Bread or Blood: On the Orders in Council - Document from the Enoch Wood Scrapbook

Move your pointing device over the image to zoom to detail. If using a mouse click on the image to toggle zoom.
When in zoom mode use + or - keys to adjust level of image zoom.

Date:25th of March 1812

Description:Addressed to manufacturers across the country, this notice lists the woes of the pottery industry during the Napoleonic Wars in the early 1800s - and the word on the street was just as urgent.

France had issued a series of Berlin Decrees prohibiting America from trading with Britain - though the authors of this notice claim that these measures were nothing more than "idle."

Britain, however, returned fire by ordering an end to trade between the US and France. This was "not an idle threat" - shots were even fired on American merchant shipping.

Retaliation was inevitable, and US president Thomas Jefferson reacted by barring all trade with Britain, eventually leading to a brief period of war in 1812.

The results, the authors point out, included bankruptcy, poverty, "unheard of distresses," and the need to set up soup shops to dispense aid to the needy.

Napoleon, they say, could never have achieved such damage alone.


Before these disastrous Orders in Council were passed, Britain had exported goods to the value of £10m annually.

Nearly one third of the earthenware made in the Potteries, claim the authors, was exported to the United States.

At the time of writing:

"There are now orders in England for at least THIRTY THOUSAND CRATES of Earthenware for that Country (which would nearly load ONE HUNDRED SHIPS OF THREE HUNDRED TONS EACH) to be executed whenever the intercourse between England and America shall be renewed."

Bread or Blood

The notice is accompanied by a handwritten note "picked up in the street," and entitled Bred or Blood:

"Big loaf for a shiling
or else dam the king and
country if they don't turn
out before we are perished
for some of the the Masters Pots
will dam us to Death
So preapare for
Bulit Fare"

About this Document

This document was collected by local industrialist Enoch Wood and is now part of the collections at Stoke-on-Trent Museums.


Link to this resource

Donor ref:(140/17118)

Copyright information: Copyrights to all resources are retained by the individual rights holders. They have kindly made their collections available for non-commercial private study & educational use. Re-distribution of resources in any form is only permitted subject to strict adherence to the usage guidelines.