Some characters from The Land of Pots

Some early Etruria characters, extracted from the reminiscence “The Land of Pots” in TITAN: A Monthly Magazine, 1859.

William Theed, another gifted artist and most amiable man, for a long time devoted all his talents to the improvements at Etruria. He lived rent-free in one of the cottages on the Basford bank, and was married to a charming little French woman, whose foreign manners and broken English seemed out of place in that dull smoky land.

Among the chemists [in the early days at Etruria] were Leslie, long professor in the University of Edinburgh, who is described as fat and ugly, yet, like many a hideous mortal, intensely vain of his person; and Chisholm, a worthy old bachelor, who worked out the ideas and suggestions of others.

In fact, Etruria soon became the resort of scientific men, among whom was Sir James Hall, the father of Basil Ball, and a great oddity.

For a long time there was no church or chapel at Etruria, and those who could not or would not go to Stoke or Hanley to hear the gospel, were addressed by a working potter, a Wesleyan who roamed from place to place carrying a lantern under his coat to light him home at night.

Canals were the railroads of those days, and a person who lived for many years in Etruria remember seeing the red jackets [soldiers], and hearing the shrill note of the bagpipes of the Highlanders, passing down on barges during the long war.

Walking by the sea at Penzance one day, Thomas Wedgwood [of Etruria] saw a boy picking up seaweed and rock plants. He spoke to him, and was so pleased with his answers, that he undertook to secure for him an education which should develop his latent capacities. He wrote in his behalf to Dr. Beddoes … The Doctor received [Humphry] Davy as assistant at Clifton, and Mr Wedgwood supplied the necessary funds.1

(No Davy Lamp would have meant no deep coal mining, thus no industrial revolution that lasted, and thus no modern world… )

(1) This is corrected a little by the book A Group of Englishmen (1795 to 1815) Being Records of the Younger Wedgwoods

“What were the benefits conferred on Davy by the Wedgwoods [in Cornwall in winter 1797, for their health] is not stated; but he certainly did not owe to them his [initial] introduction to Beddoes. That was due to Davies Giddy…”

However I would suggest that it was one thing to receive an introduction by letter, by a rather limited local antiquarian, of a promising local lad. It would have been quite another thing to have an introduction by Thomas Wedgwood, with a donation of £1,000 attached.


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