Thomas Leadbeater was born in Sandbach about 1808. The Leadbeater family and their many relations were clockmakers for generations in Cheshire. In 1838 he married Harriet Griffiths who was from Gresford. They were in Wrexham very soon after as in 1839 their first child was born there.
The family lived in Street Draw (Chapel Street) before moving to Temple Row where they went on to have a large family of at least 9 known children. Alexander (d 1857), Alfred, Rosina, Alice Louisa, Frances Elizabeth, Frederick Henry (d 1851), George Thomas, Arthur William, Louis Stonier, Ada Maud (d 1863), and Selina Dorcas ( d 1863) .By 1864 four children had died including the youngest who died within 11 days of each other, they were both under 3 years of age. They were all buried in Ruthin Road Cemetery.
At some time Thomas had been working with John Smith who was another well known clockmaker and when John retired Thomas started his own business up again.
9 June 1855.
THOMAS LEADBEATER. WATCH AND CLOCK MAKER, TEMPLE PLACE, CHURCH YARD, WREXHAM.
T LEADBEATER begs respectfully to inform the Inhabitants of Wrexham and Its vicinity that he has recommenced business in WREXHAM (having been for the last 20 years in the employ of Mr. JOHN SMITH, who has now retired from business), and hopes, from his practice and experience in the above department, combined with moderate charges, to receive a share of that patronage which has been so liberally bestowed on his late employer. N.B.—French, Geneva, Lever, Duplex, and Repeating Watches, Chime and Turret Clocks, &c., Cleaned and repaired. WEDDING RINGS, SPECTACLES, & & always on hand. Next door to the News Room.
THE BUSINESS IN TEMPLE ROW
Being a jewellers Thomas was good target for theft and some of the more serious ones went to the courts.
25 July 1857 ROBBERY IN THE CHURCH YARD -On Sunday last the house of Mr. Leadbeater, watchmaker, in this town, was entered, and a quantity of jewellery, consisting of rings, brooches, &c., stolen. The booty would probably have been much greater had not Mr. Leadbeater, as is his custom, taken the watches up stairs. Mrs. Leadbeater was up about two o’clock, attending to a sick child, when she fancied she heard some noise below, and the robbers, disturbed by her movements; it is thought then made their escape. She was up again about four o’clock, and upon looking through the window saw the glass case in which they kept their jewellery, lying in the church-yard. Two suspicions looking characters were seen the following day going up Chester-road, and Superintendent Bradshaw went in search of them in this and other directions, but without any result. The offenders Ryan and Rourke were eventually caught and charged.
8th August 1857 (Edited) THE BURGLARY AT MR. LEADBEATERS .—Daniel Ryan and Patrick Rourke, two Irishmen, were committed on Monday last at the Wrexham Petty Sessions to the assizes, on the charge of committing the burglary at Mr. Leadbeater’s, on Sunday morning, the 19th July . The following is the chain of evidence against them. They went into Mr. Leadbeater’s shop on the evening of the day before and inquired the price of some watch chains, but as there were no silver ones, they did not make any purchase. Sarah Cavenagh, “waitress” at the Bull, Abbot Street, spoke as to their having engaged a bed at her master’s for that night, and their not coming there afterwards. Sergeant John Owens saw them between one and two o’clock in Chester-street, and to a question put to them by him they stated that they were going to Chester. The pair were eventually tracked down in Liverpool after they tried to pawn the stolen goods. They were brought back to Wrexham. Mr Leadbeater identified one of the brooches which had his own private mark upon it, as well as the selling price. In consequence of this evidence, they were committed.
27th March 1858. It was the next year before the very long trial was held.
DENBIGHSHIRE ASSIZES. (Edited)
BURGLARY. Daniel Ryan and Patrick Rouke, were charged with burglariously breaking into the house of Thomas Leadbeater, Church Yard, Wrexham, and stealing there from several broaches and other articles of jewellery on the 18th of June last. Verdict, guilty—sentence, 18 months’ imprisonment, with hard labour.
In March 1864 there was another robbery.
STEALING THREE WATCHES. John Hackett, (19), James Simpson (I8), Michael Watson, (24), Wm. Williams, (47), were placed in the dock charged with stealing three watches, the property of Thomas Leadbeater, of Wrexham. The prisoners Hackett and Watson pleaded guilty. The charge against the other two prisoners was then taken. Thomas Leadbeater said , on Tuesday evening, the 8th of March, I was in my shop in Temple Place, Wrexham, and about 8 o’clock I heard a smash of glass in the shop window. I saw a man’s hand thrust through a broken pane and grasp some of the watches in the window. I ran to the door, but found it fastened on the outside. After some delay I got out and found that the door had been tied with a string I saw nothing of the prisoners. The prisoners were found in Chester and were each committed to gaol for twelve months.
29th January 1870
A DARING RASCAL.—On or about the 11th of last month, a man went into the shop of Mr Leadbeater, Temple Row, and asked for his watch, which he said, he had left to be repaired, at the same time, pointing to a new silver watch, value five guineas. Mr Leadbeater did not know the man, but thought he was one of his numerous customers, and never suspected that anything was wrong. The man paid the 2s. that Mr Leadbeater charged and went away – Soon after it was found out that the watch did not belong to the man who had taken it, and Mr Leadbeater at once gave information to the police. The case was put in the hands of that able, active, zealous, and indefatigable officer-P.C. Jones, Rhos, who very cleverly traced the watch, and found it had been taken by Thomas Ridgway, moulder, of Rhos, who is now in Flint gaol awaiting his trial at the assizes for stealing five pairs of boots at Bagillt, as reported a few weeks ago.
17th June 1871. Thomas was forced to put an announcement in the news as there was someone cashing in on his good name.
Public and Legal Notices. NOTICE. A Man is going about cleaning Clocks, and stating that he is a Journeyman, and sent by Mr Leadbeater. I hereby certify that he is not so employed by me .THOMAS LEADBEATER, Watch and Clock Maker Wrexham.
THE TOWN CLOCKS
Apart from running his business in Temple Row, Thomas applied to be take care of the Church clock, he didn’t have far to go to work. He was also put in charge of the Town Hall clock. From newspaper reports it`s clear that neither were without their problems.
14 April 1860
THE CHURCH CLOCK. Mr Vaughan said he had seen in the papers that negotiations had been going on for leaving the regulation of the church clock in the hands of the corporation. He should like to know what had been done in the matter. Mr Floater and Mr John Clark explained the arrangements that had been made with the Town Council, and informed the vestry that Mr Leadbeater had contracted with the Council for the regulation of the Church and Town Hall Clocks. Dr Williams said he observed that on Sunday morning last the church clock struck ten to the minute Greenwich Time.
6th April 1861
THE CHURCH CLOCK
A letter was read from the Town Clerk, asking permission for Mr Leadbeater, who regulates the church clock for the corporation, to have a separate set of keys so as to have access to the clock, at his own convenience-After some discussion the application was refused. A conversation here followed as to the dangerous state of the pendulum of the clock, as a most important beam had been cut through during the recent repairs to the old clock. Several gentlemen went to inspect, and ultimately it was agreed to secure the beam, tenders being ordered to be got for the purpose.—It appears there is considerable danger lest the clock pendulum should fall on the heads of the ringers while the bells are being rung, there being no protection at present to prevent such a casualty occurring.
23rd May 1863
THE CHURCH CLOCK. The church clock has long been noted for the whimsicality and irregularity of its movements. A short time ago the difference of time generally indicated by the Town Hall clock and the church clock occupied the attention of the Town Council, which resulted in a corporation clock keeper being appointed, when Mr Leadbeater was fortunate enough to obtain this important office, and both clocks were put under his care. Since then the two public clocks have pulled together much better, but the church clock has lately been guilty of a new prank. It sometimes strike the quarters, half hours, and three-quarters of an hour, two or three minutes after the finger has passed the figures denoting these respective periods. Hearing the church clock, therefore, is no true indication of the time.
3rd September 1864
THE TOWN HALL CLOCK. Mr T. Rowland observed that the Town Hall clock was not going and he wished to know who was to blame. Mr. Overton said he could not tell whether it was the clock maker or the clock. Mr T. Rowland said if he did not keep the clock going he ought to have his salary stopped. The Mayor said he supposed it was the work that was going on in the Town Hall in connection with the new works that had stopped the clock. Mr Williams said the work was all complete. The difficulty was with Mr Leadbeater, who said the hole was not large enough for him to get into the clock. (Laughter) The Mayor asked whether a sparer man could not be got. (Renewed laughter.) The Town Clerk said Mr Leadbeater informed him that Mr Williams wanted him to through the dial. (Laughter.) After some further discussion Mr T. Rowland proposed that Mr Leadbeater should be sent for.
14th July 1866
WHAT O’CLOCK IS IT? The matter of time was brought up again by the new clock erected by Mr Fraser. For the public reply to this question we were a few years ago in possession of only one public authority, that was the church clock, looked after by Mr Robert Bayley, the sexton, who with the aid of the sun dial and the specific directions contained in Moore’s Almanac, under the headings of” 11 clock fast” and “clock slow,” was able to keep us from being an hour too fast or an hour too slow. In the course of time Sir Watkin came of age, a large sum was collected to celebrate the event, and after the celebration a large surplus was found to be in the hands of the treasurer, a portion of which was appropriated to the purchase of a new clock, which adorns the front of the Town Hall. We soon found out that to multiply clocks was only to multiply diversities of time, and, however superior two heads might be to one, two clocks only led to confusion, which was farther increased by the introduction of “Greenwich time,” an innovation that the Town Hall clock at once fell in with, while the church clock pertinaciously adhered to the sun dial and the almanac.
So great a nuisance did these rival clocks ultimately become that the Town Council stepped in and appointed Mr Leadbeater timekeeper, and by dint of a little coaxing, oiling, &c., this new borough functionary has managed to make the two so far run together that it is seldom you find one above five minutes before the other. Last week, however, we were alarmed to find that another new chronometer had lifted its head on high, and set himself as our guide in the important matter of time and such is the rage in human nature for anything that is new, that we have already frequently heard the inquiry What o’clock is it by Fraser’s clock? that tradesmen having placed the article we allude to on the front of his premises in High-street. Time alone will show what kind of an indicator of time this new face will turn out. As far as we have observed the movement up to the present time we think we see a tendency to be fast, a propensity that will probably be checked as our new friend acquires a little age. Leaving the jocular aside we may state that the clock occupies a central position above the shop door, and tells the time of day to the inhabitants of a considerable portion of High Street. The dial is 3 feet in diameter, enamelled in blue with white figures, which are very distinct.
As Mr Fraser intends regulating his clock daily by telegram from Greenwich, the Town Hall and Church clocks will have to take time by the forelock if they wish to be considered authorities on the time of day.”
1st February 1868
CLOCKS. Mr Snape moved that the Guildhall clock should be included in the contract with the Church clock and the Town Hall clock for repairs and regulating. The Guildhall clock was never right.—Mr W. Rowland said the public clocks never were in such a good state before as they had been since Mr Leadbeater had the management of them. One member thought £12 a year was too much for the work.—The Town Clerk said Mr Leadbeater found the chimes in a very dilapidated state, and had put them in a thorough state of repair. He had expended about £50 in labour and material. Alderman Jones seconded Mr Snape’s proposition Both Mr Rowlands said he had spent a large sum of money. Mr Thomas wished they could have the nine o’clock bell rung again.
16th May 1868
PUBLIC CLOCKS. The only tender sent in for looking after the public clocks was from Mr Leadbeater, the old contractor. He takes them at the old figure £12, per annum.
25th December 1875.
PUBLIC CLOCKS. Mr Leadbeater, one year’s salary for care of clocks. £ 12 0 0
Thomas`s payment didn`t go up over the years. He had been paid this for 7 years.
Thomas not only had his business and the responsibility of the Town Clocks, but he and Harriet had their children to care for.
In 1871 one of his sons met with a nasty accident close to his home. It`s not known which one it was.
28th January 1871
THE OVERTON ARCADE.—DANGER! — A young man named Leadbeater met with a very awkward accident in the Overton Arcade, on Friday night week. It appeared that he was running from High-street along the passage, which was rather deficiently lighted, and came in contact with the gate at the Temple-place end. He struck his head and face against the gate with such force that he fell backwards insensible and had to be carried in that state to his mother’s home.
There were only 4 sons left by now. Alfred became a plumber and in 1865 he married Hannah Jones in Birkenhead. They ended up living in Staffordshire where he died in 1906.
Of the three remaining daughters Alice Louisa had left home by 1871 and was living with relations in West Derby.
In 1880 she married Eli Bulcock, a saddler in Whalley. The couple had 5 children and two of her daughters were a teachers and a school mistress in Whalley, so she had done quite well. Alice Louisa died in 1924.
Only 3 sons were still at home in 1871, George Thomas 19, Louis Stonier 17 and Arthur William 15,
Unfortunatelyand they all turned out to be rather fond of the “drink”. It must have been a difficult situation for Thomas and Harriet as they were both very well respected in the town.
GEORGE THOMAS LEADBETTER
George Thomas became a coach smith in Wrexham
2nd February 1878
FIGHTING. George Leadbeater was charged by Inspector Lindsay with fighting near Charles Street, on Saturday night. Inspector Lindsay said that a messenger came and gave information, and when he went to the spot the defendant ran away, leaving his clothes behind him. Defendant said that he had a drop of beer, and did not remember it. Fined 7s 6d and costs, in all 14s 6d.
He later moved to St Albans, and then is found in Leeds still working as a black smith, at the age of 38 he was still unmarried.
ARTHUR WILLIAM LEADBEATER.
18th October 1878
WREXHAM. BOROUGH MAGISTRATES’ COURT, DRUNKENNESS.
Arthur Leadbeater was charged with being drunk and disorderly by the Red Lion Inn, Chester Street Saturday evening. The case was proved by P.O. McCleod, who said, shortly before eleven he was sent to the Red Lion Vaults to quell a disturbance. The defendant was singing in the streets, and making use of abusive language. He was so disorderly that he had to be handcuffed to be taken to the station.—Mr Owen, the landlord of the vaults, said, his conduct was so bad that he had to turn him out.—Mr Superintendent Wilde said he was disorderly at the station. He was knocking at the two police officers. His father and sister came and tried to quiet him, but he was violent to them than anyone else.—The Bench said they were very sorry to see a respectable young man in such a position as this. He had been guilty of not only one but several offences. There was the assault on Mr Owen, and that on the police, for which he was liable to a fine of £20, and then there was the beastly state in which he was found. He did not seem to express any regret at what he had done, or for the position in which he had placed his family. He would be fined 10s 6d and the costs, and in default 14 days’ imprisonment.
12 November 1881
DRUNKENNESS, &C. Arthur Leadbeater was in custody charged by P.C. William Jones with the following offence. He was drunkon the previous night near the Infirmary and assaulted two colliers without any provocation whatever. Fined 10s 6d and costs or fourteen days in default.
In March 1886 Arthur William married Sophia Ann Coggon in Islington; he was now 33 and also a clockmaker. They eventually moved to Northumberland where he died in 1938.
LOUIS STONIER LEADBEATER
Louis was the youngest son, born in 1854, and had a lot of issues, he was constantly in the news for being drunk and even for violent behaviour towards his family.
By June 1873 he had been in court 4 times .AN INCORRIGIBLE. Louis Leadbeater was charged with being drunk and breaking a square of glass in his father’s window. Evidence was given by Inspector Nadin as to the bad conduct of the prisoner having taken two men to convey him to the Bridewell. The bench sent him to Ruthin Gaol for two months.
INCORRIGIBLE. Louis Leadbeater was once more charged with being drunk and disorderly on Saturday night. P. C. Eady find two other officers went to Temple Row and found the defendant on the ground, being held there by his mother, sister, and father.—committed to gaol for a month, with hard labour.
Twice in June 1874
LOCKED UP FOR SAFETY. Louis Leadbeater had been locked up for safety on the previous afternoon. He had had a fit, but his father refused to take him in. He was sober at the time.—discharged.
Louis Leadbeater, another old acquaintance of the court, was charged with being drunk and using abusive language to his father. Sergeant Lindsay said they had to take him to the lock up in a cart. As it was the seventh offence, he was sentenced to one month’s hard labour.
AN UNRULY AND TROUBLESOME SON. Louis Leadbeater was brought up on remand, and charged with being drunk and disorderly and threatening to kill his father and mother.” —Police-constable Hugh Jones stated that on the previous Thursday, a large crowd of persons congregated in High-street, where the prisoner and another man were fighting. Having parted the combatants and dispersed the crowd, the prisoner repaired to Mr Smith’s vaults. The barman having declined to supply him with beer, Leadbeater caught hold of the barman’s whiskers and pulled him about the vault. The police were sent for but the barman declined to prefer a charge of assault, and the prisoner then proceeded to his father’s residence in Temple-row, where he behaved in the most outrageous manner, threatening to kill his father and mother, and any person who interfered with him.” On reaching the house the constables found the prisoner on the floor, being held down by two of his brothers. The prisoner’s con duct was so outrageous that the officers had great difficulty in securing him and preventing his carrying his threats into execution. He kicked the officers, and bit Constable Hugh Jones on the hand. Ultimately the officers sent to the police station for the “stretcher,” on which he was securely strapped and conveyed to the lock-up. It was stated that the prisoner has been frequently convicted for similar outrageous conduct, and that his parents and family are most respectable people.—The Bench fined him £1 and costs; in default he was committed to Ruthin gaol for a month.
Louis must have tried to sort himself out by joining the Army, and on 1 September 1875 he had a medical examination at Grosvenor Lodge, Wrexham. He was 5ft 7 ½ inches tall, light brown hair and grey eyes. He also had a Cicatrix scar under his chin and his occupation was a plumber and glazier. Louis declared he was not subject to fits.
He was re examined later at Aldershot and approved fit for service for 6 years in the Army and a further 6 years in the reserves. On 6 September 1875 he joined the 2nd battalion (RWF) 23 rd Foot.
Louis went to Cork with the regiment, but was discharged after only 48 days and found unfit for further service. His character reports say he was “indifferent, addicted to drink and absence. He is not in possession of any good conduct and has no school certificate “He received pay up until 19 October 1875 and allowed pay for a further 23 days until he was finally discharged on 11 November.
His official discharge medical certificate says that his disability was epilepsy, and is likely to be permanent and will go far towards preventing him from earning a livelihood in future.
Louis stated he has had the disease since childhood.
The medical officer states that in his opinion the condition was aggravated by “intemperance and other habits” and Louis was discharged as an invalid on 16 November 1875.
Where Louis went to after this isn`t sure, but the next year he was back in Wrexham and his
Behaviour was deteriorating again.
REFUSING TO QUIT. Louis Leadbeater was charged by P. C. Griffith J Jones with refusing to quit the Golden Lion High-street, on the previous day. It appeared the defendant had to be forcibly turned out three distinct times, and Miss Russell, the barmaid, having proved the case, the defendant was fined in the sum of 50s and costs, or 2 months in default.
2nd December 1876
A SAD STATE OF AFFAIRS. Louis Leadbeater was brought up under an old warrant, at the instance of his father, who made several charges against the defendant, whose general conduct towards his parents was stated to be of the most violent character. The particular ground of complaint under the warrant was dated as far back as March, 1875, when it was alleged that the defendant threatened to assault the complainant with a tea kettle, but no assault appears to have been actually committed at that time. The complainant, however, stated that the family were never safe from the defendant on account of his violent conduct. The defendant was also said to be subject to fits, and was in the habit of using tobacco to such an excessive degree as to injuriously affect his brain.—The defendant appeared to resent the imputation on the tobacco, stating that he had not had a fit for four months, notwithstanding that he had been constantly using tobacco during that period. The defendant was ultimately discharged with a reprimand, on promising to keep away from his father’s house in future.
Louis was eventually admitted to the Workhouse, but it seems no one really knew where to keep him confined. His father still had to pay for him while he was there.
9th December 1876
WREXHAM BOARD of GUARDIANS.
The case of Louis Leadbeater was next before the board, a medical certificate from Dr. Davies stating that he was subject to epileptic fits, and not fit to be at large. Since this unfortunate youth had been admitted he had become so violent that he was confined in the padded room. Mr J. M. Jones believed his insanity was brought on by drunkenness but this was denied, the father having stated before the magistrates that it was due to nothing but chewing tobacco. The Chairman did not think it was properly a case for the workhouse, the father being in a good position as a watchmaker and silversmith and it was understood that if it should be necessary to send the patient to the Denbigh asylum, Mr Leadbeater should be called upon to contribute to the maintenance of his son whilst an inmate of that institution. The master’s books contained the copy of a certificate from the medical officer to the effect that Louis Leadbeater was a fit and proper person to be detained in the workhouse, being a lunatic or an alleged lunatic, and it was resolved to call upon Mr Leadbeater, senior, to contribute 5.s., per week towards the keep of his son.
Eventually Louis was admitted to Denbigh Asylum on 17 March 1877 as a pauper inmate, and died there on 24 Mar 1883. Even after all the upset and heartbreak he had caused his family he was brought home to Wrexham and buried with his siblings.
Thomas and Harriet were still in 7 Temple Row with Rosina and Frances, two of their daughters; Frances Elizabeth had set up her own dressmaking business from there.
30 January 1880
Business Announcements MISS F. E. LEADBEATER., DRESS MAKER, EVENING AND- BALL DRESSES, Made up on the shortest notice AT 7, TEMPLE ROW, WREXHAM
Thomas died on there on 9 January 1884 aged 74 and was buried with his children in Ruthin Road Cemetery.
Harriet and her daughters remained at their home and started running a Fancy toy business.
Harriet died in 1892 and was buried in Ruabon Road Cemetery.
22nd October 1892
October 7th, at her residence, 7, Temple Row, Harriet, the beloved wife of the late Mr Thomas Leadbetter. Watchmaker, of this town.
Her daughters moved from their home of many years and later were both in 29 Jubilee Road, selling haberdashery and toys. They moved again to 13 Poyser Street and were still in business as general dealers
Rosina died in 1917 aged 72. Frances Elizabeth died in 1926. They were both buried with Harriet.
A silver pocket watch is in the possession of a relative of mine, it is very unusual as it has a name on the face “Ar (Arthur) Wilcoxon Jnr“ it was made it the late 18th century. It was recently taken to Lowe and Sons as it had a Chester watch paper in the case. These papers were used by watchmakers to advertise their business when they repaired or did other work on a watch.
Under the visible paper were 4 more, the first three were Leadbeater, Watch and Clockmaker of Wrexham and the one underneath was J. Smith, Watchmaker of Wrexham.
Researched by Annette Edwards. August 2020.
Many thanks to Sheila Holt (nee Wilcoxon) for the Wilcoxon watch photos.
Cari Pugh for her help.
Grave photos Kevin Laroux Wood. (Not Used).
Grave ref: Wrexham Cemetery J-02988. Ruthin Road Burial Ground.