Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Duesbury, William

DUESBURY, WILLIAM (1725–1786), china manufacturer, born 7 Sept. 1725, was son of William Duesbury, currier, of Cannock in Staffordshire. He first practised as an enameller at Longton in the same county, but in 1755 he moved with his father to Derby. At this time the Derby potworks on Cockpit Hill were held by Messrs. John and Christopher Heath, bankers in the town, while at the same time a French refugee, Andrew Planché, was making china figures in an obscure tenement in Lodge Lane. Duesbury learnt the art from Planché, and entered into an agreement with him and John Heath to establish a china manufactory. Soon after the Heaths failed, Duesbury, having cleared himself from the debts which their failure brought upon him, set up a china manufactory for himself in the Nottingham Road. This may fairly be called the first foundation of the Derby china manufactory. Duesbury managed to obtain a good staff of workmen and assistants, and the manufactory soon became prosperous and important, and the products extensively sought after. In June 1773 he opened a warehouse in London at No. 1 Bedford Street, Covent Garden, and had periodical sales by auction of his stock. In 1770 he purchased the works and stock of the defunct manufactory at Chelsea, in 1775 those of the manufactory of Bow, in 1777 those of Giles's manufactory, Kentish Town, besides others; he thus became the most important china manufacturer in the kingdom, and enjoyed the royal patronage. Duesbury died in November 1786, and was buried in St. Alkmund's, Derby. By his wife, Sarah James of Shrewsbury, he had several children, of whom William Duesbury, the eldest surviving son, succeeded to the proprietorship of the works. He was born in 1763, and the prosperity of the works reached its highest point shortly after he succeeded to them. He took into partnership an Irish miniature-painter named Michael Kean. Duesbury's health broke up early, and he died in 1796. By his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of William Edwards, solicitor, of Derby (who remarried the above mentioned Kean), he left three sons, of whom William Duesbury, born in 1787, inherited, but did not take part in the works, which in 1809 were disposed of to Robert Bloor [q. v.] The second son, Frederick Duesbury, became a well-known physician in London, and was father of Henry Duesbury, who practised as an architect in London, and died in 1872.

[Haslem's Old Derby China Manufactory; Jewitt's Ceramic Art of Great Britain; Wallis and Bemrose's Pottery and Porcelain of Derbyshire.]

L. C.