A friend owns an English lantern clock with the inscription "Wm Chittel of Studly". The clock dates to about 1635, and probably before 1642 as it is decorated with a ring of flowers that was used before the English Civil War. It was almost certainly made in London.

As there is no Chittel or Chettle in the list of Clockmaker Masters and their Apprentices from the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, it seems most likely that William Chittel/Chettle was the owner of this clock, and so was relatively well off for the period (as these were not common items).

Another clock is known with the inscription "Wm Chettle Studly" which dates to about 1670. It may be that this clock was owned by the same man, or by a relative.

My question: Is it possible to determine who William Chittel/Chettle of Studly was, or at least to narrow down the possibilities? Which Studley was this? And can we determine if the clocks were owned by the same man or potentially by (e.g.) a father and son.

There was a Chittle/Chettle family who lived near the Warwickshire village of Studley, but there are a number of other "Studley"s in England, so this isn't conclusive.

Edited to clarify: The clock has been assessed by a number of experts, and although there's a difference in opinion about whether Chittel was the owner or maker, and where it was made, the (approximate) dating is sound.

  • 2
    As a presumably well-off owner of the clock, wouldn't he have had a will?
    – bgwiehle
    Mar 27, 2017 at 12:45
  • @Bgwiehle Quite possibly, but I've not been able to find it at TNA. Of course, back then, the probate system was fragemented, and further dsrupted by the English Civil War, so knowing where else to search is a challenge.
    – user104
    Mar 27, 2017 at 13:46

2 Answers 2


It sounds like you and your friend have already made considerable effort in dating the clock. I won't question the expertise of whoever suggested it "dates to about 1635" and was "almost certainly made in London," but I would keep in mind that it can be very difficult to accurately date artefacts. In this case, one concern would be that it could be a later replica of an earlier design. If you have not already done so, it would certainly be worth having the clock examined by a clock antique expert. It also can't hurt to get a second opinion if one expert has already given their advice.

Second, be cautious that the inscription may or may not have been made at the time the clock was made. It sounds like you believe that Chittel was an owner of the clock, rather than the maker. In that case, he could have owned it at any point in the seventeenth or eighteenth century, and had his name put on it at a much later date. He might not even have been born by 1635. However, my instinct says that Chittel was the clockmaker, but I don't have any evidence at this point to back that up.

Studley in Warwickshire does seem to be the most likely candidate for the place William Chittel lived. Keep in mind there are many spelling variations of this surname to look for; I wonder if Kettle is a variant of this surname. Searching the parish registers for Studley, Warwickshire indexed on FamilySearch I see:

  • Thomas Kettle, William Kettle, and Martha Kettle, children of John Kettle, were baptised at Studley, Warks in 1676, 1680, and 1684 respectively.
  • Thomas Chettle married Joane Phillips at Studley, Warks in 1697.
  • Mary Kettle married Roger Westropp at Studley, Warks in 1688.
  • Roger Kettle married Elizabeth Rawson at Studley, Warks in 1707.

As others have mentioned, wills are likely to be an important piece of the puzzle. A clock maker or owner of a clock in the seventeenth century is likely to have made a will. The primary court where Studley, Warwickshire wills were proved was Worcester Consistory Court. The higher level court would have been the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. Worcester Consistory wills are not available online, but there is an index of wills up to 1652. No obvious entry for your William Chittel in there, but he could very well have died after 1652. Further resources for tracking down wills in this court are available on the FamilySearch page Court of the Bishop of Worcester (Episcopal Consistory). I would extend your search well into the eighteenth century even though the clock is dated 1635.

There are many other records that can be checked for this period. Sadly, Protestation Returns don't seem to survive for Studley, Warwickshire, which could have been useful in verifying whether there were any Chittels living there in the early 1640s. I've checked the 1662 Hearth Tax for Studley (available on Ancestry.co.uk – subscription required) and could not see any Chittels or variants there in that year. There are other subsidy rolls and tax lists, both pre- and post-civil war, which could also be tracked down, but I'm not aware they are available online.

Lastly, I came across a clockmaker called John Hobbins of Studley, Warks in the early 18th century. He was noted in a mortgage assignment in 1718 and lease in 1736 (by that time apparently deceased). Often there were family connections with these trades, so it may be worth exploring Hobbin's will and immediate family to see if there are any links with Chittels.

  • Thanks, but the provenance or approximate dating of the clock isn't really the issue here -- it belongs to an antique domestic horologist (antique English clock collector) and has been reviewed by others. The other suggestions in your answer are very pertinent to tracking down William Chittel, which is the real question here.
    – user104
    Apr 5, 2017 at 7:47
  • As an aside, forgeries of Englush lantern clocks are very common but as I understand it the forgers focus on the more prolific makers where an 'extra' clock might go unremarked.
    – user104
    Apr 5, 2017 at 7:50

An index to "Clocks Magazine" reports:

Chittel, William, of Studley, May 2013 p14

Unfortunately the magazine's website is down at present, but the Google cache of it is available. Scroll down or search for "Chit" on that page to find the reference.

A search for that issue might be worthwhile. The magazine site has a back-issues page, so when/if it comes back up, you may be able to order one. (Ebay doesn't have it at the moment, but does have numerous older issues.)

There is also a page on a clock dealers' site (brianloomes.com) which, while describing the work of another maker says that:

"A very few other makers did use plates wider than six and a quarter inches. I can think of a few -
William Chittel of Studley (Warwickshire?)"
Almost all of them were individualistic makers working in the rural provinces in relative isolation and probably therefore doing a lot of their own work.

So I think it's likely that William Chittel/Chettle was indeed the clock maker, not the owner. The uncertainty over his location in that quote suggests he is not well known, even to experts.

The latter site above may be able to tell you more, but probably for a fee. They also have a list of useful reference books etc. Other clock enthusiast websites/forums may also be worth a look.

There was also a 2010 auction listing of a "17th century style" lantern clock by "William Chettle of Lambeth, circa 1850". Could be a completely different person, but may be worth further research in case your friend's clock is a later reproduction.

  • Thanks. The Chettle of Lambeth is two centuries too late, alas; and the provenance of the earlier clock is reasonably good (although it can never be perfect). The Clocks Magazine article only mentions the clock briefly (my friend has wall-to-wall back issues). Brian L does hold an alternative view about Chittel being maker rather than owner, but we'll not be able to resolve it until we can track William Chittle down.
    – user104
    Apr 4, 2017 at 10:59
  • You're some way ahead then, sorry. Mr Chittle is rather elusive, but the Civil War is a tough period to find someone in any case. There's a William Chettle/Cheatle of Worcester, a cloth merchant, who seems to have been pretty wealthy judging by his will (on Ancestry), but there's nothing to tie him to Studley, which is ~20 miles away.
    – AndyW
    Apr 4, 2017 at 13:40
  • Will is probably still worth noting -- thanks.
    – user104
    Apr 4, 2017 at 14:59

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