My Grandfather's Clock
The History of an Heirloom
Talks / Lecture
In this keynote lecture for the Related Histories: Studying the Family conference, Graeme Davison, author of the acclaimed Lost Relations: Fortunes of My Family in Australia’s Golden Age (2015), reflects on his research process and the impact of this for his historical thinking:
When she died in 1968, my great-aunt Cissie left my father a 200-year-old long case clock, directing that it should pass in turn to me. The clock had belonged to her father, the chorister, trade unionist and factory manager Thomas Davison. From Carlisle, his birthplace, it travelled to Birmingham and eventually, with Cissie, to Australia. All heirlooms connect us with our ancestors but, as the old song, ‘My Grandfather’s Clock’, reminds us, there is something almost symbiotic about the relationship between a clock and those who listen for its chime. What do the travels of my great-grandfather’s clock reveal about the Davisons and their times?