Advertisement from the Philadelphia General Advertiser (Aug. 26, 1808) for bells made by George Hedderly. (Image provided by George Dawson, Nottinghamshire, England)
The maker of the bell was George Hedderly, a bellfounder who emigrated to America from Nottingham, England, in 1793. The inscription around the top of the bell reads: “George Hedderly made me in Philadelphia, Anno Domini 1804.”
John Hedderly of Devon, England, has provided the following information about the bell maker George Hedderly, who is John’s distant relative (first cousin, six times removed).
George was born in 1755 in St. Marys, Nottingham, England. He was apprenticed as a framesmith in 1769, when he was 14 years old. (A framesmith was someone who made weaving frames. Nottingham was famous at that time for lace making.) He later worked with his father and brother, Thomas II, probably doing the frame building and bell-hanging work.
On the death of his brother, George found himself in charge of the foundry. Trade was not brisk and he resorted to regular advertisements in papers. After the death of his first wife, Hannah, he married a second time, to Sarah Sills in 1792. In March 1793, the son of George and Sarah – Francis – was baptised at St. Mary, Nottingham. Shortly thereafter, George disappeared from Nottingham and emigrated to America, leaving his wife and child in England.
In America, George formed a partnership with John Bailey, a New York artisan. On February 27, 1794, they placed an advertisement in the New York Daily Advertiser announcing the establishment of the ‘New York Bellfoundery’. By 1798, he had moved his business to Philadelphia, where he operated the foundry until his death in 1813. A number of bells that he crafted here in America are known to have survived: