THE FIRST MAYOR'S TALL-CASE CLOCK
“O, call back yesterday, Bid time return”
This exceptionally elegant tall-case clock seems to have had a colorful career after marking the hours in the old Seymour homestead on Governor Street for a century or more. On the death of the First Mayor in 1829, it passed to his son, Major Henry Seymour, who died in 1846, when it came into the ownership of his son, Governor Thomas Hart Seymour, who died in 1868. After that, his sister Mary Ellery Seymour, removed from Hartford to New Orleans, Louisiana, and became a member of the household of her brother, William E. Seymour, who settled there as a young man and there had a very honorable career. After she left the homestead, the house was rented, and at that time, it would seem, this family clock was carried up into the garret. How long it was there cannot be stated, but there it was when it was sold to Mr. Franklin B. Knous of New Haven, who was, as I remember the story, a caretaker in the family. At any rate he told me himself that the old clock lay on the garret floor when he bought it and brought it to New Haven and set it up in his house, where I saw it in company with my kinsman, Colonel Clarence W. Seymour of Hartford. We tried to buy the clock from him to present to the City of Hartford as a memorial to the First Mayor, but Mr. Knous professed such an affection for the clock and the Seymour family that he declined to sell it. He said that he would will it to the City of Hartford provided that we would agree to place it in its original condition, but it was not mentioned in his will, and it came into the hands of dealers, from whom it was bought by the Honorable Newton Case Brainard and his brother Mr. Morgan Bulkeley Brainard, who had it put in the best of condition and presented it to the City of Hartford as a memorial to their father. The clock has a brass movement and was made by Captain Timothy Cheney (1731-1795) of Hartford, a well- known clockmaker of his time. As reconditioned, it proved to he one of the finest examples of Connecticut clocks, both as to movement and case, and well worthy of its first owner.
The silver plate upon the door of the case bears the following inscription: “This clock, once the property of Thomas Seymour, First Mayor of Hartford (1784-1812), is presented to the City of Hartford to stand in the Old State House in memory of Leverett Brainard, Mayor of Hartford (1894-1896).”