108 and 109 Redcliff Street, St Mary Redcliffe parish.
Summary of operating dates and proprietors
|Edward Crofts was living in Redcliff Street.
|Edward Crofts was renting a ‘work house’ in St Mary Redcliffe parish.
Crofts had died by May 1671 and the pottery probably closed.
Edward Crofts was first recorded as a potter of St Mary Redcliffe parish in December 1660 when he was one of the persons required that they ‘doe hang out a lanterne and candle lighted at their respective doors during this season from six to nine of the clock evy. night upon paine for forfeiting for evy. default 3s.4d’. In December 1665 he was a bondsman to a marriage licence granted to John Weston, a clothworker.
Crofts clearly had a close association with the Brislington potters as, in her will made in December 1666, Ann Bissicke, the widow of the Brislington gallypotmaker John Bissicke, bequeathed ‘unto Edward Croftes my great household bible in token of my love … I doe give and bequeath unto Sarah the wife of Edward Croftes one small booke called the Sanctuary of a Troubled Soule. Item I doe give and bequeath unto Sarah the daughter of the said Edward Croftes my silver cuppe with my husbands name and myne ingravin thereon. Item I doe give and bequeath unto Elizabeth the daughter of the said Edward Croftes tenne shillings in moneys to buy her a ring. Item I doe give and bequeath further unto Sarah the wife of the said Edward Croftes my gold deathes head ring … Item I doe give and bequeath more unto Sarah Croftes daughter as aforesaid of Edward Croftes my small box of drawers …’
In March 1668 Edward Crofts, potter, leased a tenement in Redcliff Street from the Dean and Chapter of Bristol which was bounded on one side by another tenement occupied by Crofts. An analysis of other Dean and Chapter documents showed that the tenement can be identified as what was, in the 20th century, 108 Redcliff Street.
An assessment for St Mary Redcliffe parish for the period from June 1668 to September 1668 included Edward Crofts’ dwelling house and also his ‘work house’.
Crofts was again mentioned as a potter of St Mary Redcliffe parish in January 1770 which referred to a property he had recently built on Redcliff Back. However, by May 1671 his house in Redcliff Street was in the tenure of ‘Widow Crofts’ so Edward had obviously died by that date.
The reference to Edward Crofts having a ‘work house’ in Redcliff Street strongly suggests that this was a pottery which he had probably been running from at least 1660 to his death which occurred between January 1770 and May 1771.
Frank Britton wrote an article on Edward Crofts entitled ‘Another early delftware connection between Southwark and Bristol’, which was published in 1986 in the Transactions of the English Ceramic Circle, Volume 12, Part 3 (pages 191-192). In this he suggested that Edward Crofts might be the same Edward Croft who married a Sarah Mills at Allhallows, London, on January 1651. However, although it is possible that Crofts came from London, there is no evidence to suggest that the Edward Croft married in 1651 was a potter. Britton also suggested that Crofts worked at the Brislington Pottery, travelling there daily from his home in Redcliff Street, and that ‘he must have been a very important figure in the Brislington pottery, being the only Southwark-trained potter there’. This argument seems highly tenuous as there is no documentary evidence to suggest that he ever worked in the Southwark Pottery (or, indeed that he came from London at all) or that he worked at the Brislington Pottery, and completely ignores his obvious connection with Redcliffe and the unequivocal reference to him having a ‘work house’ there.
If Edward Crofts did have a pottery in St Mary Redcliffe parish between 1660 and 1670 and this was producing tin-glazed earthenware, then that would make him the earliest known tin-glazed earthenware potter to have been working in the city.