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33-Timothy Claxton

Page history last edited by Sabrina Miller 9 years, 9 months ago

August 22, 1790 - August 10, 1848

Personal Data

Birth: August 22, 1790 in Earsham, Norfolk, England. 

Death: August 10, 1848 at the age of 57 years.

Father: Thomas Claxton, gardener at Earsham Hall for the family of Windsham

Wife: Hannah Stuniken, married January 14, 1812

Children: None



Primary School: Attended school in Suffolk near London, England

Apprenticeship: Whitesmith, under Mr. John Bobbit at Bungay beginning April 6, 1803 with an agreement to serve 7 years

Lectures: Attended weekly lectures on Natural Philosophy and Chemistry by Mr. Tatum on subjects including pneumatics, hydrodynamics, and aerostation (October 1815 - April 1816)



1820-1823 Left London for St. Petersburg, Russia where he worked three years for the government

                While there, he experienced an extensive library, lithographic printing, and copperplate and letter press printing

1823-1826 Worked in a machine shop connected with a cotton factory in Methuen, Massachusetts

                While there, in 1824 he helped to enhance a small society that was established for reading

                After a lecture and apparatus demonstration by Mr. Claxton, the society revised their constitution making provisions for a library and apparatus

                Debating was also introduced successfully

1825         Procured the materials to create a press and produced 100 pamphlets of 14 pages total consisting of 16 tables and examples

1826         Organized and formed the Boston Mechanics' Institution

                Acted as a superintendent of a Sabbath school

1826-1828 Journeyman, in the service of Mr. William Philpot (machinist)

1829         Took part in the formation of the Boston Lyceum

1828-1831 Co-partner with John Codman (machinist)

1831-1836 Self-employed, engaged in making and selling apparatus for illustrating the various sciences


Awards and Honors

While Timothy Claxton is credited as the founder and leader of the Boston Mechanic's Institution, there are no records of formal awards or honors issued in his name. 


Membership-Professional Organizations

Secretary, "The Mechanical Institution" organized in August 1817

Vice President, "Reading Society" in Methuen, MA from 1823-1826

Curator, "Boston Mechanic's Lyceum", 1829

President, "Boston Mechanic's Lyceum", 1831-1835

Committee Member, "Franklin Lectures", 1832



"Application of the pendulum to the shutting of doors" an article published in the Mechanics' Press (1826) 

"Claxton's Air Pump" an article published in Mechanics' Magazine, Museum, Register, Journal & Gazette (1830)

"Concise decimal tables for facilitating arithmetical calculations by the use of which many problems in mensuration are made perfectly easy." A series of tables printed by S.N. Dickinson (1830)

"Young Mechanic", a series of articles devoted to the interests of young mechanics (1832-1836)

"Memoirs of a mechanic: Life of Timothy Claxton" an autobiography (1839)


Professional Interest Areas

Mechanics: training, discussion

Scientific apparatus

Development of a simplified air pump

Lyceum movement


Adult Education


Major Contributions to Adult Education

Timothy Claxton is credited with forming the Boston Mechanics' Institution in 1826. This early work led to the development of The Lyceums, including the Boston Lyceum, with Josiah Holbrook. The Mechanics' Lyceum introduced popular lectures on various branches of sciences. In conjunction with the Lyceums, Mr. Claxton established a shop for making apparatus. These apparatus were used in scientific demonstrations in adult education classes, including the Lyceums. With the help of Mr. Holbrook, they were able to produce them for persons interested in the Lyceums for a reasonable cost. 


Additional Resources



No articles available. 


Photo Gallery

Timothy Claxton's article on his simplified air pump was published by Mechanics' Magazine in 1830.

Timothy Claxton was a committee member of the Franklin Lectures in 1832. This shows a record of a

quarterly meeting held on October 20, 1836 where he is noted as presenting a donation of books.  



No video/audio available. 



No presentations available.   



Timothy Claxton is featured "American ideas about adult education" edited by C.H. Grattan. Chapter 3 of the book features information about Mr. Claxton and his involvement with the Boston Mechanics' Institution as well as the Boston Lyceum. 


Interesting Facts

Timothy Claxton spent time living and working under three different governments: England, Russia, and The United States of America.


When Timothy Claxton left England for Russia, he went under the assumed profession of a gardener so that he could enter the country with his tools. 



Barnard, Henry. (1860). Timothy Claxton Note C in American Journal of Education Volume 8 (pp. 253-256). London, England: Trubner & Co. 


Bode, C. (1956). The American Iyceum: Town meeting of the mind. New York: Oxford University Press.


Claxton, T. (1826). Application of the pendulum to the shutting of doors. Mechanics' Press1(24), 186.


Claxton, T. (1830). Claxton's Air Pump. Mechanics' Magazine, Museum, Register, Journal & Gazette (London)2(13), 226


Claxton, T. (1830). Concise decimal tables for facilitating arithmetical calculations by the use of which many problems in mensuration are made perfectly easy. Boston, printed by S.N. Dickinson, 1830.


Claxton, T. (1839). Memoirs of a mechanic: Life of Timothy Claxton. Boston, MA: George M. Light.


Claxton, T. (1973). Memoir of a mechanic. Being a sketch of the life of Timothy Claxton,. G. W. Light.


Grattan, H. C. (1959). American ideas about education 1710-1951. New York: Columbia University.


Grattan, H. C. (1971). In quest of knowledge. New York: Amo.


Hudson, J. W. (1968). The history of adult education. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms.


Kelly, T. (1962). A history of adult education in Great Britain. Liverpool, England: Liverpool University Press.


Peers, R. (1959). Adult education: A comparative study. New York: Humanities.


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