Josiah Wedgwood (July 12, 1730 - January 3, 1795, born in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent) was an English potter, who became famous for the industrialisation (making things in factories, not workshops) of pottery. His grandson was the famous naturalist, Charles Darwin.
Early life [change]
When he was a child, Josiah had smallpox, but he survived (did not die). The smallpox injured his knee, so he could not easily work as a potter. Instead, he worked hard to design pottery. Working as an apprentice, Wedgwood learned many techniques for making pottery. He used his skills to make one of the first pottery factories, Ivy Works, in Burslem, now part of Stoke-on-Trent.
Wedgwood was very interested in science and technology, and used new ideas to make good quality pottery. He became famous for making pottery for royalty, and became very rich. He spent money on civic works, things that would help businessmen and people in the city, for example canals. He became friends with Erasmus Darwin, an important scientist and inventor. In 1780, Wedgwood and Darwin became business partners. Wedgwood's son married Darwin's daughter, who gave birth to Charles Darwin. Wedgwood and Darwin were also members of the 'Lunar Society', a group of important scientists, philosophers and businessmen.
Abolition of slavery [change]
Together with his friends in the Lunar Society, Wedgwood worked for the abolition (ending) of slavery. Wedgwood produced medallions asking for the end of slavery. These medallions became very popular. Wedgwood died in 1795. Selling slaves became illegal (against the law) in 1807 in Britain, and having slaves became illegal in 1833.
- Wedgwood: The First Tycoon, Brian Dolan, Viking Adult, 416 pp. (October 7, 2004). ISBN 0-670-03346-4
Other websites [change]
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