Thomas Whieldon | People from Stoke-on-Trent

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Thomas Whieldon

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father:  mother:   
Thomas Whieldon wife: Sarah

6 children 

Thomas Whieldon 1719-1795 a Master Potter who influenced and taught the famous potters Ralph & Aaron Wood and Josiah Spode. He was in partnership with Josiah Wedgwood. 

Ralph Wood (in c.1730) was apprenticed to John Astbury, and he later worked with Thomas Whieldon at Fenton Low, there learning the manufacture of coloured glazes. Aaron Wood was apprenticed with the Thomas Wedgwood, Jr., firm from 1731 to 1746, when he left to work with Whieldon. He opened his own pottery four years later.

Whieldon produced salt glazed ware, agate ware and the cream-coloured earthenware which was later perfected by Josiah Wedgwood. 

"Whieldon had already acquired a reputation for his wares far exceeding that of most, or almost any of the potters of his day. and was thus as desirable a partner for Wedgwood, as Wedgwood, with his exquisite taste and skill, was for him. He had increased his works very considerably, and was employing many hands, some of whom became eminent and wealthy potters." L. Jewitt 'Life of Josiah Wedgwood' (1865) p110

Plate by Thomas Whieldon, c.1750
Plate by Thomas Whieldon, c.1750
Elers, Thomas Astbury, Thomas Whieldon 
and Enoch Booth  experimented with coloured glazes. 
Whieldon Ware is well known for its 'tortoiseshell ' glazes. 
Many makers imitated this and the name 'Whieldon' 
is now a generic name describing a 'style' 
that was developed by Thomas Whieldon.

see also Whieldon's Grove

1719 Thomas Whieldon born at Penkhull - September 1719. 
1740 By this date had opened a small pottery in Fenton Low in a 'small range of low, thatched buildings.'
c.1746 Aaron Wood started work with Whieldon.
1748 Whieldon bought Fenton Hall from the bankrupt John Peate along with the adjoining potworks.
1749 "In 1749, Thomas Whieldon built for himself an addition to his works, and these were the works at which Wedgwood, as partner, carried on his business." Jewitt  p111
1750 By this date, in addition to pottery, he owned a number of plots of land in Fenton, eight dwelling houses and land which was associated with Fenton Hall.
1749-62 In 1749, when Josiah Spode I was about 16, he was apprenticed to Thomas Whieldon of Fenton whose work was well in advance of other potters of the time, in both form and colour. He stayed with Whieldon until 1762 when he moved to work for Turner and Banks.
From Whieldons 'account book' 

1749. April 9. 
Hired Siah Spoade, 
to give him from this time to Martelmas next 2s. 3d., or 2s. 6d. if he Deserves it.

£ s d
2dyear . . . . . . 0 3 2
3dyear . . . . . .  0 3 3
Pd. full earnest . . . . 0 1 0

This entry is of considerable historical interest, as being the first hiring of the great Josiah Spode, the founder of the family which rose to such great eminence in the art. The “hiring,” which appears to have been the apprenticeship, or, what was tantamount to it, the learning of the trade, would, from this entry, appear to have been for three years. The first at 2 s. 3d. per week, “or 2s. 6d. if he deserves it,” and the succeeding years at a rise of sixpence per week each. There are two other entries in this same book relating to Josiah Spode...

1752. Feby. 22. 
Hired Josiah Spoad for next Martlemas, 

£ s d
per week . . . . 0 7 0
I am to give him earn. . . . 0 5 0
Pd. in Part . . . . .  0 1 0
Pd. do. . . . .  0 4 0

1754. Feby. 25. Hired Siah Spode, 

£ s d
per week . . 0 7 6
Earnest . . . . . .  1 11 6
Pd.inpart . . . . . 0 16 0


1754-59 Josiah Wedgwood I was in partnership with Whieldon who was to teach him so much about clay and making pottery.

"In 1754 Wedgwood and Harrison entered into partner ship with Thomas Whieldon, the most eminent potter of his day. The partnership with Harrison. however, continued but for a very short period, and in two years from Wedgwood first joining him (in 1752), he went out of the concern altogether, and the two remaining partners, Wedgwood and Whieldon, continued in partnership for five years. The basis of this union was the secrets of the trade which Wedgwood possessed, and was to practise for their common benefit without any stipulation to reveal them." Jewitt  p108

1780 Whieldon finished potting. He had acquired a fortune estimated at £10,000. 
1786 Appointed High Sheriff of Staffordshire. 
1795 Thomas Whieldon died March 1795 (NOTE: S. Shaw says 1798 (see below) but this appears to be a mistake)

"In 1740, Mr. Thomas Whieldon’s manufactory at Little Fenton, consisted of a small range of low buildings, all thatched. His early productions, were knife hafts, for the Sheffield Cutlers; and Snuff Boxes, for the Birmingham Hardwaremen, to finish with hoops, hinges, and springs; which himself usually carried in a basket to the tradesmen; and being much like agate, they were greatly in request. He also made toys and chimney ornaments, coloured in either the clay state, or bisquet, by zaifre, manganese, copper, &c. and glazed with black, red, or white lead. He he also made black glazed tea and coffee pots, Tortoiseshell and melon table plates, (with ornamented edge, and six scallops, as in the specimens kept by Andrew Boon, of the Honeywall, Stoke;) and other useful articles. 
Mr. A. Wood, made models and moulds of these articles; also pickle leaves, crab stock handles and cabbage leave spouts. for tea and coffee pots, all which utensils, with candlesticks, chocolate cups, and tea ware, were much improved, and his connections extended subsequently, when Mr. J. Wedgwood became his managing partner. 
He was a shrewd and careful person. To prevent his productions being imitated in quality or shape, be always buried the broken articles; and a few months ago, we witnessed the unexpected exposure of some of these, by some miners attempting to get marl in the road at Little Fenton. 
The fortune he acquired by his industry, enabled him to erect a very elegant mansion, near Stoke; where he long enjoyed in the bosom of his family the fruits of his early economy. He was also Sheriff of the County, in the 26th year of the late reign. The benevolence of his disposition, and his integrity, are honourable traits of character, far superior to the boast of ancestry without personal merit. 
He died in 1798, at a very old age; and in 1828 his relict was interred beside him in Stoke Church yard.
Of the four apprentices to Mr. Whieldon, three commenced business, and were eminently successful; Mr. Josiah Spode, (the first,) Mr. Robert Garner, Mr. J. Barker, (and his Brothers we believe,) - but Mr. William Greatbatch, a person of great ability, (mentioned again hereafter,) was ruined by a had debt. The father of William Greatbateh, was a farmer, at Berryhill; and supplied coals to the manufacturers at Fenton, from Botteslow and Colamoor; and among others, to Mr. Whieldon, and Mr. Daniel Bird, on the backs of horses, the roads being then so bad that had a horse stumbled, or missed his step into the boles, he certainly would have fallen, and with difficulty would have been again raised. lie received his money every journey, because fearful of the parties." - page 155

Simeon Shaw: 'History of the Staffordshire Potteries' (1829)


21 Jan 2003