Objects | Art/Craft/Design


John Bowes election mug, 1832-47

The Bowes Museum, Durham

Decorative Art and Design, Social Reform

1800 – 1899

The wealthy but illegitimate landowner John Bowes (1811-1885), was elected to be the first member in the ‘Reformed’ parliament of 1832, to represent South Durham in the liberal interest. He was active in supporting social change such as the abolition of slavery and flogging in the army.

This mug, lettered 'Bowes for Ever', must date from one of his election campaigns during his 15 year period in Parliament, whose success would have been celebrated with much drinking and partying. His friend, the novelist Thackeray, wrote a fictional account of Notes on the North What-d'-ye-Callen Election in which he noted a three penny ‘for ever’ jug amongst the silver plate and decanters on his host’s sideboard.

Though it would have cost only a few pence to produce, it is much rarer than the many fine pieces of European porcelain that John and his French wife Joséphine bought for the new museum in Barnard Castle that bears their name today.

By an unknown North Eastern pottery, 1832-1847

On display at The Bowes Museum

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