Origin of the term “grandfather clock”
Did you know that the proper term for a grandfather clock is actually longcase clock? The story of how the term grandfather clock became popular dates back to the 19th century. Two brothers named Jenkins were managers at the George Hotel in Piercebridge, England. When one of the brothers died the longcase clock in the hotel began to lose time. No repairs made by the staff or local clockmakers remedied the problem. When the other brother died at age 90, the clock ceased to work altogether and was not repaired out of respect for the brothers.
In 1876, Henry Clay Work, an American composer and songwriter, inspired by the story of the brothers Jenkins wrote and composed “My Grandfather’s Clock.” The song is sung from the perspective of the grandson who details the life of the clock, a life that mirrors that of the grandfather from the clock’s purchase on the day of the grandfather’s birth to its refusal to work when the grandfather dies 90 years later. It is said that this song is the reason longcase clocks are now commonly referred to as grandfather clocks. The song continued to inspire well into the 20th and 21st centuries. The song was the basis for a 1963 episode of the Twilight Zone and has been covered by many recording artists, including Boyz II Men.