Famous Potters of Stoke-on-Trent
Adams Index Page
The Adams family of Potters
The Adams family had potteries in Staffordshire as early as 1650.
At that date two brothers, William and Thomas
had separate ventures in Burslem.
Such family activity
continued for many years. William Adams and Company, with large potteries
in Tunstall was managed by members who were the 11th and 12th generations
in direct descent from the original 17th century Adams of Burslem.
Whilst there is no longer an Adams pottery, some of their designs are still produced with their backstamp under the Wedgwood Group name. Adams joined the Wedgwood Group in 1966.
He also perfected a special shade for his ware, known as "Adams blue" for its distinctive colour which approached violet.
William (1) was succeeded by his son Benjamin who was not too successful commercially. Benjamin sold the Greengate pottery in 1820. It then passed from family control until repurchased by William Adams (4) to expand his production. It became a unit of William Adams and Company, Tunstall.
2) William Adams 1748-1831, of Brickhouse, Burslem and
later Cobridge Hall, Cobridge.
During William's minority Brickhouse pottery, established in 1657 by an earlier John Adams, was leased to Josiah Wedgwood.
This continued until about 1772 when Wedgwood moved to his newly built Etruria pottery and William Adams (2) established his own business at Brickhouse. He was so successful with the usual Queensware and other Staffordshire wares that in a few years he moved to Cobridge Hall which he had built in nearby Cobridge.
His important in achievement was the introduction to Staffordshire of the transfer printed method of decoration. During his latter years, his specialties were spatterware and Red Rose, a cottage tableware so named for its bold painted decoration of roses and foliage.
3) William Adams 1772-1829, of Stoke-on-Trent
Was the son of Richard Adams, maker of unmarked salt glaze and white stoneware.
Toward the close of the 18th-century, William (3) was operating four potteries in Stoke-on-Trent including one at at Cliffbank. He produced Queensware and transfer decorated earthenware, including one of the early American scenic designs, brought out about 1827. It appeared on dark blue plates in two sizes titled on the reverse "Mitchell & Freeman China and Glass Warehouse, Chatham Street, Boston." Obviously the plates with this view were ordered by the partners for business promotion.
In 1819 his son, William Adams (4), became a partner and the company name was changed to William Adams & Son. Later three other sons were made partners, the firm name then becoming William Adams & Sons.
Thomas Wolfe had occupied the Big Works by 1781 it was on the north-east side of the Newcastle canal - opposite Spode's pottery works.
In 1818 Thomas Wolfe's widow Rachel let the two works to William Adams. The famous Adams family continued to work the old Wolfe factories until c.1862.
The railings in front of
the works is the Newcastle Canal - the canal went underneath
picture: "Ten Generations of a Potting Family"
4) William Adams 1798-1865, of Greenfield, Tunstall
This son and first partner of William Adams (3) was a prolific producer of American scenic and historic china. On his father's death he became managing director of the family business. About 1834 he built the Greenfield pottery in Tunstall, the first important one there, to which the firms offices, styled Adams & Sons, were moved.
About 1830 Adams & Sons also produced its Columbus series of 14 designs based on events in the discoverer's career. Transfer printing for these was in light colours, ranging through pink, brown, green and purple as well as black. A special printed mark was used. An anchor and a shield lettered Columbus and, on a scarf below, W. A.& S.
After William (4) died in 1865, the potteries in Stoke-on-Trent were sold and everything moved Tunstall where the business was conducted by his sons, William and Percy W. L. Adams. They added porcelain tablewares to their other products. In turn they were succeeded by their sons and grandsons who came to direct their potteries.
Adams Index Page
questions/comments/contributions? email: Steve Birks
updated: March 2008