Josiah Wedgwood

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Josiah Wedgwood (12 July 1730 – 3 January 1795) was an English potter, founder of the Wedgwood company, credited with the industrialization of the manufacture of pottery. A prominent abolitionist, Wedgwood is remembered for his "Am I Not A Man And A Brother?" anti-slavery medallion. He was a member of the Darwin–Wedgwood family. He was the grandfather of Charles Darwin and Emma Darwin.



Early life

Born in Burslem, Staffordshire, England, the twelfth and last child of Thomas Wedgwood and Mary Wedgwood (née Stringer; d. 1766), Josiah was raised within a family of English Dissenters. He survived a childhood bout of smallpox to serve as an apprentice potter under his eldest brother Thomas Wedgwood IV. Smallpox left Josiah with a permanently weakened knee, which made him unable to work the foot pedal of a potter's wheel. As a result, he concentrated from an early age on designing pottery rather than making it.

In his early twenties, Wedgwood began working with the most renowned English pottery-maker of his day, Thomas Whieldon. He began experimenting with a wide variety of pottery techniques, an experimentation that coincided with the burgeoning of the nearby industrial city of Manchester. Inspired, Wedgwood leased the Ivy Works in his home town of Burslem. Over the course of the next decade, his experimentation (and a considerable injection of capital from his marriage to a richly-endowed distant cousin) transformed the sleepy artisan works into the first true pottery factory.

Marriage and children

Wedgwood married Sarah Wedgwood (1734–1815), his third cousin, in January 1764. They had seven children:

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