Simon Willard, Sr. (1753 - 1848)

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Birthplace: Grafton, Worchester, Massachusetts, United States
Death: Died in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States
Managed by: Carol Selis
Last Updated:

About Simon Willard, Sr.

The most famous name among clockmakers of Massachusetts was Willard. Benjamin Willard was born in Framingham, Mass., in 1716. He had one of those good old-fashioned families of twelve children. Three of his sons, Benjamin, Jr., Simon, and Aaron, all became famous as expert clockmakers. Their first clocks were made about 1765 or somewhat earlier. In the Boston Evening Post of December, 1771, Benjamin, Jr., advertises his "removal from Lexington to Roxbury and that he will take care of clocks purchased of him or of his workmen at Grafton where clocks are made as well as at Roxbury. He will sell house clocks neatly cased cheaper than imported. He hopes this and other kind of mechanical performances may be encouraged as large sums of money had been sent abroad which might have been retained to the emolument of this country".

In 1774 Benjamin Willard, Jr., also advertised as follows, in the "Massachusetts Spy":

MUSICAL CLOCKS, TO BE SOLD

A number of Musical Clocks which play a different Tune each Day in the Week, on Sunday a Psalm Tune. Enquire of

BENJAMIN WILLARD,

Clock and Watch Maker in Roxhury-street, near Boston. Where all Sorts of Clocks are made in the newest form and warranted to measure Time without Variation, and to go many Years without cleaning. Also Clock-Cases made at the same place in Various Forms, and in the best Manner, and cheaper than can be purchased in London, and conveyed with Clocks to any Part of the Country. N. B. Said Willard likewise informs, that all Branches of this Business are carried on at his Shop at Grafton.

Benjamin Willard, Jr., was born at Grafton, Mass., March 19, 1743. He was the first member of this family to take up clock-making, and his clocks are marked Grafton, Lexington, or Roxbury. He died in Baltimore, Md., 1803.

Of the three brothers Simon was by far the most noted and undoubtedly the best clockmaker. He remained at Roxbury till his death in 1848, and he left a son of the same name still in the business. He advertised very little, but relied on his clock papers.

CLOCK MANUFACTORY

SlMON WlLLARD

At his Clock Dial in Roxbury street, manufactures every kind of Clock Work, such as large Clocks for Steeples, made in the best manner, and warranted, price with one dial, 500 dollars; with two dials, 600 dollars; with three dials, 700 dollars; with four dials, 900 dollars. Common eight day clocks with very elegant faces and mahogany cases, price from 50 to 60 dollars. Elegant eight day Time pieces, price 30 dollars. Time pieces which run 30 hours and warranted, price 10 dollars. Spring Clocks of all kinds, price from 50 to 60 dollars. Clocks that will run one year with once winding up, with very elegant cases price 100 dollars. Time pieces for Astronomical purposes price 70 dollars. Time pieces for meeting houses to place before the gallery, with neat enamelled dials, price 55 dollars. Chime Clocks that will play 6 tunes price 120 dollars. Perambulators are also made at said place, which can be affixed to any kind of wheel carriage, and will tell the miles and rods exact, price 15 dollars.

Gentlemen who wish to purchase any kind of clocks are invited to call at said Willard's Clock Manufactory, where they will received satisfactory evidence, that it is much cheaper to purchase new, than old and second hand clocks; He warrants all his work and as he is ambitious to give satisfaction he doubts not of receiving the public approbation and patronage.

First place the clock perpendicular, then fasten it with a screw, pull out the nails which fasten the pendulum and pulleys, then hang on the weights, the heaviest on the striking parts. You need not wind up any till the clock is run down. You may set the clock to the right hour, by moving the minute hand forwards or backwards. The Month and the Moon wheel is fixed right by moving them with your finger screw the pendulum ball up to make the clock go faster, and down to go slower.

Although the name of Willard is generally associated with that form of clock which has come to be known as "banjo" the clock paper just given shows that they made many other kinds. After moving from Grafton, about 1788, Simon Willard gave up the making of any style of clock except turret, gallery, church and hall clocks, and general repair work.

The banjo clocks, which are so much desired to-day were only a small part of their business, which not only included all kinds of house clocks but church and turret clocks as well. It may be well to state here that in the interesting book just published by John W. Willard, called "Simon Willard and His Clocks" the author says that on the top of these "patent timepieces" Simon Willard used a wooden or brass acorn, or a ball, gilded, never the spread eagle.

Aaron Willard, Jr., who made very fine long-case clocks with brass works, did not go into business till 1823, when he entered his father's shop. The distribution of the Willard clocks was wide-spread. You find them, particularly the banjo, in all parts of America, and most of them are still dependable timekeepers.

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The Willard House and Clock Museum in North Grafton, Mass.,

Circa 1718, is a festive place with historic roots.

    Benjamin Willard began making clocks in his small, rural Massachusetts workshop in 1766. His three younger brothers, Simon, Ephraim and Aaron, quickly learned the trade and began a three-generation clockmaking legacy in the Grafton workshop. 

Today, over 80 Willard clocks are exhibited in the birthplace and original workshop of the Willard clockmakers, along with family portraits, furnishings and other Willard family heirlooms. Works of brothers Franklin and Zabdiel are also documented.

Various Willard style clocks include: Turret, Gallery, Skeleton, Tall Case, Regulator, Eddystone Lighthouse, Act of Parliament, Lyre, Massachusetts Shelf, Improved Timepiece and 30-Hour Primitives.




Admission is charged. Reservations are requested for groups of 8 and larger. Arrangements can be made for light refreshments and evening tours. Please see "Hours and Fees" page for current hours and admission fees.



Special events and workshops are also held during the year for both children and adults. See our current events page.

The Museum Shop offers books on Willard clocks and related items, gifts, souvenirs, clock, antiques and collectible glassware and is open during museum hours. Sample items can be ordered by phone or email.

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http://www.archive.org/stream/earlyamericancr00dyergoog/earlyamericancr00dyergoog_djvu.txt

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  1. ID: I26620
  2. Name: Simon Willard 1
  3. Sex: M
  4. Birth: 3 APR 1753 in Grafton, Worcester, MA
  5. Note:
   He was a soldier in the Grafton company who responded to t he L ex in gt on a la rm, and served one week.
   He was a clock-maker of high repute; liv ed in Ro xb ur y. He di ed in Bo st on at the residence of his daughter Au gust 3 0, 184 8.

Father: Benjamin Willard b: 13 NOV 1716 in Framingham, Middlesex, MA

Mother: Sarah Brooks

Marriage 1 Hannah Willard b: 9 APR 1756

   * Married: 28 JAN 1775

Marriage 2 Mary Bird b: 18 FEB 1763

   * Married: 23 JAN 1788

Children

  1. Has No Children Isaac Willard b: 6 FEB 1776
  2. Has No Children Thomas Rice Willard b: 3 NOV 1788
  3. Has No Children Hannah Willard b: 25 MAR 1790
  4. Has No Children Harriot Willard b: 26 SEP 1791
  5. Has No Children Mary Willard b: 12 MAR 1793
  6. Has Children Simon Willard b: 13 JAN 1795 in Roxbury, Suffolk, MA
  7. Has No Children Joseph Willard b: 13 SEP 1796
  8. Has No Children Julia Knox Willard b: 25 SEP 1798
  9. Has No Children John Means Willard b: 20 MAR 1800
 10. Has Children Julia Willard b: 28 JAN 1802
 11. Has Children Benjamin Franklin Willard b: 2 NOV 1803 in Boston, Suffolk, MA
 12. Has Children Sarah Brooks Willard b: 25 JUN 1805

Sources:

  1. Title: WILLARD GENEALOGY, SEQUEL TO WILLARD MEMOIR
     Author: Materials gathered by Joseph Willard and Charles Wilkes Walker, Edited and completed by Charles Henry Pope
     Publication: Printed for the Willard Family Assn., Boston, MA, 1915, Murray and Emery, Kendall Sq., Cambridge, MA, Digital Edition 2001 by Richard Bingham, Oceanport, NJ
     Repository:
     Media: Electronic 

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http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.monkey-feathers.com/MonkeyFeathersBooks/EarlyAmericanCraftsmen/P4113469.JPG&imgrefurl=http://www.monkey-feathers.com/MonkeyFeathersBooks/EarlyAmericanCraftsmen/EarlyAmericanCraftsmenCh06.html&usg=__5fhUPqBPAIsNWeUtcKXBwD9G7N4=&h=600&w=471&sz=119&hl=en&start=13&um=1&tbnid=q7I9yGT-bGuf7M:&tbnh=135&tbnw=106&prev=/images%3Fq%3D%2522%2Bjohn%2Bware%2Bwillard%2522%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26sa%3DN%26um%3D1

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Simon Willard

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Birth: 1753

Grafton

Worcester County

Massachusetts, USA

Death: 1848

Along with his brothers Benjamin and Aaron, in 1770 he set up a shop in Boston, making clocks and watches, the first of several generations. In 1801 he invented the eight day banjo clock.


Burial:

Forest Hills Cemetery and Crematory

Jamaica Plain

Suffolk County

Massachusetts, USA --------------------

  1. ID: I2915
  2. Name: Simon Willard
  3. Sex: M
  4. Birth: 3 APR 1753 in Grafton, MA

Father: Benjamin Willard b: 13 NOV 1716 in Grafton, MA

Mother: Sarah Brooks b: 1717

Marriage 1 Hannah Willard b: 9 APR 1756 in Grafton, MA

   * Married: 29 NOV 1776 in Grafton, MA

Children

  1. Has No Children Isaac Watts Willard b: 6 FEB 1777

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  1. ID: I26620
  2. Name: Simon Willard 1
  3. Sex: M
  4. Birth: 3 APR 1753 in Grafton, Worcester, MA
  5. Note:
   He was a soldier in the Grafton company who responded to t he L ex in gt on a la rm, and served one week.
   He was a clock-maker of high repute; liv ed in Ro xb ur y. He di ed in Bo st on at the residence of his daughter Au gust 3 0, 184 8.

Father: Benjamin Willard b: 13 NOV 1716 in Framingham, Middlesex, MA

Mother: Sarah Brooks

Marriage 1 Hannah Willard b: 9 APR 1756

   * Married: 28 JAN 1775

Marriage 2 Mary Bird b: 18 FEB 1763

   * Married: 23 JAN 1788

Children

  1. Has No Children Isaac Willard b: 6 FEB 1776
  2. Has No Children Thomas Rice Willard b: 3 NOV 1788
  3. Has No Children Hannah Willard b: 25 MAR 1790
  4. Has No Children Harriot Willard b: 26 SEP 1791
  5. Has No Children Mary Willard b: 12 MAR 1793
  6. Has Children Simon Willard b: 13 JAN 1795 in Roxbury, Suffolk, MA
  7. Has No Children Joseph Willard b: 13 SEP 1796
  8. Has No Children Julia Knox Willard b: 25 SEP 1798
  9. Has No Children John Means Willard b: 20 MAR 1800
 10. Has Children Julia Willard b: 28 JAN 1802
 11. Has Children Benjamin Franklin Willard b: 2 NOV 1803 in Boston, Suffolk, MA
 12. Has Children Sarah Brooks Willard b: 25 JUN 1805

Sources:

  1. Title: WILLARD GENEALOGY, SEQUEL TO WILLARD MEMOIR
     Author: Materials gathered by Joseph Willard and Charles Wilkes Walker, Edited and completed by Charles Henry Pope
     Publication: Printed for the Willard Family Assn., Boston, MA, 1915, Murray and Emery, Kendall Sq., Cambridge, MA, Digital Edition 2001 by Richard Bingham, Oceanport, NJ
     Repository:
     Media: Electronic 

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Simon Willard Sr.'s Timeline

1753
April 3, 1753
Grafton, Worchester, Massachusetts, United States
1776
February 6, 1776
Age 22
United States
November 29, 1776
Age 23
Grafton, Massachusetts, United States
1788
January 23, 1788
Age 34
United States
November 3, 1788
Age 35
United States
1790
March 25, 1790
Age 36
United States
1791
September 26, 1791
Age 38
United States
1793
March 12, 1793
Age 39
United States
1795
January 13, 1795
Age 41
Roxbury, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States
1796
September 13, 1796
Age 43
United States