John Watlen (1764–1833): Music Seller and Musical Instrument Manufacturer: A Timeline

1764 John Watlen was born.1
1780s He was employed by the music publishers Corri & Sutherland in Edinburgh during the 1780s.2
1796 By this year he was in business at 34, North Bridge-street Edinburgh, in partnership with one Stephen Moore. From this address he advertised:
‘... some very fine PIANOFORTES, with the New Invented Patent Springs, by the celebrated Stephen Moore’.3
The partnership was short lived. A newspaper announcement of its dissolution appeared on 12 November 1796 – but with the address now given as No. 27, South Bridge.4 Moore placed an advert on his own account from 27, South Bridge in March 1797.5
1797 4 March 1797, John Watlen married Mary Megget, daughter of ‘the late Archibald Megget, writer’ in Edinburgh.6
1798 An auction sale of Watlen’s bankrupt stock was advertised in Edinburgh.7
1800–1805 By this year he had moved south to London and started up again in business as a music seller and publisher, first at 3, Upper James-street, Golden Square; then at 19, Tavistock-street, Covent Garden.8
1806–1818 By 1806 he had changed address again to, 5, Leicester Place, Leicester Square where he remained until 1818.
1811 He purchased the manufacturing rights for William Southwell’s 1811 patent for a ‘pianoforte sloping backwards’, which he marketed in subsequent years as the ‘oblique pianoforte’.
1818 At this time his showrooms moved to 13, Leicester Place.
1819 He advertised the address of his manufactories as Nos. 13 and 58, Castle-street, mentioning that his workshops were supervised by William Southwell.9
1825 William Southwell died.
1827 John Watlen once more became bankrupt.10
1830 It appears he must have subsequently entered into partnership with a relative (possibly his son), since an announcement of the dissolution of the partnership of John Watlen and Alexander Ramsay Watlen of 28, Leicester Square was announced in The London Gazette on 1 January 1830.11
1833 John Watlen died, aged sixty nine years, and was buried in the Church of St Anne’s, Westminster, 2 October 1833. His address is given as 13, Leicester Place.12

1 His year of birth calculated back from his age at date of death in 1833.
2 Ian Maxted, Exeter Working Papers in British Book Trade History.
3 The Edinburgh Advertiser, 12 July 1796, 27.
4 The Edinburgh Advertiser, 12 November 1796, 330.
5 The Edinburgh Advertiser,10 March 1797, 154. It seems Moore's business failed quite quickly and he returned to London, where he is found imprisoned for debt in the Fleet prison in 1801.
‘Stephen Moore, formerly of St. Martin’s Lane, in the County of Middlesex, afterwards of the South Bridge, Edinburgh, North Britain, and last of Bull Court, Upper Ground Street, near Black Fryars [sic] Bridge, in the County of Surrey, Musical Instrument Maker.’ (The London Gazette (15382 ) 4 July 1801, 765.
6 Volume 5. The Register of Marriages. (Marriage) Midlothian: Edinburgh - Register of Marriages, 1751–1800 (accessed via ancestry.co.uk, 19 June 2013).
7 The Edinburgh Advertiser, 17 July 1798, 39.
8 Ian Maxted – see note 2.
9 The Morning Chronicle, 28 January 1819, 1.
10 The London Gazette (18359), 8 May 1827, 1018; and (18396), 14 September 1827, 1945.
11 The London Gazette (18642), 1 January 1830, 9.
12 Parish register of St Anne’s, Westminster, 1833.


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