Josiah Wedgwood

Josiah Wedgwood

Male 1730 - 1795  (~ 64 years)    Has more than 250 ancestors and 220 descendants in this family tree.

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  • Name Josiah Wedgwood 
    Born Burslem, Stoke Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Christened 12 Jul 1730  Burslem, Sts Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 3 Jan 1795  Musgrave's Obituary And Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried 6 Jan 1795  Stoke-On-Trent, Sts Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I33047  Geneagraphie
    Last Modified 29 Aug 2000 

    Father Thomas III Wedgwood,   b. 1685,   d. 1739  (Age 54 years) 
    Mother Mary Stringer,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Siblings 10 siblings 
    Family ID F13889  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Sarah Wedgwood,   b. 18 Aug 1734,   d. 15 Jan 1815, Parkfields, Barlaston, Aged 80 Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 80 years) 
    Married 25 Jan 1764  Astbury, Chs Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
     1. Susannah Wedgwood,   c. 23 Jan 1765, Burslem, Sts Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 13 Jul 1817, The Mount, Shrewsbury, Sal Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 52 years)
     2. John Wedgwood,   c. 2 Apr 1766, Burslem, Sts Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 26 Jan 1844, Tenby, PEM Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 77 years)
     3. Richard Wedgwood,   c. 31 Jul 1767, Burslem, Sts Find all individuals with events at this location,   bur. 3 Jun 1768, Burslem, Sts Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 0 years)
     4. Josiah Wedgwood,   c. 6 Dec 1769, Stoke-On-Trent, Sts Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 12 Jul 1843, Maer Hall, Sts Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 73 years)
     5. Thomas Wedgwood,   b. 14 May 1771,   d. 11 Jul 1805  (Age 34 years)
     6. Catherine Wedgwood,   b. Nov 1774,   d. Aug 1823, Shrewsbury - 'Circle' P.191 Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 48 years)
     7. Sarah Wedgwood,   b. Sep 1776,   d. 6 Nov 1856, Petleys, Downe, Ken Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 80 years)
     8. Mary Ann Wedgwood,   b. Aug 1778,   bur. 25 Apr 1786, Stoke-On-Trent, Sts Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 7 years)
    Last Modified 29 Aug 2000 
    Family ID F13890  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    33047.jpg
    33047.jpg

  • Notes 
    • master potter, founder of Wedgwood pottery company, Fellow of Royal Society, member of Lunar Society (as was Darwin's other grandfather Erasmus Darwin)

      Josiah Wedgwood, the thirteenth and youngest son At the age of nine Josiah left school and joined the family business at Churchyard Works. When his father died Josiah was apprenticed to his elder brother.
      After an attack of smallpox at the age of eleven, his health deteriorated and work as a potter became difficult. The disease affected his right leg and later it had to be amputated. Unable for a while to work as a potter, Josiah spent his time reading and researching about the craft of pottery.
      In 1754 Josiah Wedgwood went into partnership with Thomas Whieldon. Later, Wedgwood ended the partnership and started his own business at Burslem. Wedgwood loved experimenting and invented what became known as green glaze. In 1763 he patented a beautiful cream-coloured pottery. As this was very popular with Queen Charlotte, the wife of George III, it became known as Queen's Ware.
      Wedgwood now turned his attention to developing what was known as Egyptian Black objects. This included inkstands, salt-cellars, candlesticks, life-sized busts and vases. These black basaltes were sometimes decorated with encaustic colours, silvering, gilding or bronzing.
      In 1762 Wedgwood met Thomas Bentley in Liverpool. The two became close friends and in 1768 became partners in a company producing ornamental vases. These were very popular and in 1771 Wedgwood built a new factory called Etruria where he employed famous artists such as John Flaxman to design his vases.
      At Etruria Wedgwood greatly increased the output of his workers by introducing what later became known as "division of labour". This involved subdividing all the skills of the potter (mixing, shaping, firing and glazing) and allocating each job to a specialist worker.
      Wedgwood was quick to realise the importance of canal transport. In 1766 he joined with the Duke of Bridgewater and James Brindley to start building the Trent & Mersey Canal. When the canal was completed in 1777 Wedgwood was able to bring Cornish clay to his Etruria factory. Wedgwood also used the canal to transport the finished goods by barge to Liverpool or Hull.
      At this time Wedgwood became a Unitarian. Like most Unitarians, Wedgwood was a political reformer. He supported universal male suffrage and annual parliaments. He joined the Society for Constitutional Information and became friendly with other reformers such as Joseph Priestley, John Cartwright and the Duke of Richmond.
      Wedgwood was also concerned with social reform. In 1787 he helped Thomas Clarkson and Granville Sharp, to form the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. Wedgwood joined the committee and also produced the Abolition Society's seal which showed a black slave in chains, kneeling, his hands lifted up to heaven. The motto read: "Am I Not a Man and a Brother?"
      Wedgwood reproduced the design in a cameo with the black figure against a white background and donated hundreds of these to the Society for distribution. Thomas Clarkson wrote that "ladies wore them in bracelets, and others had them fitted up in an ornamental manner as pins for their hair. At length the taste for wearing them became general, and thus fashion, which usually confines itself to worthless things, was seen for once in the honourable office of promoting the cause of justice, humanity and freedom." Josiah Wedgwood did not see the end of the slave trade as he died

      (1) Josiah Wedgwood, letter to Thomas Bentley (25th May, 1780)
      I wish every success to the Society for Constitutional Information and if I was upon the spot should gladly not confine myself to wishes only. If at this distance I can in any way promote their truly patriotic designs, either by my money or my services, they are both open to you to command as you please. I rejoice to hear that the Duke of Richmond and Lord Selbourne are friends of annual parliaments. I agree with Major Cartwight "that every member of the state must either have a vote or be a slave".

      (2) Josiah Wedgwood, letter to Anna Seward (February, 1788)
      We are already possessed of a stock of negroes sufficient for every purpose of the cultivation and trade of our plantations; and consequently that our West India commerce could not be materially injured by prohibiting further importation; which prohibition appears to be the only probable means of withholding the heavy hand of cruelty and oppression from those who now groan under it. And even if our commerce was likely to suffer from the abolition, I persuade myself that when this traffic comes to be discussed and fully known, there will be few advocates for the continuance of it.

      (3) After Joseph Priestley's house in Birmingham was destroyed by a mob, Josiah Wedgwood wrote a letter of sympathy (2nd September, 1781)
      I persuade myself that you will rise still more splendid and more respected from what was intended to sink you. Your calmness and magnanimity on this trying occasion have put your enemies to shame. We esteem you in every point of view; and we are employed at this moment in drawing up a letter which is to be addressed to you by all the savants of the capital.


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