|Born||12 April 1705
|Died||17 October 1780|
|Fields||Pharmacy, Porcelain manufacture|
Parents, birth, siblings and early life
He was born of Quaker parents in Kingsbridge, Devon on 12 April 1705. His father, also called William, was a weaver and his mother was Edith, the daughter of John and Margaret Debell of St Martin-by-Looe in east Cornwall: they had married in 1704. Their children were:
William was a bright child but his education was halted when his father died on 22 October 1718 and the family's investment in the South Sea Company failed in the autumn of 1720.
William had been offered an apprenticeship, at no cost, by the Bevan Brothers, two Quaker apothecaries, with a successful business in London. As the family had no spare money, William walked to London to take up the offer and, eventually, successfully completed the apprenticeship.
The Bevans set him up in business in Plymouth, where he was extremely successful. He brought his brothers Philip and Benjamin into the partnership. He bought out the Bevans' interest in 1745.
In 1735, he married Sarah Berry, a Quaker from Wellington in Somerset.They had five daughters:
- Lydia – 1736
- Sarah – 1738
- Mary – 1740
- Elizabeth & Susannah (twins) – 1743
He was also an associate of John Smeaton, who lodged at his house when he was engaged in building the third Eddystone Lighthouse (1756–1759). Cookworthy helped Smeaton with the development of hydraulic lime, which was essential to the successful building of the lighthouse.
In 1767 Cookworthy, in conjunction with Rev Thomas Hartley, translated Emanuel Swedenborg's theological works, The Doctrine of Life, Treatise on Influx, and Heaven and Hell, from Latin into English.
His initial reaction to Swedenborg's works was one of disgust, but with persistence, he was convinced of their merits and was a persuasive advocate. Hartley and Cookworthy later visited Swedenborg at his lodgings in Clerkenwell shortly before Swedenborg's death.
- Penderill-Church John (1972). William Cookworthy 1705 – 1780, p. 12. D.Bradford Barton Ltd,Truro Cornwall.
- Silvanus and Timothy Bevan
- Three Centuries of Ceramic Art in Bristol – The Story of Bristol Pottery and Porcelain: William Cookworthy (accessed 8 March 2008)
- Rawlings, F H (1993), William Cookworthy, the Bristol connection., Pharmaceutical historian (Dec 1993) 23 (4): 12, PMID 11639736
- Selleck, A D (1979), William Cookworthy, an 18th century polymath., Pharmaceutical historian (Dec 1979) 9 (3): 8–12, PMID 11634368
- Early New Church Worthies by the Rev Dr Jonathon Bayley
- Cookworthy's Plymouth and Bristol Porcelain by F.Severne Mackenna(1947) published by F.Lewis
- William Cookworthy 1705–1780: a study of the pioneer of true porcelain manufacture in England by John Penderill-Church, Truro, Bradford Barton (1972).