« PreviousContinue »
BAD STATE OF THE ROADS.
perforated, and are each supported by three exquisite figures on bases. They are of large size, and must have been among the best and most costly productions of the works.
The manufacture of Queen's ware, as I have said, soon became general throughout the district, and numerous manufacturers sprang up around the great centre, Wedgwood, ready to adopt whatever improvements by his great skill and his indomitable perseverance he should from time to time make, and to build their fortunes on the results of his labours. The consequence was that, as we have seen he said, there were one hundred manufactories of Queen's ware instead of one, and ten thousand workmen employed instead of one hundred. At this time Wedgwood bestirred himself to have the roads improved and made more passable for wares; but in this he was met by a strong opposition from the potters, who thought that if the roads were made more passable, their trade would be carried away, and ruin would await them! The roads, however, were mended, and the trade of the district has gone on increasing ever since.
In the “Burslem Dialogue,” to which I have on a former occasion referred, the following amusing allusion to the state of the roads, and of Wedgwood's plan of sending his Queen's ware to Liverpool to be printed, occurs, and I cannot refrain from giving it as a fitting close to this chapter :
“ L.-Oi'd summat t' doo t' get dahn ť L'rpool wi' eawr caart, at th' teyme as oi fust tayd Mester 'Siah Wedgut's wheit ware for ť be printed theer. Yu known as hâe ther wur noo black printin' on ware dun i' Boslem i’ thoos deys.
“ T.-0i remember 't varry weel. Di s'pose as 'Siah wur abaht th' same age as thiseln, Rafy, wur he no'?
“ L.-Ya, oi rek'n he wur tew year yunker til me.
" T.-When he started i' bizness fust, he made spewnes, knife hondles, an' smaw crocks, at th' Ivy hahs, close to where we're nah sittin'.
“ L.-Ay, oi weel remember th' toyme; an' arter that he flitted to th' Bell Workhus, wheer he put up th' bell-coney for t'ring th'
men to ther work isted o' blowin' em together wi' a hurn. 'Twur a pity he e'er left Boslum, for he wur th' cob o'th' Wedguts."
Having traced the progress of his works, and followed the career of this remarkable man through another decade of his useful life, I must now close my chapter, reserving for my next the important period down to the time of the building of Etruria.
MARRIAGE OF JOSIAH WEDGWOOD.—THE WEDGWOODS OF SMALL
WOOD. — PEDIGREE SHOWING RELATIONSHIP OF JOSIAH AND
In 1764, Josiah Wedgwood, then in his thirty-fourth year, the sole proprietor of an extensive, lucrative, and rapidly increasing manufactory, and enjoying the proud distinction of being “ Potter to her Majesty,” and of having earned for himself a name and fame which were the envy of all his neighbours, married and brought home his young bride to the Ivy House, at Burslem. The lady who became his wife was his distant-in fact, the magical number of “seven times removed”—cousin, Sarah Wedgwood, the daughter, and eventually sole heiress, of Richard Wedgwood, Esq., of Smallwood, in Cheshire. The marriage was solemnised just a hundred years ago, on the 25th of January, in the year 1764, as will be seen from the following copy of the register of the parish of Astbury, which has been kindly furnished to me by the rector of that place :
"Astbury Church, Cheshire. " No. 453. [All the first part of the register not filled in.) ] “ Married in this church by License, this twenty-fifth day of
JOSIAH WEDGWOOD'S MARRIAGE.
January, in the year One Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty-four, by me,
“John HARDING, Curate. “ This marriage was solemnised between us,
“ Jos. WEDGWOOD,
“ SARAH WEDGWOOD. “In the presence of
RD. WEDGWOOD, “Jno. CLARK."
The Richard Wedgwood, one of the witnesses to the marriage, was, of course, Richard Wedgwood of Smallwood, the father of the bride.
The Wedgwoods of Smallwood were descended from Aaron, the sixth son of Gilbert, from whom also the “Big House" and “Red Lion" families were derived, while Josiah was descended, as I have already shown, from Thomas, the third son of Gilbert, and, therefore, elder brother to Aaron. The simple table on the next page, which I have drawn up, leaving out the collateral branches and descents, will show the relationship that existed between the great Josiah and his bride, and also both his and her descent, through several generations, from the Wedgwoods of Harracles and Leek.
By his marriage Josiah Wedgwood received an accession to his fortune, in the dowry of his wife, who eventually, as sole heiress to her father, and to her brother John, who died without issue in 1774, brought to him the whole of the property of the Smallwood branch of the family. This fortune, I have heard it stated, amounted in the end to no less than £20,000 —a magnificent sum in those days, and of incalculable use to a rising, energetic, and judicious manufacturer.
About this period the brothers, Thomas and John Wedgwood, of the “Big House," retired from business, and Josiah made proposals for the purchase of their works and those of the Ivy House, which he then rented under them. This offer, unfortunately for the town, but fortunately for Wedgwood himself, was not accepted. Had the property passed