The Wedgwood Family

Susannah Wedgwood, Darwin's mother   ©  AMNH Special Collections

Susannah Wedgwood, Darwin's mother

©  AMNH Special Collections

Charles Darwin's mother, Susannah, was the daughter of Josiah Wedgwood, founder of England's world-renowned Wedgwood pottery. Still widely admired today, Wedgwood pottery was a technical marvel in the 1700s, and Wedgwood's factory was a leading example of Britain's dawning Industrial Revolution. Wedgwood's state-of-the-art factory, Etruria, included living quarters for his workers, a church and a school, which both of Charles's parents attended as children.

Darwin's parents represented the union of two prominent, wealthy families, the Darwins and the Wedgwoods. Though not aristocrats, both families embodied the emerging class of progressive, technology-minded entrepreneurs. The families were linked by friendship, business and multiple marriages: Charles's father, his sister and eventually Charles himself all married Wedgwoods.