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Peter Stretch Clockmaker and Allied Families

Updated: Oct 12, 2022

Peter Stretch, a Quaker immigrant, made the movement of this tall case clock in the first decade of the eighteenth century. Stretch (1670-1746) moved with his wife and four children from Leek, England, to Philadelphia in 1703. Initially focused on building up his own craft business in clocks and instruments, he eventually became an active member of the local Quaker community, an engaged citizen of the city who served on the City Council and a land owner. A respected and talented craftsman, he trained three of his sons—Daniel, Thomas and William—as clockmakers. The plain walnut case for this clock was constructed by an unknown craftsman. Stretch made the brass movement, which runs for thirty hours on a single weight and strikes a bell on the hour. Its dial features a single hour hand and Stretch’s signature. Although critical technical improvements in the 1660s had permitted the best clocks to keep time to the second, clockmakers at the end of the 17th century were still making some domestic timepieces with only the hour hand. These clocks were usually reliable to the closest quarter hour, rather than to the minute and second.

See also: Donald L. Fennimore and Frank L. Hohmann III, Stretch: America’s First Family of Clockmakers ([Winterthur, DE]: Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, Inc.; [New York, New York]: Hohmann Holdings LLC, 2013.


Sarah Howell (1746-1825) married Peter Stretch II (1746-1793), son of Thomas Stretch and Mary Ann Robbins. She died at Burlington, New Jersey in April, 1825. Children: Elizabeth Stretch, Joseph H. Stretch, deceased by 1818. Mary Howell Stretch (1778-1843), married Theodorus Van Wyck (1776-1840). Theodorus Van Wyck’s grandfather was Pierre Van Cortlandt (1721-1814), Lieutenant Governor of New York, 1777-1795. Among their children: Sarah Howell Van Wyck (1806-1830) married James Budd (1798-1833) of New Jersey.[33][34][35] Samuel Howell, Jr. (ca 1748-1802) born in Philadelphia; died 31 October 1802. He married Margaret Emlen (1750-1822), 23 May 1771. Like his father and kinsmen, he became a member of the State in Schuylkill, March 10, 1784. In 1772 Samuel Howell, Jr. was a signer of Pennsylvania colonial currency. Notes totaling ₤25,000 were authorized March 21, 1772, 72,825 notes, to be signed by any one of twenty-four signers, one of who was Samuel Howell, Jr. Elizabeth Howell, married George Douglass at Philadelphia, 8 December 1767. Both deceased prior to 15 February 1808. Joseph Howell, died at Philadelphia, PA, August, 1798. He married Catharine Reynolds. Mary Howell, married Mr. Pascoe, of the Bermudas. Rachel Howell, married Benjamin Thompson on April 29, 1782.

PDF FILE from International Art Studio article by Carolyn Wood Stretch

Peter Stretch Clockmaker
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