Chamberlain, Robert (d.1798?) (DNB00)

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CHAMBERLAIN, ROBERT (d. 1798?), ceramist, is stated to have been the first apprentice of the original Worcester Porcelain Company, founded by Dr. Wall in 1761. In 1776 Dr. Wall died, and in 1783 this factory, after various changes of ownership, was bought by Mr. T. Flight. Chamberlain thereupon severed his connection with the firm, and in 1786, with his son Humphrey, started business on his own account, under the style of Chamberlain & Son. The two factories remained in rivalry until 1840, when they were amalgamated, and a joint-stock company formed to carry them on. With regard to Humphrey Chamberlain, here said to have been the son of Robert Chamberlain, there is some confusion. He is stated by Mr. Chaffers to have been the brother. Mr. Binns does not make the matter clearer. Humphrey Chamberlain, sen., died in 1841, being then seventy-nine years old. He therefore was born in 1762. Robert Chamberlain was apprenticed in 1751, and must consequently have been at least twenty years older than Humphrey. The fact that the firm was known from the first as Chamberlain & Son (v. Green, Hist. of Worcester, 1796, ii. 22) helps to establish the point that Humphrey senior was Robert's son. In 1798, probably, Robert. Chamberlain died; for in that year we find Humphrey in partnership with Robert Chamberlain, jun. A second Humphrey Chamberlain (1791–1824), slightly connected with this firm, was a very talented painter in porcelain, and is also stated to have been the son of Robert Chamberlain, sen. But this is another confusion. Probably the second Humphrey was the grandson of the firm's founder, the son either of the elder Humphrey or the younger Robert. He seems not to have had any interest in the business. Humphrey Chamberlain, sen., retired in 1828, and the firm of Chamberlain & Co. was represented from that date till 1840 by Walter Chamberlain and T. Lilly.

[Binns's Century of Pottery in the City of Worcester, 2nd edit. 1877; Jcwitt's Ceramic Art in Great Britain, 1878; Chaffers's Marks and Monograms upon Pottery and Porcelain, 1866.]

E. R.