The famous firm of Dent was founded by Edward John Dent who was born in 1790. Although at first apprenticed to a tallow chandler, he was allowed to transfer his apprenticeship to Edward Gaudin, a clockmaker, after he became fascinated by the subject of horology through association with his cousin Richard Rippon, a watchmaker. Edward Dent quickly established a reputation as an excellent craftsman and between 1815 and 1829 worked as a chronometer maker for several firms such as Vulliamy, Barraud and McCabe.
By 1830 he was so highly regarded that he was invited by John Roger Arnold, the famous chronometer maker, to enter into a partnership with him at 84 Strand, London, which was to last ten years.
In 1840 Dent set up business on his own at 82 Strand, London but continued the Arnold and Dent numbering system. Edward Dent married his cousin's widow, Elizabeth Rippon in 1843, the same year that he opened further premises at 33 Cockspur Street. After his death in 1853 the business was inherited by his two stepsons, Richard and Frederick Rippon on condition that they took their stepfather's family name. From this time the two brothers, and their descendants, continued the Dent business separately and competitively. The younger brother, Richard, set up in business as Richard Edward Dent but fell seriously ill and died on September 5th 1856 at the age of 39. His wife, Marianna Frederica decided to continue the business for the sake of her children. The business name was changed shortly after to M.F.Dent and continued to be thus titled for the next sixty years. The older brother, Frederick, continued in business as Frederick Dent. He had inherited the task of completing the Westminster clock (Big-Ben) from his step-father. He was greatly affected by the death of his wife in 1858 and this drove him to seek solace in alcohol which lead to his own death in April 1860. There was much confusion about Frederick’s will but the business was eventually inherited by his mother Elizabeth and the firm’s name became Dent & Co. In 1864 this was expanded to include Elizabeth’s initial and so became E.Dent & Co. Although Elizabeth died in 1865 and Marianna Frederica in 1869 the two firms continued to be styled with their initials until 1920 when a merger took place and the firm became known as E.Dent & Co.Ltd.
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