Thomas Tompion, 1639-1713, was born in Northill, Bedfordshire, the son of a blacksmith. He had moved to London by 1671 and became a Brother of the Clockmakers' Company by redemption. In 1674 he moved to Water Lane and met the influential pre-eminent scientist and mathematician Dr. Robert Hooke. Hook recognised Tompion's enormous talent and introduced Tompion to the English Royal Court which enabled him to hold an unrivaled position in English horology. In 1703 he became Master of the Clockmakers' Compay, he died aged 74 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
The present table clock was made during a brief period in Tompion's ouevre when he was adopting a new system for regulating the speed of the pendulum from the dial rather than by directly adjusting the position of the pendulum bob. This simple but very clever innovation meant the owner no longer had to turn the clock around, stop it and fiddle with the regulation nut beneath the bob. The regulation dial was subsidiary to the main chapter ring (by chapter XI) and to balance it he introduced a dial by which one could silence the striking of the hours. The concept meant that the the dial went from being square to rectangular and for a very brief period Tompion's cases took a while to adjust to the new dial proportions. The present clock has a slightly rounded section to the upper rail of the door. Very shortly afterwards - even as early as Tompion No. 171 - he had ironed out the problem.
It is thought that Tompion probably supplied all of his clocks with winding keys, each of which would have been numbered with the same serial number as the clock it was 'assigned' to. Such keys were all too easily lost and indeed today 17th century crank keys are rare to find. It is thought that possibly even few than 10 numbered Tompion crank keys still remain with their original clocks. Precious few one one considers that perhaps only approximately 330 clocks by Tompion are currently extant.
The present clock is in excellent unrestored condition, many of the case joints are very dry and the small pierced ebony sound frets appear to be original survivals. The escapement and pendulum have not been reconverted and the repeat and pendulum regulation systems appear to be original.