Willards (Benjamin, Aaron, Ephraim, Simon)
Benjamin Willard was the first of several generations of Willard clock- and watch-makers. Benjamin Willard (b. 1743 d. 1803) set up shop around 1770 on Roxbury St. in Boston. He was followed by his brothers Aaron of Roxbury and Boston (b. 1757 d. 1844), Ephraim (b. 1755), and Simon of Grafton and Roxbury (b. 1753 d. 1848). Their sons continued the profession: Aaron (son of Aaron) 1816 - 1863, Benjamin (son of Simon) about 1825, and Simon (son of Simon) (b. 1795) about 1828. Simon senior is the most famous of the four brothers. In 1801 he invented the 8-day banjo clock.
The Willard family tools, though small in size and number, are among the treasures of The Davistown Museum. The small domed box that is the centerpiece of the display was allegedly inherited by Simon Willard from his father, Benjamin; Simon continued to store a small group of hand tools in this box during his lifetime. It then descended in the Willard family until it was purchased from the Noyes St., Needham, MA, residence of the Willard family by the Liberty Tool Co. when later owners of that residence were selling the property. The tools are particularly significant in that they are primarily English in origin, but nonetheless used by one of America's most important family of clockmakers. The document box itself as well as most of the tools in it appear to date from the mid- to late 18th century. These tools exemplify the typical tool kit of a late 18th century woodcarver; note the early newspapers along the front edge of the box.
Tools of Simon Willard in the Museum collection.
Willard House and Clock Museum North Grafton, MA.