Posted on: October 8th, 2016 by webfooted

See the Potteries List section for the Castle Green Pottery.

It is not clear when Cookworthy established his Pottery in Bristol. According to Owen an advertisement for china ware painters, possibly required for a pottery in Bristol, appeared in the Worcester Journal in March 1770. The Pottery certainly existed by 1771.

c1770-73 William Cookworthy ran the Castle Green Pottery, in partnership with Joseph Fry, Joseph Harford, the potter Thomas Frank II and Richard Champion.

It is possible that Cookworthy continued operating the Pottery until 1773, although Richard Champion was taking apprentice potters in January 1772 and was clearly involved in the running of the Pottery by that date.  Champion continued operating the Pottery after Cookworthy left the business.


Cookworthy was a chemist of Plymouth, Devon.

1764 Jan. Sarah Champion recorded her meeting with Cookworthy who she described as ‘an eminent chemist and the first inventor of the British China-work’. This may indicate that he had been involved with the manufacture of porcelain in Bristol before 1764, although a memorandum to Sarah Champion’s journal states ‘that many of the anecdotes mentioned in the course of the Journal have been added to at the time of copying it, which was from 1778-83’ (Owen 1873, 15-16).
pre-1767 An early reference to Cookworthy’s connection with Bristol is contained in the account book of his brother-in-law, Thomas Were’s, firm. An undated entry, but prior to 1767, under the heading ‘William Cookworthy on the China Affair or Plymouth Porcelain Company’ reads ‘Dr. To bill remitted on china affair at Bristol £30’ (Selleck 1978, 58).
1768 Cookworthy was granted a patent for the manufacture of porcelain and the production at Plymouth continued from 1768-70.
1770 22 Mar. An advertisement appeared in the Worcester Journal: ‘China Ware Painters Wanted for the Plymouth New Invented Patent Porcelain Manufactory.  A number of sober ingenius artists capable of painting in Enamel or Blue, may hear of constant Employment by sending their proposals to Thomas Frank in Castle Street, Bristol’ (Owen 1873, 17).  This may indicate that Cookworthy had established his Pottery in Bristol by 1770.
By 1771 The Pottery had been established in Castle Green in premises previously occupied by a Widow Tomlinson.  The Poor Rate returns for 1769 show Tomlinson’s premises as void.  Unfortunately the return for 1770 does not survive, but in 1771 the occupiers of the premises are ‘Fry & Co.’.  Joseph Fry was one of the original investors in the Bristol Pottery, together with Richard Champion, Joseph Harford, Thomas Frank and William Cookworthy, the latter contributing his expertise and patent rights (Selleck 1978, 65).

Presumably it was about this time that Richard Summers, George Bush and Abraham Clibborn had a financial interest in the Pottery as is shown in a letter dated 3 Nov 1777 addressed to the Mens Meeting of Friends in Bristol (BRO SF/A7/1).  For the full text see under Richard Champion.

1771 31 Oct. ‘Firewood … Any person or Persons who have a Quantity of dry Oak Billet Wood, about four feet long, fit for Potters Use, and are willing to dispose of the same, may deliver in Proposals to Wm. Cookworthy and Co. at their China Manufactory in Castle-green, on or before the 14th of November next’ (BG).
1772 27 Aug. ‘China. At the Taylor’s Hall in Broad-street, on Tuesday the 1st September, and the following Days, Useful and Ornamental China The Produce of the Bristol Manufactory, Consisting of very elegant Figures, beautiful Vases, Jars and Beakers, with all Kinds of useful China, blue and white and enamel’d. To be sold without Reserve … The Manufactory is still carried on in Castle Green; where all Persons may be supplied with useful or ornamental China, Wholesale or Retail’ (BG).
1772 28 Nov. ‘China. At the Manufactory in Castle Green, Bristol. The True Porcelain, Both Useful and Ornamental, Consisting of a New Assortment. The figures, Vases, Jars and Beakers, are very elegant, and the useful Ware exceedingly good.  As this Manufactory is not at present sufficiently known, it may not be improper to remark, that this Porcelain is wholly free from Imperfections in Wearing, which the English china usually has, and that its Composition is equal in Fineness to the East Indian, and will wear as well. – The enamell’d Ware, which is rendered as cheap as the English Blue and White, comes very near, and in some Pieces equal to the Dresden, which this Work more particularly imitates.  N.B. There is some of the old stock, which will be sold very cheap – Two or three careful Boys are wanted …’ (FFJ).
1773 Cookworthy sold his interest in the Castle Green Pottery and patent to Richard Champion (Selleck 1978, 75).

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