04/21/16

Thursday Thought: Porcelain Connection

As I work on the sequel to my historical novel I am delighted that more and more connections crop up. I will feature Boconnoc (one of the three great houses in The Miner & the Viscount), the Cornish seat of the Pitt family.

William Cookworthy Inventor and Quaker

William Cookworthy
Inventor and Quaker

It is Thomas Pitt, “the artistic one”, who inherits the estate, his cousin William Pitt the Younger who goes into politics and becomes one of the most brilliant first ministers in British history. Thomas Pitt meets William Cookworthy, who lives just over the border in Devon. He is an amazing man—a Quaker, a businessman, a pharmacist, and an inventor.

When John Smeaton (the brilliant engineer we met in “The Miner & the Viscount”) needed a cement that would work under sea water to construct the famous Eddystone Lighthouse, he turned to Cookworthy to develop it.

A visitor from America interested Cookworthy in porcelain and in penetrating the secrets that the Chinese manufacturers had guarded for hundreds of years. He had to obtain the special clays. Where did he find them? On Boconnoc land! And Thomas Pitt financed obtaining the patent and assisted in the early development.

There is more. Another early helper was Richard Champion, also a Quaker, who went on to form the Bristol porcelain company, and eventually moved to America. What an amazing character! And I have just received a beautiful new book about him from an old school friend (and my daughter Sarah’s goddaughter) who collected his ware.

Much more to come soon!