19 August 2013

A Confusion of Spodes

I was delighted to be invited to speak at the Summer School at Chester University organised by the Northern Ceramic Society (NCS) in 2013.

A delegate raised a question about an image of one of the Josiah Spodes, which I used in my lecture, and I thought it was interesting that there had been some incorrect information published somewhere and worth clarifying here. All too often the many and various Josiah Spodes get mixed up.

There is a wonderful full-length portrait in oil of Josiah Spode II (1755-1827) in the collection of the Potteries Museum which depicts him looking very stylish in 'Hunting Costume'. It is thought to have been painted in about 1806. I think he looks every inch the Regency gent - is it significant that he chose to show himself dressed this way? From a humble background he was, of course, by this time not only a master potter but an internationally important pottery manufacturer, highly successful businessman and a man of property.
Spode II oil painting, c1806
I have a fondness, though, for the naive version of this portrait painted on a Spode ceramic plaque which is in the collection of the Spode museum.

The question which arose at the Summer School was that this plaque showed the gentleman with a hand hidden because he had lost it in an industrial accident at the factory. This is not so. The man in the portrait on the plaque is Josiah Spode II. The Josiah Spode who had the accident was Josiah Spode III (1777-1829). 

Spode II, ceramic plaque (detail)
Details of the accident are shown in the report below. 

From the Annual Biography & Obituary 1829
So to clarify: Josiah Spode III was the second son of Josiah Spode II (his eldest was William, who later changed his name from Spode to Hammersley... but that's another story). Josiah Spode II was the eldest son of Josiah Spode I (1733-1797) founder of the Spode company.

Josiah Spode I
It should be easy to remember the births of the 3 main Spodes connected with the Spode company as they seem mathematically memorable: 1733, 1755, 1777.

Peter Roden's detailed Spode family research is second to none and there are papers in the Spode archive relating to his work on the Spode family history for which I for one am extremely grateful. More of his relevant publications are detailed on my booklist.