner; these are therefore to authorize and require you, or any of you, to make diligent search for said rabbits, squirrels, partridges and others of the game kind, in all suspected places where they may be found, and bring the respective bodies of so many as you shall find, before the Justices, etc., at a general court to be held on Thursday, the fourth day of October next, there to be proceeded against, as by the said court shall be adjudged; and for your or any of you are so doing, this shall be your sufficient warrant.
In 1782, "The Colony in Schuylkill" became the "State in Schuylkill".
Thomas Stretch's son, Peter Stretch, his brother, Joseph Stretch, and Joseph's son, Isaac Stretch, were also members of the State in Schuylkill. Samuel Howell, also a member of the State in Schuylkill, married Thomas' niece, Sarah Stretch. Samuel and Sarah Howell's daughter, Sarah Stretch Howell, married Thomas Stretch's son Peter Stretch (1746–1792), also a member, as was Samuel's son, Samuel Howell, Jr.
David Rittenhouse was an American astronomer, inventor, clockmaker, mathematician, surveyor, scientific instrument craftsman, and public official. Rittenhouse was a member of the American Philosophical Society and the first director of the United States Mint.
The Schuylkill River is an important river running northwest to southeast in eastern Pennsylvania, which was improved by navigations into the Schuylkill Canal. Several of its tributaries drain major parts of the center-southern and easternmost Coal Regions in the state.
A clockmaker is an artisan who makes and/or repairs clocks. Since almost all clocks are now factory-made, most modern clockmakers only repair clocks. Modern clockmakers may be employed by jewellers, antique shops, and places devoted strictly to repairing clocks and watches. Clockmakers must be able to read blueprints and instructions for numerous types of clocks and time pieces that vary from antique clocks to modern time pieces in order to fix and make clocks or watches. The trade requires fine motor coordination as clockmakers must frequently work on devices with small gears and fine machinery.
Tulpehocken Creek is a 39.5-mile-long (63.6 km) tributary of the Schuylkill River in southeastern Pennsylvania in the United States, and during the American Canal Age, once provided nearly half the length of the Union Canal linking the port of Philadelphia, the largest American city and the other communities of Delaware Valley with the Susquehanna basin and the Pennsylvania Canal System connecting the Eastern seaboard to Lake Erie and the new settlements of the Northwest Territory via the Allegheny}, Monongahela. and Ohio Rivers at Pittsburgh.
A grandfather clock is a tall, freestanding, weight-driven pendulum clock with the pendulum held inside the tower or waist of the case. Clocks of this style are commonly 1.8–2.4 metres (6–8 feet) tall. The case often features elaborately carved ornamentation on the hood, which surrounds and frames the dial, or clock face. The English clockmaker William Clement is credited with the development of this form in 1670. Until the early 20th century, pendulum clocks were the world's most accurate timekeeping technology, and longcase clocks, due to their superior accuracy, served as time standards for households and businesses. Today they are kept mainly for their decorative and antique value, being widely replaced by both analog and digital timekeeping.
Pennsylvania Hospital is a private, non-profit, 515-bed teaching hospital located in Center City Philadelphia and affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania Health System. Founded on May 11, 1751, by Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Thomas Bond, Pennsylvania Hospital is the earliest established public hospital in the United States. It is also home to America's first surgical amphitheatre and its first medical library. The hospital's main building, dating to 1756, is a National Historic Landmark.
A lantern clock is a type of antique weight-driven wall clock, shaped like a lantern. They were the first type of clock widely used in private homes. They probably originated before 1500 but only became common after 1600; in Britain around 1620. They became obsolete in the 19th century.
Seth Thomas was an American clockmaker and a pioneer of mass production at his Seth Thomas Clock Company.
Eli Terry Sr. was an inventor and clockmaker in Connecticut. He received a United States patent for a shelf clock mechanism. He introduced mass production to the art of clockmaking, which made clocks affordable for the average American citizen. Terry occupies an important place in the beginnings of the development of interchangeable parts manufacturing. Terry is considered the first person in American history to actually accomplish Interchangeable parts with no government funding. Terry became one of the most accomplished mechanics in New England during the early part of the nineteenth century. The village of Terryville, Connecticut is named for his son, Eli Terry Jr.
Laurel Hill Cemetery is a historic cemetery in Philadelphia. Founded in 1836, it was the second major garden or rural cemetery in the United States. In 1998, it was designated a National Historic Landmark; few cemeteries have received this distinction.
Thomas Penn was a son of William Penn, founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony that became the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. Thomas Penn was born in Bristol, England after his father returned there in 1701 because of financial difficulties. Thomas Penn's mother was his father's second wife, Hannah Callowhill Penn (1671–1726), daughter of Thomas Callowhill.
The Bilbie family were bell founders and clockmakers based initially in Chew Stoke, Somerset and later at Cullompton, Devon in south-west England from the late 17th century to the early 19th century.
The Ohio Clock is a clock in the United States Capitol. The United States Senate ordered the clock from Thomas Voigt in 1815 and it has stood in or near the Senate Chamber since 1859.
Benjamin Randolph (1721—1791) was an 18th-century American cabinetmaker who made furniture in the Queen Anne and Philadelphia Chippendale styles. He made the lap desk on which Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence.
The Schuylkill and Susquehanna Navigation Company was a limited liability corporation founded in Pennsylvania on September 29, 1791. The company was founded for the purpose of improving river navigation which in the post-colonial United States era of the 1790s meant improving river systems, not canals. In this Pennsylvania scheme, however, two rivers, a large river, the Susquehanna and a smaller one, the Schuylkill were to be improved by clearing channels through obstructions and building dams where needed. To connect the two watersheds, the company proposed a four-mile summit level crossing at Lebanon Pennsylvania, a length of almost eighty miles between the two rivers. The completed project was intended to be part of a navigable water route from Philadelphia to Lake Erie and the Ohio valley.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Thomas Stretch .|
"A History of the Schuylkill Fishing Company of the State in Schuylkill, 1732-1888." Philadelphia: The State in Schuylkill, 1889.
Fennimore, Donald L. and Hohmann, III, Frank L. "Stretch. America's First Family of Clockmakers." A Winterthur Book. The Henry Francis duPont Winterthur Museum, Inc. and Hohmann Holdings, LLC. 2013.
Frazier, Arthur H. "The Stretch Clock and its Bell at the State House". Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, XCVIII (1974)
Milnor, William. "An Authentic Historical Memoir of the Schuylkill Fishing Company of the State in Schuylkill . . . (Philadelphia, 1850)
Stretch, Carolyn Wood. "Peter Stretch, Clockmaker — 1670-1746". International Studio Magazine. October, 1930. pp 47–49.
Stretch, Carolyn Wood. "Early Colonial Clockmakers in Philadelphia". Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, LVI (1932), p 226.