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Catling Early 18C Pocket Watch Owners
I have two pocket watches with the names George Catling and James Catling printed on the chapter rings of the dials in lieu of numerals. The watch cases are hall marked 1814 and 1815 respectively and both watches were retailed in Hemel Hempstead as evidenced by the retailer's name and address on the movements. The James movement also has an engraved stringed musical instrument(ukelele or similar) superimposed on what appears to be a musical score. Such watches at that time would only be available to wealthy people and invariably custom made to order. The musical engraving suggests the owner had some relationship to music.
Being retailed in Hemel Hempstead suggests the owners were from the town or the surrounding district. The records show a George Catling born 10th March 1799 and a James Catling born 12th September 1800 to John and Mary Catling. This would mean the watches were given to the boys when they were 15 years old (coming of age at that time possibly?) assuming I have the correct information in respect of the owners.
If anyone has any info re Catlings at that time in the HH/Hertfordshire area that can help me in tracing the original owners of these fine watches and their address/occupation I should be very grateful.

July 23rd 2012. Thanks to an amateur genealogist, Chris Reynolds, the owners were identified as the sons of a wealthy innkeeper, John Catling who ran the Swan Inn (still standing but now an antiques centre) in Boxmoor, Hemmel Hempstead. John's will of c1826 stated that he had £10,000 pounds (c£750,000 at today's value) invested with the Bank of England. Also, thanks to Chris I was put in touch with Sue, a direct living descendant of George Catling, who subsequently put me in touch with her brother Mark who still retains the Catling surname.

With the info provided by Chris, I was then able to go on and establish and visit where the watch owners are buried along with other members of the Catling family and their spouses. Sue has a large number of Catling documents going back as far as George which provides info about what was George's occupation; unfortunately there are no documents in Sue's collection to establish what James did with his time. The only reference that has been found is the census for 1841 which identifies him as an Independent which I understand means that he was a person of independent means.

Chris Reynold's has also speculated that there may have been a third personalised watch for John Catling, the brother of George and James, born 2 years after James. Be nice if there was and it could be retained with the other two watches.

Posted Revised Jul 2012
Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire


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