1820's James & Ralph Clews Staffordshire Pearlware 6 inch Castle Plate

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This is a beautiful small blue & white 19th century transferware Georgian Clews "Castle" pattern pearlware cake plate made about circa 1820. It was made by the brothers James & Ralph Clews, who ran a pottery manufacturing company called the "Cobridge Works" in Staffordshire, England from about 1818 to 1834. This is in the pre-Victorian, late Georgian era and their story is an interesting one in early English pottery history.

The pattern is called "Castle" and it depicts a beautiful English scene of people entering a Castle. This pattern is much better known made by Spode and is Clew's version of Spode's "Castle pattern." It shows a farmer with his cows by a beautiful river. Often these pottery scenes were taken from a popular etching or lithographic prints of the time. This English scene was taken from an aquatint entitled "The Gate of Sebastian at Capena", which was contained in a book entitled "Views of Rome and it's Vicinity" and Published by J. Merigot at 28 Haymarket, and R. Edwards of 142 New Bond Street in London in 1796-1798.

What is English pearlware pottery? It is an earthenware dating from 1774-1830, the Georgian era in England. A lovely soft glossy pottery with an overall faint blue/grey tint derived from a touch of cobalt blue in the glaze. This cool blue tinge gives a whiter china appearance than the earlier yellow creamware. Historically, Josiah Wedgwood was seen as the inventor of pearlware with his 1779 "Pearl White" line. It is now known that other 18th century firms were producing pearlware in the 4-5 years prior, known as "pearl blue" and "china glaze" in the early pottery trade. Eventually these early terms fell out of use for the word pearlware in the 19th century.

Found in Public Genealogy Records:
2 brothers James & Ralph Clews were born to parents John Clewes 1753–1819, and his wife Ann Stevenson Clews 1758–1853. Their father John is listed in census records as a hatter early on in life, then a 1810 brewery owner which went bankrupt called "John Clews & Son, Maltsters and Corn Dealers", a bailiff, and a mayor and alderman of Newcastle. It appears Ralph & James Clews went into business as potters on their own about 1813 and went bankrupt after worker unrest in 1834. This decade was rife with English pottery riots, civil unrest and worker strikes. See an interesting historical wiki on this here

1. Ralph Clews 1788–1867 (also seen spelled as Clewes) was born in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, England and died at Northolme House in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, England. He married Catherine Bennett Clews 1807–1855 and they had 3 children: Caroline Clewes, born 1829; Georgiana Clewes born 1837, and Ralph Acton Clews 1839–1901, an iron merchant who worked his life in Well Lane, Tranmere, Birkenhead, Cheshire, England. Ralph Jr. married Selina Ellen Alcock Clews 1838–1925 and they had 11 reported children: Annie Selina Clews 1861–1893, Annie Sarah Clews born 1862, Henrietta Clews 1863–1909, Herbert Acton Clews 1865–1938, Constance Eaton Clews born 1867, Georgiana Millicent Clews born 1869, Josephine Olinda Clews born 1870, Henry Alcock Clews 1871–1895, John B. Clews born 1873, Arthur H Clews born 1877 and Percy Acton Clews 1882–1972.

2. James Clews 1790–1861 was born at Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, England and died at Ox Leasows, Stone, Staffordshire, England. In 1811 at age 21 he is found working as a clerk to an early Staffordshire earthenware pottery company owned by Andrew Stevenson at Cobridge, who worked from 1813-1830. He married Elizabeth Kendrick Clews 1798–1865 and their 7 children were: John Clews 1825–1862; Louisa Anne Clews 1827–1902; James Clews 1829–1903; Ralph Clews 1830–1858; Eliza Smith Clews 1833–1914 (known as Lizzie Clews); Ann Stevenson Clews 1834–1904 (known as Annie Clews) and Henry L Clews 1834–1923. In 1836 he and his family moved to America at the invitation of American Samuel Casseday to establish an earthenware manufactory in area of Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky. He helped to establish a partnership interest called the Indiana Pottery Company at Troy, Indiana, 70 miles down the Ohio River from Louisville. He brought in over 30 skilled pottery workers from Staffordshire and stayed in the USA for about 6 years until the early 1840's. This is the time of the "The Panic of 1837", a severe financial crisis in America and a major recession that lasted until the middle 1840's. James returned to England and settled on 125 acres at the Ox Leasows, a farming estate near in Hilderstone, Stone, Staffordshire. He hired 13 farm workers. He died in 1861, and his wife Elizabeth Clews stayed on that farming estate until her death in 1865.

This piece has the beautiful blue "Clews-Stone China" mark as seen in photos. It is an interesting mark in that it copies a Miles Mason oriental themed mark, with the prominent English Clews name overlaid in center. The plate features a gentle scalloped rim, and the condition is beautiful with no chips, cracks or repairs. It has some to be expected overall age crazing for its 200 years. It also has a unique and intricately detailed flower border rim as seen on the castle pattern, beautiful! This lovely old piece was found in Totnes, Devon, England. Click images to see condition in close up views. Please see another 6 inch Clews plate here, found together.


Size: 6.25 inches in diameter
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