Henry Jones (B.circa 1642, D. 1695) was one of the most important English clockmakers of the last quarter of the 17th century. He is thought to have been the son of William Jones, Vicar of Boulder, Southampton. Having begun his apprenticeship in August 1654 he was passed over to the great Edward East and eventually given freedom in July 1663. Between 1664 and 1693 he had fourteen, apprentices including his two sons William and Henry. The number of Apprentices taken by a Master can be read as a barometer for how prosperous his workshop was. The average might have been approximately five, whilst makers such as Daniel Quare had fifteen and Thomas Tompion had no fewer than twenty three.
From The Early Clockmakers of Great Britain (B. Loomes 1981) comes a series of interesting incidents that have been recorded in the Clockmakers' Company records.
January 1673-74 he complained that Robert Seignor had erased his name from a Royal clock (or had caused Edward Stanton to do it.) In November 1678, he was on a special meeting which suspended John Matchet for being a Catholic. In July 1679 he had a great quarrel with the fiery John Nicasius, in which the latter was judged to be wrong. In October 1692 he gave £100 for the use of the poor.
It is difficult to get a clear insight into Jones's character from this scant information but it would appear that he was quite a political animal in the Clockmakers' Company. Indeed he was an Assistant in 1676 aged 34, Warden 1687-90 and Master in 1691. One gains the impression that he was a just person although there may be other less favourable unrecorded incidents to balance this good record.
From his clockmaking style it is obvious that Henry Jones was an individualist; his cases, dials and movements had a character all of their own. The present clock displays many typical features such as the lean case mouldings above and below the dial, the slightly squat cushion-moulded top and typical foliate cast mounts - on this occasion cast in precious silver. Jones' typical characteristics on the dial include heavy dots between every five minute interval and heavy well-balanced blued steel hands. The movement has early style fusees and Jones' unusual pillars securing the thick plates. Perhaps most typical is the heavily engraved backplate with visible click wheels for the set-up to the springs secured by an elaborate wish-bone brass spring.
Dutch Striking (whereby the hour is struck at each half hour on a smaller bell) was also a feature occasionally used by Jones, along with one or two other traditional makers such as the Fromanteels.
Some of the rarest features found on spring clocks of this date are the use of silver mounts and skeletonized chapter rings. Although skeletonized chapter rings had been used on the Continent at an earlier date very few London makers used them, perhaps because they were time-consuming to make and very delicate by nature. R.A.Lee (The Knibb Family Clockmakers, Byfleet, 1964) notes:
Few makers in London, ever used them, Clement, Barrow, Dingley, Tompion, Seignor, Henry Jones and Joseph Knibb. The first five only used them in isolated instances; there are about six known by Jones, but Joseph made at least thirty.....
Silver mounts were reserved by Tompion for his Royal clocks and by Knibb for his 'special' clocks. The use of silver mounts was expensive but always aesthetically pleasing. They were the ultimate luxury and were reserved for only the finest timepieces, as with the present example.