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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 CLC/B/073
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1838-1966
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 131 production units.
Name of creator(s): E Dent and Co Ltd | clock and watch makers


Administrative/Biographical history:

E Dent and Company Limited was founded in 1840 by Edward John Dent. Apprenticed first to a tallow-chandler, Dent transferred his apprenticeship in 1807 to a watchmaker, Edward Gaudin, having lived for some time with his cousin Richard Rippon, watchmaker. Dent appears to have stayed with Richard Rippon at King Street, Seven Dials, either working for, or independently of, him until 1830, when he entered into a partnership with John Roger Arnold. Arnold and Dent, 84 Strand, existed for ten years and on 1 October 1840 Dent opened his own business, E J Dent, at 82 Strand. In 1843 Dent married Elizabeth Rippon, formerly the wife of Richard Rippon (d 1835). Dent died in 1853 and his business was divided between his stepsons Richard and Frederick Rippon, but both had to take the name of Dent, under the terms of Dent's will.

Richard Dent (Rippon) inherited the Cockspur Street business. He died in 1856 and the business passed to his wife Maria Frederica and became independent, as M F Dent, until 1920 when it was acquired by E Dent and Company Limited. The shops at 61 Strand and 34 Royal Exchange, which included the turret clock business (at this time involved in the construction of 'Big Ben') and the marine and compass business, passed to Frederick William Dent (Rippon) and the firm became Frederick Dent. Frederick died in 1860 and control passed to Elizabeth Dent (E J Dent's widow, now 71 years of age); the firm's title changed to Dent and Company and comprised a partnership between Elizabeth and her sons-in-law Thomas Buckney and Henry Gardner. The latter died in 1861 and was replaced by his wife Amelia Lydia Sophia Gardner and the company was renamed E Dent and Company. Elizabeth Dent died in 1865 and control of the firm passed to Amelia Gardner and Thomas Buckney. Thomas Buckney died in 1872 and was succeeded by his son, Thomas, who became senior partner in 1881 upon the death of Amelia Gardner.

The firm became a limited company in 1897. In 1900 Thomas Buckney died and his brother Daniel took control as managing director until his death in 1927, when his son Daniel Edward took over; Daniel Patrick Buckney became managing director in 1956, resigning in 1968, thus ending the Buckney connection. K A G Butcher became managing director in 1968 and in 1975 the company was taken over by Toye and Company Limited. In 1977, on moving to Great Queen Street, the company became known as 'The House of Dent' (in association with Toye, Kenning and Spencer Limited).

a) The company had shops at: 82 Strand 1840-1850; 61 Strand 1850-1920; 34 Royal Exchange 1844-55; 34 & 35 Royal Exchange 1856-84; 4 Royal Exchange 1884-1936; 33 Cockspur Street, Charing Cross 1843-61; 33 and 34 Cockspur Street 1862-1904; 34 Cockspur Street 1905-20 (from 1856-1920, trading as M F Dent, an independent company); 28 Cockspur Street 1920-1; 41 Pall Mall 1936-77; and 19/21 Great Queen Street 1977-

b) The company had factories at: Somerset Wharf c 1840-66; Savoy Street 1866-75; "Russell Works, W.C." 1876; 14 Gerrard Street, Soho 1877-85; 4 Hanway Place 1885-1948; and Crown Works, Theed Street, Waterloo 1948-71.

c) In addition a seven year lease on a messuage in Carting Lane, St Clement Danes, was obtained in 1855, for reasons unknown.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of E Dent and Company Limited, clock and watch makers. The archives in this collection are the surviving business records, covering mainly the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They are primarily the records of the Strand and Royal Exchange shops - only Ms 18026 and 23823-4 relating to M. F. Dent, 1856-1920, appear to have survived.

They are arranged as follows:
Ownership of company - shares, bonds (Mss 18005-7);
Administration - ledger, balance sheets and accounts, letter books; company management (Mss18008-15);
Business -
(i) stock books and manufacturing books (Mss 18016-26);
(ii) letters patent, specifications and related papers (Mss 18027-40);
(iii) Watch trial certificates, trade mark certificates (Mss 18041-2);
(iv) Drawings of watches, clocks, parts etc. (Mss 18043-52);
(v) Photographs of watches, clocks, parts etc. (Mss 18053-4);
Leases and agreements relating to premises (Mss 18055-64);
Miscellaneous mainly printed (Mss 18065-76);
Records of M. F. Dent (Mss 23823-4).

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Records arranged by MS number, assigned during cataloguing at the Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to this collection rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Mss 18005-76 were deposited by the Clockmakers' Company and catalogued by a member of Guildhall Library staff in 1977. Mss 23823-4 were deposited by the British Records Association and catalogued in 1989. The Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section merged with the London Metropolitan Archives in 2009.

Allied Materials

Related material:

For Dent family papers, see CLC/443.

Publication note:

A full history of the company and the persons connected with it can be found in Edward John Dent and his successors by Vaudrey Mercer, (The Antiquarian Horological Society, 1977).

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
November 2010 to January 2011.

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