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Thomas & John Carey (Maker)

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John Carey was baptized in September 1768, at the parish Church of Stoke-upon-Trent, and appears to be the sole surviving child of Thomas and Margaret Carey.  Nothing is known of his early life, until on October 23, 1791,“ Jno. Carey (potter) and Sarah Walters both of Stoke”[1]were married at St. Giles, the parish church of Newcastle-under-Lyme. At this time the entries in St. Giles parish registers frequently included the occupation of men, and with no other evidence it is reasonable to conclude that John was engaged in the pottery industry, not that he was necessarily a pottery owner at that time.

Allbut’s Directory of 1800 lists John Carey as a dealer in earthenware in Flint Street, Lane End (Longton)[2].  His experience as a potter and a dealer probably stood him in good stead when he started his own pottery producing company. He is first listed as an earthenware manufacturer in 1818[3] when he appears as John Carey & Son, High Street, Lane End.   In the same year Parson & Bradshaw list “Carey and Son, earthenware manufacturers, Lane end” and “Carey John, potter, Commerce street, Lane end”.  From these records we can deduce that he had a manufactory in High Street and lived around the corner in Commerce Street. John and Sarah Carey had two sons Thomas, baptized in Stoke-upon-Trent 12 August, 1792, and John baptized in Longton in 1803. Perhaps it was because John was a minor in 1818 that the firm Carey & Son referred to John senior and Thomas. A daughter, Sarah Carey, was the middle child, baptized in Longton on 7 April, 1795.  All three children had connections with the pottery industry, Thomas & John were manufacturers, and in 1814 Sarah married John Drewry, a porcelain manufacturer who occupied the Daisy Bank pottery as a partner in Drewry & Son, the factory was occupied later by Charles James Mason.

By 1822 John Carey Jr. had joined the family business now trading as John Carey & Sons. They were still trading under that name when, in 1828, John Sr. died suddenly in Cork, Ireland, aged 60 ‘from a cold taken on his passage there’.  The brothers Thomas and John were then left to take over the business.  From 1828 various directories specify their factory as the Anchor Works a corner of which jutted into the High Street, later renamed market Street. It is possible that this was their pottery site from 1818. 

In 1823 John Jr. married Harriet Cartwright in 1823, her father Thomas Cartwright owned the Anchor Works and 1Anchor Mill, and also Anchor House where the young couple lived for some years.  Anchor House was unique in the Staffordshire Potteries for being situated on an island Simeon Shaw described it thus, "Mr. J. Carey’s house is rather elegant, and has its appearance improved by being placed on an island in a large reservoir, that supplies condensing water for the Steam Engine at the Mill, where are ground flour, and the various materials arid colours for the manufactories; and when the engine is working, a single jet fountain throws up warm water several feet high. There are a beautiful small bridge, gates, large canons, &c. but the whole is exposed to the smoke of the manufactories. The proprietor is highly esteemed for many excellencies of character as a master and friend." 

Both men seem to have married well. Thomas married Ellin Harvey of Cheadle at the fashionable church of Norton Le Moors, Staffordshire on 23 February, 1820. After living for a while in Lane Delph, in 1841 they are recorded as living at Wetley Abbey, the Gothic mansion built by George Miles Mason and let by him in periods of financial need.  

The sons took over and the firm’s name changed to Thomas & John Carey in 1827.  The pottery was located at the Anchor Works between 1818 and 1842.  In 1834 they gave evidence that they employed 70 hands making earthenware and a survey of 1836 shows they had 3 ovens. They began in business making earthenware particularly underglaze blue printed wares.  By 1828 they had added bone china to their productions. John Carey Jun., died in November 1843 and his brother died in June 1844. Their estates included several factories and a mill for preparation of raw materials. 

Hampson, Rodney. 1990. “Longton Potters 1700-1865”,  Journal of Ceramic History Volume 14, Stoke-on-Trent: City Museum & Art Gallery.


[1] Ancestry.com. Staffordshire, England, Extracted Parish Records [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2001. (Accessed September 15, 2013)
[2]Allbut T. 1800  A View of the Staffordshire Potteries directory.  Burslem Eng: T. Allbut and Son.
[3] J. Pigot & Co. 1818. The commercial directory for 1818-19-20. Manchester: J. Pigot