Frederick, Duke of Sussex, was the sixth son and ninth child of King
George III and Queen Charlotte. He was born at Buckingham Palace on 27 January, 1773 and made K.G. in 1786.
On account of his delicate health he spent most of his early life
abroad where, according to the Gentleman's Magazine, New Series, Vol. XIX, .....his lengthened sojourn on the Continent tended to foster his intellectual tastes and undoubtedly the opportunity it afforded for diversified social intercourse which assisted to liberalise his sentiments and to impart a genial facility to his manner. His father, the King did not agree with his son's new-found sentiments and was furious when in 1793 he married Lady Augusta Murray (daughter of the 4th Earl of Dunmore) without his permission and in Italy under Roman jurisdiction. The King declared the marriage void in 1794 under the Royal Marriage Act of 1772. They had two children but lived seperate lives. He later married again, Lady Cecilia, ninth daughter of the Earl of Arran.
It was not until 1801 that he was raised to the Peerage, by the title of Baron Arklow, Earl of Inverness and Duke of Sussex. His liberal attitudes estranged him from his father - indeed he had apparently incurred his father's resentment as early as his seventh year when He was by order of the King locked up in his nursery, and sent supperless to bed, for wearing Admiral Keppel's election colours!. But the Duke was not an idle or ignorant man - in fact quite the opposite, he gave energetic support to the abolition of the slave trade, Catholic emancipation, the abolition of the Corn laws and parliamentary reform, all of which were bound to infuriate his father! As for the Arts, he was elected President of the Society of Arts in 1816 and from 1830-38 was President of the Royal Society. For the latter he gave brilliant receptions at Kensington Palace to men of science until it all cost too much and he felt inclined to relinquish the presidency and spend the money on his books. His personal library amounted to over 50,000 volumes including 1000 editions of the Bible. He was a remarkable collector of furniture and other works of art including an enormous collection of amazing pipes which were sold at Christie's on July 10th, 1843, comprising some 564 lots.
His clock and watch collection was astonishing, the clock and watches in the auction of 1843 clearly demonstrated that he had a remarkable understanding for the field of horology. There were clocks by the great 17th century makers such as Joseph Knibb and Thomas Tompion (vis The Sussex Tompion, sold Christie's, 5 July, 1989, lot 63 for £320,000). There was the Harrison longcase clock with ligum vitae wheel trains and clocks, watches and chronometers by John Arnold, Thomas Mudge and Josiah Emery. He also had clocks and watches by Vulliamy, Breguet and Cronier. The present lot was the fourth most expensive of the 137 lots in the sale - the most expensive being a Sèvres lyre clock at 65 guineas.
THE BROTHERS ROCHAT AND MILLERET
Until recently it was a commonly held belief that the makers' punch on this clock FR represented the workshops of Frères Rochat. The brothers François Elisée (1771-1836), Frédérick (1774-1848) and Samuel Henri (1777-1854), were sons of David Rochat, a master watchmaker from Le Brassus in the Valée de Joux. He and his sons worked for the famous Swiss musical and automaton clockmakers Jacquet Droz & Leschot providing ebauches for their singing bird movements.
In the early 19th century the three brothers went to Geneva and set up on their own and soon after François moved away to form a similar business aided by his son Ame Napoléon. Without any further research it cannot now be assumed that the punch FR was the work of Frères Rochat as it now seems quite possible that it could also have been the work of their brother François Rochat and his son Ami.
The other punch mark on the movement has appeared on other similar movements of singing bird cages and its origin is a mystery. However it might possibly be the stamp of the Swiss watchmakers Milleret. From the catalogue of the sale of the Duke's collection it can be seen that the Duke bought a number of expensive watches by Milleret, indeed lot 10 was a repeating watch that fetched 34 guineas, lot 33 was a gold writing case by Milleret which fetched 28 guineas and lot 34 was an enamelled snuff box by Milleret with a small watch in the cover. The present lot is curiously catalogued as;
A SMALL WATCH BY MILLERET, IN AN ORMOLU FILAGREE CASE, in the form of an octagonal temple, containing a bird, which sings and moves its wings, on a musical stand. The ebauche stamp has some semblance of the letter M and could be the mark for Milleret.