Westbury-on-Trym Pottery

Posted on: September 21st, 2016 by webfooted

Westbury-on-Trym parish.

Summary of operating dates and proprietors

The Yeamans’ Pottery:

Late 17th- early 18th centuries: the Yeamans family and other potters were working in Westbury.

The Burfield or Sugar House Pottery:

c1742-1770 Daniel Saunders.
c1772-1775 George Hart.
1775-c1780 Stephen Fricker.
c1780-1797 Roger Yabbicom and Henry Yabbicom I.

The pottery closed and the Yabbicoms moved to the St Philip’s Pottery 3.

The history of pottery manufacture in Westbury has been published in:
Jackson, R. 2005. Pottery production in Westbury-on-Trym during the late 17th and 18th centuries. Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society 123, 121-131.

The Yeamans family

The Yeamans family probably operated a pottery in Westbury-on-Trym during the late 17th and early 18th centuries as at least seven members of the family – John, Richard, Robert, Roger, Sampson the elder, Sampson the younger and Samuel – were potters living in the parish during that period. They certainly owned a kiln by 1746 when it was mentioned in the older Sampson Yeaman’s will. Robert and, possibly, Samuel were the sons of Roger Yeamans while the younger Sampson Yeamans was the son of his own namesake.  The relationships between the remaining members of the family cannot be determined.

Other early potters

Other potters who are mentioned in documents as working in Westbury during the late 17th and early 18th centuries may have been employees of the Yeamans family.  Both Samuel and Richard Yeamans employed the potter Thomas Jones as his 1718 inventory showed that they owed him wages.
The earliest evidence for a potter in Westbury is from 7 January 1691 when Ralph Eaton, a potter living there, was granted a licence to marry the widow Anna Williams, also of Westbury.  Ralph Eaton was buried at Westbury-on-Trym on 3 October 1721.
On 21 August 1723 the Westbury potter Reece Derrick stood surety for the appearance of his wife, Elizabeth, at the next session of the Bristol Tolzey court.  Reece was buried at Westbury in 1728, and afterwards his family received poor relief from the parish.  Stephen Boyce, another Westbury potter, was granted a licence to marry Martha Peirce of Henbury on 30 October 1732.  Also in 1732 Henry Allbright, a Westbury potter, married Elizabeth Morley at St John’s church, Bedminster.

The Burfield or Sugar House Pottery

On 5 February 1742 the Bristol merchant Samuel Jacob made his will in which he left his nephew Christopher Twynihoe his property at Cote in Westbury with the rent ‘settled for the ground called Burfield on which is a pottwork erected as by articles between Daniel Saunders and myself’.  Daniel was the son of William Saunders of Cote House and later inherited the Cote estate.

Daniel Saunders had a number of business interests besides the pottery and was variously described as a merchant, potter, dealer and chapman.  By 1749 he was paying the poor rate on a dock at Sea Mills on the River Avon in Westbury parish, where he owned other property.  The dock was never popular with Bristol merchants and fell into disuse after 1766.  This probably contributed to Saunders’ financial difficulties for on 13 October 1769 he mortgaged various properties including ‘all that pasture ground called Burfield containing by estimation 8 acres … and also all that messuage, tenement or pot house with its appurtenances then lately erected and built on some part of the said ground called Burfield, together with several messuages or tenements and other buildings also then lately erected and built adjoining and belonging to and occupied with the said pothouse’.

The mortgaging of these properties did not solve Saunders’ financial problems and by 24 September 1770 he had been declared bankrupt, being then described as a merchant and potter of Cote.  On 21 August 1772 Stephen Penny, an accountant who had been appointed to administer Saunders’ affairs, sold the pottery at Burfield to George Hart for £1,000.

On 3 April 1773 the new owner of the Burfield pottery, George Hart, placed an advertisement in a Bristol journal begging leave ‘to inform his friends and the public that besides sugar pots and moulds he makes all sorts of useful and ornamental chimney pots, so much approv’d of and esteemed for their singular qualifications for curing smoaky chimneys, which has the desired affect after every other method has been tried. Likewise all kinds of useful and ornamental garden pots. The chimney and garden pots are made of so peculiar a sort of clay that they are warranted to stand the severity of the frost and weather without scaling off or losing any of their useful ornaments’.

In July 1773 William Plant, who owned a china, glass and Staffordshire warehouse in Wine Street, Bristol, advertised that he was the sole retailer in the city of ‘all sorts of garden pots, useful and ornamental from Mr Hart’s manufactory at Westbury’.

In addition to Hart’s local trade it is known that he exported 900 pieces of earthenware to Dublin on 10 July 1773 and 2,500 pieces of earthenware to the same destination on 15 June 1774.  The pottery must have been financially successful as by 1776 Hart had built a house called Burfield in Westbury, which ‘had a coach-house, stable and every conveniency for a gentleman’s family’ together with 21 acres of land including the Clay Field.  By 1780 Hart had moved to Blandford Forum in Dorset where he had taken over the Greyhound inn.

In September 1775 Hart leased the pottery to Stephen Fricker who, since 1773, had been the owner of the Fountain Tavern in Bristol’s High Street.  On 16 December 1775 Fricker advertised that he had taken over the Sugar House pottery from George Hart, who had retired from the business, and that, in addition to sugar moulds, he was producing chimney, garden and flower pots.  In January 1778 Stephen Fricker was living in Burfield house as a tenant when George Hart sold it to John Trehawke of Liskeard in Cornwall for £2,400, the property then being described as ‘two messuages, two pothouses, one stable, two gardens, four acres of land, four acres of meadow, twenty acres of pasture and common pasture for all manner of cattle’.

Fricker had four daughters, two of whom married eminent literary figures of the day. Sarah married Samuel Taylor Coleridge at St Mary Redcliffe in October 1795 and Edith married Robert Southey in the same church the following month.  However, by this time Fricker had died and the children were living with their mother, a school-mistress, on Redcliff Hill. Robert Southey’s son wrote later that ‘at Bath … Mr Coleridge first became acquainted with his future wife Sarah Fricker, the eldest of three [sic] sisters. One of whom was married to Robert Lowell, the other having been engaged for some time to my father.  They were the daughters of Stephen Fricker, who had carried on a large manufactory of sugar pans or moulds at Westbury, near Bristol, and who having fallen into difficulties, in consequence of the stoppage of trade by the American war, had lately died, leaving his widow and six children wholly unprovided for’.

After Fricker found it necessary to vacate the property due to his financial problems the tenancy was taken over by Roger Yabbicom, although the precise date when this occurred is not known.  In 1771 Roger was the tenant of the White Horse inn near Burfield in Westbury.  On 3 April 1784 the Westbury churchwardens noted that they had received from ‘Mr Roger Yabbicom & Son one years rent for the Claypits (late Stepn. Frickers)’ so it is clear that the Yabbicom family had taken over the pottery by that date.  Certainly by 1788 the Yabbicoms were paying rates on the pottery. The son in the business was Henry Yabbicom I.

When Burfield house and pottery were sold by its new owner John Trehawke to John Fitzhenry on 29 September 1792 the pottery was described as in the possession of Messrs Yabbicom and Son.  On 24 June 1794 Burfield was again sold, to John Morgan, and was described as a mansion house with a pothouse and pottery buildings, the pothouse being occupied by Messrs Yabbicom and Son.

During the late 18th and early 19th centuries Roger Yabbicom and Son held the tenancy of other properties in Westbury parish, including Hart’s former clay ground (sometimes known as Clay Field).  In 1796 the Westbury churchwardens bought chimney pots from the Yabbicoms.  In 1795 Matthew’s directory listed Yabbicom & Son’s ‘sugar, chimney and garden pot manufactory’ at Westbury but by 1797 the firm had moved to Avon Street in the parish of St Philip’s (see St Philip’s Pottery 3).  From 1797 the assessments for church rates in Westbury record the ‘late Pothouse’ owned by John Morgan.

Wares produced

Red earthenwares, including sugar pots and moulds and chimney and garden pots.

Finds of waste pottery and kiln material

Ponsford, M. 2001. An archaeological evaluation at Trym Lodge, Henbury Road, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol. Unpublished report by Channel Archaeology.
Excavations in advance of development at Trym Lodge, Henbury Road, revealed a dump of pottery waste and kiln debris dating to the first half of the 18th century.  This had probably been used to raise the level of the bank of the River Trym.  The waste consisted of sherds of sugar-making pottery – cones and syrup collecting jars – chimney pots and garden wares.  Some slipware sherds dated back to the 17th century.  The wasters almost certainly came from the Westbury-on-Trym Potteries and probably the Burfield or Sugar House Pottery.  Twenty-one sherds of pottery are illustrated.
(HER no. 20791; BRSMG accession no. 2001/16).

Cullen, K. 2003. New water main, Durdham Down, Bristol. Archaeological recording. Cotswold Archaeology unpublished report no. 03036.
During excavation work for a water main across Durdham Down a number of post-medieval quarry pits were found which contained pottery kiln waste and domestic material dating to the late 18th and 19th centuries.  Two pits contained sugar-refining ware wasters dating to the 18th century.  It seems probable that these wasters came from the Burfield or Sugar House Pottery and may have been backfilling pits excavated for the extraction of clay.
(HER no. 21553; BRSMG accession no. 2002/48).

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