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WORLDWIDE Chapter 149 Message Board Forum Index » English watch discussions » Rich Topping of Antigua, Cylinder movement c1750-1760 Goto page 1, 2  Next
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Rich Topping of Antigua, Cylinder movement c1750-1760
PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2020 9:39 am Reply with quote
omexa reborn
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Location: Darwin, Australia




Hi, I am not sure how to approach the subject of this movement; I know very little about Antigua; I do know that Lord Nelson was in the area In 1784. He received command of the frigate HMS Boreas with the assignment to enforce the Navigation Acts in the vicinity of Antigua. The Acts were unpopular with both the Americans and the colonies. The movement is a very finely made "Cylinder escapement" with "Square Pillars". Maybe someone can date it by these features. The Maker, Rich Topping.
Sellers Description: "Beautiful, rare and super Quality example of a cylinder movement signed - Richard Topping of ***Antigua***
Quality is absolutely exceptional !!!
Super rare and possibly one of a kind !!!
All original piece.
Dustcover signed too.
Beautifully pierced and engraved.
Beautiful blued screw heads.
Slightly Dirty but the Gilding is fantastic.
No Dial but the dial plate is there including the minute wheel.
Just missing the hour wheel.
*Very early movement Lovely early piece.
Approx 1740-1750s.
Quality is amazing.
Stunning piercing and engraving.
Diamond endstone. ****Perfect working order. ****
Works Lovely in all positions. Not cleaned or serviced but works great.
Would be lovely cased up.
Needs an hour wheel, dial and hands only
So very minor work needed. *Spares / Repairs*
Loomes Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the world has one entry:-
Topping Richard Antigua West Indies pre 1770

That's another beautiful piece. The engraving is fine, especially the dragon, and I'd guess at 1750-60 for the date. I wonder what the small rectangular reserve is on the cock foot? It will be interesting to see the details of the escapement when it arrives with you. I can't find a Richard Topping in Brittens.

Just looking at the very low serial number #212 makes me believe that Topping was the maker. Given that (as you said, Ray) Antigua was a central British naval centre in the 18th century, they would certainly have had need of a watchmaker, and Richard Topping probably had the whole market to himself. He might have been one of those second sons who, lacking an inheritance, went to the West Indies (funded by his father) to seek his fortune. I might have found an owner for this movement. I found "Martin Antigua" inscribed on the Pillar Plate. Samuel Martin (Secretary to the Treasury)

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2020 9:41 am Reply with quote
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Slave resistance did occur on Antigua. In the 17th century, before the island was properly settled, runaways formed what were known as maroon societies—villages made up of escaped slaves who concealed themselves in the wild interior around the summit of Antigua’s extinct volcano, Boggy Peak. English justice was harsh; when the maroons were recaptured in a round-up ordered in 1687, one slave found guilty of “mutinous behaviour” was sentenced to be “burned to ashes,” and another, who had carried messages, had a leg sawed off. This treatment was not sufficient to dissuade others, though, and in 1701 fifteen recently arrived slaves rose against their owner, Major Samuel Martin, and hacked him to death for refusing to give them Christmas off. There was even a worryingly ritual aspect to the slaves’ revenge—they removed Martin’s head, doused it in rum, and, one contemporary reported, “Triumphed Over it.”

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2020 9:42 am Reply with quote
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On the Dial Plate is scratched “Martin Antigua” and I presume it is the purchaser of the Pocket Watch put on the Plate by Rich Topping.
He was the son of Samuel Martin, the leading plantation owner on the West Indies island of Antigua, where he was born, and eldest half-brother of Sir Henry Martin, 1st Baronet (1733–1794), for many years naval commissioner at Portsmouth and Comptroller of the Navy as well as father of Thomas Byam Martin. Another half-brother was Josiah Martin (1737–1786) governor of North Carolina from 1771. His full-sister Henrietta (Rilla) Fitzgerald was the mother of poet William Thomas Fitzgerald and mother-in-law of equity lawyer John Fonblanque KC MP for Camelford 1802-1806. Martin's will seems to reveal the existence of the mother of his natural child or children.From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Regards Ray

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2020 9:42 am Reply with quote
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Re: *****ANTIGUA***** MARTIN Family Plantation Owners - Henrietta m. John Austin FITZGERALD 1740's
Surnames: MARTIN, SAVAGE, HALLIDAY
Please be aware that there are at least two distinct MARTIN families on Antigua.
There was an illustrious MARTIN family who had been on the island since 1660’s. Colonel George MARTIN (c.1607 – 1667) was Sovereign of Belfast but evicted to Surinam in 1649. His son Major Samuel MARTIN (c 1640 – 1701) bought the Greencastle Estate, Antigua in 1667 and treated his slave’s cruelly. The slaves rose-up and killed him when he forced them to work on Christmas Day. His oldest son was hustled back to Ireland to stay with family and returned in 1716 as an educated enlightened slave owner. Colonel Samuel MARTIN (1694 – 1776) went on to become speaker to the Antigua Assembly. His brothers travelled further, William Thomas MARTIN (1695 – 1747) became a doctor in Jamaica, Josiah MARTIN (1699 – 1778) became governor of the province of New York from 1759 to 1764. (Oliver, 1894)
The family has been traced back to William MARTIN de Tours who came over with William the Conqueror but there are no links to Scotland.
Another other family was Samuel MARTIN (1747-1825) of Kirkcudbright, Galloway who was a cousin of John HALLIDAY (1715-1779) who took him under his wing and brought him out to Antigua. Samuel eventually succeeded John as the Collector of Taxes and became very rich. He had eleven children by Grace SAVAGE (1758-1810) and at least one illegitimate child by his indentured servant, an Anglo-Indian from Calcutta, Betsy PEARSON (1770-). Betsy was passed on to be the servant of Margaret DEER in 1807. (Oliver, 1894)
Both families were mentioned by Janet SCHAW in her diary annotated by ANDREWS in 1921.

Both of the sources below can be found online.
Oliver, V. L., 1894. History of Antigua. London: Mitchell & Hughes.
Andrews, E. W., 1921. Introduction to Journal of a Lady of Quality; Being the Narrative of a Journey from Scotland to the West Indies, North Carolina, and Portugal, in the Years 1774 to 1776. :University of Chapel Hill Library.
The Gold Cases have been scrapped on this Historic Pocket Watch and the Gold may have ended up as Wedding Rings or Jewelry. I have found an Age Related Sterling Case and I am in the process of fitting the movement into it. Regards Ray
Slave resistance did occur on Antigua. In the 17th century.


Last edited by omexa reborn on Tue Feb 25, 2020 9:59 am; edited 1 time in total

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2020 9:43 am Reply with quote
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2020 9:44 am Reply with quote
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2020 9:44 am Reply with quote
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2020 9:45 am Reply with quote
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2020 9:46 am Reply with quote
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2020 9:46 am Reply with quote
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2020 9:47 am Reply with quote
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2020 9:48 am Reply with quote
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2020 9:48 am Reply with quote
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2020 9:49 am Reply with quote
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2020 9:50 am Reply with quote
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Rich Topping of Antigua, Cylinder movement c1750-1760
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