Daniel Porter of Williamstown, Massachusetts. An inlaid cherry case tall clock.

About Daniel Porter of Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Daniel Porter was born on July 20, 1775 in East Hartford, Connecticut. His parents were James Porter Jr., and Sarah (Porter) Porter. His father died when he was just two years old. It appears that Ezekiel Loomis was appointed to be his Guardian. Loomis bound young Daniel to apprentice with the Windsor, Connecticut Clockmaker Daniel Burnap. Burnap was known to have great skill as a clockmaker and as an engraver. It is thought that he engraved numerous dials for other clockmakers in the region. Burnap is said to have also trained at least ten others who made clocks. The most famous of which was Eli Terry. Daniel Porter arrived at Burnap’s shop on July 20th, 1792 when he was 17 years old and stayed there until he was 21. His indenture survives which was signed in 1793. It states that he Porter agreed, in return for the training in the art of clockmaking, silversmithing and watch repairing that he would not to commit fornication, marry, haunt taverns, play cards, play the horses, etc. Burnap would also provide him with “meat, drink washing, lodging and mending of clothes…” The fact that an indenture was drawn up suggests that Loomis must have been in debt to Burnap and offered the young man in order to make some level of restitution.

Once a freeman, Daniel first moves from Windsor, Connecticut to Topsfield, Massachusetts. Here he is recorded as working as a silversmith. He then moves to Stockbridge and is listed there as a silversmith and as a clockmaker. On February 14, 1799, Daniel purchased a house and a lot on Main Street in Williamstown. This was located 10 rods or approximately 160 feet west of a well with a pump in it, and a few rods west of Williams College. In 1801, Daniel married Polly Badger of Salem, Conn. Together, they had two children. The most famous of which was his son Royal Loomis Porter. Royal was born February 24, 1801 and died in Charleston, SC on June 13, 1844. He was a graduate of Williams College in 1823 and worked as an editor and proprietor of “The American Traveller.” He also served in the Massachusetts Legislature. Daniel died at the young age of 35 on November 6, 1809. His nephew Eli married his widow and took charge of the family. Eli continued to work in the clock trades for several years.

We have sold a fair number of tall case clocks made by this Maker. Many of which exhibited wonderfully made and inlaid cherry cases. You can find examples of his work in the collections of the following institutions. Historic Deerfield has an a typical cherry cased example. Their clock case lacks inlay and features a hood with fretwork. The Bennington Museum in Bennington, VT has a very nice formal example. It features an inlaid case that is somewhat reserved as compared to other examples known. A tall clock with a musical movement is also known as well as a surveyors compass made by him.

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