Watchmakers in the Douglas Family


James Douglass of Chertsey 1765 - 1835

His Life James was born in 1765 in Chertsey to James Douglass (another watchmaker) and Letitia (née Joyce). He was christened on 27.1.1765 in Chertsey. In 1803, he enrolled in the Chertsey Volunteers. He married Mary Varnden, also of Chertsey in 1804 at St Martin’s in the Field in London. Mary was daughter of William Varnden and Elizabeth. Their origin is not known. James and Mary had 8 children of whom 3 died in infancy, and two more, Henry and William, died in their twenties. Albert, Mary and James all lived to a good age. See James Douglas, 1806-1879 who set up business in Egham about 1839 and Albert Douglas, who was a baker. This James died in 1835 and was buried in Chertsey.

The business of this James was in Guildford Street, Chertsey, see here.

In 16.2.1818 he had a house servant called Rebecca Harding, who left on 24.2.1819 at a salary of £5/10/-. As she is mentioned in poor law records, she may have had a child out of wedlock.

On 7.3.1821 he took on Mary Heather who was pregnant out of wedlock, who stayed a year. This also seems to have been arranged by the poor law overseers.


James was also an auctioneer between at least 1813-1828.


His business It is difficult to know how many of the watches and clocks of James Douglass’ of Chertsey were made by this James Douglass.

It seems probable that most of the best known pieces were by his father.

Brian Loomes, Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the world Vol 2.  gives working date as 1828. Pigot’s Directories in 1823 and 1826 give him as Watch and Clockmaker in Chertsey. He is mentioned as executor in the will (written 1808) of  his mother-in-law, Elizabeth Varnden, as a watchmaker of Chertsey. It seems he was working as a watchmaker at least from 1808-1832, probably longer.

Other clocks by this James (without illustration) is:

  • A 19th century painted Tavern’ timepiece, the dial signed James Douglas, Chertsey, with Roman and Arabic numerals, the single fusee movement with anchor escapement, 65cm (sold in 1999)

  • GEORGE IV SILVER FUSEE CYLINDER POCKET WATCH hallmarked London 1829, the movement and dust cover signed James Douglas, Chertsey, no. 224, finely pierced balance cock with diamond end stone and silver regulating dial within a rubbed engine turned case, 48mm (Sold in 2005)

  • A 19th Century longcase clock with 30 hour movement, the restored brass dial with chapter ring inscribed James Douglas, Chertsey, 193cm high (Auctioned 2003)


19th century oak longcase clock the eight day movement with brass dial, James Douglas Chertsey £300/400 (Auctioned 2003)

A 19th century oak cased 30-hour longcase clock

James Douglas, Chertsey
The square hood with a moulded caddy form top above a moulded cornice, plain turned pillars above a long door, the short base with a deep rectangular plinth, the silvered 10-inch dial with Roman and Arabic numerals and pierced brass spandrels, the weight driven four-pillar mechanism striking on a bell, 
210cm high.

Sold for £400 at Bonham's Chester Mar 2012


For another clock, scroll down. This is not known for certain to be made by this James, but due to similarity is style to that at the right, I believe it was by this James.

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4.-5.000,- kr.

Picture reproduced courtesy of

Copenhagen Auctions in Denmark



Lot 0880                                          est. £1100/1500

Oak eight day longcase clock, the 12" arched brass dial signed James Douglass, Chertsey, the matted centre with subsidiary seconds dial and calendar aperture, the case with long arched door and surmounted by an arched hood, 88" high

Image reproduced courtesy of Gardiner Houlgate Auctions


Description: An early 19thC mahogany longcase clock by Sam Douglas of Chertsey, having brass dial with Roman numerals and minute track, with second subsidiary dial to 12 o'clock and date aperture below, 205cm h x 47cm w x 24cm d.

Estimated Price: £200 - £300.  Sold for £300 by Golding Young and Mawer