John Wedgwood (1766-1844)

The oldest of Josiah and Sarah's sons, John studied at Warrington Academy and Edinburgh University. In 1794 he married, Louisa Jane Allen (younger sister of his brother Josiah’s wife, Bessie), and the couple had seven children.

He worked intermittently at the Etruria factory, and the Wedgwood London Showroom from 1781. He was a partner at the Etruria Works from 1790-93, and again from 1800-11. As the eldest son he should have inherited the factory. However, his father had used his wealth to ensure that his sons had an education which he had not experienced, and in doing so he had inadvertently brought them up as young gentlemen who wished for nothing to do with the dirty pottery industry. A trip to Italy to see some of the classical sources for Wedgwood designs only served to confirm to John that there were much nicer places to be than North Staffordshire.

Convinced now that John was not made for the ceramics business, his father bought him a partnership in a banking venture which also failed. John seemed to lurch from crisis to crisis, having inherited none of his father’s head for business. Instead, his skills lay elsewhere – in the field of botany and horticulture. In 1804, John became the founder member of the Royal Horticultural Society, chairing its first meeting and acting as its first treasurer. John resumed his partnership with the family firm between 1800 and 1812, during which time blue-printed ware was introduced and exquisite underglaze printed botanical designs abounded.

Images

John Wedgwood, © Wedgwood Museum

John Wedgwood
© Wedgwood Museum