George Margetts (1748-1808?)

George Margetts was born on 17thJune, 1748, and baptised on 31stJuly at Woodstock in Oxfordshire. His father was John Margetts, a wheelwright of Old Woodstock, who had at least four other sons, including a John and a William.

George was nearly fourteen when his father died, and was at that time probably apprenticed locally.

In 1779, by this time in London, he became free of the Clockmakers’ Company, and to the Livery in 1799. Even by 1779 he was producing fine astronomical watches for which he is best known today. But Margetts was not solely a watch or chronometer maker. He was in the fullest sense a mathematical practitioner, describing himself as ‘a maker of astronomical Clocks and Watches with other Apparatus used in the Science of Astronomy and the Art of Navigation’.

Margetts was not a successful businessman. In 1789 he had suffered ‘many heavy losses in the India Trade’. He did try to get financial help from the Board of Longitude, without much success.

On 29thDecember, 1788, the Morning Chroniclenoted Margett’s bankruptcy.

Various dates, between 1804 and 1808 are quoted for the death of Margetts, and it is also sometimes suggested that he died in a lunatic asylum.

References :

Brian Loomes. Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World (NAG Press, 2006).

A. J. Turner. Antiquarian Horology Journal, Vol 7, p304.