Josiah Wedgwood II addresses workers at his Etruria factory - 1831 election poster from the Enoch Wood scrapbook

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Date:2nd of May 1831

Description:When Josiah Wedgwood II contested an election in Newcastle, he could count on the support of many of his own employees - even if they could not vote for him in practice.

In order to vote, men had to own property worth 40 shillings if they lived in the counties, or be rich enough to pay the parish poor rates in boroughs like Newcastle-under-Lyme.

This meant that most men and every woman in Britain were denied the right to vote. In all, probably about 5% of adults could actually have their say.

This did not prevent workers from participating in other ways.

"The most valuable of my possessions..."

Writing from his home at Maer, Wedgwood thanks workers at his Etruria factory - "men so intelligent and upright" - for contributing unexpectedly to his fighting fund.

He believes this to be because he supports Reform - a movement which promised to give Stoke-on-Trent its own Member of Parliament.

Until 1832 the Potteries shared their MP with Staffordshire.

Finally, Wedgwood writes that the loyalty and trust of his workers is "the most valuable of my possessions."

About this document

Pottery manufacturer Enoch Wood collected this document and it is now among the collections at Stoke-on-Trent Museums.


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