Master Potters in Georgian  Burslem (1714-1837)






Church Warden Duties  

St John's church was not merely a place of worship. The church vestry was also the place where various decisions about the civil life of the parish were made. The most important of these decisions related to the care of the poor. 

Overseers of the Poor were elected at the annual parish meeting and they supervised the collection of the poor rates and the governor of the "Poor House" located at Green Head (see 1832 map). Similarly the Surveyor of Highways elected annually had the responsibility for the maintenance of the local roads though increasingly this activity was devolved to the new Turnpike Trusts. 

As the notice below shows the two Churchwardens played a much wider role in the community in the 18th century than they do today. It was an important post filled by a succession of prominent local tradesmen and pottery manufacturers in the Georgian period. 

Enoch Wood was churchwarden for a number of years and this notice of 1788 appears to be very much his initiative. He put a copy of it in his scrapbook and subsequently added the occupations to the list of people appended to the notice. As one would expect they were mostly master potters, but the list also included Thomas Sherwin responsible for the construction of many new buildings in the town, Hugh Henshall clerk to the Trent & Mersey Canal Co., and John Brindley, the brother of James Brindley, the canal engineer. (The hand written comments are dated 1831 - not surprisingly most of them were dead by this time, Enoch Wood died in 1840).

1788 Notice issued by the Church Wardens
(when reading this remember that 's' was written like an 'f')

John Daniel  Potter ---
William Dawson  Potter dead
Richard Mellar Farmer dead
Jacob Lea --- dead

questions/comments/contributions? email: Steve Birks