There have been several clock and watch makers in Moreton, sometimes combining this work with other crafts such as gunsmith (as John Lang did), or with more general activities.
Perhaps we should start with a mention of Benjamin Bowring (1778-1846), who was not a Moreton man himself but was the son of a Moretonhampstead girl (Susannah White), went to the school attached to the Unitarian Chapel in Moreton, and was the founder of the Bowring business and ancestor of the Bowrings who retired here and gave us the Bowring Library. Benjamin Bowring was apprenticed to a clock and watchmaker and set up in that business in Exeter in 1803. In that year he published the following advertisement: ‘B. BOWRING, Watchmaker, Silversmith, Jeweller and Engraver, begs leave most respectfully to inform his Friends and the Public that he has opened a SHOP nearly opposite to St Martin’s Lane, in the High Street, where he intends to carry on the above BUSINESSES in all their Branches; and hopes by Assiduity and reasonable Charges, he shall merit and obtain their Patronage and continued Support.’ After a few years he found there was a demand for clocks in Newfoundland (which had a steady trade in fish with the West Country), and from 1811 he also built up a business in clocks (and later other goods) in St Johns, Newfoundland, with such success that he sold his Exeter business in 1815.
John Lang (1737-1807) was a clockmaker and gunsmith. He was apprenticed about 1756 to John Nathan Tickle of Crediton and made many beautiful longcase clocks which are signed ‘Moreton’. His brother Joshua (b. 1746) was also a clockmaker.
Samuel Laskey made longcase clocks, including a 30-hour one with musical train; another (about 1770-80) in a pine case. His clocks were also signed ‘Moreton’.
Silvester Treleaven (1787-1865) and his son, Silvester (1812-1898), were both listed in directories as clock- and watchmakers (among many other things), doing business from Cross Street in 1823-30, then in New Street (now The Square). We have a picture and a close-up of a longcase clock by Silvester senior.
William Rihll (1811-1878), the son of a French prisoner of war (see family history), was a watchmaker. He made a 30-hour painted-dial longcase clock, and others are reported from as far afield as Australia. He was followed in business as a watchmaker in the The Square by his son Albert John (1846-1905).
Other watchmakers who were in business in Moreton at the end of the 19th century were Albert Miles, J.H. Boyce, Alexander Bucklow, H.C. David, A. and T Miles. Thomas Soper was a watchmaker in 1823.
John Tickell of Crediton, who was John Lang’s master, was the maker of the Act of Parliament Clock which still hangs in the Unitarian Chapel.