Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 146,106 pages of information and 231,598 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

William Cookworthy

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After the death of his father William was offred an apprenticeship 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

William Cookworthy was a remarkable man and discovered fine china clay in Carclaze, Cornwall. He then devised a way of making porcelain, which previously was soley imported from China. Thus was born the booming clay industry in Cornwall.

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 1768 he founded a works at Plymouth for the production of Plymouth Porcelain.

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