Thomas Turner at Caughley
By John and Nadine Shearman
In the past, Thomas Turner’s Salopian China
Manufactory at Caughley, which was active from about 1775 until 1799, has been
relegated to being merely the precursor of Coalport and overshadowed by
momentous events elsewhere in the Gorge in the last quarter of the eighteenth
century. Over a period of time, the output of the pottery has been exhaustively
studied and re-evaluated and its reputation enhanced by Geoffrey Godden, whose
books are sure to remain the standard reference works[i].
Recently, more general research undertaken by ourselves and others has made
available additional information which makes it possible to throw more light
upon the arrival of Thomas Turner in the Gorge, and potentially upon his partner
Ambrose Gallimore. Jane Browne of Caughley Hall also played a much greater part
than might have been assumed from the tradition of her husband ‘Squire’
Browne simply founding the pottery on his land in about 1750.
Corrections as fundamental as the date of
Thomas’s birth, 1747 rather than 1749, and many other new details, help build
a more accurate picture of his family background. One sister, Elizabeth, married
into the Wyke family of Broseley, but his father and his brother, both named
Richard, it seems pursued very different paths from Thomas. Both were academics
with many publications to their name, and quite possibly both were involved in
running a school at Loughborough House in Surrey while Thomas was in business at
Caughley. The brother married the widow of an Indian Army officer, had a house
in London, and died at Margate in 1788. The father was responsible at one time
or another for five chapelries and parishes just to the south-east of Worcester,
and died in 1791. At one of these, Norton-juxta-Kempsey, Thomas may well have
passed his childhood in the l750s.
A great deal of uncertainty nevertheless still
remains about Thomas’s life before he came to Caughley. It used to be assumed
that he was apprenticed at the Worcester porcelain works. That now seems very
unlikely, but some close association or involvement for a period of time as a
relatively young man seems the best explanation of his subsequent career. We
know from a copy of the indenture[ii]
that Thomas was apprenticed to his father as a writing master on 28th
October 1761, very close to the date of his fourteenth birthday. The freedom of
the City of Worcester, an essential qualification for trading there, could be
acquired by a time-served apprentice. The relevant entry in the Freemen
Indenture Book[iii] reads, in a
standard form: “Thomas Turner was admitted and sworn a Citizen as Apprentice
to his Father Richard Turner Writing Master”. It is dated 14th January 1771.
Thomas would already have completed his seven-year apprenticeship more than two
years previously, and obviously had not rushed to apply to become a freeman. It
seems reasonable to conclude that January 1771 was the moment he first wished to
trade independently in the City, at the age of 23.
The timing of his subsequent arrival at Caughley
and the nature of his original agreement with Ambrose Gallimore have been the
subject of much debate. The current state of knowledge suggests the following
general conclusions: that Thomas Turner had been dealing in china at Worcester;
that he had joined Ambrose Gallimore at an already existing Caughley pottery at
some point before July 1775, the date of an advertisement in Aris’s Birmingham
Gazette; that he had first arrived perhaps three years before if the memory of
his workman Perry is to be trusted [iv],
and certainly by December 1773 because he then witnessed Jane Browne’s will.[v]
To set against the theory of an early start to expanding and modernising
the works, there are the references in the account book of James Giles, London
decorator and dealer, which seem to locate Turner in Worcester until June 1775 [vi]
1775.6 To verify exactly when the
expanded Caughley factory was fully up and running, it would be even more
helpful if the source of a much-quoted text of 1st November 1775, announcing
that “the Porcelain Manufactory erected near Bridgnorth, in this County, is
now quite completed “ could be
For the subsequent development of the works, an
interesting comparison can be made between two maps of the Caughley estate, one
dated 1780 and the other 1795.[viii]
The latter clearly shows the layout of the Porcelain Manufactory and the
newly built Caughley Place nearby, and records Thomas Turner’s ownership of
much of the adjoining land. The new house and its grounds occupy what was an
open field on the earlier map, but many of the other buildings on the estate and
of course the field boundaries can be matched with a little care. Two points
emerge: the saggar works which is clearly marked in 1780, at some distance from
the manufactory, has completely disappeared in 1795; and the earlier map shows a
very different layout for the manufactory itself. It could of course be that
this is simply a matter of different ways of recording similar buildings, but
both the saggar works and the manufactory seem to be drawn to represent a
particular shape on the 1780 map. It is tempting to speculate whether this might
mean that there was a further expansion of the works in the 1780s.
Growing knowledge suggests that the role played
by Ambrose Gallimore in the development of the Caughley factory may also need
re-evaluation. Strong circumstantial evidence suggests that this was indeed the
Ambrose Gallimore who married Anne Spoade (sic), sister of Josiah I, in December
1745[ix] , but no mention of Anne
Gallimore in Shropshire has emerged. Jane Browne, in her will of 1773, refers to
Ambrose as “my servant” and yet makes him the not inconsiderable bequest of
£500. She also requires her trustees to “permit and suffer my said servant
Ambrose Gallimore to hold and enjoy the brick and sagger works on my estate at
Caughley in the same manner he now enjoys, the same as long as he thinks proper
to continue if not injuring the woods or coppices.” Clearly, Thomas Turner is
not yet in full control.
Gallimore remained in the area long after his part was originally assumed to
have ended. Wenlock Borough records show him to have been Bailiff in 1785.
Indeed, it seems that he remained a man of some status and wealth until the end
of his life. His will [x]
was drawn up on 2nd April 1789 and proved on 23rd September 1790. These dates
certainly match the burial on 20th August 1790 of an Ambrose Gallimore at Stone
in Staffordshire. In the register,[xi]
he is described as Gentleman, of Walton (a village just outside Stone). The date
and place of his baptism, and likely reasons for his ‘return’ to
Staffordshire, remain elusive. However, his will, together with that of Jane
Browne, reveals that Ambrose was not what most people have always assumed him to
be, the father of Thomas Turner’s first wife Dorothy, but rather her uncle.
That Ambrose thought highly of his niece is made
clear by a direct bequest of £600. However, new light is shed upon his close
relationship with her by the terms of her marriage settlement which are
fortunately repeated in some detail in his will. Dorothy was well provided for,
during Ambrose’s lifetime and after, and he had made sure not only that she
herself would be relatively independent but that the very substantial sum of one
thousand pounds paid over on the occasion of the marriage in return for certain
“considerations”, unfortunately unspecified in his will, would remain firmly
in the Gallimore family. For Thomas Turner to agree to this, one can only assume
that the quid pro quo was indeed worth having, and of course that Ambrose
Gallimore was wealthy enough to afford it. We might for example wonder when
Ambrose relinquished his interest in the pottery. Directories of 1783 and 1784
still record ‘Turner and Gallimore’ as porcelain manufacturers at Broseley.
There is certainly a risk that this information is out of date and simply
repeated without checking, but there are significant additions and deletions
between the two editions elsewhere in the Broseley section, and a small change in that particular
More evidence is required to support any firm conclusions.
Thomas Turner and Dorothy Gallimore, bachelor
and spinster, were married by licence, on 3rd October 1783. Sadly, the licence,
dated 1st October[xiii], tells us no more, but
it is interesting to speculate why they should have married 10 years or more
after Thomas first arrived at Caughley. Dorothy Gaflimore has been said to be
the niece of Edward or Jane Browne of Caughley Hall[xiv].
No confirmation has come to light, nor is there any indication of why she
might have been living at Caughley, if indeed this was the case. We could
perhaps suggest that she was there as a companion for Jane, who as we shall see
had been widowed in 1751 and had no surviving children, but that was many years
before. The 1779 codicil to Jane Browne’s original will of December 1773
includes the phrase “as circumstances are much altered since that time” as
explanation of a new bequest to Dorothy of £100 together with “all my silks
linen and laces”. This certainly suggests an increasingly close relationship
in the intervening years. Alternatively, Dorothy may have been too young to
marry earlier and have been living at Caughley under her uncle’s guardianship
rather than as a companion to Jane, but the fact remains that she witnessed the
1773 will and would presumably then have been an adult.
Ambrose Gallimore’s reported lease on the
Caughley factory, for 62 years from 1754, would have been agreed with Jane
Browne, rather than with her husband Edward, who died in March 1751. The will
was subject to a dispute[xv],
and was not proved until more than two years later on 19th July 1753,
which perhaps would have led to some delay in formalising an arrangement
which may well have existed in practice for some time. Ambrose had certainly
been in the Barrow parish for some years as he witnessed Edward Browne’s will
on 27th August 1749 and a codicil on 25th January 1751.
In the first half of the eighteenth century, the
Browne family was apparently well established not only at Caughley, but also at
Benthall and Broseley. Towards the end of the seventeenth century, there had
been at least nine children of Ralph Browne of Caughley and his wife Katherine
Benthall, through whom the Brownes inherited the Benthall and Broseley estates.
However, by the time Edward inherited Caughley, probably in 1742, there were
very few other male members of the family still living, one of them being his
uncle, Ralph of Broseley and Benthall. This Ralph died in 1763, and through his
widow Anne (née Turner, but it seems there is no connection!) Benthall and
Broseley left the Browne family. Edward married Jane Clowes at Stone in
Staffordshire on 31st March 1749. They appear to have had only one child, John,
who died an infant. He was baptised at Barrow on 9th June 1750
and buried at Benthall on 7th December, just 4 months before his father.
Although Jane remained living at Caughley until her own death in 1779, the
direct male line of the Browne family ended at this point. The succession passed
to Ralph Browne Wylde Browne, the son of Elizabeth Wylde, daughter of Ralph
Browne, who had held Caughley before Edward and was his elder brother. The
future of the succession may have been the cause of the dispute over Edward’s
will, in which he left everything to his wife Jane without restriction as to how
she should dispose of it.
Elizabeth Browne married Thomas Wylde at Egham
in Surrey on 19th August 1765. Thomas was a member of the Wylde family of the
Commandery in Worcester and Glazeley near Bridgnorth. They had been very
prominent in Worcester during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, having
made their fortune as clothiers. One branch of the family acquired the
Shropshire estate towards the end of the sixteenth century, but Thomas Wylde IV
was Member of Parliament for the City of Worcester from 1701-1727. The expense
of standing for parliament may have led to the decline of the family’s
fortunes at this point. The Glazeley estate had passed to the Worcester branch
in 1695 and it seems had increasingly become their base. The Commandery was let
out to tenants, mortgaged and eventually sold in 1764 just before Thomas’s
marriage to Elizabeth Browne[xvi]. However, if the Wylde
family still maintained any presence in Worcester around the middle of the
century, then it is more than likely that they were acquainted with Richard
Turner from his own reputation in the City. The Commandery lay just outside
the City itself, but within the parish of St. Peter of which Turner’s chapelry
of Whittington was a part, and on the same side of the City as his parishes of
Norton, Stoulton, Elmley Castle and Little Comberton.
[i] , Especially. Caughley and Worcester Porcelains 1775-I 800. Jenkins. 1969.
[ii] Victoria and Albert Museum, LM 468.
[iii] Worcester Record Office (St. Helens).
[iv] William Chaffers -Marks and Monograms on Pottery and Porcelain, 15th ed., 1965 ., p. 135.
[v] Shropshire Record Office.
[vi] Quoted in e.g. Geoffrey Godden, op.cit.; and Bernard Watney - English Blue and White Porcelain of the Eighteenth Century. Faber. 2nd ed. 1973.
[vii] Llwellyn Jewitt -Ceramic Art of Great Britain, 2nd ed.. 1883, reprinted 1970, quoted liberally since, with no indication of the original source except that Gaye Blake Roberts, in Ars Ceramica 1990, cites Aris’s Gazette. Neither this nor the Shrewsbury Chronicle published on 1st November 1775; we found no sign of the text in any adjacent editions; and there appear to have been no other local papers at that time. The mystery remains unresolved.
[viii] Shropshire Record Office; the later map is reproduced by Geoffrey Godden, op.cit., with the date of 1793, arising no doubt from a misreading of the very much reduced print size.
[ix] Peter Roden, Northern Ceramic Society Journal, 1997.
[x] Public Record Office, PCC 426 Sept 1790
[xi] Stafford Record Office.
[xii] Bailey’s Western and Midland Directory, 1783: Bailey’s British Directory, 1784 (Shropshire Record Office, photocopied extracts). The Turner and Gallimore entry reads “Porcelain Manufactory” in 1783, “Porcelain Manufacturers” in 1784.
[xiii] Hereford Record Office.
[xiv] Hubert Smith -‘Pedigree of the Turner family’. 187l.drawn “from Parish Registers, Family Documents, and Personal Information”: Shropshire Record Office; also reprinted in Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica, New Series, vol. i, p. 159.
[xv] Public Record Office, PCC 333 July 1753; a ‘sentence’ was added before probate was granted - this is an indication of a dispute, as is perhaps the codicil previously added by Edward himself, doing no more than confirm the provisions of the original will.
[xvi] R.C.Purton. ‘Glazeley’, in Transactions of Shropshire Archaeological and Natural History Society. vol. 55. 1954-56; and also C.M. Lana, Visitors’ guide to the Commandery. 1977.