How to find potters in your family history

In the latest episode of Made in Great Britain, the team discovers Stoke-on-Trent's ceramics history. Nell Darby picks the best online resources to find your potter ancestors.

On Made in Great Britain, Claire 'de Lune' and Katie Ventress try their hands at traditional pottery making in Stoke-on-Trent (Credit: BBC/Endemol Shine/ Rudi Gordon)

This week’s episode of Made in Great Britain is showing on BBC Two at 9pm on 23 November.


It follows the team of craftworkers as they piece together Stoke-on-Trent’s pottery heritage.

The team discover the different pottery-making styles used throughout history, and pay a visit to the world-famous pottery company, Wedgwood.

Meanwhile, ceramic artist Claire de Lune is moved to discover that she’s not the first potter in her family tree.

The centre of the British pottery industry has long been in the Stoke-on-Trent area.

Creamware was developed by John Astbury in the 1720s. The 18th century saw several iconic pottery companies form. Josiah Wedgwood founded his company in 1759, Spode in 1770, and Mintons in the 1790s.

When the railways enabled better distribution of pottery in the 1840s, the industry rapidly grew. The six towns that make up Stoke today remain known as The Potteries.

Here are three online resources that will help you explore the topic further:

A-Z of Stoke-on-Trent Potters


A useful webpage detailing all known potters in the Stoke area, including their pottery marks and the factories they worked in.

The Wedgwood Museum


Find out more about workers employed by Josiah Wedgwood and life in the purpose-built Etruria Village – as well the holdings of the Wedgwood Museum, which include a photograph of most 19th century workers at the company.

Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums Blog


A fascinating account of how pottery could have been made by several generations of a family, and how different items were used.


Don’t miss the December 2018 issue of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine for much more expert family history advice