It turns out we got a lucky break on Mr. Nathaniel Brewer. I managed
to uncover enough information to pinpoint the likely Mr. Brewer (or at
least the right Brewer family) and to provide a wee bit of detail
about the Brewers.
I have to speak in the plural since there is a Nathaniel Brewer as
well as a Natahniel Brewer Jr., both of whom were semi-prominent
businessmen in Boston in the latter part of the 19th century.
At a site called Damrell's Fire -- devoted to Boston firefighting
history -- there is a terrific series of 19th century directories that
can be searched here:
Seven directories have been made available online, scanning a period
from 1845-1875. The Directories largely include business listings in
Entering [ brewer, nathaniel ] in the search box -- and making sure to
select all the directories as your "Search Source" -- pulls up 10
records for Boston citizens by the name of Nathaniel Brewer listed in
the directories for those periods.
In the Directories for 1845 and 1855 there is a listing for:
Weigher and Gauger
11 Central Wharf
and the 1872 Directory has a listing for:
Nathaniel Brewer Jr.
Real Estate Broker
The other records for Nathaniel Brewers do not include occupational
information, so it's difficult to know if they are one and the same as
the two Brewers I just listed above.
In addition to the summary information from the Directories, the
Boston1872 site includes images of two of the complete Directories for
1870 and 1872. The latter includes the listing for Nathaniel Jr under
the category of Real Estate Agents:
Boston City Directory of 1872
Real Estate Agents
Brewer, N. Jr. & Co. 12 School
You might want to spend some time exploring the Boston1872 site, as
there's a lot of pertinent information here, including the prominent
business streets of the time (such as School Street), and other good
context information. For instance, a search on [ Simon Willard ] will
turn up the directory listings for the well-known makers of "watches
Nathaniel Sr. was listed as a "Weigher and Gauger" and was one of
quite a number of businesses with a similar occupational title. Which
raises the question -- What the heck is a "Weigher and Gauger"?
A Google search on the term turns up the following tidbits:
Another Nathaniel -- Nathaniel Hawthorne -- was also a Weigher and Gauger
Weighers and Gaugers frequented Boston for some reason, and some of
them, at least, seemed to live pretty well: "He was a weigher and
gauger in Boston, with an elegant residence at Auburndale in the city
of Newton, Mass..."
From the context of some of the search results -- including a Supreme
Court case -- it seems clear that a Weigher and Gauger was pretty much
as the name implies: an official certifier of weights and measures at
a time when such a task could not routinely be entrusted (as it is
today) to tabletop scales and the like.
Another major source of information beyond the Directories is the old
federal census records that are available through several subscription
sources (though they are not available on the internet to
non-subscribers, so I cannot provide direct links to the sources.)
Nathaniel Brewer shows up in the 1870 census for Boston, which is
fortunate, because this particular census included both occupation and
financial information on those surveyed:
Occupation: Weigher and Gauger
Value of Personal Estate: $30,000
I believe the value of the estate was a considerable sum back in those days.
I hope you realize what a lucky coincidence it is to be able to find
so much information on a more-or-less random individual from the 19th
century. The fact that the Brewers were prominent businessmen, and
that their history was in Boston -- one of the most well-documented
cities in the US -- certainly helped matters quite a bit.
Of course, it's hard to say with 100% certainty that either Nathaniel
Sr. or Jr. was, in fact, the particular Brewer for whom your clock was
manufactured. But I certainly think there's a high likeliehood that
one of these two is your man.
I trust this answer fully meets your needs. However, before rating
this answer, please let me know if you'd like any additional
information. Just post a Request for Clarification, and I'll be happy
to assist you further.
All the best in the new year ahead...