GATWARD, Hemel Hempstead & Hitchin, from 1760

October 2001


Clock & Watch Makers

Hemel Hempstead


Matt Wheeler of the Dacorum Heritage Trust wrote: I've been sent the particulars for a barometer coming up for auction. It states that it is early 19th century and that the dial was made by S. Gatward of Hemel Hempstead. I've never come across this name before and wondered if you had?

Later he reported that they had been unsuccessful in the auction.

The 1823 Pigot's Directory records a Samuel Gatward, Watch and Clock Maker, Hemel Hempstead and the IGI (familysearch) records that Anna Maria Gatward was baptised on 26 May 1822 at St Mary's, Hemel Hempstead, the daughter of Samuel Gatward and Ann Francis. A Samuel Gatward, son of Samuel and Catherine Gatward, was born on 8th March 1800, and is recorded in the Luton Baptist records (source familysearch) but there is no way of knowing whether there is a connection.

There may well be a link with the Gatward family of watchmakers of Hitchin. A search of the World Wide Web using came up with some interesting references.:

The Hitchin town website revealed that James Gatward open his doors for business in 1760. Originally clock and watchmakers, James and his son Benjamin are mentioned in G H Ballie's Watch Makers of the World. Today Anna and Lisa Gatward, the seventh generation, also stock gems and gold jewellery, silverware and giftware.

Gatward the Jewellers as it is today
Believed formerly to have been an old Drovers' Inn.
Established in 1760 by James Gatward as a Jewellers.
Remaining in the family to the present day.

Holloway, the auctioneers recently sold a late 18th century oak longcase clock, the moulded hood with gilt metal ball finials and the arched painted dial with date aperture and seconds subsidiary dial signed John Gatward Hitchin and with four pillar, eight day movement, striking on a bell, the trunk with arched moulded door, 224cm (88in) high overall  400-500.

The 1794 Hitchin directory lists Benjamin Gatward, watchmaker, while familysearch shows that several children of Benjamin Gatward are recorded in the records of the Tilehouse Street Baptist Church, and the National Burial Index shows that a James Gatward was buried on 28th June 1801, while 69 year old Benjamin was buried on 3rd July 1837.

In the 19th century trade directories contain further information on the Hitchin family. The 1823 Pigot's Directory lists a John Gatward, Watch and Clockmaker, Sun Street, Hitchin, together with Benj. Gatward, Fancy Warehouse, Sun Street. The 1839 Pigot's Directory lists John Gatward, Watch and Clockmaker, Cock Street, Hitchin, and Frances Gatward, Toy Dealer, Sun Street Hitchin. [This may be the old meaning of toy - which in the 18th century could include things such as snuff boxes and might have included automata.] The 1850 Post Office Directory lists Mrs Frances Gatward, toy warehouse, Sun Street; John Gatward, ironmonger, Cock Street; and John Gatward, watchmaker & jeweller, Sun Street. By 1882 John (Bancroft) and Joseph (Queen Street) were listed as private residents while under commercial there were Gatward & Jeeves, linen drapers, Market Square; Cornelius William Gatward, jeweller, Market Square; and John Gatward & Son, general and furnishing ironmongers, kitchen range & stove manufacturers, gas, hot water and steam fitters, engineers, iron and brass founders & agricultural implement makers, High Street.

The 1881 census lists the following heads of households and their families:

Benjamin Gatward (71) was a master Watchmaker born in Hitchin and living in Welwyn

Joseph Gatward (66) was a draper born and living in Hitchin

John Gatward (58) was an Ironmonger born and living in Hitchin

Cornelius W Gatward (56) was a Watch and Clock maker born and living in Hitchin

Henry Gatward or Galward (47) was a Watchmaker born and living in Saffron Walden.

Gatwards circa 1900, by E. A. Phipson, in Hitchin Museum

I picked up two miscellaneous 20th century references. Reginald Hine, in his book Confessions of an Uncommon Attorney, describes a visit of the Rev. L. W. Denman to buy spectacle from Bradley Gatward's shop in Hitchin. The Tilehouse Street Baptist Church website reveals that in 1935 their organist and choirmaster, W. B. Gatward, felt that a quiet stop in the Great organ would be a worthwhile acquisition.

The following table combines the Gatward entries from Britten's Old Clocks & Watches, 9th edition, 1982; Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World by G H Baillie, 3rd edition 1951, and Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World Volume 2, by Brian Loomes, 2nd edition 1989.













Cornelius W





Saffron Walden



Saffron Walden



Hitchin, from London






Bristol, watchmaker



39 West Smithfield, London, watchmaker



Tonbridge, watchmaker



Clockmakers Company, Sevenoaks, watchmaker



Clockmakers Company, son of Samuel Warren, shopkeeper of Hoddesdon, Herts. Apprenticed London



Hemel Hempstead






Apprenticed, London



Saffron Walden




If anyone can link this interesting Hitchin family with Samuel Gatward of Hemel Hempstead I will be delighted to hear from you.

December 2001

John Gatward (gatward @t wrote: From my research of the Gatward Family the Samuel referred to as a Watchmaker, was the son of Benjamin Gatward & Katherine Yates & therefore a brother of James Gatward who started the Jewellery business in Hitchin. I did not know he was a watchmaker. He married Ann Francis. As far as I know they had two children Anna Maria Gatward & Harriett Gatward and I did not know they had a son Samuel b:25 Feb 1799.

October 2009

John Gatward Catling (j.catling @t of Kassel, Germany, writes: I am the grandson of Martha Gertrude Gatward (1846-1933)who married Frederick Catling in Haverhill in 1873. I have also a longcase regulator clock made by John Gatward, Hitchin, about 1820, and a portrait of Samuel Gatward, born 25.2.1799, who died at Huntingdon 3.3.1870.

I was most interested to see that the 1861 census shows that the Samuel Gatward of Huntingdon was from Hitchin. (When this page started the census returns were not available online). I therefore decided to explore the connection. The 1861 census shows:

High Street, Huntingdon Samuel Gatward head widower 62 Watch Maker Herts, Hitchin
  Charles Gatward son unmarried 23 Watch Maker Huntingdon
  Martha Gatward daughter   14   Huntingdon
  Ester Bates servant unmarried 50 Domestic Kent

In the 1851 census the family is recorded as "Gutward" (due in part to the way the "a" is written with an open top):

High Street, Huntingdon Samuel Gatward Head Married 57 Watch Maker Herts Hitchin
  Sarah Gatward Wife Married 50   Hunts Woodhurst
  Yates Gatward Son   16 Apprentice Huntingdon St Mary
  Joseph Gatward Son   11 Scholar Huntingdon St John
  Martha Gatward Daughter   5 Scholar Huntingdon St John
  Amos Gatward Brother Unmarried 41 Assistant Herts Hitchin
  Elizabeth Taylor Lodger Widow 33 Tea Dealer Hunts St Neots

I suspect that "Yates" is either a nickname or mistake for "Samuel". Charles was apprenticed to a clock and watch maker in Southwark.  In 1841 I found:

High Street, Huntingdon Samuel Gatward 40 Watch Maker Not Hunts
  Sarah Gatward 40   Hunts
  Samuel Gatward 5   Hunts
  Charles Gatward 3   Hunts
  Joseph Gatward 2   Hunts
  Amos Gatward 30 Watch Maker Not Hunts
  Betty Dixon 13 Female Servant Hunts

FreeBMD suggests that Joseph has a twin brother James, and in addition a Harriet Gatward was born in 1842. Both James and Harriet died as infants and their mother Sarah died in 1853. The 1861 census says Martha was born in about 1846 but this is not indexed by FreeBMD (but see A Comedy of Errors).

According to familysearch the most likely marriage for Samuel is to Sarah Deamer, at St Mary, Luton, (not far from Hitchin) on 28th September, 1821. Samuel was baptised at the Baptist Chapel in Luton on 8th March 1800, the son of  Samuel and Catherine Gatward

September 2014

Terry Gatward (tgatward @t wrote from Sydney saying: I believe this may be incorrect as the Samuel Gatward who got married in Luton was born in Luton 8 Mar 1800 to Samuel Gatward and Catherine Gatward who come from Potton. This Samuel Gatward became a 2 time transported convict, initially to Bermuda and finally to Australia (NSW). I have done fairly extensive research into this Samuel Gatward if anyone is interested in the details


Terry also let me have a copy of the 250th anniversary booklet - see below.

Earlier research might prove difficult - as the family clearly had nonconformist connections (note baptism in a Baptist chapel and Old Testament Christian names) meaning that birth/baptism records may not exist (see Where is my ancestor's baptism before 1837?) and the same Christian names were regularly reused in different branches of the family (see The Inheritance of Christian Names and Right Name, Wrong Body). However if is almost certain that all the early "Hitchin" Gatwards were closely related, if not actually members of a single family. The business is still trading and it is currently claimed that the Gatward family have traded in Hitchin since 1760 - but if this date is correct it is surprising that the name does not occur for Hitchin in the Militia Lists from 1758-1785.

 See also GATWARD, Hitchin, late 19th century

April 2011

James Lorrain Gattward (info @t of Bassenthwaite, Cumbria, writes to say: I own an oak long cased clock with the name S. GATWARD Huntingdon (in different type), very old, purchased at an auction in Macclesfield around 1972/3

September 2014

GATWARD - Jewellers - Hitchin

Celebrating 250 Years


Gatward the Jewellers, of Hitchin produced an attractive looking booklet to celebrate their 250 year history. It contains some information on the various Gatward owners of the shop, pictures of some of the early clocks and watches, and views of Hitchin which include the shop.

Somewhat disappointingly there is no detailed history about the actual business and I gather that, despite the age of the building, no historically interesting papers survive that record the business activities carried out in this ancient building.


James Gatward 1710-??

Benjamin Gatward 1767-1837

John Gatward  1796-1865

Cornelius Gatward 1824-1893

Bradley Gatward 1856-1947

Wilson Gatward 1901-1960

Anna Gatward 1943-Present

Lisa Gatward 1948-Present


Longcase Clock by Benjamin Gatward

If you can add to the information given above tell me.