Colonial Pottery at Historic Camden: Revolution and Trade

Colonial Pottery at Historic Camden: Revolution and Trade
Excerpt from Fireside Chat Resources found on HistoricCamden.org

John Bartlam was born 1735 in Stoke-on-Trent
Staffordshire, England landed in Charleston, South Carolina as a master potter.
By 1765 Bartlam had established
South Carolina’s first Pottworks making fine English tableware
referred to as a Manufactory of Earthern Ware at Cain Hoy,
about 10 miles upriver from Charleston, on the banks of the
Wando River.
Bartlam’s relocation to South Carolina was of great concern to
Staffordshire potter Josiah Wedgwood, who in 1765 wrote
to his business partner Thomas Bentley stating
“This trade to our colonies we are apprehensive of losing in a
few years, as they have set foot on some pottworks there
already, and have at this time an agent amongst us hiring a
number of our hands for establishing new a pottworks in South
Carolina; having got one of our insolvent Master Potters there
to conduct them. They have every material there, equal if not
superior to our own, for carrying on that manufacture; and as
the necessaries of life, and consequently the price of labor
amongst us are daily advancing, it is highly probable that more
will follow them…”

At some point in the latter part of 1771 probably shortly after
the close of the Cainhoy Pottery & China Manufactory Bartlam his wife
Mary and his two daughters Honour and Betty Allen relocated
to Camden. We know that Bartlam used his account at Joseph
Kershaw’s store in July of 1772 and by October 10, 1772
Bartlam was in the custody of the Camden Sheriff on the
charge of bad debit brought by four men in Charleston. There
is no record of how Bartlam resolved his debits or raised the
money to build his third and final pottworks. But by the spring
of 1774 his Camden pottworks was in full swing and he was
shipping and selling his queens ware, cream ware and earthen
ware in Charleston were according to the South Carolina
Gazette, April 11, 1774. “equal in quality and appearance and can be afforded as
cheap, as any imported from England.”

And two years later, on April 13th, 1776 Dr. James Clitherall, a
Charleston Physician wrote in his diary
“Mr. Kershaw, who entertain me with a Ride of about four
Miles around by his Flour and Saw Mills which were very
large and in good order and by Log Town to the Pottery. Here
I saw some exceeding good Pans etc. which a Man who had
set up these found great demand for.”

There is no telling if Bartlam was a loyalist or a patriot when he arrived in Camden in the spring of 1772. But we do know that his probable patron Joseph Kershaw was an outspoken patriot and by March of 1775 Kershaw had personally raised a regiment of 200 patriots which included Bartlam called the Camden District Regiment which was active throughout the American Revolution. We have no evidence of what battles Bartlam saw action in as a patriot and member of Kershaw’s Camden District [patriot] Regiment. But we do know at the second battle of Camden known as the Battle of Hobkirk’s Hill on April 25,1781 Bartlam was fighting as a loyalist in Starke’s Company under JohnMarshall’s Regiment in Camden District. While there is no evidence of Bartlam being wounded, or killed during the battle of Hobkirk’s Hill. We do know that two weeks after the battle Mary Bartlam and her two daughters where part of Lord Rawdon’s evolution of Camden as loyalist refugees. And two months later, while living in the squalor of the of the loyalist refugee camp outside of Charleston, Mary Bartlam was appointed administer of her late husband’s estate.

In 1783 Bartlam was officially declared a deserter of the Camden District [patriot] Regiment and his property valued at £525 confiscated. Bartlam’s widow Mary tried to claim compensation from the British Government for her husbands confiscated property but there is no evidence that she was awarded anything. Mary and her two daughters did eventually return to Staffordshsire where Mary died in 1818.

Below you will find a link to a PDF with more discussion about John Bartlam

Bartlam Docent Narrative 02-05-21 (1)

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