It is highly likely that this jug is named for Thomas Potter, a liberal Unitarian from Manchester, born in 1774. Alongside his brother Richard, Potter was a member of the 'Little Circle', a group of like-minded men influenced by the teachings of Jeremy Bentham and Joseph Preistley. These men objected to a system that denied representation in the House of Commons to important industrial cities such as Manchester and Birmingham. In December 1830, the men began to campaign for moderate parliamentary reform, arguing that the seats of boroughs convicted of gross electoral corruption should be transferred to industrial towns. The proposals went unheeded by Parliament.
In 1831, an associate of Potter's, Absalom Watkin, petitioned the government to grant Manchester two representatives. A year later, following the 1832 Reform Act, Mark Philips and Charles Poulett Thompson became Manchester's first two Members of Parliament.
Between 1832 and 1835 Potter led a successful campaign in Manchester against Church Rates. After the passing of the Municipal Corporations Act in 1835 Potter was elected to the borough council and in 1838 became Manchester's first mayor. In 1840 he was granted a knighthood.