EDITED BY ALFRED POLLARD
A SHORT HISTORY
BY HENRY R. PLOMER
LONDON KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH, TRUeBNER AND COMPANY, LIMITED 1900
The English Bookman's Library
Edinburgh: T. and A. CONSTABLE, Printers to Her Majesty
When Mr. Plomer consented at my request to write a short history of English printing which should stop neither at the end of the fifteenth century, nor at the end of the sixteenth century, nor at 1640, but should come down, as best it could, to our own day, we were not without apprehensions that the task might prove one of some difficulty. How difficult it would be we had certainly no idea, or the book would never have been begun, and now that it is finished I would bespeak the reader's sympathies, on Mr. Plomer's behalf, that its inevitable shortcomings may be the more generously forgiven. If we look at what has already been written on the subject the difficulties will be more easily appreciated. In England, as in other countries, the period in the history of the press which is best known to us is, by the perversity of antiquaries, that which is furthest removed from our own time. Of all that can be learnt about Caxton the late Mr. William Blades set down in his monumental work nine-tenths, and the zeal of Henry Bradshaw, of Mr. Gordon Duff, and of Mr. E. J. L. Scott, has added nearly all that was lacking in this storehouse. Mr. Duff has extended his labours to the other English printers of the 15th century, giving in his Early English Printing (Kegan Paul, 1896) a conspectus, with facsimiles of their types, and in his privately printed Sandars Lectures presenting a detailed account of their work, based on the personal examination of every book or fragment from their presses which his unwearied diligence has been able to discover. Originality for this period being out of the question, Mr. Plomer's task was to select, under a constant sense of obligation, from the mass of details which have been brought together for this short period, and to preserve due proportion in their treatment.
Of the work of the printers of the next half-century our knowledge is much less detailed, and Mr. Plomer might fairly claim that he himself, by the numerous documents which he has unearthed at the Record Office and at Somerset House, has made some contributions to it of considerable value and interest. It is to his credit, if I may say so, that so little is written here of these discoveries. In a larger book the story of the brawl in which Pynson's head came so nigh to being broken, or of John Rastell's suit against the theatrical costumier who impounded the dresses used in his private theatre, would form pleasant digressions, but in a sketch of a large subject there is no room for digressions, and these personal incidents have been sternly ignored by their discoverer. Even his first love, Robert Wyer, has been allotted not more than six lines above the space which is due to him, and generally Mr. Plomer has compressed the story told in the Typographical Antiquities of Ames, Herbert, and Dibdin with much impartiality.
When we pass beyond the year 1556, which witnessed the incorporation of the Stationers' Company, Mr. Arber's Transcripts from the Company's Registers become the chief source of information, and Mr. Plomer's pages bear ample record of the use he has made of them, and of the numerous documents printed by Mr. Arber in his prefaces. After 1603, the date at which Mr. Arber discontinues, to the sorrow of all bibliographers, his epitome of the annual output of the press, information is far less abundant. After 1640 it becomes a matter of shreds and patches, with no other continuous aid than Mr. Talbot Reed's admirable work, A History of the Old English Letter Foundries, written from a different standpoint, to serve as a guide. His own researches at the Record Office have enabled Mr. Plomer to enlarge considerably our knowledge of the printers at work during the second half of the seventeenth century, but when the State made up its mind to leave the printers alone, even this source of information lapses, and the pioneer has to gather what he may from the imprints in books which come under his hand, from notices of a few individual printers, and stray anecdotes and memoranda. Through this almost pathless forest Mr. Plomer has threaded his way, and though the road he has made may be broken and imperfect, the fact that a road exists, which they can widen and mend, will be of incalculable advantage to all students of printing.
Besides the indebtedness already stated to the works of Blades, Mr. Gordon Duff, Mr. Arber, and Mr. Reed, acknowledgments are also due for the help derived from Mr. Allnutt's papers on English Provincial Printing (Bibliographica, vol. ii.) and Mr. Warren's history of the Chiswick Press (The Charles Whittinghams, Printers; Grolier Club, 1896). Lest Mr. Plomer should be made responsible for borrowed faults, it must also be stated that the account of the Kelmscott Press is mainly taken from an article contributed to The Guardian by the present writer. The hearty thanks of both author and editor are due to Messrs. Macmillan and Bowes for the use of two devices; to the Clarendon Press for the three pages of specimens of the types given to the University of Oxford by Fell and Junius; to the Chiswick Press for the examples of the devices and ornamental initials which the second Whittingham reintroduced, and for the type-facsimiles of the title-page of the book with which he revived the use of old-faced letters; to Messrs. Macmillan for the specimen of the Macmillan Greek type, and to the Trustees of Mr. William Morris for their grant of the very exceptional privilege of reproducing, with the skilful aid of Mr. Emery Walker, two pages of books printed at the Kelmscott Press.
That the illustrations are profuse at the beginning and end of the book and scanty in the middle must be laid to the charge of the printers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, in whose work good ornament finds no place. It was due to Caslon and Baskerville to insert their portraits, though they can hardly be called works of art. That of Roger L'Estrange, which is also given, may suggest, by its more prosperous look, that in the evil days of the English press its Censor was the person who most throve by it.
ALFRED W. POLLARD.
CONTENTS AND LIST OF PLATES
EDITOR'S PREFACE, vii
Caxton and his Contemporaries, 1
From 1500 to the Death of Wynkyn de Worde, 31
Thomas Berthelet to John Day, 61
John Day, 79
John Day's Contemporaries, 103
Provincial Presses of the Sixteenth Century, 122
The Stuart Period (1603-1640), 154
From 1640 to 1700, 187
From 1700 to 1750, 228
From 1750 to 1800, 261
The Present Century, 282
LIST OF PLATES
Portrait of William Morris, Frontispiece
Portrait of Roger L'Estrange, at p. 203
Portrait of Caslon, " 239
Portrait of Baskerville, " 265
CAXTON AND HIS CONTEMPORARIES
The art of printing had been known on the Continent for something over twenty years, when William Caxton, a citizen and mercer of London, introduced it into England.
Such facts as are known of the life of England's first printer are few and simple. He tells us himself that he was born in the Weald of Kent, and he was probably educated in his native village. When old enough, he was apprenticed to a well-to-do London mercer, Robert Large, who carried on business in the Old Jewry. This was in 1438, and in 1441 his master died, leaving, among other legacies, a sum of twenty marks to William Caxton.
In all probability Caxton, whose term of apprenticeship had not expired, was transferred to some other master to serve the remainder of his term; but all we know is that he shortly afterwards left England for the Low Countries. In the prologue to the Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye he tells us that, at the time he began the translation, he had been living on the Continent for thirty years, in various places, Brabant, Flanders, Holland, and Zealand, but the city of Bruges, one of the largest centres of trade in Europe at that time, was his headquarters. Caxton prospered in his business, and rose to be 'Governor to the English Nation at Bruges,' a position of importance, and one that brought him into contact with men of high rank.
In the year 1468 Caxton appears to have had some leisure for literary work, and began to translate a French book he had lately been reading, Raoul Le Fevre's Recueil des Histoires de Troyes; but after writing a few quires he threw down his pen in disgust at the feebleness of his version.
Very shortly after this he entered the service of Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy, sister of Edward IV. of England, either as secretary or steward. The Duchess used to talk with him on literary matters, and he told her of his attempt to translate the Recueil. She asked him to show her what he had written, pointed out how he might amend his 'rude English,' and encouraged him to continue his work. Caxton took up the task again, and in spite of many interruptions, including journeys to both Ghent and Cologne, he completed it, in the latter city, on the 19th September 1471. All this he tells us in the prologue, and at the end of the second book he says:—
'And for as moche as I suppose the said two bokes ben not had to fore this tyme in oure English langage therefore I had the better will to accomplisshe this said werke whiche werke was begonne in Brugis and contynued in Gaunt, and finyshed in Coleyn, ... the yere of our lord a thousand four honderd lxxi.' He then goes on to speak of John Lydgate's translation of the third book, as making it needless to translate it into English, but continues:
'But yet for as moche as I am bounde to contemplate my fayd ladyes good grace and also that his werke is in ryme and as ferre as I knowe hit is not had in prose in our tonge ... and also because that I have now god leyzer beying in Coleyn, and have none other thing to doo at this tyme, I have,' etc.
Then at the end of the third book he says that, having become weary of writing and yet having promised copies to divers gentlemen and friends,—
'Therfor I have practysed and lerned at my grete charge and dispense to ordeyne this said book in prynte after the maner and forme as ye may here see,' etc.
The book when printed bore neither place of imprint, date of printing, or name of printer. The late William Blades, in his Life of Caxton (vol. i. chap. v. pp. 45-61), maintained that this book, and all the others printed with the same type, were printed at Bruges by Colard Mansion, and that it was at Bruges, and in conjunction with Mansion, that Caxton learned the art of printing. His principal reasons for coming to this conclusion were: (1) That Caxton's stay in Cologne was only for six months, long enough for him to have finished the translation of the book, but too short a time in which to have printed it. (2) That the type in which it was printed was Colard Mansion's. (3) That the typographical features of the books printed in this type (No. 1) point to their having all of them come from the same printing office.
Caxton's own statement in the epilogue to the third book certainly appears to mean that during the course of the translation, in order to fulfil his promise of multiplying copies, he had learned to print. He might easily have done so in the six months during which he remained in Cologne, or during his stay in Ghent. That it was in Cologne rather than elsewhere, is confirmed by the oft-quoted stanza added by Wynkyn de Worde as a colophon to the English edition of Bartholomaeus de proprietatibus rerum.
'And also of your charyte call to remembraunce The soule of William Caxton, the first prynter of this boke, In laten tongue at Coleyn, hymself to avaunce That every well-disposed man may thereon loke.'
If any one should have known the true facts of the case it was surely Caxton's own foreman, who almost certainly came over to England with him. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that type No. 1 is totally unlike any type that we know of as used by a Cologne printer, and, moreover, Caxton's methods of working, and his late adoption of spacing and signatures, point to his having learnt his art in a school of printing less advanced than that of Cologne. In the face of the statements of Caxton himself and Wynkyn de Worde, we seem bound to believe that Caxton did study printing at Cologne, but the inexpertness betrayed in his early books proves conclusively that his studies there did not extend very far. In any case it must have been with the help of Colard Mansion that he set up and printed the Recuyell, probably in 1472 or 1473. In addition to this book several others, printed in the same type, and having other typographical features in common with it, were printed in the next few years. These were:—
The Game and Playe of the Chess Moralised, translated by Caxton, a small folio of 74 leaves.
Le Recueil des Histoires de Troye, a folio of 120 leaves.
Les Fais et Prouesses du noble et vaillant chevalier Jason, a folio of 134 leaves, printed, it is believed, by Mansion, after Caxton's removal to England. And,
Meditacions sur le sept Psaulmes Penitenciaulx, a folio of 34 leaves, also ascribed to Mansion's press, about the year 1478.
About the latter half of 1476 Caxton must have left Bruges and come to England, leaving type No. 1 in the hands of Mansion, and bringing with him that picturesque secretary type, known as type 2. This, as Mr. Blades has undoubtedly proved, had already been used by Caxton and Mansion in printing at least two books: Les quatre derrenieres choses, notable from the method of working the red ink, a method found in no other book of Colard Mansion; and Propositio Johannis Russell, a tract of four leaves, containing Russell's speech at the investiture of the Duke of Burgundy with the order of the Garter in 1470.
On his arrival in England, Caxton settled in Westminster, within the precincts of the Abbey, at the sign of the Red Pale, and from thence, on November 18th 1477, he issued The Dictes and Sayinges of the Philosophers, the first book printed in England. It was a folio of 76 leaves, without title-page, foliation, catchwords or signatures, in this respect being identical with the books printed in conjunction with Mansion. Type 2, in which it was printed, was a very different fount to that which is seen in the Recuyell and its companion books. It was undoubtedly modelled on the large Gros Batarde type of Colard Mansion, and was in all probability cut by Mansion himself. The letters are bold, and angular, with a close resemblance to the manuscripts of the time, the most notable being the lowercase 'w,' which is brought into prominence by large loops over the top. The 'h's' and 'l's' are also looped letters, the final 'm's' and 'n's' are finished with an angular stroke, and the only letter at all akin to those in type No. 1 is the final 'd,' which has the peculiar pump-handle finial seen in that fount. The Dictes and Sayinges is printed throughout in black ink, in long lines, twenty-nine to a page, with space left at the beginning of the chapters for the insertion of initial letters. It has no colophon, but at the end of the work is an Epilogue, which begins thus:—
'Here endeth the book named the dictes or sayengis of the philosophers, enprynted, by me william Caxton at Westmestre the yere of our lord .M. CCCC.LXXVij.'
Caxton followed The Dictes and Sayinges with an edition of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, a folio of 372 leaves. The size of the book makes it probable that it was put in hand simultaneously with its predecessor, and that the chief work of the poet, to whom Caxton paid more than one eloquent tribute, engaged his attention as soon as he set up his press in England. He also printed in the same type a Sarum Ordinale, known only by a fragment in the Bodleian, and a number of small quarto tracts, such as The Moral Proverbs of Christyne, which bears date the 20th of February; a Latin school-book called Stans Puer ad Mensam; two translations from the Distichs of Dionysius Cato, entitled respectively Parvus Catho and Magnus Catho, of which a second edition was speedily called for; Lydgate's fable of the Chorl and the Bird, a quarto of 10 leaves, which also soon went to a second edition; Chaucer's Anelida and Arcite, and two editions of Lydgate's The Horse, the Sheep, and the Goose.
During the first three years of Caxton's residence at Westminster he printed at least thirty books. In 1479 he recast type 2 (cited in its new form by Blades as type 2*), and this he continued to use until 1481. But about the same time he cast two other founts, Nos. 3 and 4. The first of these was a large black letter of Missal character, used chiefly for printing service books, but appearing in the books printed with type 2* for headlines. With it he printed Cordyale, or the Four Last Things, a folio of 78 leaves, the work being a translation by Earl Rivers of Les Quatre Derrenieres Choses Advenir, first printed in type 2 in the office of Colard Mansion. A second edition of The Dictes and Sayinges was also printed in this type, while to the year 1478 or 1479 must be ascribed the Rhetorica Nova of Friar Laurence of Savona, a folio of 124 leaves, long attributed to the press of Cambridge.
After 1479 Caxton began to space out his lines and to use signatures, customs that had been in vogue on the Continent for some years before he left. In 1480 he brought the new type 4 into use. This was modelled on type 2, but was much smaller, the body being most akin to modern English. Although its appearance was not so striking as that of the earlier fount, it was a much neater letter and more adapted to the printing of Indulgences, and it has been suggested that it was the arrival of John Lettou in London, and the neat look of his work, that induced Caxton to cut the fount in question. The most noticeable feature about it is the absence of the loop to the lowercase 'd,' so conspicuous a feature of the No. 2 type. With this type No. 4 he printed Kendale's indulgence and the first edition of The Chronicles of England, dated the 10th June 1480, a folio of 152 leaves. In the same year he printed with type 3 three service-books. Of one of these, the Horae, William Blades found a few leaves, all that are known to exist, in the covers of a copy of Boethius, printed also by Caxton, which he discovered in a deplorable state from damp, in a cupboard of the St. Albans Grammar School. This was an uncut copy, in the original binding, and the covers yielded as many as fifty-six half sheets of printed matter, fragments of other books printed by Caxton. These proved the existence of three hitherto unknown examples of his press, the Horae above noted, the Ordinale, and the Indulgence of Pope Sixtus IV., the remaining fragments yielding leaves from the History of Jason, printed in type 2, the first edition of the Chronicles, the Description of Britain; the second edition of the Dictes and Sayinges, the De Curia Sapientiae, Cicero's De Senectute, and the Nativity of Our Lady, printed in the recast of type 4, known as type 4*.
The first book printed by Caxton with illustrations was the third edition of Parvus and Magnus Chato, printed without date, but probably in 1481. It contained two woodcuts, one showing five pupils kneeling before their tutor. These illustrations were very poor specimens of the wood-cutter's art.
To this period also belongs The History of Reynard the Fox and the second edition of The Game and Play of Chess, printed with type 2*, and distinguished from the earlier edition by the eight woodcuts, some of which, according to the economical fashion of the day, were used more than once.
In type 4, Caxton printed (finishing it on the 20th November 1481) The History of Godfrey of Bologne; or, the Conquest of Jerusalem, a folio of 144 leaves. In the following year (1482) appeared the second edition of the Chronicles, and another work of the same kind, the compilation of Roger of Chester and Ralph Higden, called Polychronicon. This work John of Trevisa had translated into English prose, bringing it down to the year 1387. Caxton now added a further continuation to the year 1460, the only original work ever undertaken by him. Another English author whom Caxton printed at this time was John Gower, an edition in small folio (222 leaves in double columns) of whose Confessio Amantis was finished on the 2nd September 1483. In this we see the first use of type 4*, the two founts being found in one instance on the same page. The first edition of the Golden Legend also belongs to 1483, being finished at Westminster on the 20th November. This was the largest book that Caxton printed, there being no less than 449 leaves in double columns, illustrated with as many as eighteen large and fifty-two small woodcuts. The text was in type 4*, the headlines, etc., in type 3. For the performance of this work Caxton received from the Earl of Arundel, to whom the book was dedicated, the gift of a buck in summer and a doe in winter, gifts probably exchanged for an annuity in money. Several copies of this book are still in existence, its large size serving as a safeguard against complete destruction, but none are perfect, most of them being made up from copies of the second edition. The insertions may be recognised by the type of the headlines, those in the second edition being in type 5. Other books printed in type 4* were Chaucer's Book of Fame, Chaucer's Troylus, the Lyf of Our Ladye, the Life of Saint Winifred, and the History of King Arthur, this last, finished on July 31, 1485, being almost as large a book as the Golden Legend.
No work dated 1486 has been traced to Caxton's press, but in 1487 he brought into use type 5, a smaller form of the black letter fount known as No. 3, with which he sometimes used a set of Lombardic capitals. With this he printed, between 1487 and 1489, several important books, among them the Royal Book, a folio of 162 leaves, illustrated with six small illustrations, the Book of Good Manners, the first edition of the Directorium Sacerdotum, and the Speculum Vitae Christi. During 1487 also he had printed for him at Paris an edition of the Sarum Missal, from the press of George Maynyal, the first book in which he used his well-known device. The second edition of the Golden Legend is believed to have been published in 1488, and to about the same time belongs the Indulgence which Henry Bradshaw discovered in the University Library, Cambridge, and which seems to have been struck off in a hurry on the nearest piece of blank paper, which happened to be the last page of a copy of the Colloquium peccatoris et Crucifixi J. C., printed at Antwerp. This was not the only remarkable find which that master of the art of bibliography made in connection with Caxton. On a waste sheet of a copy of the Fifteen Oes, he noticed what appeared to be a set off of another book, and on closer inspection this turned out to be a page of a Book of Hours, of which no copy has ever been found. It appeared to have been printed in type 5, was surrounded by borders, and was no doubt the edition which Wynkyn de Worde reprinted in 1494.
In 1489 Caxton began to use another type known as No. 6, cast from the matrices of No. 2 and 2*, but a shade smaller, and easily distinguishable by the lowercase 'w,' which is entirely different in character from that used in the earlier fount. With this he printed on the 14th July 1489, the Faytts of Armes and Chivalry, and between that date and the day of his death three romances, the Foure Sons of Aymon, Blanchardin, and Eneydos; the second editions of Reynard the Fox, the Book of Courtesy, the Mirror of the World, and the Directorium Sacerdotum, and the third edition of the Dictes and Sayinges. To the same period belong the editions of the Art and Craft to Know Well to Die, the Ars Moriendi, and the Vitas Patrum.
But in addition to type 6, which Blades believed to be the last used by Caxton, there is evidence of his having possessed two other founts during the latter part of his life. With one of them, type No. 7 (see E. G. Duff, Early English Printing), somewhat resembling types Nos. 3 and 5, he printed two editions of the Indulgence of Johannes de Gigliis in 1489, and it was also used for the sidenotes to the Speculum Vitae Christi, printed in 1494 by Wynkyn de Worde. Type No. 8 was also a black letter of the same character, smaller than No. 3, and distinguished from any other of Caxton's founts by the short, rounded, and tailless letter 'y' and the set of capitals with dots. He used it in the Liber Festivalis, the Ars Moriendi, and the Fifteen Oes, his only extant book printed with borders, and it was afterwards used by Wynkyn de Worde.
Caxton died in the year 1491, after a long, busy, and useful life. His record is indeed a noble one. After spending the greater part of his life in following the trade to which he was apprenticed, with all its active and onerous duties, he, at the time of life when most men begin to think of rest and quiet, set to work to learn the art of printing books. Nor was he content with this, but he devoted all the time that he could spare to editing and translating for his press, and according to Wynkyn de Worde it was 'at the laste daye of his lyff' that he finished the version of the Lives of the Fathers, which De Worde issued in 1495. His work as an editor and translator shows him to have been a man of extensive reading, fairly acquainted with the French and Dutch languages, and to have possessed not only an earnest purpose, but with it a quiet sense of humour, that crops up like ore in a vein of rock in many of his prologues.
Of his private life we know nothing, but the 'Mawde Caxston' who figures in the churchwarden's accounts of St. Margaret's is generally believed to have been his wife. His will has not yet been discovered, though it very likely exists among the uncalendared documents at Westminster Abbey, from which Mr. Scott has already gleaned a few records relating to him, though none of biographical interest. We know, however, from the parish accounts of St. Margaret's, Westminster, that he left to that church fifteen copies of the Golden Legend, twelve of which were sold at prices varying between 6s. 8d. and 5s. 4d.
Caxton used only one device, a simple square block with his initials W. C. cut upon it, and certain hieroglyphics said to stand for the figures 74, with a border at the top and bottom. It was probably of English workmanship, as those found in the books of foreign printers were much more finely cut. This block, which Caxton did not begin to use until 1487, afterwards passed to his successor, who made it the basis of several elaborate variations.
Upon the death of Caxton in 1491, his business came into the hands of his chief workman, Wynkyn de Worde. From the letters of naturalisation which this printer took out in 1496, we learn that he was a native of Lorraine. It was suggested by Herbert that he was one of Caxton's original workmen, and came with him to England, and this has recently been confirmed by the discovery of a document among the records at Westminster, proving that his wife rented a house from the Abbey as early as 1480. In any case there is little doubt that Wynkyn de Worde had been in intimate association with Caxton during the greater part of his career as a printer, and when Caxton died he seems to have taken over the whole business just as it stood, continuing to live at the Red Pale until 1500, and to use the types which Caxton had been using in his latest books. This fact led Blades to ascribe several books to Caxton which were probably not printed until after his death. These are The Chastising of Gods Children, The Book of Courtesye, and the Treatise of Love, printed with type No. 6; but, in addition to these, two other books, probably in the press at the time of Caxton's death, were issued from the Westminster office without a printer's name, but printed in a type resembling type 4*. These are an edition of the Golden Legend and the Life of St. Catherine of Sienna. Wynkyn de Worde's name is found for the first time in the Liber Festivalis, printed in 1493. In the following year was issued Walter Hylton's Scala Perfectionis, and a reprint of Bonaventura's Speculum Vite Christi, the sidenotes to which were printed in Caxton's type No. 7, which de Worde does not seem to have used in any other book. Besides this, there was the Sarum Horae, no doubt a reprint of Caxton's edition now lost. He used for these books Caxton's type No. 8, with the tailless 'y' and the dotted capitals. Speaking of this type in his Early Printed Books, Mr. E. G. Duff points out its close resemblance to that used by the Paris printers P. Levet and Jean Higman in 1490, and argues that it was either obtained from them or from the type-cutter who cut their founts.
To the year 1495 belongs the Vitas Patrum, the book of which Caxton had finished the translation on the day of his death, and beside this, there were reprints of the Polychronicon and the Directorium Sacerdotum. The reprint of the Boke of St. Albans, which was issued in 1496, is noticeable as being printed in the type which De Worde obtained from Godfried van Os, the Gouda printer. This broad square set letter is not found in any other book of De Worde's, though he continued to use a set of initial letters which he obtained from the same printer for many years.
Among other books printed in 1496, were Dives and Pauper, a folio, and several quartos such as the Abbey of the Holy Ghost, the Meditations of St. Bernard, and the Liber Festialis. In 1497 we find the Chronicles of England, and in 1498 an edition of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, a second edition of the Morte d'Arthur, and another of the Golden Legend, in fact nearly all De Worde's dated books up to 1500 were reprints of works issued by Caxton. But amongst the undated books we notice many new works, such as Lydgate's Assembly of Gods, and Sege of Thebes, Skelton's Bowghe of Court, The Three Kings of Cologne, and several school books.
In 1499 De Worde printed the Liber Equivocorum of Joannes de Garlandia, using for it a very small Black Letter making nine and a half lines to the inch, probably obtained from Paris. This type was generally kept for scholastic books, and in addition to the book above noted, Wynkyn de Worde printed with it, in the same year or the year following, an Ortus Vocabulorum. From the time when he succeeded to Caxton's business down to the year 1500, in which he left Westminster and settled in Fleet Street, De Worde printed at least a hundred books, the bulk of them undated.
As will be seen, several printers from the Low Countries seem to have come to England soon after Caxton. The year after he settled at Westminster, a book was printed at Oxford without printer's name, and with a misprint of the date, that has set bibliographers by the ears ever since. This book was the Exposicio sancti Jeromini us simbolum apostolorum, and the colophon ran, 'Impressa Oxonie et finita anno domini M.cccc.lxviij., xvij. die decembris.' The facts that two other books that are dated 1479 (the Aegidius de originali peccato and Sextus ethicorum Aristotelis) have many points in common with the Exposicio, that the Exposicio has been found bound with other books of 1478, and that the dropping of an x from the date in a colophon is not an uncommon misprint, have led to the conclusion that the Exposicio was printed in 1478 and not 1468. The printer of these first Oxford books is believed to have been Theodoric Rood of Cologne, whose name appeared in the colophon to the De Anima of Aristotle, printed at Oxford in 1481. This was followed in 1482 by a Commentary on the Lamentation of Jeremiah, by John Lattebury, and later editions of these two books are distinguished by a handsome woodcut border printed round the first page of the text.
About 1483 Rood took as a partner Thomas Hunt, a stationer of Oxford, and together they issued John Anwykyll's Latin Grammar, together with the Vulgaria Terencii, Richard Rolle of Hampole's Explanationes super lectiones beati Job, a sermon of Augustine's, of which the only known copy is in the British Museum, a collection of treatises upon logic, one of which is by Roger Swyneshede, the first edition of Lyndewode's Provincial Constitutions (a large folio of 366 leaves with a woodcut, the earliest example found in any Oxford book), and the Epistles of Phalaris, with a lengthy colophon in Latin verse. The last book to appear from the press was the Liber Festivalis by John Mirk, a folio of 174 leaves, containing eleven large woodcuts and five smaller ones, apparently meant for an edition of the Golden Legend, as they were cut down to fit the Festial. After the appearance of this book, printing at Oxford suddenly ceased, and it has been surmised that Theodoric Rood returned to Cologne. Altogether the Oxford press lasted for eight years, and fifteen books remain to testify to its activity. In these, three founts of type were used, the first two having all the characteristics of the Cologne printers, while the third shows the influence of Rood's residence in England. A full account of these will be found in Mr. Falconer Madan's admirable work The Early Oxford Press.
The St. Albans Press started in 1479. Only eight books are known with this imprint, not all of them perfect, none give the name of the printer, and only one has a device. Most of them are scholastic books, printed for the use of the Grammar School. These included the Augustini Dati elegancie, a quarto, dated 1480, the Rhetorica Nova, which Caxton was printing at Westminster at the same time, and Antonius Andreae super Logica Aristotelis. But in addition to these, two other notable works came from this press, the Chronicles of England and the Book of St. Albans.
Out of the four types which are found in these books, two at least were Caxton's type No. 2 and type No. 3. There was plainly some connection between the two offices, and as it was a frequent custom for monasteries to subsidize printers to print their service books, it seems possible that Caxton may have had some hand in establishing this press, and that it was for St. Albans Abbey that he cast type No. 3, which (putting aside its subordinate employment for headlines) we find used exclusively for service books.
Three years after Caxton had settled at Westminster, viz. in 1480, an Indulgence was issued by John Kendale, asking for aid against the Turks. Caxton printed some copies of this, and others are found in a small neat type, and are ascribed to the press of John Lettou. Lettou is an old form of Lithuania, but whether John Lettou came from Lithuania is not known.
In this same year 1480, Lettou published the Quaestiones Antonii Andreae super duodecim libros metaphysicae Aristotelis, a small folio of 106 leaves, printed in double columns, of which only one perfect copy is known, that in the Library of Sion College. The type is small, and remarkable from its numerous abbreviations. Mr. E. G. Duff in his Early Printed Books, p. 161, speaks of its great resemblance to those of Matthias Moravus, a Naples printer, and suggests a common origin for their types. In his Early English Printing, on the other hand, he writes: 'There are very strong reasons for believing that he [Lettou] is the same person as the Johannes Bremer, alias Bulle, who is mentioned by Hain as having printed two books at Rome in 1478 and 1479. The type which this printer used is identical (with the exception of one of the capital letters) with that used in the books printed by John Lettou in London.'
A few years later Lettou was joined by William de Machlinia. They were chiefly associated in printing law-books, but whether they had any patent from the king cannot be discovered. Only one of the five books they are known to have printed, the Tenores Novelli, has any colophon, and none of them has any date. The address they gave was 'juxta ecclesiam omnium sanctorum,' but as there were several churches so dedicated, the locality cannot be fixed.
We next find Machlinia working alone, but out of the twenty-two books or editions that have been traced to his press, only four contain his name, and none have a date. All we can say is that he printed from two addresses, 'in Holborn,' and 'By Flete-brigge.' Mr. Duff inclines to the opinion that the 'Flete-brigge' is the earlier, but it seems almost hopeless to attempt to place these books in any chronological order from their typographical peculiarities.
In the Fleet-Bridge type are two books by Albertus Magnus, the Liber aggregationis and the De Secretis Mulierum. The type is of a black letter character, not unlike that in which the Nova Statuta were printed, and is distinguishable by the peculiar shape of the capital M. In the same type we find the Revelation of St. Nicholas to a Monk of Evesham, a reprint of the Tenores Novelli, and some fragments of a Sarum Horae found in old bindings; a woodcut border was used in some parts of it. Besides these Machlinia printed an edition of the Vulgaria Terentii.
A larger number of books is found in the Holborn types, the most important being the Chronicles of England, of which only one perfect copy is known.
The Speculum Christiani is interesting as containing specimens of early poetry, and The Treatise on the Pestilence, of Kamitus or Canutus, bishop of Aarhus, ran to three editions, one of which contains a title-page, and was therefore presumably printed late in Machlinia's career, i.e. about 1490.
In addition to these, there were three law-books, the Statutes of Richard III., and several theological and scholastic works. One of the founts of type used by Machlinia is of peculiar interest, by reason of its close resemblance to Caxton's type No. 2*, and its still greater similarity to the type used by Jean Brito of Bruges.
Machlinia's business seems to have been taken over by Richard Pynson. There is no direct evidence of this, but like Machlinia he took up the business of printing law-books (being the first printer in this country to receive a royal patent); he is found using a woodcut border used in Machlinia's Horae; and, in addition to this, waste from Machlinia books has been found in Pynson bindings.
Richard Pynson was a native of Normandy. He had business relations with Le Talleur, a printer of Rouen. His methods also were those of Rouen, rather than of any English master. Wherever he came from, Richard Pynson was the finest printer this country had yet seen, and no one, until the appearance of John Day, approached him in excellence of work.
The earliest examples of his press appear to be a fragment of a Donatus in the Bodleian and the Canterbury Tales of Chaucer. The type he used for these was a bold, unevenly cast fount of black letter, somewhat resembling that used by Machlinia at Fleet Bridge. The Chaucer, however, contained a second fount of small sloping Gothic.
The first book of Pynson found with a date is a Doctrinale, printed in November 1492, now in the John Rylands Library. This was followed by the Dialogue of Dives and Pauper, printed in 1493 with a new type, distinguishable by the sharp angular finish to the letter 'h.' Several quartos without date were printed in the same type.
From this time till 1500, the majority of his books were printed in the small type of the Chaucer.
Another printer who worked at this time was Julian Notary. He was associated in the production of books with Jean Barbier, and another whose initials, J. H., are believed to be those of J. Huvin, a printer of Paris. They established themselves in London at the sign of St. Thomas the Apostle, and their most important book was the Questiones Alberti de modis significandi, which they followed up in 1497 with an octavo edition of the Horae ad usum Sarum. In 1498 Barbier and Notary removed to King Street, Westminster, where they printed in folio a Missale ad usum Sarum. Soon afterwards Notary was printing by himself, his partner, Barbier, having returned to France. Two quartos, the Liber Festivalis and Quattuor Sermones, are all that can be traced to his press in 1499, and a small edition of the Horae ad usum Sarum is the sole record of this work in 1500.
Notary was also a bookbinder, and some of his stamped bindings are still met with.
[Footnote 1: E. G. Duff, Early Printed Books, pp. 84 and 139.]
FROM 1500 TO THE DEATH OF WYNKYN DE WORDE
In the year 1500 Wynkyn de Worde moved from Westminster to the 'Sunne' in Fleet Street. His business had probably outgrown the limited accommodation of the 'Red Pale,' and the change brought him nearer the heart of the bookselling trade then, and for many years after, seated in St. Paul's Churchyard and Fleet Street. He carried with him the black letter type with which he had printed the Liber Festivalis in 1496, and continued to use it until 1508 or 1509, when he seems to have sold it to a printer in York, Hugo Goes. He brought with him also the scholastic type in use in 1499.
Besides these, we find, e.g. in the 1512 reprint of the Golden Legend, two other founts of black letter. The larger of the two seems to have been introduced about 1503, to print a Sarum Horae. The smaller fount came into use a few years later. It was somewhat larger, less angular, and much more English in character, than that which the printer had brought with him from Westminster. The bulk of Wynkyn de Worde's books to the day of his death were printed with these types. They were, doubtless, recast from time to time, but a close examination fails to detect any difference in size or form during the whole period.
De Worde first began to use Roman type in 1520 for his scholastic books, but he does not seem ever to have made any general use of it, remaining faithful to English black letter to the end of his days. The only exceptions are the educational books, which he invariably printed, as in fact did all the other printers of the period, in a miniature fount of gothic of a kind very popular on the Continent in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, being used by the French and Italian printers as well as those of the Low Countries. De Worde's, however, was an exceptionally small fount. Those most generally in use averaged eight full lines of a quarto page, set close, to the inch, whereas De Worde's averaged nine lines to the inch. But in 1513 he procured another fount of this type, in which he printed the Flowers of Ovid, quarto, and in this the letters are of English character, as may be seen particularly in the lowercase 'h.' This fount, which was slightly larger, averaging only eight lines to the inch, he does not seem to have used very frequently. As Julian Notary printed the Sermones Discipuli in 1510, in the same type, it may have been lent by one printer to the other. In or about 1533 De Worde introduced the italic letter into some of his scholastic books, and in Colet's Grammar, which was amongst the last books he printed, we find it in combination with English black letter, the small 'grammar type,' and Roman.
In these various types, between the beginning of the century and his death in 1534, Wynkyn de Worde printed upwards of five hundred books which have come down to us, complete or in fragments. Thanks to the indefatigable energy of Mr. Gordon Duff, we possess now a very full record of his books, enabling us not only to estimate his merit as a printer, but to see at a glance how consistently as a publisher he maintained the entirely popular character which Caxton had given to his press.
As regards books which required a considerable outlay, he was far less adventurous than Caxton, his large folios being confined almost entirely to those in which his master had led the way, such as the Golden Legend, of which he issued several editions, the Speculum Vitae Christi, the Morte d'Arthur, Canterbury Tales, Polychronicon, and Chronicles of England. The Vitas Patrum of 1495 he could hardly help printing, as Caxton had laboured on its translation in the last year of his life, and it may have been respect for Caxton also which led to the publication of his finest book, the really splendid edition of Bartholomaeus' De Proprietatibus Rerum, issued towards the close of the fifteenth century, from the colophon of which I have already quoted the lines referring to Caxton's having worked at a Latin edition of it at Cologne. The Book of St. Albans was another reprint to which the probable connection of the Westminster and St. Albans presses gave a Caxton flavour; and when we have enumerated these and the Dives and Pauper, produced apparently out of rivalry with Pynson in 1496, and a few devotional books such as the Orcharde of Syon and the Flour of the Commandments of God, to which this form was given, very few Wynkyn de Worde folios remain unmentioned.
But to one book in folio, Wynkyn de Worde printed some five-and-twenty in quarto, eschewing as a rule smaller forms, though now and again we find a Horae, or a Manipulus Curatorum, or a Book of Good Manners for Children in eights or twelves.
He was in fact a popular printer who issued small works in a cheap form, and without, it must be added, greatly concerning himself as to their appearance. Popular books of devotion or of a moral character figure most largely among the books he printed; but students of our older literature owe him gratitude for having preserved in their later forms many old romances, and also a few plays, and he published every class of book, including many educational works, for which a ready sale was assured. The majority of these books were illustrated, if only with a cut on the title-page of a schoolmaster with a birch-rod, or a knight on horseback who did duty for many heroes in succession. When the illustrations were more profuse, they were too often produced from worn blocks, purchased from French publishers, or rudely copied from French originals, and used again and again without a thought as to their relevance to the text. It must also be owned that many of Wynkyn de Worde's cheap books are badly set up and badly printed, and that altogether his reputation stands rather higher than his work as a printer really deserves. But he printed some fine books, and rescued many popular works from destruction, and we need not grudge him the honour he has received—an honour amply witnessed by the high prices fetched by books from his press whenever they come into the market.
There was no originality about Wynkyn de Worde's devices, of which he used no fewer than sixteen different varieties. The most familiar, as it was the earliest of these, was Caxton's, and next to this must be placed what is usually described as the Sagittarius device. There were two forms of this, a square and an oblong. It consisted of three divisions, the upper part containing the sun and stars, the centre, the Caxton device, and the lower part, a ribbon with his name, with a dog on one side and an archer on the other. There are three distinct stages of this device, that used between 1506-1518 being replaced in 1519, and again in 1528. This last is distinguished by having only ten small stars to the left of the sun and ten to the right, whereas the two preceding had eleven stars to the left of the sun and nine to the right. The oblong block had the moon added in the top compartment, and in the bottom division the sagittarius and dog are reversed. This block continued in use from 1507 to 1529, and the stages in its dilapidation are useful in dating the books in which it occurs. Besides these, and some smaller forms, Wynkyn de Worde used a large architectural device, sometimes enclosed with a border of four pieces, the upper and lower of which seem to have afterwards come into the possession of John Skot.
Wynkyn de Worde died in 1534, his will being proved on the 19th January 1535. His executors were John Byddell, who succeeded to his business, and James Gaver, while three other London stationers, Henry Pepwell, John Gough, and Robert Copland were made overseers of it, and received legacies.
Julian Notary remained at Westminster two years after the departure of Wynkyn de Worde, when he too flitted eastwards, settling at the sign of the Three Kings without Temple Bar, probably to be nearer De Worde. He combined with his trade of printer that of bookbinder, and probably bound as well as printed many books for Wynkyn de Worde. His printing lay principally in the direction of service books for the church, but he printed both the Golden Legend and the Chronicle of England in folio, one or two lives of saints, and a few small tracts of lighter vein, such as 'How John Splynter made his testament,' and 'How a serjeaunt wolde lerne to be a frere,' both in quarto without date.
In the Golden Legend of 1503 and the Chronicles of England of 1515, the black letter type used was identical in character with that of Wynkyn de Worde.
No book is found printed by Notary between the years 1510 and 1515. In the former year he appears to have had a house in St. Paul's Churchyard, as well as the Three Kings without Temple Bar. In 1515 he speaks only of the sign of St. Mark in St. Paul's Churchyard, and three years later this is altered to the sign of the Three Kings. It is just conceivable that this last was a misprint, or that the St. Mark was a temporary office used only while the Three Kings was under repair.
In 1507 Notary exchanged the simple merchant's mark that had hitherto served him as a device for one of a more elaborate character. This took the form of a helmet over a shield with his mark upon it, with decorative border, and below all his name. From this a still larger block was made in the same year, and this was strongly French in character. It showed the smaller block affixed to a tree with bird and flowers all round it, and two fabulous creatures on either side of the base. The initials 'J. N.' are seen at the top. This he sometimes used as a frontispiece, substituting for the centre piece a block of a different character.
Richard Pynson also changed his address shortly after Wynkyn de Worde, moving from outside Temple Bar to the George in Fleet Street, next to St. Dunstan's Church. He also appears to have entirely given up the use of Gothic type in favour of English black letter about this time. It is not easy to form a conjecture as to the motive which led to the abandonment of this type, and it is impossible to regard the step without regret. Even in its rudest forms it was a striking type; in the hands of a man like Pynson it was far more effective than the black letter which took its place. With regard to this latter, there seems reason to believe, from the great similarity both in size and form of the fount in use by De Worde, Notary, and Pynson at this time, that it was obtained by all the printers from one common foundry. Nor is it only the letters which lead to this conclusion, but the common use of the same ornaments points in the same direction. The only difference between the black letter in use by Pynson in the first years of the sixteenth century and that of his contemporaries, is the occurrence of a lower case 'w' of a different fount.
In 1509 Pynson is believed to have introduced Roman type into England, using it with his scholastic type to print the Sermo Fratris Hieronymi de Ferraria. In the same year he also issued a very fine edition of Alexander Barclay's translation of Brandt's Shyp of Folys of the Worlde. In this, the Latin original and the English translation are set side by side. The book was printed in folio in two founts, one of Roman and one of black letter. It was profusely illustrated with woodcuts copied from those in the German edition.
About 1510 Pynson became the royal printer in the place of W. Faques, and continued to hold the post until his death. At first he received a salary of 40s. per annum (see L. and P. H. 8, vol. 1, p. 364), but this was afterwards increased to L4 per annum (L. and P. H. 8, vol. 2, p. 875). In this capacity he printed numbers of Proclamations, numerous Year-books, and all the Statutes, and received large sums of money. In 1513 he printed The Sege and Dystrucyon of Troye, of which several copies (some of them on vellum) are still in existence. Other books of which he printed copies on vellum are the Sarum Missal of 1520, and Assertio Septem Sacramentorum of 1521.
Besides these and his official work, Pynson printed numbers of useful books in all classes of literature. The works of Chaucer and Skelton and Lydgate, the history of Froissart and the Chronicle of St. Albans; books such as AEsop's Fables and Reynard the Fox, romances such as Sir Bevis of Hampton are scattered freely amongst works of a more learned character. On the whole he deserves a much higher place than De Worde. It is rare, indeed, to find a carelessly printed book of Pynson's, whilst such books as the Boccaccio of 1494, the Missal printed in 1500 at the expense of Cardinal Morton, and known as the Morton Missal, and the Intrationum excellentissimus liber of 1510 are certainly the finest specimens of typographical art which had been produced in this country.
Pynson's earliest device, as Mr. Duff has noted, resembled in many ways that of Le Talleur, and consisted of his initials cut on wood. In 1496 he used two new forms. One shows his mark upon a shield surmounted by a helmet with a bird above it. Beneath is his name upon a ribbon, and the whole is enclosed in a border of animals, birds, and flowers. The other was a metal block of much the same character, having the shield with his mark, and as supporters two naked figures. The border, which was separate and in one piece, had crowned figures in it and a ribbon. The bottom portion of this border began to give way about 1500, was very much out of shape in 1503, and finally broke entirely in 1513. This border was sometimes placed the wrong way up, as in the British Museum copy of Mandeville's Ways to Jerusalem (G. 6713). It was succeeded by a woodcut block of a much larger form, which may be seen in the Mirroure of Good Manners (s.a., fol.). The block itself measures 5-5/8'' x 3-5/8'' and has no border. The initials print black on a white ground. The figures supporting the shield have a much better pose, and those of the king and queen differ materially. The bird on the shield is much larger, and is more like a stork or heron.
Pynson died in the year 1529, while passing through the press L'Esclarcissement de la Langue Francoyse, which was finished by his executor John Hawkins, of whom nothing else is definitely known.
Whilst these three printers had been at work, many other stationers, booksellers, and printers had settled in London. They seem to have favoured St. Paul's Churchyard and Fleet Street; but they were also scattered over various parts of the city and outlying districts, even as far west as the suburb of Charing.
In 1518, Henry Pepwell settled at the sign of the Trinity in St. Paul's Churchyard, and used the device previously belonging to Jacobi and Pelgrim, two stationers who imported books printed by Wolfgang and Hopyl. His books fall into two classes—those printed between 1518-1523, and those between 1531-1539. The first were printed entirely in a black-letter fount that appears to have belonged to Pynson. The second series were printed entirely in Roman letter. A copy of his earliest book, the Castle of Pleasure, 4to, 1518, is in the British Museum, as well as the Dietary of Ghostly Helthe, 4to, 1521; Exornatorium Curatorum, 4to, n.d.; Du Castel's Citye of Ladyes, 4to, 1521. His edition of Christiani hominis Institutum, 4to, 1520, is only known from a fragment in the Bodleian. Several books have been ascribed wrongly to this printer (Duff, Bibliographica, vol. i. pp. 93, 175, 499).
In the year 1504, a printer named William Faques had settled in Abchurch Lane. He was a Norman by birth, and Ames suggested that he learnt his art with John Le Bourgeois at Rouen, but this is unconfirmed. He styled himself the king's printer. Of his books only some eight are in existence, three with the date 1504, and the remainder undated. His workmanship was excellent. The Psalterium which he printed in octavo was in a large well cut English black letter, and each page was surrounded by a chain border. The Statutes of Henry VII. are also in the same type with the same ornament, but the Omelia Origenis, one of the undated books, is in the small foreign letter so much in vogue with the printers of this time. His device has the double merit of beauty and originality. It consisted of two triangles intersected with his initials in the centre and the word 'Guillam' beneath. His subsequent career is totally unknown, but his type, ornaments, etc., passed into the hands of Richard Fawkes or Faques, who printed at the sign of the Maiden's Head, in St. Paul's Churchyard, in the year 1509, Guillame de Saliceto's Salus corporis Salus anime, in folio. Not only is the type used in this identical with that in the Psalterium of William Faques, but the chain ornament is also found in it. After this we find no other dated book by Richard Faques until 1523, when he printed Skelton's Goodly Garland in quarto, in three founts of black letter, and a fount of Roman, and a great primer for titles. Amongst his undated works is a copy of the Liber Festivalis, believed to have been printed in 1510, and an Horœ ad usum Sarum printed for him in Paris by J. Bignon. During the interval he had moved from the Maiden's Head in St. Paul's Churchyard to another house in the same locality, with the sign of the A. B. C, and he also had a second printing office in Durham Rents, without Temple Bar, that is in some house adjacent to Durham House in the Strand. The earliest extant printed ballad was issued by Richard Faques, the Ballad of the Scottish King, of which the only known copy is in the British Museum, and amongst his undated books is one which he printed for Robert Wyer, the Charing Cross printer, under the title of De Cursione Lunae. It was printed with the Gothic type, and the blocks were supplied by Wyer. Richard Faques' device was a copy of that of the Paris bookseller Thielmann Kerver, with an arrow substituted for the tree, and the design on the shield altered. The custom of adapting other men's devices was very common, and is one of the many evidences of dearth of originality on the part of the early English printers.
The latest date found in the books of this printer is 1530.
Another prominent figure in the early years of the sixteenth century was that of Robert Copland. He was a man of considerable ability, a good French scholar, and a writer of mediocre verse. Apart from this, he was also, in the truest sense of the word, a book lover, and used his influence to produce books that were likely to be useful, or such as were worth reading. In the prologue to the Kalendar of Shepherdes, which Wynkyn de Worde printed in 1508, he described himself as servant to that printer. This has been taken to mean that he was one of De Worde's apprentices. But in 1514, if not earlier, he had started in business for himself as a stationer and printer, at the sign of the Rose Garland in Fleet Street. Very few of the books that he printed now exist, and this, taken in conjunction with the fact that he translated and wrote prologues for so many books printed by De Worde, has led all writers upon early English printing to conclude that he was an odd man about De Worde's office, and that he was in fact subsidised by that printer. There is evidence, however, that many of the books printed by De Worde, that have prologues by Robert Copland, were first printed by him, and that in others he had a share in the copies.
In the British Museum copy of the Dyeynge Creature, printed by De Worde in 1514, it is noticeable that on the last leaf is the mark or device of Robert Copland, not that of the printer, while in the copy now in the University Library, Cambridge, De Worde's device is on the last leaf.
This would appear to indicate that both printers were associated in the venture, though the work actually passed through De Worde's press, and that those copies which Copland took and paid for were distinguished by his device. Again, in several of these books, found with De Worde's colophons, Copland speaks of himself as the 'printer,' or 'the buke printer,' and the inference is that they were reprints of books which Copland had previously printed. Indeed in one instance the evidence is still stronger. In 1518, Henry Pepwell printed at the sign of the Trinity the Castell of Pleasure. The prologue to this takes the form of a dialogue in verse between Copland and the author, of which the following lines are the most important:—
'Emprynt this boke, Copland, at my request And put it forth to every maner state.'
To which Copland replies:—
'At your instaunce I shall it gladly impresse But the utterance, I thynke, will be but small Bokes be not set by: there tymes is past, I gesse; The dyse and cardes, in drynkynge wyne and ale, Tables, cayles, and balles, they be now sette a sale Men lete theyr chyldren use all such harlotry That byenge of bokes they utterly deny.'
If this means anything, it is impossible to avoid the inference that Robert Copland printed the first edition of this book. Amongst others that he was in some way interested in may be noticed a curious book by Alexander Barclay, Of the Introductory to write French, fol., 1521, of which there is a copy in the Bodleian; The Mirrour of the Church, 4to, 1521, a devotional work, printed by Wynkyn de Worde, with a variety of curious woodcuts; the Rutter of the Sea, the first English book on navigation, translated from Le Grande Routier of Pierre Garcie; Chaucer's Assemble of Foules and the Questionary of Cyrurgyens, printed by Robert Wyer in 1541.
Copland was also the author, and without doubt the printer, of two humorous poems that are amongst the earliest known specimens of this kind of writing. The one called The Hye Way to the Spyttell hous took the form of a dialogue between Copland and the porter of St. Bartholomew's, and turns upon the various kinds of beggars and impostors, with a running commentary upon the vices and follies that bring men to poverty. Iyll of Brentford, the second of these compositions, is a somewhat different production. It recounts the legacies left by a certain lady, but the humour, though to the taste of the times, was excessively broad.
In 1542 Dr. Andrew Borde spoke of his Introduction of Knowledge as printing at 'old Robert Copland's, the eldest printer in England.' Whether he meant the oldest in point of age or in his craft is not clear; but it may well be that, seeing that De Worde, Pynson, and the two Faques were dead, this printing house was the oldest then in London.
John Rastell also began to print about the year 1514. He is believed to have been educated at Oxford, and was trained for the law. In addition to his legal business, he translated and compiled many law-books, the most notable being the Great Abridgement of the Statutes. This book he printed himself, and it is certainly one of the finest examples of sixteenth century printing to be found. The work was divided into three parts, each of which consisted of more than two hundred large folio pages. When it is remembered that the method of printing books at this period was slow, at the most only two folio pages being printed at a pull, the time and capital employed upon the production of this book must have been very great. The type was the small secretary in use at Rouen, and it is just possible the book was printed there and not in England.
John Rastell's first printing office in London was on the south side of St. Paul's Churchyard. Williarn Bonham, the stationer with whom Rastell was afterwards associated, had some premises there, and as late as the seventeenth century there was a house in Sermon Lane, known as the Mermaid, and it may be that in one or other of these Rastell printed the undated edition of Linacre's Grammar, which bears the address, 'ye sowth side of paulys.' But in 1520 he moved to 'the Mermayd at Powlys gate next to chepe syde.' There he printed The Pastyme of People, and Sir Thomas More's Supplicacyon of Souls, besides several interludes and two remarkable jest-books, The Twelve mery gestys of one called Edith and A Hundred Mery Talys. The last named became one of the most popular books of the time, but only one perfect copy of it is now known, and that, alas! is not in this country. Rastell was brother-in-law of Sir Thomas More, and up to the year 1530 a zealous Roman Catholic. So strong were his religious opinions that in that year he wrote and printed a defence of the Roman Catholic doctrine of Purgatory, under the title of the New Boke of Purgatory. This was answered by John Frith, the Reformer, who is credited with having achieved John Rastell's conversion. By whatever means the change was brought about, John Rastell did soon afterwards become a Protestant; but the change in his belief made him many enemies. He was arrested for his opinions, and if he did not die in prison, he was in prison just before his death, which took place in 1536. During the last sixteen years of his life he does not appear to have paid much attention to his business. A document now in the Record Office shows that he was in the habit of locking up his printing office in Cheapside, and going down into the country for months at a time. But a part of the premises he sublet, and this was occupied for various periods by several stationers—William Bonham, Thomas Kele, John Heron, and John Gough, being particularly named. Like all his predecessors, he dropped the use of the secretary type in favour of black letter, and his books, as specimens of printing, greatly deteriorated. Dibdin, in his reprint of The Pastyme of the People, was very severe upon the careless printing of the original, but it is more than likely that it was the work of one of Rastell's apprentices, rather than his own. Amongst those whom he employed we find the names of William Mayhewes, of whom nothing is known; Leonard Andrewe, who may have been a relative of Laurence Andrewe, another English printer; and one Guerin, a Norman.
John Rastell left two sons, William and John. The former became a printer during his father's lifetime and succeeded him in business, but his work lies outside the scope of the present chapter. The same remark applies to William Bonham.
John Gough began his career as a bookseller in Fleet Street in 1526. In 1528 he was suspected of dealing in prohibited books (see Letters and Papers of Henry VIII., vol. iv. pt. ii. art. 4004), but managed to clear himself. In 1532 he moved to the 'Mermaid' in Cheapside, and in the same year Wynkyn de Worde printed two books for him concerning the coronation of Anne Boleyn. In 1536, whilst still living there, he issued a very creditable Salisbury Primer. He calls himself the printer of this, but it is extremely doubtful if this can be taken to mean anything more than that he found the capital, and, perhaps, the material with which it was printed. Wynkyn de Worde appointed John Gough one of the overseers of his will. Of his subsequent career more will be said at a later period.
Another of the printers who worked for Wynkyn de Worde during the latter part of his life was John Skot. In 1521, when we first meet with him, he was living in St. Sepulchre's parish, without Newgate. In that year he printed the Body of Policie and the Justyces of Peas, and in 1522 The Myrrour of Gold; amongst his undated books are, Jacob and his xii sons, Carta Feodi simplicis, and the Book of Maid Emlyn, all these being in quarto. His next dated book appeared in 1528, with the colophon 'in Paule's Churchyard,' and here he appears to have remained for some years. He is next found in Fauster Lane, St. Leonard's parish, where he printed, amongst other books, the ballad of The Nut Browne Maid. He also appears to have been at George Alley Gate, St. Botolph's parish, where he printed, but without date, Stanbridge's Accidence. His devices were three in number, and several of his border pieces were obtained from Wynkyn de Worde.
Richard Bankes began business at the long shop in the Poultry, next to St. Mildred's church, and six doors from the Stockes or Stocks Market, which at that time stood on the present site of the Mansion House. In 1523 he printed a very curious tract with the following title:—
'Here begynneth a lytell newe treatyse or mater intytuled and called The ix. Drunkardes, which tratythe of dyuerse and goodly storyes ryght plesaunte and frutefull for all parsones to pastyme with.'
It was printed in octavo, black letter, and the only known copy is in the Douce collection at the Bodleian. Another equally rare piece of Bankes' printing was the old English romance of Sir Eglamour, known only by a fragment of four leaves in the possession of Mr. Jenkinson of the University Library, Cambridge. This was also somewhat roughly printed in black letter. In 1525 he printed a medical tract called the Seynge of Uryns, in quarto, and three years later was associated with Robert Copland in the production of the Rutter of the Sea. He also issued from this address A Herball, and another popular medical work called the Treasure of Pore Men. Bankes is, however, best known as the printer of the works of Richard Taverner, the Reformer, but this was later, and will be noticed when we come to them.
Peter Treveris, or Peter of Treves, was working at the sign of the Wodows, in Southwark, between the years 1521 and 1533. He used as his device the 'wild men,' first seen in the device of the Paris printer, P. Pigouchet. The fact of his printing the Opusculum Insolubilium, to be sold at Oxford 'apud J. T.', that is probably for John Thome the bookseller, points to his being at work about the year 1520. In 1521 he is believed to have issued an edition of Arnold's Chronicles, translated by Laurence Andrewe. Two other books of his printing were the Handy Worke of Surgery, in folio, 1525, a book notable for the many anatomical diagrams with which it was illustrated, and as a companion to that work, The Great Herball Treveris also shared with Wynkyn de Worde most of the printing of Richard Whittington's scholastic works, all in quarto, and mostly without date.
Laurence Andrewe, who lived for some years at Calais, translated one or more books for John van Doesborch, the Antwerp printer, set up a press in London about 1527, and printed a second edition of the Handy Worke of Surgery, above noticed, a tract called The Debate and Strife betwene Somer and Winter, to be sold by Robert Wyer at Charing Cross; The destillacyon of Waters, in 1527; and a reprint of Caxton's edition of the Mirroure of the Worlde, in folios, 1527. His printing calls for no special notice, but Mr. Proctor, in his monograph on Doesborgh, surmises that he learnt his art in an English printing house rather than abroad, and the presence of a Leonarde Andrewe in the service of John Rastell may mean that the two men were related and were both pupils of the same master.
Turning now westwards, we find 'in the Bishop of Norwiche's Rentes in the felde besyde Charynge Cross,' that is near the present Villier Street, a printer named Robert Wyer, the sign of whose house was that of St. John the Evangelist. There are several early references to the house as that of a bookseller's, but without any name mentioned. For instance, Richard Pynson printed, without date, an edition of the curious tract of Solomon and Marcolphus, to be sold at the sign of St. John the Evangelist beside Charing Cross; the Debate between Somer and Winter, printed by Laurence Andrewe, has the same colophon, and the De Cursione Lune, from the press of Richard Faques, has the same words, but not Wyer's name. His first dated book was the Golden Pystle, printed in 1531. It was printed in a small secretary of Parisian character. His great primer, for which he has been especially noted by some bibliographers, was very probably that used by Richard Faques. He had also a number of woodcut face initials similar to those used by Wynkyn de Worde, and many of the small blocks found in his books were copies of those belonging to Antoine Verard, the famous Paris publisher.
Robert Wyer was essentially a popular printer. Many of his publications were mere tracts of a few leaves, abridgments of larger works, and the subjects which they chiefly treated were theology and medicine. Unfortunately, the great bulk of his work bears no date, but several circumstances in his career, coupled with internal evidence gathered from the books themselves, enable us to get very near their date of issue. Like his contemporaries he abandoned the secretary type in favour of black letter, but neither so readily nor so entirely as they did. His first black letter, in use before 1536, was also a very well cut and beautiful letter; with it he printed the Epistle of Erasmus, in octavo, and the Book of Good Works, of which the only copy known is in the library of St. John's College, Oxford. But unquestionably the two most important books known of this printer are William Marshall's Defence of Peace, folio, 1535, printed in secretary, and the Questionary of Cyrurgyens, which he printed for Henry Dabbe and R. Bankes. In 1536 the house in which he was working changed hands, passing into the possession of the Duke of Suffolk, consequently all books which have in the colophon 'in the Duke of Suffolkes Rentes,' or 'Beside the Duke of Suffolkes Place,' were printed after that year. As Wyer continued to print until 1555, this circumstance does not help us much; it may, however, be taken as some further guide that all his later work was done in black letter.
Robert Wyer appears to have done a great deal of work for his contemporaries, notably Richard Bankes, Richard Kele, and John Gough.
Most of his books have woodcuts, the most profusely illustrated was his translation of Christine de Pisan's Hundred Histories of Troy. This book had been printed in Paris by Pigouchet, and the illustrations in Wyer's edition are rude copies of those in the French edition. They are, without doubt, wretched specimens of the woodcutter's art; but in this respect they are no worse than the woodcuts found in other English books at this date, and the number and variety of them speak well for the printer's patience. Robert Wyer's device represented the Evangelist on the Island of Patmos, with an eagle on his right hand holding an inkhorn. With this he used a separate block with his name and mark. He had also a smaller block of the Evangelist from which the eagle was omitted. This is generally found on the title-page or in the front part of his books.
[Footnote 2: It is rather remarkable that of the eight books dated 1534 six are in octavo. Readers of the works of Erasmus, Colet, and Lily seem to have shown a preference for this form, which is used most frequently for the works of these friendly authors.]
THOMAS BERTHELET TO JOHN DAY
On the death of Pynson, in 1529, the office of royal printer was conferred upon Thomas Berthelet, who was in business at the sign of the Lucretia Romana in Fleet Street. Herbert gives the first book from his press as an edition of the Statutes, printed in 1529; but there is some evidence that he was at work two or three years, and perhaps more, before this. Among the writings of Robert Copland, the printer-author, was a humorous tract entitled The Seuen sorowes that women have when theyr husbandes be dead (British Museum, C. 20, c. 42 (5)), which has at the end this curious passage:—
'Go lytle quayr, god gyve the wel to sayle To that good sheppe, ycleped Bertelet.
* * * * * *
And from all nacyons, if that it be thy lot Lest thou be hurt, medle not with a Scot.'
This is, without doubt, an allusion to the two London printers, Thomas Berthelet and John Skot; and certain references in the prologue seem to point to the printing of the first edition of the Seuen Sorowes, as a year or two earlier than the date given by Herbert.
There also seems to be conclusive evidence that Berthelet, or, as he was sometimes called, Bartlett, was a native of Wales. He certainly held land in the county of Hereford, and he was succeeded in business by a nephew, Thomas Powell, a Welshman. Berthelet was one of the few English printers of that period whose work is worth looking at. He had a varied assortment of types, all of them good, and his workmanship was as a rule excellent; and as very few of his books are illustrated, we may infer that he was loth to spoil a good book with the rough and often unsightly woodcuts of that time.
Berthelet was also a bookbinder and bookseller, and some of his fine bindings for Henry VIII. and his successors are still to be seen. He was apparently the first English binder to use gold tooling.
Of his official work very little need be said. It consisted in printing all Acts of Parliament, proclamations, injunctions, and other official documents. In the second volume of the Transcript (pp. 50-60), Professor Arber has printed three of Berthelet's yearly accounts, in which the titles of the various documents are given, with the number of copies of each that were struck off, and the nature and cost of their bindings.
In the year 1530 the divorce of Queen Katherine and the King's marriage to Anne Boleyn filled the public mind, and in connection with this event he printed, both in Latin and English, a small octavo, with the title:
The determinations of the moste famous and moofte excellent Vniversities of Italy and France that it is so unlefull for a man to marie his brother's wyfe that the Pope hath no power to despense therewith.
Berthelet, in 1531, printed Sir Thomas Elyot's Boke named the Governour, an octavo, in a large Gothic type, very bold and clear. This type, however, is seen to much better advantage in the folio edition of Gower's Confessio Amantis, which came from this press in 1532. In this instance the title-page is striking, the title being enclosed within a panel which gives it the appearance of a book cover. The text of the work was printed in double columns of forty-eight lines each.
In 1533 Berthelet appears to have purchased a new fount of this type, with which he printed Erasmus's De Immensa Dei Misericordia. If possible this new letter was more beautiful than the other, the lowercase 'h' finishing in a bold outward curve, which was absent in the earlier fount. These founts of Gothic closely resemble some in use in Italy at this time.
To the year 1534 belongs St. Cyprian's Sermon on the mortality of man, translated by Sir Thomas Elyot, as well as a second edition of The Boke named the Governour.
Berthelet also brought into use during this year a woodcut border of an architectural character, with the date 1534 cut upon it. It was used only in octavo books, and he continued to use it for some years without erasing the date, a fact that has led to much confusion in the classification of his books.
We meet with the large Gothic type again in 1535, in an edition of the De Proprietatibus Rerum of Bartholomaeus Anglicus, which Berthelet printed in that year. But his most notable undertaking during the next few years was the book for regulating and settling nice points of religious belief, which had been compiled by the bishops, and was issued under the King's authority, with the title:—
The Institution of a Christian Man conteyninge the Exposition or Interpretation of the commune Crede, of the Seven sacraments, of the X commandments, and of the Pater Noster, and the Ave Maria, Justyfication & Purgatory.
When the book was finished, Latimer, then Bishop of Worcester, suggested to Cromwell that the printing should be given to Thomas Gibson. But Latimer's recommendation was overlooked, and the work was given to Berthelet. It would be interesting to know how many copies of the first edition of this book he printed. It was issued both in quarto and octavo form, the quarto printed in a very beautiful fount of English black letter, modelled on the lines of De Worde's founts. The opening lines of the title were, however, printed in Roman of four founts, and the whole page was enclosed within a woodcut border of children.
The octavo editions of this notable book were printed in a smaller fount of black letter, and the title-page was enclosed within the 1534 border. Several editions were issued in 1537, and the book was afterwards revised and reprinted under a new title.
At the same time Berthelet was passing through the press Sir Thomas Elyot's Dictionary, a work of no small labour, if one may judge from the number of founts used in printing it. It was finished and issued in 1538.
Berthelet, who, as befitted a royal printer, plainly took some pains to keep himself clear of all controversies, did not stir in the matter of Bible translation until the 1538 edition by Grafton and Whitchurch was already in the market.
In 1539, however, he published, but did not print, Taverner's edition of the Bible, and in the following year an edition of Cranmer's Bible. That of 1539 came from the press of John Byddell, and that of 1540 was printed for him by Robert Redman and Thomas Petit.
Among the Patent Rolls for the year 1543 (P. R. 36 Hen. 8. m. 12) is a grant to Berthelet of certain crown lands in London and other parts of the country, in payment of a debt of L220. His office as royal printer ceased upon the accession of Edward VI., and though many books are found with the imprint, 'in aedibus Thomas Berthelet,' down to the time of his death in 1556, he probably took very little active part in business affairs after that time.
Meanwhile Pynson's premises were taken by Robert Redman, who, from about the year 1523, had been living just outside Temple Bar. No new facts have come to light about Redman, and the reasons why he moved into Pynson's house and continued to use his devices are as puzzling as ever. He began as a printer of law books, and printed little else. In conjunction with Petit he printed an edition of the Bible for Berthelet, and among his other theological books was A treatise concernynge the division betwene the Spirytualtie and Temporaltie, the date of which is fixed by a note in the Letters and Papers of Henry VIII. (vol. vi., p. 215), from which it appears that, in 1553, Redman entered into a bond of 500 marks not to sell this book or any other licensed by the King. Redman was also the printer of Leonard Coxe's Arte and Crafte of Rhethoryke, one of the earliest treatises on this subject published in English. It has recently been republished by Professor Carpenter of Chicago, with copious notes.
Redman's work fell very much below that of his predecessor. Much of his type had been in use in Pynson's office for some years, and was badly worn. He had, however, a good fount of Roman, seen in the De Judiciis et Praecognitionibus of Edward Edguardus. The title of this book is enclosed in a border, having at the top a dove, and at the bottom the initials J. N.
Redman's will was proved on the 4th November 1540. His widow, Elizabeth, married again, but several books were printed with her name in the interval. His son-in-law, Henry Smith, lived in St. Clement's parish without Temple Bar, and printed law books in the years 1545 and 1546.
Redman's successor at the George was William Middleton, who continued the printing of law books, and brought out a folio edition of Froissart's Chronicles, with Pynson's colophon and the date 1525, which has led some to assume that this edition was printed by Pynson.
Upon Middleton's death in 1547, his widow married William Powell, who thereupon succeeded to the business.
Among those for whom Wynkyn de Worde worked shortly before his death was John Byddell, a stationer living at the sign of 'Our Lady of Pity,' next Fleet Bridge, who for some reason spoke of himself under the name of Salisbury. He used as his device a figure of Virtue, copied from one of those in use by Jacques Sacon, printer at Lyons between 1498 and 1522 (see Silvestre, Nos. 548 and 912). The same design, only in a larger form, was also in use in Italy at this time. In the collection of title-pages in the British Museum (618, ll. 18, 19) is one enclosed within a border found in books printed at Venice, on which the figure of Virtue occurs. The only difference between it and the mark of Byddell being that the two shields show the lion of St. Mark, and the whole thing is much larger.
Byddell had probably been established as a stationer some years before the appearance of Erasmus's Enchiridion Militis Christiani from the press of De Worde in 1533, with his name in the colophon. Another book printed for him by De Worde, in the same year, was a quarto edition of the Life of Hyldebrand. Both these works De Worde reprinted in 1534, in addition to printing for him John Roberts' A Mustre of scismatyke Bysshoppes. Byddell was appointed one of the executors to De Worde's will, and very shortly after his death, i.e. in 1535, moved to De Worde's premises, the 'Sun,' in Fleet Street.
Most of Byddell's books were of a theological character. He printed a quarto Horae ad usum Sarum in 1535, a small Primer in English in 1536, and a folio edition of Taverner's Bible in 1539 for Thomas Berthelet.
Among the miscellaneous books that came through his press, one or two are especially interesting. In 1538 we find him printing in quarto Lindsay's Complaynte and Testament of a Popinjay, a work that had first appeared in Scotland eight years before, and created considerable stir. A quarto edition of William Turner's Libellus de Re Herbaria bears the same date; while among the books of the year 1540 are editions, in octavo, of Tully's Offices and De Senectute.
The latest date found in any book of Byddell's printing is 1544, after which Edward Whitchurch is found at the 'Sun,' in Fleet Street, whither he moved after dissolving partnership with Richard Grafton.
The early history of these two men has a powerful interest, not only for students of early English printing, but for all English-speaking people. To their enterprise and perseverance the nation was indebted for the second English Bible.
Some very interesting and highly valuable evidence respecting the history of these men has been brought to light of recent years, perhaps the most valuable being Mr. J. A. Kingdon's Incidents in the Lives of Thomas Poyntz and Richard Grafton, privately printed in 1895.
From the affidavit of Emmanuel Demetrius [i.e. Van Meteren], discovered in 1884 at the Dutch Church in Austin Friars, it seems clear that in 1535 Edward Whitchurch was working with Jacob van Metern at Antwerp in printing Coverdale's translation of the Bible.
Richard Grafton was the son of Nicholas Grafton of Shrewsbury. The first record we have of him is his apprenticeship to John Blage, a grocer of London, in 1526. He was admitted a freeman of the Company in 1534, and at that time seems to have employed himself chiefly in furthering the project of an English translation of the whole Bible. On the 13th August 1537, Grafton sent to Archbishop Cranmer a copy of the Bible printed abroad. The text was a modification of Coverdale's translation ostensibly by Thomas Mathew, but in reality by John Rogers the editor. In 1538, Coverdale, Grafton, and Whitchurch were together in Paris, busy upon a third edition of the Bible. In June of that year they sent two specimens of the text to Cromwell, with a letter stating that they followed the Hebrew text with Chaldee or Greek interpretations. The printing was done at the press of Francis Regnault, but before many sheets had been struck off, the University of Paris seized the press and 2000 copies of the printed sheets, while the promoters had to make a hasty escape to this country. The presses and types were afterwards bought by Cromwell, and the work was subsequently finished and published in 1539. The work had an engraved title-page, ascribed to Holbein, and the price was fixed at ten shillings per copy unbound, and twelve shillings bound.
Before leaving Paris, Grafton and Whitchurch had issued an edition of Coverdale's translation of the New Testament, giving as their reason that James Nicholson of Southwark had printed a very imperfect version of it.
In 1540 Grafton and Whitchurch printed in 'the house late the graye freers,' The Prymer both in Englysshe and Latin, to be sold at the sign of the Bible in St. Paul's Churchyard. In the same year they printed with a prologue by Cranmer, a second edition of the Great Bible, half of which bore the name of Grafton and half of Whitchurch, and in all probability the subsequent editions were published in the same way. Two very good initial letters were used in the New Testament, and seem to have been cut especially for Whitchurch. On the 28th January 1543-44 Grafton and Whitchurch received an exclusive patent for printing church service books (Rymer, Foedera, xiv. 766), and a few years later they are found with an exclusive right for printing primers in Latin and English. Upon the accession of Edward VI. Grafton became the royal printer, but upon the king's death he printed the proclamation of Lady Jane Grey, and was for that reason deprived of his office by Queen Mary. The remainder of his life he spent in the compilation of English Chronicles in keen rivalry with John Stow.
Richard Grafton died in 1573. He was twice married. By his first wife, Anne, daughter of —— Crome of Salisbury, he had four sons and one daughter, Joan, who married Richard Tottell, the law printer. By his second wife, Alice, he left one son, Nicholas.
Grafton used as his device a tun with grafted fruit-tree growing through it.
Among the noted booksellers and printers in St. Paul's Churchyard at this time must be mentioned William Bonham. As yet it is not clear whether he belonged to the Essex family of that name, or to another branch that is found in Kent.
From a series of documents discovered at the Record Office relating to John Rastell and his house called the Mermaid in Cheapside, it appears that in the year 1520 William Bonham was working in London as a bookseller, and on two different occasions was a sub-tenant of Rastell's at the Mermaid. Yet not a single dated book with his name is found before 1542, at which time he was living at the sign of the Red Lion in St. Paul's Churchyard, and issued a folio edition of Fabyan's Chronicles, besides having a share with his neighbour, Robert Toye, in a folio edition of Chaucer. Even at this time William Bonham held some sort of office in the Guild or Society of Stationers, for from a curious letter written by Abbot Stevenage to Cromwell in 1539, about a certain book printed in St. Albans Abbey, he says he has sent the printer to London with Harry Pepwell, Toy, and 'Bonere' (Letters and Papers, H. 8, vol. xiv. p. 2, No. 315), so that it would look as if they were commissioned to hunt down popish heretical and seditious books. By the marriage of his daughter, Joan, to William Norton, the bookseller, who in turn named his son Bonham Norton, the history of the descendants of William Bonham can be followed up for quite a century later.
At the Long Shop in the Poultry we can see the press at work almost without a break from the early years of the sixteenth century till the close of the first quarter of the seventeenth. Upon the removal of Richard Bankes into Fleet Street its next occupant seems to have been one John Mychell, of whose work a solitary fragment, fortunately that bearing the colophon, of an undated quarto edition of the Life of St. Margaret, is now in the hands of Mr. F. Jenkinson of the University Library, Cambridge. Whether this John Mychell is the same person as the John Mychell found a few years later printing at Canterbury there is no evidence to show. Nor do we know how long he occupied the Long Shop. In 1542 Richard Kele's name is found in a Primer in Englysh, which was issued from this house. He may have been some relation to the Thomas Kele who, in 1526, had occupied John Rastell's house, the Mermaid, as stated by Bonham in his evidence. During 1543, in company with Byddell, Grafton, Middleton, Mayler, Petit, and Lant, Richard Kele was imprisoned in the Poultry Compter for printing unlawful books (Acts of Privy Council, New Series, vol. i. pp. 107, 117, 125). Most of the books that bear his name came from the presses of William Seres, Robert Wyer, and William Copland. Perhaps the most interesting of his publications next to the edition of Chaucer, which he shared with Toye and Bonham, are the series of poems by John Skelton, called Why Come ye not to Courte? Colin Clout, and The Boke of Phyllip Sparowe. They were issued in octavo form, and were evidently very hastily turned out from the press, type, woodcuts, and workmanship being of the worst description. At the end of Colin Clout is a woodcut of a figure at a desk, supposed to represent the author, but it is doubtful whether it is anything more than an old block with his name cut upon it.
Looking back over the work done at this time, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the art of printing in England had much deteriorated since the days of Pynson, while the best of it, even that of Berthelet, could not be compared with that of the continental presses of the same period. There was an entire absence of originality among the English printers. Types, woodcuts, initial letters, ornaments, and devices, were obtained by the printers from abroad, and had seen some service before their arrival in this country. But just at this time a printer came to the front in this country, who for a few years placed the art on a higher footing than any of his predecessors.
[Footnote 3: The Registers of the Dutch Church, Austin Friars, edited by W. J. C. Moens (Introduction, pp. xiii.-xiv.).]
John Day, one of the best and most enterprising of printers, was born in the year 1522 at Dunwich, in Suffolk, a once flourishing town, now buried beneath the sea.
From the fact that Day was in possession of a device found in the books of Thomas Gibson, the printer whom Latimer unsuccessfully recommended to Cromwell, it has been supposed that it was from Gibson he learnt the art. He may have done so; but whatever he learnt there or elsewhere, in his 'prentice days, he later on threw aside, and by his own enterprise and the excellence of his workmanship raised himself to the proud position of the finest printer England had ever seen.
In John Day's first books there was no sign of the skill he afterwards manifested. These were published in conjunction with William Seres, of whom we know little or nothing, outside his connection with Day. These partners began work in the year 1546 at the sign of the Resurrection on Snow Hill, a little above Holborn Conduit, that is somewhere in the neighbourhood of the present viaduct. They had also another shop in Cheapside. Their first book, so far as we know, was Sir David Lindsay's poem, 'The Tragical death, of David Beaton, Bishop of St. Andrews in Scotland; Wherunto is joyned the martyrdom of maister G. Wyseharte ... for whose sake the aforesayd bishoppe was not long after slayne' (1546, 8vo).
In the following year (1547) Day and Seres printed several other books of a religious character, nearly all of them in octavo, including Cope's Godly Meditacion upon the psalms, and Tyndale's Parable of the Wicked Mammon.
Their work in 1548 included a second edition of the Consultation of Hermann, the bishop of Cologne, Robert Crowley's Confutation of Myles Hoggarde, a sermon of Latimer's, a metrical dialogue aimed at the priesthood and entitled John Bon and Mast Person, and, as a relief to so much theological literature, the Herbal of William Turner.
The types used in printing these books were not a whit better than anybody else's, in fact if anything they were a shade worse. There was the usual fount of large black letter, not by any means new, another much smaller letter of the same character, and a fount of Roman capitals, very bad indeed. Whether these types belonged to Day or to Seres it is impossible to say, but I think the smaller of the two belonged to Day, as it is sometimes found in his later books.
The workmanship was no better than the types. There was no pagination in these books, and no devices, and the setting of the letterpress was very uneven.
In 1548 Seres seems to have joined partnership with another London printer, Anthony Scoloker, and to have moved to a house in St. Paul's Churchyard, called Peter College; but his name still continued to appear with Day's down to the year 1551, when the partnership was dissolved, Day moving to Aldersgate, but retaining his shop in Cheapside.
The most important undertaking of the partnership was a folio edition of the Bible in 1549. This was printed in the smaller of the two founts of black letter in double columns, with some good initials and a great many woodcuts that had evidently been used before, as they extend beyond the letterpress. Another edition printed by Day alone appeared in 1551, in which a good initial E, showing Edward VI. on his throne, is found.
On the accession of Queen Mary, Day went abroad and his press was silent for several years; meanwhile the ancient brotherhood of Stationers was incorporated by Royal Charter as the 'Worshipful Company of Stationers.' The existence of the brotherhood has been traced to very early times, and it is frequently mentioned in the wills of printers and booksellers in the first half of the sixteenth century. By the Charter of 1556 it now received the Royal authority to make its own laws for the regulation of the trade, although, as Mr. Arber has pointed out, the charter 'rather confirmed existing customs than erected fresh powers.' There is abundant evidence that the Queen's main reason for granting the charter was the wish to keep the printing trade under closer control.