William Adams (potter)

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Depiction of William Adams (leaning against fireplace) with a cousin of the same name, at the former's house in Greengates
The Greengates Pottery, ca. 1780

William Adams (baptised 1746; died 1805)[1] was an English potter, a maker of fine jasperware at the time of its development and introduction to the English market.


Adams was baptised in Tunstall, Staffordshire, the son of a potter. Born after the death of his father, he was raised by his grandfather, also a potter, who, according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, placed him as an apprentice with John Brindley (brother of James Brindley, notable as a pioneer of canals).[1] Other sources make him a "favourite pupil" of Josiah Wedgwood.[2]

Adams was one of three north Staffordshire William Adamses who were potters working at the time: all were cousins in an extended Adams family of potters of very many generations. This Adams founded the Greengates Pottery in 1779, producing fine jasperware table sets, plaques, medallions and other products stamped Adams & Co.[3] He is said to have been a friend and confidant of Josiah Wedgwood.[4]

Some 300 of his works have been identified, but he is nowadays mainly known only to those with an interest in 18th century English ceramics.[1]

Adams died in 1805, and his prosperous business was taken over by his younger son Benjamin; the business closed in 1820[1] in part due to Benjamin's ill health and was sold in 1826 to John Meir, but in 1897 was sold back to another branch of the Adams family, and was finally absorbed into the Wedgwood Group in 1966.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d Kelly, Alison (2004-9). "Adams, William (bap. 1746, d. 1805), potter". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2009-11-16.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. ^ Radford, Ernest (1885). "Adams, William (fl. 1790), potter". Dictionary of National Biography Vol. I. Smith, Elder & Co. Retrieved 2009-11-16.  The first edition of this text is available as an article on Wikisource:  "Adams, William (fl. 1790)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 
  3. ^ a b "The Adams family of Potters". thepotteries.org - the local history of Stoke-on-Trent, England. Retrieved 2009-11-16. 
  4. ^ William Turner, William Adams, an old English potter, 1904, Chapman & Hall

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