I love clocks and never seem to tire of learning how they were used. They are generally seen as a means of controlling workers, but once in a while a story emerges from the mists of time which shows how clocks can be of benefit, in fact, as can be seen here, this clock may well have saved some young lives.
The magazine, ‘The Annual Register’ of 1760 reported that at a quarterly meeting of the governors of Dublin workhouse, held on Oct 6th, 1760 …. it was resolved unanimously:
“That the thanks of this board be presented to the Rt Hon Lady Arabella Denny, for the continuance of her kind and most useful attention to the foundling children, particularly for a clock lately put up in the nursery, at her Ladyship’s expense, with the following inscription, viz, ‘for the benefit of infants protected by this hospital, Lady Arabella Denny presents this clock to mark, that as children reared by the spoon must have but a small quantity of food at a time, it must be offered frequently; for which purpose, this clock strikes every 20 minutes, at which notice all the infants that are not asleep must be discretely fed.”
It doesn’t state what they were being fed – in those days hygeine was pretty appalling. New borns were fed flour mixed with (often unclean) water, or beer, from horns that had sponges or cloths attached (again often unwashed). But it seems the Lady Arabella had her heart in the right place.