Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Turner, Thomas (1749-1809)

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

TURNER, THOMAS (1749–1809), potter, born in 1749, was the eldest son of Richard Turner (1724?–1791) [q. v.], vicar of Elmley Castle, Worcestershire, by his wife Sarah. Richard Turner (1753–1788) [q. v.] was his younger brother. It has been supposed that Thomas was brought up as a silversmith. He was, however, only formally apprenticed to his father, to qualify him for the freedom of the city of Worcester. It is probable that he was early connected with the Worcester china works. He was an excellent chemist, was a thorough master of the various processes connected with porcelain manufacture, was a skilful draughtsman, designer, and engraver, and was also a clever musician. He was a magistrate for Shropshire and Staffordshire, and a freeman of Worcester, Much Wenlock, and Bridgnorth. In 1772 he succeeded his father-in-law, Gallimore, at his pottery works at Caughley in Shropshire. The works, which were styled ‘The Salopian China Warehouse,’ had gained some repute as early as 1756. The earlier goods produced were not many degrees removed from earthenware, but gradually they assumed ‘a finer and more transparent character. Like the early Worcester examples, the patterns were principally confined to blue flowers, &c., on a white ground; and in this style and colour’ the goods in many respects excelled any contemporary productions.

On succeeding Gallimore, Turner set about enlarging the manufactory. He completed his improvements in 1775, and in 1780 visited France, in order to investigate the methods employed in the porcelain manufactories at Paris. He brought back several skilled workmen, who greatly aided him in his subsequent innovations. Immediately on his return he introduced to England the famous ‘willow pattern,’ and about the same time the ‘Brosely blue dragon pattern.’ In 1798 or 1799 Turner retired from the business, which passed into the hands of John Rose, a former apprentice, who carried it on, with his own works at Coalport, under the title Rose & Co. The works were finally abandoned in 1814 or 1815, chiefly owing to difficulties of transport and to the failure of the coal supply.

Turner died in February 1809, and was buried in the family vault at Barrow. He was twice married: first, in 1783, Dorothy Gallimore. She died in 1793 without surviving issue; and he was married, secondly, in 1796, to Mary, daughter of Thomas Milner and widow of Henry Alsop. She died at Bridgnorth on 20 Nov. 1816, leaving a son and daughter.

[Misc. Gen. et Herald. new ser. i. 158; Jewitt's Ceramic Pottery, 1883, pp. 159–64; Chaffers's Marks and Monograms on Pottery and Porcelain, 1897, pp. 740–2; Marryatt's Hist. of Pottery and Porcelain, 1868, p. 400; Art Journal, March 1862.]

E. I. C.