Oval blue jasper medallion with white relief profile portrait of Thomas Bentley (1730-1780) Liverpool merchant and business partner of Josiah Wedgwood in the manufacture and experiment of Ornamental ware.Born at Scropton, Derbyshire. Bentley was introduced to Josiah Wedgwood by Dr. Matthew Turner when Josiah was bedridden in Liverpool in 1762. They seem to have been on terns of friendship from the first. Bentley was, at this time, in partnership with Samuel Boardman of Liverpool, a general merchant, and the firm became Wedgwood’s agent.Bentley agreed to become Wedgwood’s partner in 1767 for the manufacture of ornamental wares, the partnership deeds being signed in 1769, a few weeks after the opening of the Etruria factory. Bentley settled in London to take charge of the showrooms and decorating studio there, and as a man of widely ranging interests he was able to meet and influence fashionable society to a point where the showrooms became a social centre. Bentley always found difficulty in dealing with subordinates, and staffing troubles were common.Bentley was, however, essential to the design, production and sale of the ornamental wares, and Wedgwood constantly consulted him, and referred to him for approval. In 1772 Bentley married his second wife, Mary Stamford of Derby. He lived at Chelsea from 1769 to 1774. He then removed to the Greek Street showrooms, and from there, in 1777, to Turnham Green, where he remained till his death in 1780.No one ever replaced him as a friend and colleague. A very large number of Wedgwood’s surviving letters are addressed to Bentley on business and family problems, but hardly any of Bentley’s own letters have survived, so his opinions on the subjects discussed have to be deduced from what Wedgwood has to stay.

Thomas Bentley


About 1800