Thomas Harland of Norwich, Connecticut.

Thomas Harland was an accomplished and influential clockmaker. He was responsible for training many clockmakers. Some of which became famous makers in their own right. He was the Simon Willard of Connecticut.

Thomas Harland was born in England in 1735. He emigrated to this country in 1773 through Boston on one of the infamous tea ships that later participated in Boston’s Tea Party. He came to this country as a trained clockmaker and soon established a clock shop in Norwich. On December 9th of 1773, he advertised in the Norwich Packet: “Thomas Harland, Watch and Clock-maker from London, Begs leave to acquaint the public that he has opened a shop near the store of Christopher Leffingwell, in Norwich where he makes in the neatest manner and on the most approved principles, horizontal, repeating and plain watches in gold, silver, metal or covered cases. Spring, musical and plain clocks; church clocks, regulators etc. He also cleans and repairs watches and clocks with the greatest care and dispatch, and upon reasonable terms. N.B. clock faces engraved and finished for the trade. Watch wheels and fuzees of all sorts and dimensions, cut and finished upon the shortest notice, neat as in London and at the same price.” In the same year he married Hannah Clark. By 1790 he employed as many as twelve apprentices turning out an annual production of 40 clocks and 200 watches. Some of his more notable apprentices included the clockmakers Nathaniel Shipman, David Greenleaf, Gurdon Tracy, Jedediah Baldwin, William Cleveland, Daniel Burnap, Eli Terry, Seril & Ezra Dodge, Benjamin Hanks and his own son Thomas Jr., (1781-1806) to name just a few. Overall, he worked for thirty-five profitable years in America as a clockmaker, watchmaker, silversmith and engraver, probably producing more tall case clocks than any other Connecticut maker. He died at the age of 72 on March 31st, 1807. He is given credit as to making the first watch manufactured in this country.

Clocks that are known can be found in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in the collection of the U. S. Department of State, in the collection of the Slater Memorial Museum in Norwich, Connecticut, in the collection of Wadsworth Atheneum, in the collection of The American Museum, Bath UK. Their are numerous examples pictured in various publications.

Thomas Harland, Norwich, Connecticut. A fine Chippendale cherry cased tall clock featuring a case that is attributed to the cabinetmaker Felix Huntington.

This case is of a distinctive type found on many of Thomas Harland's tall case clocks. Among the cabinetmakers known to… read more