Friday, March 26, 2010

Simeon Aykroyd Shaw

From Aspects of ceramic history, Volume 1 By Gordon Elliott:

Anyone who had had reason to research the origins of ceramic production in North Staffordshire will be familiar with the work of Simeon Shaw. His History of the Staffordshire Potteries (1829) is one of the earliest chronologically-based surveys of the area's development from the late medieval period to the industry of Shaw's own times.
In conclusion, I feel it is appropriate that I say something about the personal life of Simeon Shaw. For much of this information I am indebted to the paper already cited by Eva and Donald Beech.

He was born on the 17th of April, 1785 at Salford, Lancashire. His father, Edmund Shaw, apparently owned a cotton spinning mill located in the town’s Cable Street. By 1809 he was already in Staffordshire, for on the 13th of June in that year he was married at Bucknall, then a small village near Hanley in Stoke-on-Trent. If we set aside a short period of apprenticeship as a printer he was practicing, according to an entry in a baptismal register, as a teacher. There is conflicting evidence at this time regarding the scene of his teaching activities because Pigot and Dean’s Manchester and Salford Directory for 1819 to 1820 records him as a schoolmaster at Wellmeadow Buildings, Salford. It appears that at this early stage in his career he was experiencing serious financial problems, for on the 15th April, 1820 he was summoned to appear before the Lancaster Quarter Sessions. Although imprisoned for an unrecorded period his release was made possible through the generosity of family and friends. The events that followed were to probe even more traumatic for Shaw because on the 7th November, 1820 his young wife, Elizabeth died leaving him with the responsibility of raising five children, all of whom were under ten years of age. Whether for reasons of practical expediency or a newly found love, Shaw remarried in 1822 to Harriet Marsh Broad of Burslem. In the same year he is listed as being the ownder of a Commercial Academy in Piccadilly, Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent. By 1834 we find the Shaw family living some two and a half miles away at the town of Tunstall.

The 1830s were for Simeon a busy and productive time for in 1838 we find him involved with plans to publish a History of the Borough of Stoke-on-Trent which was to be issued in monthly parts. The project was carried out with the assistance of John Ward, a Burslem-based solicitor. Ward was apparently the owner of an important collection of historical documents to which he agreed to give Shaw access on the condition that any work based on this evidence was submitted to him for editing. Publication of the resulting manuscript took longer than expected because of problems in getting illustrations engraved on time. Possibly because Shaw was concurrently experiencing other problems the planned history was taken over by and published under the name of John Ward.

Unfortunately, one domestic and professional crisis followed another. Like so many families of the times bereavement was for the Saws a common experience. Other losses for Shaw were less traumatic but in their effect significantly distressing. One son, Osmond, much to Simeon’s disapproval, became a Mormon and compounded his new allegiance by emigrating, in 1852, with his wife and children to the United States, settling in Salt Lake City.

The later years of Simeon’s life are not well documented but it would appear that they were, to say the least, not exactly joyful. He appears to have experienced a sharp decline in his mental state, culminating in being committed to the County Asylum where he died on the 8th April, 1859. His obituary, which appeared in the Staffordshire Sentinel on the 16th April, 1859 reads;
“After a life chequered by prosperity and adversity, his intellect gradually gave way, his strong memory failed, and his outer man decayed. He was not cut down, but gradually withered, dropped and died.”

According to the Beeches he was not quite sevently four. I feel it especially fitting that he was laid to rest in the burial ground of Bethesda Chapel; fitting because the chapel lies within yards of the entrance to the Potteries Museum. The appropriateness of their proximinity is, surely, a relationship that Shaw would have appreciated.


Simeon Ackroyd Shaw (b1785 d1859), schoolmaster and author
Born 17 April 1785 in Lancashire. Son of Edmund Shaw (millowner) and Betty (nee Ackroyd).
Simeon Shaw cam to the Potteries to work as a printer for the 'Potteries Gazette and Newcastle under Lyme Advertiser'.
Married his first wife, Elizabeth Simpson, on 13 June 1809.
by 1818 Shaw was running an academy in Northwood for young gentlemen.
Married his second wife, Harriet Marsh Broad, on 25th December 1921.
by 1822 Shaw was running a commercial academy in Piccadilly, Shelton.
published a 6 volume work 'Nature Displayed'.
Shaw was partly instrumental in the founding of the Pottery Mechanics' Institution in Frederick Street, Shelton. (although Ward does not include Shaw in the list of founders).
published 'History of the Staffordshire Potteries'.
by 1834 Shaw had a large academy in Market Place, Hanley.
published 'The Chemistry of Pottery'.
Shaw began to publish installments of a local history work 'The Borough of Stoke upon Trent in 1838'.Eight parts had been issued when Shaw had financial problems with his printers (W.Lewis & Son) - Shaw had to mortgage his book and the rights.John Ward completed the work in twelve more parts and the whole work was published as a book in 1843.
Ward died on 8th April 1859 in the County Lunatic Asylum, domestic and financial worries and overwork led to his mental breakdown.Shaw was buried in Bethesda churchyard.

(Bethesda Memorial Chapel, Albion Street, Hanley, England, where Simeon Shaw is buried)


No comments:

Post a Comment