PROPERTY OF A NEW YORK COLLECTION
A closely related Pearsall and Embree clock is in the collection of the White House and is illustrated and discussed in Betty C. Monkman, The White House: Its Historic Furnishings and First Families, (New York: Abbeville Press, 2000), pp.262, 309-9.
Born into a prominent Quaker family, Thomas Pearsall was a successful New York City clockmaker working both in partnership with family members and on his own during the 1770s and 1780s. Based on the reference to "Joseph Pursell, watchmaker" and "Thomas Pearsall, Jr." as witnesses to the will of Elizabeth Pearsall (1688-1764), Thomas Pearsall, the clockmaker, can be linked to the Pearsall family of Long Island.1 Thomas and Joseph Pearsall (1740-1834) were the sons of Nathaniel Pearsall (1712-1758) and Mary Latham (d. 1799) of Cow Neck, Long Island. At the age of twenty one, presumably after completing his apprenticeship, Thomas Pearsall married Elizabeth Dobson (1744-1813), and with residences in New York City and Flushing, the couple had five children.2
From 1770 to 1773, Thomas Pearsall was in partnership with his elder brother Joseph. Their business was located "at the House formerly occupied by Haydock and Bowne, between Burling's and Beekman's Slips" and their products included "a Variety of Clocks ... with Japan'd and Mahogany Cases" and "gold, silver, metal, skeleton, plain, and Day of the Month Watches." In June 1773 the brothers announced that their partnership was dissolved, and based on their advertisements as separate proprietors, Thomas appears to have remained in the same location while Joseph moved to Hanover Square.3 In 1781, Thomas Pearsall again entered into a partnership, this time with his kinsman Effingham Embree (1759-1817).4 Over the course of the next nine years, Pearsall and Embree advertised their business, located at the corner of Beekman's Slip and Queen Street (1781, 1784), No. 43 Queen Street (February 1789), and No. 185 Queen Street (September 1789, 1790). In addition to an array of clocks and watches, both "of their own and London manufactory," their products included watch parts, tools, silverware, and jewelry. Upon the dissolution of the partnership in 1790, Effingham Embree noted that for the previous seven years, he had "solely conducted the business of the late house of Pearsall and Embree," suggesting that Pearsall was a partner in name only and not an active craftsman.5 Nothing is known of Thomas Pearsall's activities after this time, and it is possible he retired from clockmaking long before his death in 1825.
1. Abstracts of Wills on File in the Surrogate's Office) City of New York) Vol. 6, I760-I766, Collections of the New York Historical Society, vol. 30 (New York, N.Y.: New York Historical Society, 1898), p. 442, available at Ancestry.com.
2 Clarence E. Pearsall, ed., History and Genealogy of the Pearsall Family in England and America, vol. 2 (San Francisco: H. S. Crocker, 1928), pp. 1133-37.
3 Mary Ellen Embree LeBien, Embree Remembered: ]he Extraordinary Lives and Times of Robert and Effingham Embree (Published by the author, 2002), p. 72; Harris 2003, pp. 335-37, nos. 1498- 1504.
4 Thomas Pearsall's sister Sarah married Lawrence Embree, the brother of Effingham Embree. See Pearsall, p. 1133 and LeBien, P·72.
5 Harris 2003, pp. 337-38, nos. 150 5-10. For general references, see Palmer 1950, p. 256; Britten, p. 451; Drepperd, p. 262; Distin and Bishop, p. 328; Sposato, p. 130; Spittler and Bailey, p. 231.
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