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 William Burgess, Sr

William Burgess, Sr

Brooklyn, Kings County (Brooklyn), New York, USA
Death 20 Nov 1929 (aged 72)
Morrisville, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, USA
Burial Orange, Essex County, New Jersey, USA
Plot Section B, Lot 20, Grave 3
Memorial ID 100021921 · View Source
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William Burgess Sr. was born the 18th of January, 1857 in Brooklyn, New York. He was the sixth child of John Stewart Burgess and Elizabeth Wilson. His father was a prosperous manufacturer of pottery in the United States and in England, the founder of Burgess & Goddard, importers of crockery. Both his parents were of Scotch Presbyterian ancestry. William Burgess was a Scotch Presbyterian who was a believer in the work ethic.

He received his early education at Montrose Military Academy, Montrose, New Jersey, and then entered Princeton College, where he took a scientific course. He graduated in 1877. While yet an undergraduate he was appointed assistant professor of analytical chemistry to take effect on graduation, but instead (he) began the study of chemistry, medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons (in) New York. Owing, however, to a severe case of blood poisoning, he was obliged to abandon a professional career. On his recovery he engaged in a business in New York City as an importer of crockery and glassware, establishing the firm of William Burgess & Co. (in connection with his father's firm, Burgess & Goddard ). But in 1879 he gave up this business and with his brother, John Wilson Burgess and J. A. Campbell, a college classmate, (he) bought out the interest of James and John Moses and Edward and Thomas Clark in the International Pottery Co., at Trenton, N.J. (He was president of this company from 1879 to 1904 ).

William married Clara Dwight Goodman the 7th of January, 1879 in East Orange, Essex County, New Jersey. Clara was the fourth child of Edmund Otis Goodman and Clarrissa Holmes. She was born the 22nd of May, 1858 in Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio.

They moved to the large home known as the "Woodlands" in 1892. It was located in Morrisville, Bucks County, Pennsylvania across the Delaware River from Trenton, New Jersey. There amidst trees, a small pond, and a large house they raised a family of three children: William, Jr., Clara, and John Stewart. Their fourth child, Elizabeth died as an infant. John Stewart Burgess wrote of his parents in autobiographical notes:

Father rather strict forcefu1 and dominating personality- very fond of children. Mother very loving - emotionally religious and hopeful, joyful. Dominated largely in larger matters by stronger very definite father. Father capable with hands and practically efficient. A home man. Lived on large farm near city of Trenton.

As chairman of the custom house investigating committee in 1887-88-89 Mr. Burgess did active service in ferreting out frauds in the importation of crockery, which resulted in benefits to the domestic industry and the U. S. government. Being thus specially fitted for special lines, he was appointed by President Harrison U. S. consul to . . . (the great pottery producing district of the world, Tunstall (corrected), England, from 1890-1893. While here he made) extensive investigations in the industry, which he embodied in official reports, pronounced the most complete and exhaustive ever submitted to the government, and still an authority in all tariff legislation pertaining to pottery since 1893. Upon his return to America he was elected president of the U.S. Manufacturing Potter's Association.

During World War I he was the Departmental head of the War Industries Board. He was sent on a confidential mission to the Orient in 1919 and was a member of the U.S. Tariff Commission from June 27, 1921 to June 1, 1925.

The International Pottery Company of which Mr. Burgess (was) president, (made) a specialty of what is known as "flown blue ware," a revival of an old type of decoration which (gave) them a reputation in this country and abroad: their special line (was) decorated dinner and toilet crockery.

All of his life, William was a staunch Republican. William was a protectionist. During the administrations of Presidents Harding and Coolidge, while William was a member of the U.S. Tariff Commission, he was also one of the chief lobbyists for the pottery interests in Washington. During the peak of his lobbying activities in 1929, he was attacked on the floor of the Senate by Senator Carraway from Arkansas. He was called all sorts of names and was accused of bribing Senators. As a result of this vicious attack he literally died of a broken heart in the fall of 1929 just after the Stock Market Crash on Wall Street. He died the 20th of November, 1929 in Morrisville, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Clara died in 1927 in Morrisville, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. William and Clara are buried in the Rosedale Cemetery in East Orange, Essex County, New Jersey.

Family Members




  • Created by: Susan Kimes Burgess
  • Added: 1 Nov 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 100021921
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for William Burgess, Sr (18 Jan 1857–20 Nov 1929), Find A Grave Memorial no. 100021921, citing Rosedale Cemetery, Orange, Essex County, New Jersey, USA ; Maintained by Susan Kimes Burgess (contributor 47528859) .