Born in Exeter in 1715, Thomas Mudge ranks as one of the greatest clockmakers of the 18th century. He was made a Free of the Clockmakers' Company in 1738, having been apprenticed to the illustrious George Graham. Subsequently he worked for Graham and upon the latter's death in 1751 set up business in Fleet Street. Mudge was appointed a Liveryman in the Clockmakers' Company in 1766 and Clockmaker to George III in 1776. Among the highlights of a brilliant career are Mudge's invention of the lever escapement in 1759 and his work on the marine chronometer (in 1765 he published Thoughts on the Means of Improving Watches, particularly those for Use at Sea).
In 1755 Mudge entered into partnership with William Dutton, another of Graham's apprentices. In 1771 he left the business in Dutton's charge and moved to Plymouth, where he dedicated himself to marine chronometers, the first of which was sent to Greenwich Observatory in 1774. The partnership continued until Mudge's death in 1794. See also lot 82.