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Josiah Spode II: Early history

spode II Josiah Spode II, eldest son of Josiah Spode I, grew up in a family that was gradually establishing itself as a force in the Staffordshire pottery industry.  He was christened on  May 25, 1755 at St. Peter ad Vincula, the parish church of Stoke-upon-Trent. His father was a skilled potter beginning to make his way in the world while his mother continued to build her haberdashery business in town. His younger brother Samuel was christened at the same church on October 28, 1757.  The two boys were destined from birth to become master potters.

It was standard practice for young children to be employed in industry and sons of potters usually trained in the family business. During the 1770s their father was engaged in two complex partnerships and Josiah Spode II and Samuel would have been required to play an active part in the workings of the family pottery.  It was about 1767 when Josiah Spode I rented a potworks in Stoke and took William Tomlinson as partner.  It is probable that Tomlinson was only a source of additional financing and not a practising potter.  The lease described the premises as having a newly erected oven and three bays of buildings; that small potworks eventually grew to become the Bridge Bank Works. It was there that the two young Spode brothers would begin to learn the art and mystery of the potting business. 

In 1772, when Josiah and Samuel were aged 17 and 15, their father entered a second partnership.  His partnership agreement with Thomas Mountford was to last for  7 years and required Spode I's presence at a factory about 1½ miles north in the neighboring town of Shelton.  The boys would each have had several years training with their father and would probably have some responsibility for the day-to-day running of the Spode-Tomlinson pottery, while their father managed the Spode-Mountford pottery.  The partnership with Tomlinson  ended in November, 1774 and the lease of  the Bridge Bank works concluded on 25 March ,1775. Spode I began to look for a factory he could purchase, and must have been delighted to find the ideal situation in his home town of  Stoke-upon-Trent.  

It was a potworks  he knew well.  From the late 1750s to 1767 Spode I worked there for William Banks. The Spodes moved in and bought the works in 1776. Josiah Spode II  had married the year before and intended to establish a Staffordshire pottery showroom in London.  He and Samuel must have taken lead roles in managing the Stoke pottery until 1778, when Spode II moved to London, leaving Samuel in charge until 1779. That year their father's partnership with Mountford came to an end, leaving him free to take control of his own pottery.

Potter with two young male assistants

bridge bank works

An early 19th century view of Stoke-upon-Trent with Bridge Bank works on the right
 early Spode facctory
The early Spode works from an engraving
by Paul Holdway 1994