Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,165 pages of information and 245,632 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Thomas Mercer (1822-1900)

From Graces Guide

Thomas Mercer (1822-1900), of Thomas Mercer

1822 November. Born at St. Helens, Lancashire, the son of Richard Mercer (1799-1830), sail maker and barge builder, and his wife, Sarah Walker (1802- ).

1836 December 3rd. Sarah married (2nd) to Samuel Fletcher, manager of the Bridgewater Canal. Thomas was then apprenticed to his grandfather William Walker (1783–1860), a watch-movement maker and founder of a dynasty of watchmakers at Duke Street, St. Helens, Merseyside. Thomas’s father, Richard Mercer, was a sail-maker, so Thomas had the horological and the nautical exposure in his career ancestry. [1] His duties included walking from St Helens to Liverpool occasionally, to deliver a basket of uncased watch movements to his uncle in Homer Street. His grandmother insisted that he should also attend the local school.

1843 He went to work for Thomas Russell in Slater Street, Liverpool, in order to learn from the top of the trade. In his free time he made watches, which he signed and sold under his own name.

1854 Having decided that the English watch and clock industry held no future for him, Mercer took a coach to London and bought a one-way ticket to America. But, while awaiting passage, he saw a marine chronometer in the shop window of John Fletcher, one of the most important chronometer makers of the day. He walked in and asked for work, and was accepted as a watch springer and finisher. During this period, the Greenwich premium trials were being held, to enable the Royal Navy to find makers capable of supplying and servicing chronometers that could be relied on to perform accurately and consistently under the extremes of temperature and motion encountered at sea. High prices were paid for chronometers that passed these trials.

1858 He left Fletcher's service to set up on his own as a chronometer maker at New North Road, London.

1875 May 15th. Married Mary Thompson, daughter of William Thompson, Bootmaker. They had seven children in six years: three boys and two sets of girl twins.

1891 Living at Prospect Road, St. Albans: Thomas Mercer (age 69 born St. Helens), Chronometer Maker and Employer. With his wife Mary Mercer (age 51 born St. Albans) and their three children; Mary Mercer (age 12 born St. Albans); Ada J. Mercer (age 10 born St. Albans); and Frank Mercer (age 9 born St. Albans).[2]

1900 September 29th. Died. Of Verulam Villa, Prospect Road, St. Albans and of 161 Goswell Road, Clerkenwell. He was appointed as judge for the horological class at the Universal Exhibition held in Paris but caught a cold on the ferry crossing to France and died at the Hotel Internationale, Paris.

He was buried in St Stephen's Church, St. Albans.

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