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Josiah Spode II: London Retailer

spode IIWhen Josiah Spode II married Elizabeth Barker in 1775, two substantial potting families united. He was only 20 years of age, but Josiah II was already a seasoned potter and had great ambitions for his family business and his own future.  It seems both sets of parents expected the young couple to remove to London to establish a retail business where their Staffordshire  products could be sold wholesale and retail. Josiah and Elizabeth remained in Stoke as they prepared for the London venture. In 1776 and 1777 their sons, William and Josiah Spode III were baptized at Stoke-upon-Trent.  The move was  deferred while  Spode II acquired the proper credentials to set up shop in London.

Establishing a company in London was no easy matter. Only Liverymen, who had the freedom of the City and had been admitted as full members of a livery company or guild, were eligible to purchase London property and to establish a business. Without a guild for pottery sellers, the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers admitted Spode II on March 11, 1778.  He was now free to open his warehouse at 29 Fore Street and engage apprentices.  Young, ambitious boys from the Staffordshire Potteries came to work for him, including  William Copeland.  Copeland later became a partner in the London business and eventually acquired the entire Spode empire.

 As their commercial activities thrived, Spode II and Elizabeth enjoyed an all-too-brief period of personal happiness as they welcomed three daughters, all born in London. That all ended in 1782, when Elizabeth died of a fever.  Josiah was left with five children under the age of six to care for in addition to the responsibility of developing a profitable business. He concentrated on building his retail trade and never remarried.

 By 1784, Spode II had moved to larger premises and Bailey’s London DSpode baileys 1784irectory lists him at 46 Fore Street, where his shop was named "The Staffordshire Warehouse."  The Spode family business prospered and in 1788 Spode II moved next door where, at 45 Fore Street, he had even larger premises. Being based in London did not deter Josiah from remaining active back in Staffordshire.  He had interests in coal mines, partnerships in potteries, and in an enamelling business. He was described as “a man of Energy, Promptitude, Decision, and great aptitude for business.”  



wedding detail
Detail from "The Wedding," an engraving published by Ackerman 1799
fore street
St Giles's Cripplegate, Fore Street,
 London, 1830

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