by Walter Fox
Piers Wedgwood, 59, of Chestnut Hill, a British lord who was the fifth-generation grandson of Josiah Wedgwood, founder of the British pottery company whose products are found on tea tables and in china collections around the world, died Jan. 29 of cardiac failure at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
A businessman, Lord Wedgwood traveled extensively as the international ambassador for Josiah Wedgwood & Sons, his family’s 255-year-old company, and helped to guide the firm through two major reorganizations and the opening of major markets in India, China and Russia.
He also was a working member of the British House of Lords and had served for more than 25 years on the Defense and Heritage Parliamentary Groups before leaving Parliament in 2001.
Lord Wedgwood’s wife, the former Mary Regina Quinn of Philadelphia, is a member of the board of directors of the Chestnut Hill Community Association.
During a career that spanned four decades, Lord Wedgwood was committed to promoting his family’s distinctive blue-and-white pottery, which in public appearances he would use to guide small groups through the traditional British afternoon tea. He entered the family business as a teenager, cleaning pottery kilns and learning production methods at the Wedgwood firm’s headquarters in Barlaston, Staffordshire.
Born Piers Anthony Weymouth Wedgwood on his family’s farm in Nakuru, Kenya, he became the fourth Baron Wedgwood at 16, when his father died in 1970.
He was educated in England at Marlborough College and the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. He was commissioned in the Royal Scots Regiment in 1973 and deployed to Cyprus. He retired in 1980 with the rank of captain.
Lord Wedgwood received an honorary degree from Staffordshire University for preserving and promoting the North Staffordshire cultural heritage in the art and industry of English pottery.
He was closely identified with Wedgwood collections in British museums and in America, one of which was the Buten Wedgwood Collection, formerly housed in the Buten family mansion in Merion. The collection, valued at $4 million, now is in the Birmingham (Ala.) Museum of Art.
He also donated rare Wedgwood pieces to help raise money for nonprofit groups, such as the Philadelphia branch of the English-speaking Union of the United States. A pet project was the Lord Wedgwood Charity, which raises funds to provide high school sports programs in Birmingham with defibrillators for use in cardiac arrest.
An avid sportsman, he was a member of the Royal Automobile Club of England and the Philadelphia Club.
In addition to his wife, Lord Wedgwood is survived by a daughter, Alexandra Mary Kavanaugh Wedgwood, and two sisters.
A memorial service will be announced at a later date.