J Potter = Journeyman Potter
journeyman is a male trader or crafter who has completed an
In the census records "J." is always short
for "journeyman" - (meaning time-served/having completed an apprenticeship)
basically someone who has completed their apprenticeship but isn't a master,
with their own premises - so the journeyman works freelance so to speak,
hiring out their labour where they can. The "jour" in "journeyman" actually is
French for "day".
The first union
- Journeyman Potter's Union
The first real union to
emerge in the six towns [of Stoke-on-Trent] was the Journeyman Potter's Union in
1824. By the following year it had embarked upon a series of
confrontations with employers. The issues involved:
- the truck system;
- standardisation of sizes;
- piece rates.
These would dominate union
affairs for years to come. In August 1825 a strike began.
The manufacturers, who had
closed ranks and promised to subsidise each other until the
union's defeat retaliated with a lockout. The strike failed,
the union disintegrated and selected leaders were victimised.
The biggest problem was with the Journeyman Potter's Union was
its lack of unity. Ovenmen, potters, cratemakers, printers
and others all argued for their own corner and worked for the
advantage of their group. This trend continued in later
Josiah Spode I is thought to have been employed in a pottery until
taken on as an apprentice by Thomas Whieldon in 1749. Leaving as a
journeyman in 1754, he worked for William Banks & John Turner (1738-86) at
Stoke until 1761, when it is stated that he worked his own pottery at
Goodwin left school at the age of 11 to work as a moulder runner at
Chapman's Pottery, earning 2s. 6d. for a 55-hour week. At the age of 14 he
became an apprentice presser. In 1884, 'out of his time', he was dismissed
so that he should not have to be paid at a journeyman's rate. He obtained
another job, which he held for three years, only to be dismissed just at the
time his wife was pregnant. Eventually he managed to find work in the
growing sanitary ware trade in a factory in Stoke upon Trent, four miles
away from his home in Longton.
In 1840 the House of Commons set up a
commission to inquire into the state of children employed in the mines and
manufactories. Samuel Scriven visited the area of Stoke-on-Trent from December
1840 onwards to collect evidence.
"A lad serves two, or three, or
more years, already at half the journeyman's wages, over which he holds
undivided control long before he has acquired a sufficient knowledge of its real
"The employments of children are
various and dissimilar; in some of the rooms great numbers are congregated
together, while in others there are only one or two; the painting, burnishing,
gilding, flower-making, moulding, figure-making, and engraving, constitute
literally schools of art, under the superintendence of- masters and mistresses.
In the first and second are to be seen the apprentice boys and girls (each
working in separate rooms), whose ages vary from 8 to 17: the boys are seldom
taken before 14. Both serve an apprenticeship of seven years, and receive in the
first year 1s. per week, 1s. 6d. the second, 2s. the third, 2s. 6d. the fourth;
for the fifth and sixth they get half price of the adult journeyman or women,
and on the seventh their, full price"