Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Davenports in England, 5-28 update!

The journey of this research is taking two basic routes. First through the sciences, we expect to make discoveries about landscape learning, technology transfer, adaptation, and creativity. At the same time, we are telling the story of the Davenports, their immigration, and the lives they built in their Utah community. A deeply humanistic story, adding to the great pastiche of the human experience.

Key to both these areas of research is knowing the how the Davenports' story started in Brampton, England. This information matters because the scientists and engineers won't necessarily recognize how the Davenports adapted if we don't understand what they knew about potting before they left England. Nor can we understand the world the Davenports lived in and the choices they made in their lives if we don't understand where their story began.

I am very lucky to have found Anne-Marie Knowles during this past year. She is a curator at the Chesterfield Museum and Art Gallery in Northern Derbyshire, England. She has been researching the Davenports in England. After considerable effort, she believes she has really nailed down where the Davenports lived. By studying the 1841 census and comparing the Davenports neighbors with other records, she is pretty certain that they lived in what is now called 'Stone Row.' The name derives from a row of stone cottages that were incorporated into shops that now face on the Chatsworth Road in Brampton. The building in which they lived is now part of a store very near the site of the Welshpool & Payne pottery owned by Matthew Knowles. This is really exciting, because it means that the picture she sent me shows the workroom in that shop, perhaps the very wheels at which Thomas and Sarah worked.

Their house was probably a cottage, but it may have had adjoining structures and looked a great deal like one of these two photos of nearby places. Keep in mind when viewing these pictures that Brampton was a small country town in the 1840s with a few factories and small communities. The buildings would have been in much better condition just after being built:

More that just that, Ms. Knowles thinks that Thomas Davenport probably worked as a thrower, and not just as a laborer in the factory. I wrote before about how the census identified Thomas as a "Pot M." We speculated that it could mean maker or manager. Ms. Knowles thinks that because the same census worker also listed "Pot Lab," meaning laborer, and "Pot Burner," referring to kiln workers, it stands to reason that "Pot M" meant "pot maker."

Since nineteenth century pottery making was a technological system, not just a series of skills or techniques, the Davenports jobs confirm the basis for all of my hypotheses and justifications for the archaeological study. These individuals had no experience building or burning kilns, making glazes, or finding and processing raw clay. Even masterful skills at a process like throwing on the wheel does not assure someone success when every other part of the technical system has changed.

If our luck continues with our discoveries, I'll have much more to say on this subject!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, this is fascinating! And it's great that you've had such dedicated help from a UK source.