When Cowan went into liquidation in 1799, Alexander Cuming, the customs officer for Bo’ness, was appointed trustee.
He bought the Bo'ness Pottery and gave it to his nephew, James Cuming, as a gift. James lived with Alexander and his family opposite
the pottery. James was only 12 and still at school, so his cousin (also James) managed the pottery for some time.
When James finally took over the management, Alexander ceased all involvement in the pottery. Alexander died in 1813.
By James’ own admission, he did not keep the books in a regular manner, he kept them so he could understand them. He dealt with
Mitchell Pattison, an Edinburgh lawyer, and claimed to have every confidence in Pattison’s accuracy but was not certain if all
transactions between them were recorded. It appears to be the lawyer’s inefficiency and not the lack of money that brought about
On 1st May 1827, when the interim factor and the sequestration agent came to Bo’ness to meet with James, he was a prisoner in the
tolbooth of Culross as a result of his financial problems. The two men sailed over to Culross and brought him back to Bo’ness at a cost
of 18s. 2d. which they charged to the pottery.
A few weeks later James' business venture was over. In The New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal under the heading of Bankrupts,
from May 22, to June 19, 1827, inclusive and sub-heading of Scotch Sequestrations there is the entry
Records from Linlithgow Sheriff Court, dated 1st September 1827, show that James owed £2,946 but was owed £5,211. Whilst his late
uncle’s estate owed £964, but was owed £944.
On 17th October 1827, the pottery was, unsuccessfully, put up for sale by public roup, held in the Royal Exchange Coffee House,
Edinburgh, with an upset price of £1,000.
On 19th December 1827, the pottery was again, unsuccessfully, put up for sale by public roup, with a reduced upset price of £500.
Finally on 21st March 1828, the pottery was eventually sold by public roup for £300.
During this period, potters and alcohol seemed to be inseparable. Drinking bouts were frequent within the premises, and at times the
main gate had to be locked to prevent drink being taken in. Sometimes, with the aid of accomplices outside, bottles were pulled up to
the windows by cords. At other times, drink was smuggled in, in watering cans. The potters were not renowned for their good behaviour
and sobriety and were held in pretty low esteem.
A deformed woman, belonging to the town, was unfortunate in not getting a husband, and her somewhat chastened solace on the
Tolbooth at Culross where James Cuming was imprisoned
Royal Exchange Coffee House (bottom left corner of picture)
Inside of Marriage Bowl (above) attributed to Bo'ness Pottery
Transfer print on outside of Marriage Bowl (above and below)
This bowl was sold in 2011 by
who kindly supplied the following five images
The next lot in the same sale was the following bowl and was described as:
Printed in brown with the same figure and bird scenes as the last and centred on The World in Planisphere.
The world is inscribed 'From the Latest Discoveries' and shows North and South America.
Mug with same transfer print as bowls