Photography by Kathy McGuinness Designs

How Wedgwood Played a Role In the Anti-Slavery Movement More Than 250 Years Ago

Now more than ever we appreciate the role that Josiah Wedgwood played in the early days of the anti-slavery movement. Interior designer Sheila Bridges shares the story of how Wedgwood helped support and spread the message of the abolitionist cause

in England and even across the Atlantic.


While Wedgwood collectors have long known of his personal involvement in the anti-slavery movement, his contributions deserve to be shared with a modern audience in a time when the struggle for justice continues.

Photograph courtesy of Wedgwood Museum/ArtFund

Statues on both sides of the Atlantic, and even throughout the world, are being evaluated and those of controversial figures are being considered for removal.  However, this statute of Josiah Wedgwood stands tall in front of the North Stafford Hotel. Long considered one of the fathers of English china, he is now celebrated as

an early supporter of the abolitionist movement. Stoke On Trent Live shares their pride in Wedgwood's contributions to both social reform and pottery innovations and production.

Although the Wedgwood International Seminar has been canceled this year due to the Corona Virus pandemic, Charlotte, North Carolina still remains the summer destination spot for Wedgwood collectors. Classic Black: The Basalt Sculpture of Wedgwood and His Contemporaries” is on exhibit at the Mint Museum Randolph through August 30. It features more than 100 black basalt sculptures, including vases, busts and medallions created by Wedgwood and several other artists from the same time period.

Emma Darwin And The Invisible Heroism Of The Scientific Caretaker

Water-color portrait of Emma Darwin (wife of

Charles Darwin) by George Richmond.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Emma Darwin, Charles Darwin's wife and first cousin, was born Emma Wedgwood, the eighth and youngest child of Josiah Wedgwood II and Bessy Allen. Her father was the eldest son of the famous pottery manufacturer, Josiah Wedgwood I. Emma was part of a large extended family, Unitarian in religion, liberal in politics, with links to the intellectual elite of the country. Her father's eldest sister, Susannah, had married Robert Darwin  and had six children, including Charles Darwin. It was Emma's father Josiah II, that he turned to for support when his own father forbade him to go on the Beagle voyage.

Without Emma, the publication of The Origin of Species would have been inconceivable. Her role in history was that of caretaker, life in the 19th century presenting unique challenges that required a firm and steady hand. In this article Dale Debakcsy takes an in-depth look at the woman behind the man.

Triangular salad plate from the "Frog" service

produced for Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia

Queensware Orange Bowl - photograph courtesy of Wikipedia

Josiah Wedgwood's accomplishments continue to amaze our modern society, through not just his invention of the china and stoneware products that bear his name, but also his ability to analyze his customers and their desire to set themselves apart from their fellow man. These observations encouraged him to wisely bestow "as much pains and expense" on gaining "royal or noble" approval for his products as on the products themselves. Tim Harford explains more on Josiah Wedgwood and the "Coase conjecture.”

© 2020 by the Wedgwood Society of Washington D.C., All Rights Reserved

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