Francis Wedgwood (1800-88)

Third son of Josiah Wedgwood II and Bessy Wedgwood, Francis received an education fitting for his social status and one which would equip him to lead the Wedgwood company through the troubled second half of the 19th century. He attended public school at Rugby and eventually went to Edinburgh where he received scientific training, fitting for an industrial manufacturer. He became a partner in the family business in 1827, joining his brother Josiah III. A devout Uniraian, he was a reluctant potter but he was raised to accept responsibility for the welfare of his employees. His sense of fair play is also evident in his public life. Like his father and grandfather before him he was an ardent supporter of the movement to abolish slavery. He was also a figure head in the Hanley Anti-Climbing Boys Society which strove to abolish the employment of child chimney sweeps. He introduced schooling and a library at the Etruria Works, and was elected an alderman for the borough of Hanley in 1857.

In 1832, Francis married Frances Mosley the daughter of the rector of Rolleston. In 1849, Francis and his family moved from Etruria to Barlaston where they built the family home, the 'Upper House'.

Twice while in charge of the factory, Francis attempted to improve its financial situation by forming partnerships. In 1844, in partnership with John Boyle, he attempted to sell the Etruria estate and factory, although the factory failed to sell. At the Great Exhibition of 1851, Wedgwood exhibited under the name of 'Wedgwood and Brown'. The latter was a reference to Robert Brown with whom Francis formed a profitable partnership for 13 years. The exhibition marked an up-turn in the reputation of the company.

Images

Francis Wedgwood, © Wedgwood Museum

Francis Wedgwood
© Wedgwood Museum