The Lee Family of Bolton.

The Lee Family of Bolton – Clock & Watch Makers

The Lee family history – Watch and Clockmakers are in bold print.

The Lee Family of Bolton became synonymous with Clock and Watch Making in Bolton of the 1800’s. The Lee family dynasty is probably the largest Clock and Watchmaking family in Bolton.

The family business started with Henry Lee (1802-1870), a Spinner, of Spring Gardens Great Bolton, who became a clockmaker and Watch Maker.

In 1841 Henry Lee (1802-1870) was listed at 132 Spring Gardens  with his wife Ellen Parkinson (1800-1899) and children John Lee (1820-1892), James Lee (1823-1903), William Lee (1824-1899), Robert Lee (1827-1892), Henry Lee (1828-1899), and Sarah Lee (1830-1886), all with the exception of James, Henry and 10 month old Sarah were employed in the cotton industry.

Ellen Lee (1800-1879), went on to become a maker in her own right as a Watch Manufacturer employing 2 people in 1871

Henry Lee (1802-1870) started working in 1843 in Spring Gardens and worked there till about 1851, where he was a master employing number of men.

Henry Lee (1802-1870) had a son Henry Lee (1828-1889), this Henry was listed as an assistant watchmaker in 1851 at 134 Spring Gardens. Henry Lee (1828-1889) married Mary Greenhalgh (1832-1865 ) on 10th October 1853, and they moved to Burslem Staffordshire by 1861 where both he and Mary died.

It seems that Henry Lee (1802-1870) also became a retailer as well.

An advertisement from inside one of James Butler’s clocks reads: 

Henry Lee “Dealer in American, English, German CLOCKS, NO. 3, Top of Spring Gardens, near to Ashburner St, Bolton, Clocks and Watches cleaned and repaired in the best manner on the lowest terms. HENRY LEE, pledges himself to supply the best 24 hours German Clocks for Twelve Shillings each, being precisely the same article, from the same warehouse that hawkers sell to the public for Twenty-five Shillings each; and as he permanently resides here, the Inhabitants of Bolton will see the advantage of purchasing from him in preference to a stranger.” (date unknown)

In 1851 son James Lee (1823-1903), a former cotton piecer, living with his wife Alice, were he was listed as a Watch and Clock Maker in 48 Kay Street, Little Bolton.

In 1853 the business became Henry Lee & Son , a watchmaker, was taken into the business in Ashburner Street. 

Henry Lee (1802-1870) is listed in the 1855 Trade Directory as trading as a clockmaker at 3 Newport Street, Bolton. 

In 1860 William Lee (1824-1899) had a son William Lee (1860-1942)

In 1861 Henry Lee (1802-1870) was listed at 96 Spring Gardens with Ellen Lee (1800-1879), by which time he was a Watchmaker, living with him was John Waring, an Iron Core Maker, (Pattern Maker) who would go in to marry his daughter Sarah Lee (1830-1886), and next door at 94 was Thomas. A French Polisher, who may have been responsible for assisting with cabinet work. 

James Lee (1823-1903) held a shop at 49 Great Moor Street in 1858, and 58 Great Moor Street in 1869.

James appeared as a witness in a court case in 1860, listed as a Watchmaker.

It was reported in the Liverpool Mercury, that James Lee visited his friends and while there, the thirteen year old son of the friend, entered the empty premises and stole from them.

James Lee (1823-1903) is known for Skeleton Clocks, and also to have made an automaton clock with a farm scene provided with both a moving waterwheel, and moving windmill sails.

Henry Lee (1802-1870) died at Bradshawgate on 28th March 1870.

By 1871 the business of Henry Lee & Son, was employing two men son-in-law John Waring as a case maker, and confusingly Henry’s grandson, (John Waring and Sarah Lee’s Son) Henry Lee (1852), as a watchmaker, finisher. 

Ellen Lee died on 22nd May 1879 at 134 Bradshawgate.

William Lee (1860-1942) son of William Lee (1824-1899) had a son Thomas Henry Lee (1879-1945) 

Henry Lee (1852) the Grandson aged 29 moved to 134 Bradshawgate by 1881 with his wife Hannah Roberts, and children James H Lee, Jane E Lee, Harold Hague Lee (1879-1950).

William Lee (1860-1942) is recorded as a watch and clock maker, in March 1890 he conducted repairs and improvements to the Emanuel Church Cannon Street, where he was based at number 1.

In 1900 William also repaired the clock at Deane Parish Church, a plate affixed states….

This Clock was re-arranged and restored by William Lee of Bolton in the year 1900AD being the 62nd year of Her Majesty Queen Victoria’s Reign.

In later years his business expanded into Number 3 Cannon St as well.

A trade directory for 1895 lists Henry Lee (1852) in the Watch & Clock Makers, Jewellers and Silversmiths section trading at 134 Bradshawgate, Bolton. 

In 1880 William Lee (1860-1942) had a son, Thomas Henry Lee (1879-1945) who followed him into the trade and became a watchmaker in his own right.

In 1883 William Lee (1860-1942) had a son Ernest Lee (1883-1960)

In 1897 William Lee (1860-1942) had a son Albert Lee (1897)

In 1892 William Lee (1860-1942) had a son (1892-1944)

In 1901 Harold Hague Lee (1879-1950) son of Henry Lee (1852), was listed as a Watchmaker living at home with his parents in 4 Devon Street Bolton. By 1911 Harold Hague Lee (1879-1950) had become a scientific instrument maker based in Trafford Park Manchester. His son Harold Hague Lee (1904) became an electrical instrument maker.

Also in 1901 Thomas Henry Lee (1879-1945) Born 1879 he was a watchmakers assistant to his father a their Cannon Street home in 1901, He married in 1905. By 1939 Thomas Henry Lee (1879-1945) had retired as a Watchmaker, he died 16th July 1945 .

Henry Lee (Son of Robert) Watchmaker of 74 Moncrieffe Street Bolton died on the 26th April 1902.

For those with a specific interest in the family thee is a page set up here on Ancestry uk to see the wider family group.