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William Taylor Copeland

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William Taylor Copeland (1797–1868) of W. T. Copeland and Sons, alderman of London, and porcelain manufacturer, head of the large pottery establishment known ‘Spode’ at Stoke-on-Trent, and also of the firm in London.

1797 March 24th. Born the son of William Copeland

1824 Joined the Spode-Copeland business

1826 Became a partner when his father died.

1827 Following the death of Josiah Spode II he became sole owner of the London business

1828–9 Served the office of sheriff of London and Middlesex, and during the year was elected alderman for the ward of Bishopsgate.

1833 Also took over the pottery at Stoke-on-Trent. In that year he also went into partnership with Thomas Garrett, manager of the Stoke pottery, the firm being known as Copeland and Garrett.

1835 He became lord mayor of London.

1847 The Copeland and Garrett partnership was dissolved and the firm then traded as W. T. Copeland, late Spode.

1847 Attempted to introduce a mechanized "jolley" (a device to shape the interior of cups and deep bowls) but this was unsuccessful.

Supported the formation of the schools of design in London and Stoke, the latter opening in 1847.

1856 First to install the newly patented Needham and Kite filter press.

1861-68 President of the Royal hospitals of Bridewell and Bethlehem

1860s Copeland was the only manufacturer willing to undertake the exacting commission to tile the cupola of the Imperial Library, Paris, which opened in 1868.

1867 His sons joined him in partnership as W. T. Copeland and Sons. At the end of the year, he retired from the business.

Member of the Irish Society, upon which devolves the management of the estates in Ireland belonging to the city of London.

1868 He died at Russell Farm, Watford, Hertfordshire, 12 April 1868.


In 1831 and 1833 as a liberal he contested unsuccessfully the borough of Coleraine, but was seated on petition in both years, and retained his seat until the general election of 1837. He was then returned as a conservative for Stoke-on-Trent, which seat he held until 1852, when he was defeated, and again from 1857 to 1865. He was a moderate conservative after abandoning the liberal party, and although he did not take an active part in the debates of the House of Commons, he was a useful member of committees, and a watchful guardian of the interests of the important district of the potteries which he represented. He also took an active part in civic affairs, maintaining with chivalrous zeal the ancient rights and privileges of the city of London whenever any of these were objects of attack. Copeland's name will rank along with that of Minton and one or two others as the real regenerators of the industry of the potteries. Though not possessing the knowledge of art which distinguished Wedgwood, he chose as his associates men of unquestionable taste and judgment, among whom was Thomas Battam, with whose aid the productions of his manufactory gained a world-wide renown, and in all the great international exhibitions of recent times obtained the highest commendation both for their design and execution. But the branch of ceramic art which Copeland carried to the highest degree of perfection was the manufacture of parian groups and statuettes, in which he secured the co-operation of some of the most eminent sculptors of the day, including Gibson, Calder Marshall, Foley, Marochetti, and Durham. Copeland was in early life a keen sportsman, keeping a stud of race-horses, and always identifying himself with those who sought to maintain the honour of the sport as an old English institution.


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