Little is known of Miles Mason’s early life except that he was born in 1752 in Dent in the West Riding of Yorkshire. As a young man he worked as a clerk for his Uncle Bailey of Frog Hall, Chigwell Row in London, who was a stationer. By chance, his next door neighbour was Richard Farrar, a prosperous glass and china merchant who sold mainly porcelain imported from China. Farrar’s daughter, Ruth, was only nine when her father died in 1775. She inherited his vast estate, which included a personal fortune in excess of $55,000. Seven years later, when she was 16, Miles married her, and together they had four children, a daughter, Ann Ruth, and three sons William, George
Miles Mason began his career in ceramics as a retailer in his late father-in-law's business. There he made contact with the Staffordshire master potters whose products he sold, and it was not long before he became involved in manufacturing. His timing could not have been better. The East India Company had always sold their imported porcelain twice yearly auctions in London. In the late eighteenth century, these were dominated by the “ring”, a consortium of dealers getting together to suppress prices. By not bidding against each other, the dealers purchased the porcelain cheaply then ‘knocked it out’ to the highest bidder within the ring. Due to this and to the effects of the Napoleonic wars upon trade and the economy in 1791 the East India Company decided to dispense with the auction side of its business.
This created a wonderful opportunity for English manufacturers to fill the gap and increase the production of ceramics with an oriental appeal. In 1796 Miles entered into a partnership with the experienced porcelain manufacturer Thomas Wolfe of Liverpool, and then in the same year took another partnership with George Wolfe at the Victoria Works in Lane Delph, producing fine earthenware. Miles thus assured himself of a continuous supply of earthenware and porcelain for his retail business in London. Both of these partnerships ceased in 1800 but Miles kept the Victoria Works for himself and started to produce his own porcelain which continued until 1807. During this time he moved his family from London to a house next door to the Victoria Works.
His business prospered and within three years Miles had moved to much larger premises, the Mivera Works, where, from 1807 until 1813, Miles produced porcelain to a very high standard and it was here with the assistance of his three sons he experimented on new clays and produced an earthenware called Ironstone China.
Miles retired from the business in June 1813 when the business was taken over by his sons to Liverpool and died there in 1822, having succeeded in a career that saw the introduction of a product that would make the family name of Mason’s one of the most important in the history of English Ceramics.