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The Tudor Society

January 17 – Clockmaker Bartholomew Newsam

Repeater watch and key
ca. 1565 by Bartholomew Newsam, Met Museum

Repeater watch and key
ca. 1565 by Bartholomew Newsam, Met Museum

On this day in Tudor history, 17th January 1587, Bartholomew Newsam (Newsum, Newsham), died. He was buried in the church of St Mary-le-Strand, the parish in which he lived and worked. He was in his fifties at his death.

Bartholomew Newsam, who is thought to have come from the York area, was a famous clockmaker, sundial maker and scientific instrument maker. He worked for Queen Elizabeth I, repairing clocks and perhaps even making them for her.

Newsam was born in around 1530 and married Parnell Young in 1565, having at least fourteen children with her. He was survived four of his children, to one of whom, Edward, he left his clockmaker's tool in the hope that he would follow in his footsteps.

His biographer, Adrian Finch, writes: “he was among the first English clockmakers whose skills were recognized by the crown and whose clocks are judged equal to those of his foreign contemporaries.”

Examples of his work can still be seen in the British Museum and the Met Museum. Here are links to see his gilt-copper spring-driven table clock, his gilt brass box made for storing a set of drawing instruments, his table clock and travelling case, and his repeater watch and key. They really are beautiful.
https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/H_1888-1201-126
https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/H_1912-0208-1
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search#!?q=Bartholomew%20Newsam&perPage=20&sortBy=Relevance&offset=0&pageSize=0

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January 17 – Clockmaker Bartholomew Newsam