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Title: The English provincial printers, stationers and bookbinders to 1557

Author: E. Gordon Duff

Release date: April 29, 2024 [eBook #73493]

Language: English

Original publication: Cambridge: University Press, 1912

Credits: Alan, deaurider and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)


The Sandars Lectures




C. F. CLAY, Manager


Edinburgh: 100 PRINCES STREET

Berlin: A. ASHER AND CO.

Leipzig: F. A. BROCKHAUS


Bombay and Calcutta: MACMILLAN AND CO., Ltd.

All rights reserved

The English Provincial
Printers, Stationers and
Bookbinders to 1557



Sometime Sandars Reader in Bibliography
in the University of Cambridge


at the University Press






THE work of the provincial printers, stationers and bookbinders forms a subject of the greatest interest, and one which has hitherto hardly received adequate attention.

The presses of the two University towns, Oxford and Cambridge, have been very fully treated, and, in a lesser degree, those of St Alban’s and York, but with these exceptions the remaining towns have been curiously neglected, and our knowledge concerning such important printing centres as Ipswich, Worcester and Canterbury seems to have advanced but little since Herbert issued the third volume of his Typographical Antiquities over a hundred and twenty years ago. The period during which these three cities possessed printing presses was an eventful one in England owing to religious and political troubles, and it is probable that among the many anonymous and secretly printed books issued at that time, a certain number were produced in the provincial towns.

There is still much to be learned about these provincial presses. The careers of the printers, their types, their woodcuts, their ornaments have still to be traced, and a number of books which have disappeared within recent years remain to be rediscovered.

For the benefit of anyone desiring to follow up the subject more fully two appendices have been added to the present book. The first contains a title list of all the provincial books issued during the period, with an indication of the libraries where they are preserved; the second, a list of bibliographical works and articles, general and particular, dealing with the provincial press.

My thanks are due for permission to have facsimiles made from books in their charge to the Warden and Fellows of New College, Oxford, the Master and Fellows of Magdalene College, Cambridge, and to the authorities of the British Museum and the Cambridge University Library.

E. G. D.

October 1911.


1. Title-page of the Antonius Sirectus, printed
for H. Jacobi
to face p. 26
From the unique copy in the Library of New College, Oxford.
2. Colophon and Devices from Whitinton’s Grammar,
Printed at York by Ursyn Mylner in
to face p. 57
From the unique copy in the British Museum.
3. Title-page of Fisher’s Sermon, printed at Cambridge
by John Siberch in 1522
to face p. 82
From the copy in the Library of Magdalene College, Cambridge.
4. Title-page of the Exhortation to the Sick,
Printed at Ipswich by John Oswen in 1548
to face p. 110
From the copy in the Sandars Collection, University
Library, Cambridge.

[Pg 1]



In the two series of lectures that I had the pleasure of delivering in Cambridge as Sandars Reader in 1899 and 1904, I dealt with the printers, stationers, and bookbinders of Westminster and London from 1476 to 1535, the period from the introduction of printing into England by William Caxton to the death of his successor, Wynkyn de Worde. In the present series I propose to turn to the provincial towns and trace the history of the printers, stationers, and bookbinders who worked in them from 1478, when printing was introduced into Oxford, up to 1557.

I have extended the period to 1557, because in that year a charter was granted to the re-formed Company of Stationers, and in this charter was one very important clause, “Moreover we will, grant, ordain, and constitute for ourselves, and the successors of our foresaid queen, that no person within this our kingdom of England, or dominions thereof, either by himself, or by his journeymen, servants, or by any other person, shall practise or exercise the art or mystery of printing, or stamping any book, or any thing to be sold, or to be bargained for within this our kingdom of England, or the dominions[Pg 2] thereof, unless the same person is, or shall be, one of the society of the foresaid mystery, or art of a stationer of the city aforesaid, at the time of his foresaid printing or stamping, or has for that purpose obtained our licence, or the licence of the heirs and successors of our foresaid queen.”

The effect of this enactment was virtually to put an end to all provincial printing, and with the exception of a few Dutch books, printed under a special privilege at Norwich between 1566 and 1579, and a doubtful York book of 1579, no printing was done outside London until 1584-5, when the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford once more started their presses.

Within the period I have chosen, printing was exercised in ten towns, and the presses fall roughly into three groups. The first contains Oxford, St Alban’s, and York, the second Oxford’s revived press, Cambridge, Tavistock, Abingdon, and the second St Alban’s press, and the last group Ipswich, Worcester, and Canterbury. Besides these there are one or two towns which, while not having presses of their own, had books specially printed for sale in them, as for example Hereford and Exeter, where the resident stationer commissioned books from foreign printers. And lastly, there must be noticed the places which have been claimed as possessing a press on account of false or misleading imprints, such as Winchester and Greenwich.

The first book issued from the Oxford press, the Expositio in symbolum apostolorum, a treatise by Tyrannius Rufinus on the Apostles’ Creed, was finished on the 17th of December 1478. By an error of the printer an x was omitted from the figures forming the[Pg 3] date in the colophon, and thus the year was printed as m.cccc.lxviii. [1468] in place of m.cccc.lxxviii. [1478], and round this false date a wonderful legendary story was woven some two hundred and fifty years ago.

In 1664 a certain Richard Atkyns published a tract, entitled The Original and growth of Printing, written to prove that printing was a prerogative of the Crown. To strengthen his case he quoted this Oxford book, produced, as he claimed, much earlier than anything by Caxton, and also told a wonderful story of the introduction of printing into England, said to have been derived from a manuscript in the archives at Lambeth Palace.

According to this account, Thomas Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury, having heard of the invention of printing at Haarlem, where John Gutenberg was then at work (a strange fact which might simplify the researches on early printing!), persuaded Henry VI. to endeavour to introduce the art into England. For this purpose, Robert Turner, an officer of the Robes, taking Caxton as an assistant, set out for Haarlem, where, after infinite trouble and considerable bribery, a workman named Frederick Corsellis was persuaded to return with them to England. On his arrival he was sent under a strong guard to Oxford, and there set up his press, under the protection of the King.

It is needless to say that the whole story is a fabrication, and a curiously clumsy one. At the beginning of 1461 Henry VI. was deposed by Edward, so that these events must have taken place in or before 1460, and it is strange, with all the materials ready, nothing should be done for nearly ten years. The[Pg 4] information about Gutenberg, who invented printing at Mainz and was never outside Germany, being engaged at printing in Haarlem, is preposterous. Lastly, no trace of the documents has ever been found. It is strange how Atkyns should have fixed on the name Corsellis for his mythical printer, for this uncommon name was that of a family of wealthy Dutch merchants settled in London at the time. Just ten years after the publication of Atkyns’ book, a Nicholas Corsellis, lord of the manor of Lower Marney, Essex, was buried in the church there, and on his tomb are some verses beginning,

“Artem typographi miratam Belgicus Anglis
Corsellis docuit.”

Are we to infer from this that the family was a party to the fraud?

The story, however, was revived about the middle of the eighteenth century, when Osborne, the bookseller, in his catalogue of June 1756 offered for sale an edition of Pliny’s Letters, printed by Corsellis at Oxford in 1469. In his note he added that the printer had produced other works in 1470, and that fragments of a Lystrius of this date were known. Herbert continues the story as follows: “This raised the curiosity of the book collectors, who considered this article as a confirmation of what R. Atkins had asserted about printing at Oxford. They all flocked to Osborne’s shop, who instead of the book, produced a letter from a man of Amsterdam filled with frivolous excuses for not sending them to him. They were disappointed, and looked on the whole as a Hum; however, the Plinii Epistolæ and G. Lystrii Oratio afterwards appeared at an auction at Amsterdam[Pg 5] and were bought for the late Dr Ant. Askew, and were sold again at an auction of his books by Baker and Leigh in Feb. 1775.”

These two books passed apparently to Denis Daly, then to Stanesby Alchorne, afterwards to Lord Spencer, and are now in the Rylands Library. The forgeries were made by a certain George Smith, much given to that class of work, and passed on to Van Damme, a bookseller of Amsterdam, who sold the Pliny to Askew for fifteen guineas. The inscriptions in the books are the clumsiest forgeries, which could not deceive anyone, while the books themselves were apparently printed at Deventer, early in the sixteenth century, by a well-known printer, Richard Paffroet. Listen now to the remarks of the erudite Dr Dibdin in the Bibliotheca Spenceriana. “Meerman has a long and amusing note concerning Van Damme and George Smith, from which it would appear that the latter had imposed upon the bookseller, Van Damme, in the annexed subscription to the volume, and that Van Damme acknowledged the imposition to one Richard Paffraet of Deventer. If this be true, the Dutch bibliopole acted a very dishonest part in selling the volume to Dr Askew for fifteen guineas!” If instead of long arguments about the types of the books or the probabilities of the dates, they had considered the books themselves, it might surely have occurred to them that it was at least unlikely that the physician, Gerard Lystrius, a friend and contemporary of Erasmus, should have published a work in 1470, while the next work issued by him did not appear until 1516. Besides the forged imprint, the Lystrius has at the end a long spurious note in Dutch purporting to be[Pg 6] written by J. Korsellis in 1471, stating that the book had been sent him by his brother, Frederic Corsellis, from England. In order to kill two birds with one stone, the writer drags into the note the mythical inventor of printing, Laurens Janszoon Coster.

Oxford’s claim to having introduced printing into England was first disputed by the Cambridge University librarian, Dr Conyers Middleton, in his Dissertation on the Origin of Printing, published in 1735. He originated the theory that a numeral x had fallen out of the date or been accidentally omitted, and, after citing several early examples of such a mistake, continued: “But whilst I am now writing, an unexpected Instance is fallen into my hands, to the support of my Opinion; an Inauguration Speech of the Woodwardian Professor, Mr Mason, just fresh from our Press, with its Date given ten years earlier than it should have been, by the omission of an x, viz. MDccxxiv., and the very blunder exemplified in the last piece printed at Cambridge, which I suppose to have happen’d in the first from Oxford.” Middleton also brought forward what has remained the strongest argument against the authenticity of the date, the occurrence in the book of ordinary printed signatures, which are found in no other book until several years later. Finally, he pointed out the very great improbability of the interval of eleven years between the book of 1468 and the two books of 1479. The last person to cling to the 1468 date, doubtless from a sense of duty, is Mr Madan of the Bodleian. In his exhaustive work on the early Oxford press, after having fully put forward the arguments for and against, he sums up the situation as[Pg 7] follows: “The ground has been slowly and surely giving way beneath the defenders of the Oxford date, in proportion to the advance of our knowledge of early printing, and all that can be said is that it has not yet entirely slipped away. It is still allowable to assert that the destructive arguments, even if we admit their cumulative cogency, do not at the present time amount to proof.”

Another earlier writer on this question ought to be mentioned, Samuel Weller Singer, since he wrote a small book entirely confined to the question of the authenticity of the date. It was entitled “Some account of the book printed at Oxford in 1468. In which is examined its claim to be considered the first book printed in England.” A small number of copies were privately printed; and the author came to the conclusion that, in his own words, “The book stands firm as a monument of the exercise of printing in Oxford, six years older than any book of Caxton’s with date.” Singer is said to have changed his views on the subject later on, and to have called in and destroyed as many copies as possible. His book may be classed as a curiosity for another reason. The original issue was said to consist of fifty copies privately printed, and as many copies as possible were afterwards destroyed by the author, yet it is a book of the commonest occurrence in secondhand catalogues.

The researches of later years, carried out more scientifically, have produced some definite information. In the first place, the source of the type in which the book is printed has been ascertained. It was used in 1477 and 1478 at Cologne by a printer named Gerard [Pg 8]ten Raem, who printed five books with it; a Vocabularius Ex quo issued in October 1477, two issues of a Modus Confitendi published in January and October 1478 and a Donatus and Æsopus moralizatus, both without date. These books are very rare; the only one in the British Museum or Bodleian being the Donatus. The Rylands Library contains the Modus Confitendi with the October date. The University Library possesses the Modus of January and the unique copy of the Æsop.

Now not only are the types of the Oxford and Cologne printers identical, but both men made similar mistakes in the use of certain capitals, and we find both in the Modus Confitendi and in the Expositio a capital H frequently used in place of a capital P. This must be regarded as more than a mere coincidence and strong evidence of a connexion between the two presses. The Oxford printer also printed his capital Q sideways in his earliest book.

The printing of the Cologne Modus Confitendi was finished “in profesto undecim millium virginum,” that is on October 20; that of the Oxford Expositio on December 17. This gives an interval of eight weeks between the issue of the two books, a time much too short to allow of the same printer having produced both books, even if there were not other reasons against it. Who then was the printer from Cologne who introduced printing into Oxford? I think we are quite justified in believing that he was the Theodoric Rood de Colonia, whose name is first found in an Oxford book of 1481. Mr Madan considers it would be unsafe to assume that Rood was the printer of the first three books, no doubt because the type[Pg 9] in which they are printed disappeared absolutely and was never used again. But analogous cases are not unknown. For his first book the St Alban’s printer used a beautiful type which, except as signatures in two other books, never appeared again.

It is extremely unfortunate that a source from which we might no doubt have learnt something about the introduction of printing into Oxford, and some details about the first printer, seems irrevocably lost. This is the volume of the registers of the Chancellor’s court covering the period between 1470 and 1497. In the volumes that remain, which contain records of all proceedings brought before the court, there are numerous references to stationers, and it may be taken as another piece of evidence against the 1468 date that there is no reference whatever to printing or printers between the years 1468 and 1470.

The two books which followed the Expositio are a Latin translation of the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle by Leonardus Brunus Aretinus, and a treatise on original sin by Ægidius de Columna. The first, a quarto of one hundred and seventy-four leaves, is dated 1479, but no month is mentioned. By this date the printer had discovered which way up a capital Q should stand, and we find it always correctly printed, though some minor mistakes of the Expositio are continued, such as using a broken lower-case h sometimes for a b and sometimes, upside down, for a q. The general printing of the book was however improved, and the lines more evenly spaced out to the right-hand edge.

The second book, the treatise of Ægidius, De peccato originali, is dated March 14, 1479, but this date may[Pg 10] be taken as 1479-80. In this book we find red printing introduced for the first and last time in an Oxford book. It is by far the rarest of the early Oxford books, perhaps on account of its small size, for it contains only twenty-four leaves, and the three copies known were all bound up in volumes with other tracts. The Bodleian copy belonged to Robert Burton and came to the library with his books; that in Oriel College Library was in a volume with the Expositio and some foreign printed quartos, which, though kept together, was rebound in the eighteenth century. The third copy, now in the Rylands Library at Manchester, was, until about thirty years ago, in a volume with the Expositio and three foreign printed tracts, including an edition of Michael de Hungaria’s Tredecim sermones, a book which has at the end a curious sermon containing a notice of the ceremony of incepting in theology at Oxford and Cambridge, with a few sentences in English. The volume had belonged to a certain A. Hylton in the fifteenth century, and was in its original stamped binding, a very fine specimen of contemporary Oxford work. The volume was sold in an auction about 1883, and the purchaser ruthlessly split up the volume and disposed of the contents. The two Oxford books found their way into Mr Quaritch’s hands, who sold the Expositio to an American collector, while the Ægidius was bought by Lord Spencer to add to the fine series of Oxford books at Althorp.

These first three Oxford books form a perfectly distinct group. In them but one fount of type is used, and they are without any kind of ornament. It is, however, quite impossible to suppose that an interval[Pg 11] of eleven years separated the printing of the first and second books. The press-work of the second shows a slight improvement on the first, but only what the experience gained in printing a first book would enable the printer to carry out on a second attempt.

The next group of books, four in number, centring round the dates 1481 and 1482, are the Commentary on Aristotle’s De anima by Alexander of Hales, dated October 1481, the Commentary on the Lamentations of Jeremiah by John Lathbury, a Franciscan and D.D., of Oxford, dated July 31, 1482, and two books known only from fragments, an edition of Cicero Pro Milone, and a grammar in English and Latin.

These books are mostly printed in a new type, a peculiarly narrow gothic, of the Cologne school, and curiously resembling some used a little later by another Theodoricus at Cologne.

The Alexander of Hales is a folio of two hundred and forty leaves printed in double columns, and some copies have a woodcut border round the first page of text. This was probably an afterthought of the printer, for he has made no allowance for it in the size of the page, and the border extends out over two inches beyond the text, with the inevitable result that no copy, even in the original binding, has escaped being cut down. This is the first occurrence of a border in an English book. The design consists of elaborate spirals of flowers and foliage, amid which are a number of birds; it is a very well-designed piece of work, but it was probably obtained from abroad. At least sixteen copies of this book are known, and one, in the library of Brasenose College, is printed upon vellum, but is unfortunately[Pg 12] imperfect. A copy purchased for Magdalen College, Oxford, at the time of its issue, cost thirty-three shillings and fourpence.

The Lathbury, like the Alexander, contains the printed border only in certain copies. Altogether about twenty copies are known, of which four are in Cambridge. Those in Westminster Abbey and All Souls College, Oxford, are printed upon vellum, and the latter is a particularly fine copy in the original stamped binding. A curious point about it is that four names occur, signed at the bottom of the leaves in various parts of the volume. It was considered at one time that these might be the names of press correcters, but from comparison with similar sets of markings in other books, Mr Madan came to the conclusion that they were those of the persons who supplied the vellum. It is clear that more copies on vellum than are known must have been printed, since a number of fragments have been found in bindings.

The Alexander contains a full colophon stating that it was printed in the University of Oxford by Theodoric Rood of Cologne on the 11th of October 1481. The Lathbury has nothing but the date, the last day of July 1482.

The Cicero Pro Milone is known only from two sets of fragments rescued from the bindings of books. Four leaves were presented to the Bodleian in 1872, and four other leaves were found later in the library of Merton College, where perhaps more may still be discovered. The book was a quarto and was made up in gatherings of six leaves and probably consisted of about thirty leaves. A page contains only nineteen[Pg 13] lines which are widely leaded. Though not found in other Oxford books, this spacing was not uncommon in editions of texts without notes printed abroad, and was intended to afford space to the student to write glosses over the words.

This edition of the Pro Milone is further interesting as being the first classic printed in England, the next being an edition of Terence issued in separate plays by Pynson between the years 1495 and 1497, followed after a considerable interval by an edition of Virgil from the same press. The English printers no doubt saw that it was quite hopeless to compete with the cheap and well-printed foreign editions.

The Latin Grammar is known only from two leaves found in a book-binding, and they were acquired by the British Museum in 1872. What book they came from is not known, but in 1871 they were in the hands of Messrs Ellis & Green, and were described in the Athenæum. From the frequent references to Oxford in the text, it has been supposed that the work was compiled in Oxford. Stanbridge was spoken of as a probable author, but Bradshaw suggested John Anwykyll, first master of Magdalen School, who had been recommended to the founder for his skill in a new style of grammatical teaching which had met with general approbation.

After the publication of these four books, the type with which their text was printed disappears altogether, but is replaced by one of very similar appearance, and besides this, two other new founts came into use. This activity may perhaps be explained by the theory that Thomas Hunte, the Oxford stationer, had entered into[Pg 14] partnership with Rood. In the Alexander de Hales of 1481 we find Rood’s name alone, while in the only book of the last group which contains a full colophon, the Phalaris of 1485, the names of both are given. To Hunte’s influence may perhaps be traced the acquisition of a fount of type of much more English appearance, and probably, since it contained a w, intended for use in English books.

To the years 1483 and 1484 six books may be ascribed. Two editions of Anwykyll’s grammar, Hampole on Job, a work on Logic, the Provincial Constitutions of England with the commentary of William Lyndewode, and a sermon by Augustine on almsgiving.

The editions of Anwykyll’s grammar may be taken first, since in one copy we find an inscription showing that it was bought in 1483. The book consists of two parts, the Latin grammar, and a supplement containing sentences of Terence with English translations, known as the Vulgaria Terentii. The part containing the grammar is excessively rare. Of one issue one fragment is known, consisting roughly of half the book, now in the Bodleian Library. It was originally bound up with other tracts, and the volume was found along with some other old books in an attic at Condover Hall, Shropshire, by Mr Alfred Horwood when engaged in an examination of family archives for the Historical Manuscripts Commission.

The other issue is known only from six leaves, all in Cambridge, three in the University Library, two in Corpus, and one in Trinity libraries. Two reprints of the grammar were issued on the Continent, one by Richard Paffroet at Deventer in 1489, consisting of[Pg 15] seventy-six leaves, and another at Cologne by Henry Quentell about 1492, containing sixty leaves. From a comparison of the various fragments with these foreign editions certain conclusions may be drawn. Anwykyll had divided his grammar into four parts, and in the edition represented by the six Cambridge leaves these parts were arranged in their proper sequence, one, two, three, and four. In the edition, however, represented by the Bodleian fragment, and in both foreign editions, the parts are arranged, one, three two, four. The last quire of the Bodleian edition was signed m, and it was followed by the Vulgaria Terentii signed n to q. The Cambridge edition of the grammar extended at any rate to signature n.

Since in reprints the tendency is generally to compress, it is most probable that the Cambridge edition was the earlier, a conclusion rendered more likely from the arrangement of the books in their correct order. For some reason this order was altered in the fresh issue, the printing was compressed, and the Vulgaria printed to go at the end. It would be natural for the foreign printers to take the most recent issue as their model, in this case the edition represented by the Bodleian fragment.

We may conclude then that the first Oxford issue consisted of Anwykyll’s grammar alone, the second the grammar re-arranged and compressed, with the Vulgaria Terentii added as a supplement.

The Vulgaria was, however, certainly sold alone, for two of the five copies known were bound up with other tracts and without the grammar in original bindings. A copy in the Bodleian has an interesting inscription[Pg 16] stating it was bought in 1483 by John Green out of gifts made by his friends.

The work of Richard Rolle of Hampole on Job is known from four copies, three of which were until quite recently in the University Library. One of these was parted with as a duplicate in 1893, and is now in the Rylands Library at Manchester. The fourth copy, up to the time unnoticed, appeared in the auction of Mr Inglis’s books in 1900, when it was bought by Mr Bennett of Manchester, and passed with his whole library into the wonderful collection of Mr Pierpont Morgan of New York. The volume consists of sixty-four leaves, and the last few pages are taken up with a sermon of Augustine, De misericordia.

The separately printed Excitatio ad elemosinam faciendam of Augustine was probably issued about the same time. Only one copy is known and it was originally bound in a volume with other fifteenth-century tracts, two of which are dated 1482 and 1484. This volume was at one time in the Colbert collection, which was finally dispersed by auction in 1728, when the volume was Lot 4912 and sold for one livre ten sous. It ultimately came to the British Museum, where it lay for long unnoticed, having been entered in the catalogue as printed by A. Ther Hoernen at Cologne, but in 1891 it was recognised as a product of the early Oxford press, and transferred to the select cases.

The next book in this group is a work on Logic, or rather a collection of nineteen logical treatises strung together to form a systematic work. It is generally associated with the name of Richard Swineshede from[Pg 17] the occurrence of his name at the end of the seventeenth treatise. He was a monk of the Cistercian abbey of Swineshead in Lincolnshire, and a fellow of Merton College, Oxford, so that, as is fitting, one of the two known copies of the book is in Merton Library. The other copy is in the library of New College. A considerable number of fragments of this book have been found used in bindings, and there are odd leaves in the University Library and in the libraries of Trinity and St John’s, Cambridge.

The Constitutiones Provinciales with the commentary of William Lyndewode, Wilhelmus de Tylia nemore, as he is called in the text, is by far the largest and most important book issued by the Oxford press, and the first edition of Lyndewode’s great work. It is a large folio of three hundred and fifty leaves, printed in double columns, with forty-six lines of text, or sixty of commentary, to the column. On the verso of the first leaf, missing in the majority of copies, is a woodcut of a doctor seated writing at a desk under a canopy, with a tree on either side. This represents, however, not Lyndewode compiling his commentary, but Jacobus de Voragine at work on the Golden Legend, a book which the Oxford press appears to have made some preparations for publishing.

This is the most common of the early Oxford books. Mr Madan enumerates twenty copies, but others have since come to light. One copy is known printed upon vellum. It was purchased at the M’Carthy sale for one hundred francs, and is now in the Bibliothèque Nationale. The vellum copy, quoted by Hartshorne, as in the library of St John’s College, does not exist, though[Pg 18] that library possesses two on paper. One copy in Cambridge, that in the library at Corpus, is worthy of special mention, as its handsome stamped binding bears every mark of being the work of Caxton.

In 1485 the Phalaris was issued. This is a Latin translation by Franciscus Aretinus of the spurious Letters of Phalaris. At the commencement are some verses by Petrus Carmelianus, the Court poet, and at the end an interesting colophon in twelve lines of Latin verse setting forth that the book was printed by Theodoric Rood of Cologne in partnership with the Englishman, Thomas Hunte. It continues that Jenson taught the Venetians, but Britain has learnt the art for itself and that in future the Venetians may cease from sending their books to us since we are now selling books to others.

It is a curious and amusing coincidence that Jenson should here be mentioned as introducing printing into Venice in place of the real first printer, John of Spire, for Jenson’s often repeated claim to be the first printer of Venice rests upon exactly the same grounds as the Oxford printer’s claim to be the first printer in England, a date in a colophon with a numeral, x, accidentally omitted.

The Decor Puellarum printed at Venice by Jenson, with the date printed 1461 in place of 1471, led many early writers to consider him the first printer of Venice and of Italy, and it is possible that a copy of the book, having found its way to Oxford, deceived the writer of the verses in the Phalaris. If in return a copy of the Expositio could have reached Venice, its “1468” would have just given it the lead of the first Venice book, the Cicero of 1469, by one year.

[Pg 19]

Another grammar was printed about this time, the Doctrinale of Alexander de Villa Dei, with a commentary. Probably what the Oxford printer issued was not the complete work but the section De nominum generibus. Of this book two leaves only are known, preserved in a binding in St John’s College, Cambridge. These were first noticed by Henry Bradshaw, who found also some leaves of the Oxford Anwykyll in a similar binding in Corpus. When the two books, Hollen’s Præceptorium printed by Koburger at Nuremberg in 1505, from St John’s, and the Fortalitium fidei printed at Lyons in 1511, from Corpus, were compared, it was clear that they must have been bound by the same binder almost at the same time, for, besides the fragments of Oxford books found in both, the binder had used in each fragments of one and the same vellum manuscript. From the occurrence of these fragments Mr Gibson has claimed the binding as Oxford work, but as the fragments were binder’s, not printer’s waste, that is they were from books that had been in circulation, no very strong argument can be deduced from them. I have in my own collection a book bound at Cambridge by Garrat Godfrey, with his signed roll, of which the boards are entirely made of fragments of the Oxford Lyndewode.

After 1485 we hear no more of Rood, but it was for a time considered possible, if not probable, that he was identical with another printer named Theodoric, who printed some books at Cologne in 1485 and 1486 in a distinctive type remarkably resembling that used by Rood in the Hales and Lathbury. The supposition had much in its favour; the types were undeniably alike,[Pg 20] both being of the same class as that used by Ther Hoernen, another Cologne printer. The name Theodoricus again was extremely uncommon. Panzer gives only three in the fifteenth century, the Oxford and Cologne printers, and the well-known Thierry Martens, the printer of the Low Countries. There was no proof, and there was no direct evidence of any kind, but the hypothesis was not quite groundless. For some reason, in a review of Vouillième’s work on Cologne printing, Proctor fell upon this “myth formed without a particle of evidence,” as he called it, though it was only from information in the book reviewed that any new facts about Theodoric were derived. Vouillième discovered documents showing that the Cologne Theodoric was a son of Gertrude Molner, who subsequently married Arnold Ther Hoernen, and after his death in 1483 or 1484, Conrad von Boppard.

The last book from the early Oxford press was an edition of the Liber Festivalis or Festial, consisting of sermons for holy days and certain Sundays of the year, compiled by John Mirk, prior of Lilleshall in Shropshire. Though generally spoken of as a mere reprint of Caxton’s edition, it varies very considerably in the text, and when Caxton issued a new edition he copied from this rather than his own earlier version.

This is the only Oxford book which was illustrated, and the illustrations are very interesting. A series of eleven large oblong woodcuts occur, and all have been mutilated by having some two inches cut off the blocks to allow of their being used on a small folio page. No other editions of the Festial are illustrated, and Bradshaw pointed out that these cuts were really part of a[Pg 21] set intended to illustrate an edition of the Golden Legend. In the Lyndewode, issued about 1483, the printer had used one of these cuts in a complete state, so that as early as 1483 he had evidently been considering the issue of a Golden Legend and had begun to make preparations. But Caxton in London was at work on the same book, and, finishing his translation in November 1483, no doubt issued his volume early in 1484. From his prologue we learn that the labour and expense of production were so heavy that he was “halfe desperate to have accomplissed it”; and we can quite understand the Oxford printer hesitating to embark upon a rival edition of a book so expensive to produce, and with which the market had just been supplied. The smaller illustrations belong to a set made for a Book of Hours, but no edition containing them is known to exist.

In this book occurs also the only woodcut initial letter used at the press, a very roughly cut G without any ornament. Though of the very poorest appearance, it was used with considerable frequency; for it is found between fifty and sixty times at the usual commencement of the sermons “Good men and women.”

Four copies of the book are known. Two in the Bodleian, very imperfect, and one in the Rylands Library wanting the first two leaves. The finest is at Lambeth, which wants only the last, blank, leaf.

The printing of the book was finished in 1486, “on the day after Saint Edward the King,” presumably March 19; but there is nothing to show whether this would be the year 1486 or 1487 of our reckoning. The only other provincial press of the fifteenth century,[Pg 22] that of St Alban’s, stopped also in 1486, but so far no good reason has been suggested for this simultaneous cessation. That it was due to any political or religious motive, as is sometimes stated, is very improbable; the growing foreign competition seems a more reasonable cause.

From the very earliest times there appear to have been two classes of stationers in Oxford, those who were sworn servants of the University, and those who worked independently. A deed of 1290 shows that the parchment makers, illuminators, and text writers were in the jurisdiction of the Chancellor of the University, and in 1345 the Chancellor was acknowledged to have jurisdiction over four official stationers. A most interesting deed of 1373 sets forth that “There are a great many booksellers in Oxford who are not sworn to the University; the consequence of which is, that books of great value are sold and carried away from Oxford, the owners of them are cheated, and the sworn stationers are deprived of their lawful business. It is therefore enacted that no bookseller, except the sworn stationers or their deputies, shall sell any book, being either his own property or that of another, exceeding half a mark in value, under pain of, for the first offence, imprisonment, for the second, a fine of half a mark, for the third, abjuring his trade within the precincts of the University.” The university stationers in their official capacity had to value manuscripts offered as pledges for money advanced, they seem also to have supplied books to the students at a fixed tariff, and acted as intermediaries between buyer and seller when a student had a book to sell. For[Pg 23] these duties they received an occasional fee from the University.

At the time when printing was introduced, we find the same two classes, the University stationers, almost always Englishmen, and the unofficial booksellers and bookbinders, mainly foreigners.

The most important stationer in the fifteenth century was Thomas Hunte, who, we have seen, was for a time a partner with Theodoric Rood the printer. His name first appears in 1473, in which year he sold a Latin Bible, now in the British Museum, and he was then one of the official University stationers. Between 1477 and 1479 he was living in Haberdasher Hall in the parish of St Mary the Virgin. These premises in Cat Street belonged to Oseney Abbey and seem to have been a favourite situation with stationers. In 1479, besides Hunte, a bookbinder, Thomas Uffyngton, who bound for Magdalen College, also resided there. After the appearance of Hunte’s name in the Phalaris of 1485 we find no further mention of him, but his widow was occupying the same premises in 1498.

Another stationer who visited Oxford and was apparently connected with it was Peter Actors, a native of Savoy. On a leaf used in the binding of a French translation of Livy in the Bodleian is a list of books which he and his partner, John of Aix-la-Chapelle, left with Thomas Hunte on sale or return in 1483. His headquarters, however, must have been in London, for in 1485 he was appointed Stationer to the King. It is thus mentioned in the Materials for a history of Henry VII., “Grant for life to Peter Actoris, born in Savoy, of the office of stationer to the King; also[Pg 24] licence to import, so often as he likes, from parts beyond the sea, books printed and not printed into the port of the city of London, and other ports and places within the kingdom of England, and to dispose of the same by sale or otherwise, without paying customs, etc., thereon and without rendering any account thereof.” Richard III., in an act of 1484, had given special encouragement to foreigners for bringing books into this country or for settling here as booksellers, binders or printers, and there is every evidence that this facility was freely taken advantage of. From the two or three rather conflicting entries relating to the grant to Peter Actors, it is not quite clear whether his appointment was made originally by Richard III. and confirmed by Henry VII. after his accession, or whether it originated with the latter. At any rate from the act and from this appointment we have definite evidence that both kings looked with favour on the book-trade and encouraged it by all means in their power.

The son of Peter Actors, Sebastian, certainly lived in Oxford in the parish of St Mary the Virgin, and was a stationer and bookbinder. In the University archives is the record of a grant of administration after his death dated April 23, 1501. In this a claim is made by a John Hewtee, who had married his sister Margaret, on behalf of her father, Peter Actors, for the tools used in binding.

Among the binding material belonging to the father we may probably include three panel stamps of which impressions are known. Two of them are ornamented with spirals of foliage and flowers enclosing fabulous animals in the curves, while in the centre[Pg 25] are two dragons with their necks entwined. Round one of these panels runs the inscription, “Ho mater dei memento Maistre Pierre Auctorre,” while the other has an inscription in French, but no binder’s name. The third panel has a conventional acorn design upon it without any inscription. So far we have not traced these panels to a date early enough for them to have been used by Sebastian Actors, but about 1520 they are used in conjunction with other tools found on Oxford work.

Another stationer, George Chastelain, is first mentioned in the imprint of a grammar printed by Pynson about 1499, “Here endeth the Accidence made at the instance of George Chastelayn and John Bars.” There is no indication where he was then at work, but in 1502 he was admitted as a servant to the liberties of the University. About 1507 Pynson printed for him an edition of the Principia of Peregrinus de Lugo, an extremely rare book, of which, however, there is a copy in the University Library. In this his address is given as the sign of St John Evangelist in the street of St Mary the Virgin. He was a bookbinder as well as a stationer, and in the registers of Magdalen College frequent mention is made of him between 1507 and 1513 as binding books for their library. He died in 1513, and his will was administered by Mr. Wutton and Henry Jacobi, a stationer. An inventory of his goods was made by Howberch, a University stationer, and Richard Pate, and the value returned at £24.

Some time between 1512 and 1514 a stationer named Henry Jacobi migrated from London to Oxford. From 1506 to 1508 he had been in partnership[Pg 26] with another bookseller named Joyce Pelgrim, and assisted by a wealthy London merchant named Bretton they issued several books together. Between 1509 and 1512 Jacobi published books alone, though he appears to have still been helped by Bretton.

One book is known printed for Jacobi at Oxford, an edition of the Formalitates of Antonius Sirectus. An imperfect title-page and a few leaves were found by Proctor in the binding of a book in New College Library, and shortly afterwards a copy of the book, wanting a greater part of the title, was identified in the British Museum. It is a quarto of twenty-two leaves, and was printed in London by W. de Worde. On the title-page is the very finely engraved device of Jacobi, probably newly cut, and found in no other of his books, though it was used again in a mutilated state by his successor; and below the device an imprint stating that the book was to be sold in the University of Oxford at the sign of the Trinity, by Henry Jacobi, a London bookseller. His shop in London in St Paul’s Churchyard had also the sign of the Trinity. Jacobi made his will on September 8, 1514, and died shortly after. On November 9 his wife renounced her executorship, and administration was granted to William Bretton, the rich merchant who had assisted him throughout his career. On December 11 administration of the effects of Jacobi was granted at Oxford also to Bretton through his agent, Joyce Pelgrim, Jacobi’s former partner.


Title-page of the Antonius Sirectus, Printed for H. Jacobi.

The most interesting figure among the early Oxford stationers is undoubtedly John Dorne or Thorne. In 1507 he was a printer at Brunswick, and printed an [Pg 27]edition of the grammar of Remigius entitled Dominus que pars, the first book to be printed in that town. In 1509 he printed an edition of the Regimen Sanitatis, and with this second book his career as a printer seems to have ended. Later he moved as a bookseller to Oxford, and a valuable memorial of his stay there is preserved in the shape of his day-book or ledger for the whole year 1520. This curious little manuscript is in the library of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and was for long erroneously catalogued as a catalogue of books in the monastery of St Frideswide. Its great interest remained unrecognised. Dibdin was shown it on a visit to Oxford, but as might be expected failed to see its value and took no further notice of it. Coxe, in his catalogue of manuscripts preserved in college libraries, gave a correct account of it in 1852, and finally in 1885 it was admirably edited by Mr Madan and published in the Collectanea of the Oxford Historical Society. At the end of January 1886 a separate copy was sent to Henry Bradshaw, who immediately set to work upon it, and on the 4th of February he sent to Mr Madan a thin bound folio volume of notes, to which he had prefixed a title-page, “A Half-Century of Notes on the Day-book of John Dorne.” This was the last piece of work which Bradshaw finished, and within a week of sending it he was dead.

Dorne’s ledger throws full light on the trade of an unprivileged stationer in a University town. His supply of books necessary for the schools was small. These no doubt would be mostly bought from the licensed University stationer; but all other classes are[Pg 28] well represented. Of liturgical books he sold a very large number, and naturally the various works of Erasmus were in great demand. The number of English books sold was relatively small, though there are frequent entries of single sheets, almanacks, and ballads. Such cheaper and popular stock would find a ready sale when he set up his stall at the St Austin’s and St Frideswide’s fairs. Towards the end of May when business was quiet after St Austin’s fair, he went abroad for a couple of months, presumably to arrange for the supply of fresh stock, though his absence did not coincide with the time of the Frankfurt fair. The ledger begins again on August 5, “post recessum meum de ultra mare.” In October came St Frideswide’s fair, when he sold books to the amount of £17, 9s. 6d. as against the £14, 4s. 10d. which he received at the St Austin’s fair in May. Probably during fair time he would have to close his ordinary shop, and transfer his business for the time to a stall in the precincts of the fair itself.

Besides being a bookseller, Dorne was also a publisher on a small scale. An edition of the Opus Insolubilium, a book used in the schools at Oxford, and printed by Peter Treveris at Southwark for I. T., has been known for some time from a copy in the library of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. The I. T. was considered to stand for John Thorne, the English form of Dorne. This has been confirmed by a recent discovery. From the sale in 1906 of the library of the Duke of Sutherland at Trentham Hall, a most interesting volume was secured for the University Library. It contained three tracts connected with[Pg 29] Oxford. The first was the Libellus Sophistarum printed at London by Wynkyn de Worde, of which there were several editions. The second was another copy of the Opus Insolubilium mentioned above; but the third was an entirely unknown book, an edition of the Tractatus secundarum intentionum logicalium. This has a clear imprint starting that the book was to be sold by John Thorne in the year 1527. At the end of the last two pieces is the device of the printer, Peter Treveris. We find frequent entries of these two books in Dorne’s ledger of 1520, so that evidently, finding the sale so good, he determined to have editions printed for himself. It is only from this recent discovery that we are able to attach the date of 1527 to these books printed at Oxford, but this fits in most curiously with an assertion made by the Oxford antiquary, Anthony a Wood. Herbert, in his account of Treveris, wrote: “Mr Wood thought he had printed a Latin grammar of Whitinton’s at Oxford in 1527 as also books about and before that time, but we have not met with any such.” Wood does not speak of any other books except the edition of Whitinton’s grammar, and from his giving the exact date we must either conclude that he was referring to a genuine book which he had seen, or else had seen a copy of this book printed for Dorne and had confused it with some other tract. Wood is also responsible for the assertion that Wynkyn de Worde printed for a while in Oxford, and asserts that a lane called Grope Lane had its name altered to Wynkyn Lane as a memorial of his work there. For this statement there seems no foundation, but it is quite probable that W. de Worde had more considerable[Pg 30] dealings with the Oxford stationers than we know at present. He printed a book for Jacobi, to which I have already referred, and when the press was restarted at Oxford in 1517 he supplied some of the material. So much new information has come to light recently about the Oxford book-trade, that we may fairly hope for more, and perhaps discover further dealings there of De Worde.

From the twelfth century onward Oxford appears to have been a great centre of book-binding, not only as the seat of a University, but from the number and importance of the religious houses in its immediate neighbourhood. From various records and registers we get the names of individual binders in an unbroken series. While we can point to exquisite bindings produced at London, Durham, and Winchester as early as the twelfth century, and while doubtless similar fine bindings were produced in Oxford, yet strangely enough and very unfortunately we cannot point to any definite specimen of a decorated Oxford binding earlier than the second half of the fifteenth century. From about 1460 to the end of the century, on the other hand, examples are plentiful, and the bindings of this period have a very distinctive style of their own. The old styles of binding seem to have lingered on in Oxford and even some of the old tools.

The earliest binding which we can definitely point to as executed there is on a volume of sermons written in 1460. The decoration consists of stamps arranged as parallelograms one inside the other and covering the main part of the side. One of the stamps used on this binding, depicting a strange bird, is the identical stamp[Pg 31] found on a twelfth-century binding in the British Museum. On the back are found small roundels arranged in sets of three, an ornament very common on all early Oxford bindings, and a single stamp on which the three roundels are engraved seems peculiar to Oxford work. Three manuscripts in Magdalen College, Oxford, written and bound between 1462 and 1470, are of similar early style, and might from their appearance and dies be considered two centuries older. The advent of Rood in Oxford agrees in point of time with the introduction of a class of binding very distinctive in style. The centre of the side contains a panel composed of horizontal rows of stamps and enclosed by a frame formed with an oblong stamp of foliage twined round a staff. On spaces outside the frame are stamped roses and roundels in sets of three. The stamps employed on these bindings show a distinct foreign influence, and many of them are almost identical with those used by foreign binders notably of the Low Countries. Some bindings, certainly produced in Oxford about this time, have not only foreign dies upon them but have them disposed in quite a foreign style, and are probably the work of foreign binders settled in the town. The number of different dies used on Oxford bindings, between 1480 and 1500, is very large. Gibson, in his work on the subject, gives drawings of nearly a hundred; and though some of these are of the simplest character and in no way distinctive, many of them are both clever in design and extremely well engraved.

One or two Oxford bindings of the time show a curious return to another early English style in which[Pg 32] the ornament was disposed in circles or part of circles. The finest example is on the Lathbury in the University Library. The centre of each side is ornamented with a circle formed by the repetition of a die depicting two birds drinking from a cup. This die was evidently cut for use in this special way, for the top is wider than the bottom, like the stones of the arch of a bridge, so that when stamped side by side they would work round into a circular form. Another binding of the same style is in the library of St John’s College, Cambridge, and both bear the most extraordinary resemblance, allowing for the different shape and style of the dies, to the covers of the Winchester Domesday book written in 1148 and bound about the same time.

Early bindings fall into three classes, those ornamented with small dies, in vogue until about the end of the fifteenth century, panel stamped bindings used in the early part of the sixteenth, and, finally, the bindings decorated by a roll tool which begin about 1520. We cannot suppose that the Oxford stationers did not use panel stamps, but so far none can be identified as peculiar to Oxford. The panels of Peter Actoris have been already spoken of, but it is not certain they were ever used in Oxford. Henry Jacobi, who came to Oxford from London about 1512 and died in 1514, had certainly various panels which he had used in London, but he may not have transferred them to Oxford. Of stationers or binders who lived and worked in Oxford alone no single panel has yet been identified. Unfortunately, not a single book printed for or at Oxford in the early sixteenth century is known in an original binding.

[Pg 33]

In good specimens of roll-tooled bindings again Oxford is singularly deficient, in curious contrast to Cambridge, which rivals if not surpasses London in this class of work. There are no fine broad rolls, and only one bearing initials. This is a roll engraved with a waving spray of foliage containing in the curves the initials R. H. M. I. What these initials stand for is unknown, and the roll is only claimed as an Oxford one from its use on the covers of a Brasenose College register. For the rest of the century Oxford binding is entirely uninteresting.

[Pg 34]



The only other provincial town besides Oxford which possessed a printing press in the fifteenth century was St Alban’s, where an unnamed printer started to work about the year 1479. As to who the printer was we have no clue beyond the simple statement made by Wynkyn de Worde in the colophon of his edition of the Chronicles of England, “Here endyth this present cronycle of Englonde wyth the frute of tymes, compiled in a booke and also enprynted by one somtyme scole master of saynt Albons, on whoos soule God have mercy.” The printer is therefore generally known as the schoolmaster-printer. Sir Henry Chauncy, when he wrote his history of Hertfordshire, was not to be deterred by this vagueness from giving this printer a name, and he appears in that work, and others based on it, as John Insomuch. The proof is clear. The printer printed only two books in English. One begins: “In so muche that it is necessari to all creaturis of cristen religyon;” the other, “In so much that gentill men and honest persones.” What further proof could be wanted that the printer’s surname was Insomuch? As to the printer’s Christian name having been John, the arguments would appear to have been less weighty,[Pg 35] at any rate no authority has condescended to mention them.

Whoever the printer may have been, he was probably not a foreigner, at any rate no foreign design can be traced in his type, which is perhaps modelled on Caxton’s, though differing considerably. Though as a schoolmaster he might be supposed to have been connected with the Abbey, there is no reference to it in his colophons, which always mention clearly the town of St Alban’s. The saltire on a shield, which occurs in his mark, was alike the arms of the Abbey and of the town.

The first book issued from this press was a small work of Augustinus Datus, usually called Super eleganciis Tullianis, of which the only known copy is in the Cambridge University Library. It is a small quarto of eighteen leaves and is printed in a peculiarly delicate gothic letter. It has no date, only the simple colophon, “Impressum fuit opus hoc apud Sanctum Albanum.” The type is very graceful and clear; it looks almost like the production of an Italian workman copying from a Caxton model, though, as I have said, we have no reason for supposing the printer to have been a foreigner. For some reason he seems not to have been satisfied with it, and so far as we know no other book was ever printed in it and beyond being used for signatures in two later books, no further use was made of it. This first book also stands apart from the rest in being without printed signatures, which would at once place it without any further proof at the head of the list of St Alban’s books.

In 1480 the printer issued his first dated book, the[Pg 36] Rhetorica Nova of Laurentius de Saona, and in this the influence of another press can be clearly traced. The printer had discarded his first fount and obtained a new one with a strong superficial resemblance to Caxton’s Type No. 2*, the very type which Caxton had used to print his edition of the same book. There is one curious point about this book which is rarely met with, it is partly a quarto and partly an octavo; that is, it is partly made up from large sheets of paper folded three times, and partly from small sheets folded twice. A somewhat similar example may be found in the Chronicles printed by Machlinia, which is a folio, with a few pages quarto. This is the most common of the Latin books issued by the St Alban’s printer, for at least five copies are known, one of which is in the University Library.

The other book which the printer issued in 1480 is printed in another new type, quite the ugliest and most confusing of English fifteenth-century types, and full of bewildering contractions. It is an edition of the Liber modorum significandi of Albertus, and the only known copy, which had belonged to Tutet and Wodhull, is now in the Bibliothèque Nationale. Three more books were printed in this type, Joannes Canonicus on the Physica of Aristotle, Antonius Andreæ on the Logica, and the Exempla Sacræ Scripturæ. The first of these is a folio printed in double columns, and two copies are known, one in the Bodleian, and the other in the library of York Minster, while a number of odd leaves are in the library of Clare College, and a few at Peterhouse.

Of the Antonius Andreæ three copies are known,[Pg 37] one in Norwich Cathedral, another wanting two leaves in Jesus College, Cambridge, and the last wanting eight leaves in Wadham College, Oxford. The Cambridge and Norwich copies are both in their original bindings. The signatures in this book are curious, for the printer, having come to the end of his first alphabet, continued with contractions and then signed two more sheets one “est” and the other “amen.” Bradshaw, comparing the Cambridge and Norwich volumes side by side, found some variations pointing to the reprinting of certain sheets. The Exempla Sacræ Scripturæ is known from two copies, one in the British Museum, and one said to be in the Inner Temple Library, though its existence is doubtful. For a long time the Museum copy was lost sight of. When Blades began to work on the St Alban’s printer with a view to writing a preface to the facsimile of the Book of St Alban’s, he was anxious to see a copy of this book. Herbert had quoted copies as in His Majesty’s library and the Inner Temple, but neither were forthcoming. The authorities in London thought it probable that the book was in the Bibliothèque Nationale. In those days there were no special catalogues of the British Museum Incunabula, or Early English Books, though as a matter of fact this book has not been included in the latter, and his researches were at a standstill. Finally, quite by accident, Bradshaw found it in the general catalogue, under the heading, “Bible, Latin, Parts of, Incipiunt.”

The book is a quarto of eighty-eight leaves, the Museum copy wanting five. It has a plain colophon stating that it was printed in the town of St Alban’s in 1481.

[Pg 38]

After the issue of these six books within a period of about two years, the printer seems to have ceased work for a time. When he recommenced in about three years, both the character of his work and of the books he issued had changed. He gave up the printing of Latin and discarded the very confused type he had been using previously.

The Chronicles of England, one of the two English books issued by the St Alban’s printer, is undated, but is ascribed to the year 1485. It agrees generally with the Chronicles printed by Caxton, but has histories of popes and ecclesiastical matters interpolated. The prologue states that it was compiled at St Alban’s in 1483, and W. de Worde tells us that it was compiled and printed by the schoolmaster.

The book is a folio of 290 leaves, and, though at least twelve copies are known, only one, that in the library of the Marquis of Bath at Longleat, is perfect. One copy is known printed upon vellum. It belonged at an early date to the old family library of the Richardsons of Brierly Hall in Yorkshire, and passed by inheritance to Miss Currer of Eshton Hall in the same county, herself a collector of some note in the early part of the nineteenth century. It wanted a leaf and a half, and four leaves, though original, were printed on paper. On the advice, I believe, of Dibdin, these four genuine leaves were replaced by facsimiles on vellum, and the two missing leaves also similarly supplied. At the Currer sale in 1862 the volume was sold for £365, and passed later into a private collection.

For the first time at this press we find red printing[Pg 39] used for the initials and paragraph marks; there are also a few diagrams and one small rough woodcut depicting a jumble of towers, spires, and turrets, and equally suitable for the two cities which it professes to represent, London and Rome. At the end is the printer’s device, Italian in style, a double cross rising from a circle. In the circle is a shield bearing a saltire cross, the arms alike of the town and abbey of St Alban’s.

The last book from this press was the famous Book of St Alban’s, “the book of hawking and hunting and also of coat armours.” It is a small folio of ninety leaves. As might be supposed from its popular nature copies are now excessively scarce, and out of some dozen which are known, not one is absolutely perfect. This book marks another advance in printing, for it contains the earliest known examples of colour printing in England, the shields of arms being printed in red, blue, and yellow inks. About the authorship of this book there has been much controversy. The middle portion, on hunting, which is in verse, ends with the words, “Explicit Dam Julyans Barnes in her book of hunting.” The authoress has been variously identified with ladies of very varying degrees, from the high born if somewhat mythical Juliana Berners, prioress of the nunnery of Sopwell, down to the lowly dame who wrote it to instruct the infants who attended St Julian’s school at St Alban’s, that is St Julian’s bairns!

Of the book of blasyng of arms it is distinctly stated that it was translated and compiled at St Alban’s, and it seems to have been derived to a great extent from a treatise on the subject written by[Pg 40] Nicholas Upton in 1441, and dedicated to Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. Whatever may have been the share taken by Juliana Berners in the two books of hawking and hunting they were certainly not original work, but appear to have been derived in great part from a fourteenth-century treatise, the Venerie de Twety. Hawking, hunting, and a knowledge of heraldry were considered necessary accomplishments, so that the three treatises were collected and published in one volume for the education of “gentlemen and honest persons.” Two types are used in these English books, the text type, first used in the Laurentius de Saona of 1480 and then superseded, which is a fairly close imitation of Caxton’s type 2*, and a larger church type for headings, used only in the Book of St Alban’s. This last is identical with Caxton’s type 3, and it is clear that the printer had obtained from Caxton the small amount necessary for its occasional use. Far too much importance has been attached to this appearance of Caxton’s type at St Alban’s, and a good deal of nonsense written about the transference of type to St Alban’s in 1486 and its recurrence in London at a later date. As Caxton possessed the punches and matrices and type-moulds, there was nothing simpler than for him to supply sufficient type to his fellow-worker at St Alban’s to enable him to vary his page by setting up his chapter headings in a larger type contrasting with the text.

A little over thirty years ago a most preposterous attempt was made in a series of letters published in the Athenæum to prove that the schoolmaster printer of St Alban’s was the real printer of many of the books[Pg 41] attributed to Caxton at Westminster. A number of quite irrelevant assertions were made and vague arguments brought forward of which the following is apparently the strongest. Because Caxton’s edition of the Description of Britain, printed in 1480, has not the place of printing mentioned in the colophon, while some of the later editions speak of the Chronicles and Description of Britain as printed by the schoolmaster of St Alban’s, therefore Caxton’s edition was printed at St Alban’s. This is surely a quite unwarranted argument from the fact that W. de Worde preferred to reprint the St Alban’s edition rather than Caxton’s. The writer sums up as follows. “Putting all these facts together they form very strong circumstantial evidence that Caxton had two presses at work at one and the same time, at Westminster and St Alban’s; that what he could not print at Westminster, for lack of time and space, he had printed for him by this schoolmaster at St Alban’s, and that all the books of Caxton’s which bear no date or place come from St Alban’s.” The writer also asserts that all Caxton’s early books were printed by him at St Alban’s before he moved his press to Westminster. One other strange assertion about the St Alban’s press remains to be noticed. It is both the newest and the most absurd. Under the article, St Alban’s, in the latest edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, the history of the early press is summed up in these few lines. “On a printing press, one of the earliest in the kingdom, set up in the Abbey, the first English translation of the Bible was printed.”

As at Oxford, the St Alban’s press ceased its work in 1486 for no reason that we can explain, but most[Pg 42] probably owing to competition. The Oxford and St Alban’s printers must both have seen that in Latin books they could not hope to compete with their foreign rivals, either in excellence of workmanship or in cheapness, and each made a final effort by the production of books in English where foreign rivalry would not be felt.

Just as at Oxford, too, a second press was at work for a few years in the sixteenth century, which will be noticed later; but a period of nearly fifty years elapsed between the stopping of the first, and the beginning of the second.

York, both as the leading city in the North of England and from its ecclesiastical importance, was from very early times an important centre of book production. The text writers and illuminators of manuscripts had formed themselves into a guild as early as the time of Edward III., while the bookbinders became a separate company in 1476. Like most of the leading provincial towns, York was very jealous of its privileges and made stringent regulations as regards its trade and business. In 1488 the various crafts connected with books passed a bye-law enacting that no person, secular or religious, not franchised or allowed by the craft, should bring in or set out any work. Poor priests were allowed to augment their salaries by the practice of text writing and illumination, and any priest might write and illuminate books provided they were for his own use, or to be given away in charity.

York books may be divided into three groups. 1. Those actually printed in York. 2. Those printed elsewhere but containing a York stationer’s name.[Pg 43] 3. Those printed elsewhere, without a stationer’s name, but obviously intended for sale in the city.

The earliest book connected with York belongs to the last group. It is a Breviary for York use, and was printed at Venice by a well-known printer of such books, Johann Hamman or Hertzog of Landau in 1493, at the costs of Frederick Egmont, an English bookseller. The book is a beautifully printed octavo of 478 leaves, printed in double columns in red and black. One copy only is known, now in the Bodleian. It belonged at one time to Ralph Thoresby, the Yorkshire antiquary, then to Marmaduke Fothergill, whose widow presented his library to the Dean and Chapter of York in 1731. This volume, however, did not reach the Minster library, but passed into the collection of Edward Jacob, the antiquary, who died in 1788. At his sale it was bought by Richard Gough. Gough in his will bequeathed his topographical collections to the Bodleian, and English service books being connected with the uses of Salisbury, York, and Hereford were fortunately classed as topography. By this means the liturgical collections of the Bodleian were increased with thirty-nine Missals, twenty-one Breviaries, twenty-five Horæ and twenty-one Manuals and Processionals besides Psalters, Hymnals, Graduals, and other books.

This Breviary is the only book printed for York in the fifteenth century, yet though text writing seems to have flourished well up to 1500, the importation of printed books soon showed the advantage of printing over writing, and the stationers began to commission service books.

The first York stationer was Frederick Freez, who was admitted a freeman of the city of York in 1497[Pg 44] as a bookbinder and stationer. He may also have been a printer, for in the records of a lawsuit held at York in 1510 he is styled “buke-prynter,” and fellow-townsmen would hardly have called him this without reason. Nothing printed by him is known, though Herbert suggests that a proclamation on vellum of the time of Henry VII. issued at York, mentioned by Bagford, might have been printed by him. In 1500 he and his wife, Joanna, were admitted members of the Corpus Christi Guild. In March 1506 the Corporation passed an order “that Frederick Freez, a Dutchman and an alien enfranchised, should dwell and inhabit upon the common ground at the Rose, otherwise the Bull in Conyngestrete, for ten years, at three pounds yearly rent.” Freez is spoken of as a Dutchman, and his proper name was no doubt Vries or De Vries. For some reason, perhaps through marriage, the name, Freez, was changed to Wandsforth, a not uncommon Yorkshire name, and, though Frederick does not seem to have used it himself, his brother, Gerard, certainly assumed it, and in his will calls both himself and his brother Wandsforth, making no reference to his original name, Freez.

Frederick is but a shadowy person. His name is found in no colophon, and the only definite connexion with book-selling of which we have evidence, is the inevitable lawsuit, for Pynson brought an action against him in 1505. He was certainly still alive in 1515, when he is mentioned as living in the parish of St Helen on the Walls. He is known to have had two sons, Valentine and Edward. The first took up his freedom by patrimony in 1539, but he appears soon after to have fallen a victim, with his wife, to religious[Pg 45] persecution. Fuller writes of them, “They were both of them born in the city and both gave their lives therein at one stake for the testimony of Jesus Christ, probably by order from Edward Lee, the cruel Archbishop.” Though Fuller, relying on Foxe, assigns this event to the impossible date of 1531, the account may be taken as founded on fact.

The other son, Edward, who, according to Foxe, had been apprenticed at York to be a painter and was afterwards a novice monk, was convicted of heresy at Colchester through painting texts upon the walls of the inn which he was decorating. He was imprisoned in London, his wife and child were cruelly killed, and he himself so barbarously treated that he never afterwards recovered his wits.

The first York stationer, whose name is found in a printed colophon, is Gerard Freez, or Wandsforth, as he more often called himself, the brother of Frederick Freez. The first book printed for him was an edition of the Expositio Hymnorum et Sequentiarum, produced by Pierre Violette at Rouen in 1507. A perfect copy of both parts is in the John Rylands Library, which was formerly in the wonderful collection formed by Richard Vaughan at Hengwrt; an imperfect copy is in the Bodleian, and copy of the Expositio Sequentiarum is in the Bibliotheca Columbiniana at Seville. Though this book is an edition of the ordinary Exposition of the Hymns and Sequences according to Salisbury use, yet the words “ad usum Sarum” have been omitted from the title, perhaps as being considered prejudicial to its sale in York. On the title-page is a woodcut of a scholar seated at his desk, and its[Pg 46] occurrence here in a book with Violette’s name was the means of identifying the printer of the first book printed for sale in Scotland, a grammatical treatise by Joannes de Garlandia, which has the same woodcut on the title-page. The year previous to printing this York Expositio, Violette had printed a Sarum Expositio Sequentiarum, and presumably an Expositio Hymnorum now lost, for Andrew Myllar at Edinburgh.

About this time editions were also issued of the Missal, Breviary, and Directory of York use. Of the Missal, apparently only two copies, both imperfect, are known. When perfect it consisted of 232 leaves, with two columns of forty-three lines. The colophon states that it was printed “impensis honesti viri Petri Violette,” but Violette was himself the printer, and his name occurs engraved in the large initial M on the title-page. The book has no date, but may be assigned to about 1507, and the copy sold in the Cholmley sale in 1902 contained the autograph of Dr Martin Colyns, an official of the court of York who died in 1509. The other copy known is the fine copy in the Bodleian, which wants only leaf 117, the leaf preceding the Canon of the Mass, which would have contained a woodcut of the Crucifixion. The Breviary is known from a single copy formerly in the collection of Mr Blew, and now in the University Library. It is a small octavo volume containing both parts, the Pars Hiemalis and the Pars Æstivalis, and, if perfect, should have filled about 600 leaves. It is, however, very imperfect, wanting both beginning and end, title-page and colophon, so that any information which either might have contained is now lost.

[Pg 47]

Of the last book, the Directorium, no copy is known, but we know of its existence from documentary evidence to be referred to later.

On one of his journeys, presumably to sell books, Gerard Wandsforth was taken ill at King’s Lynn in Norfolk. There on October 3, 1510, immediately before his death, he executed his will. He described himself as a stationer of York, and desired to be buried within the church of St Margaret before the chapel of the Holy Trinity at Lynn. He adds the clause, “Also I require for the love of Jhesu Christ for to be a brother of the Trinity guild kept there, and to pay therfor as the custom of the guild requireth.” To his brother, Frederick, and his brother’s son, Valentine (there is no mention of Edward), he leaves legacies. Then follows, “To Richard Watterson of London xl. s., to the which Richard, Mr Wynkyn de Word, can inform you. Item I giff to the said Mr Wynkyn xl. s., which I howght him.” The executors were his brother Frederick, Ralph Pulleyn, a goldsmith of York, and Mr Maynard Weywik of London. The will was proved at York on October 24. As there is no mention of wife or children, we may presume he was unmarried. The bequests to Richard Waterson and Wynkyn de Worde are interesting. We do not know at present of any Richard Waterson, a stationer in London, but a Henry Watson, and the names are easily confused, was at the time an apprentice to W. de Worde, and we have a reference to another book not now known, printed at London by Hugo Goes, who printed later at York, and Henry Watson. The coincidence of names, though it may not mean[Pg 48] anything, is certainly curious. From his owing money to De Worde we may presume he obtained stock from him, and we find all the York printers and stationers had dealings of one sort or another with De Worde. Ralph Pulleyn, the goldsmith, seems to have acted towards Wandsforth as Fust did to the first printer Gutenberg, advancing money to assist him in trade. The third executor, Mr Mayner Weywik, is passed over without notice by Davies in the account of the will in the History of the York Press, but his connexion is fairly easily explained. In the lists of persons admitted to the freedom of York in 1529-30 is a stationer, Johannes Warwyke, son of Edward Warwyke, merchant. Thus the Warwyke family were connected with York and also with the business of a stationer. Mr Mayner Warwyke, who was like Ralph Pulleyn, a partner with Wandsforth, appears to have renounced his executorship and sold his share in the business to Pulleyn. Probably as he lived in London he did not see his way, after Wandsforth’s death, to continuing in the business at York.

Shortly after the proving of the will in October 1510, probably at the beginning of 1511, a suit was brought by Frederick Wandsforth against his co-executor, Ralph Pulleyn, and the evidence brought forward throws a considerable amount of light on the early York book trade. The following abstract of the proceedings is given by Davies.

“It appears that the testator, Gerard Wandsforth, his friend Ralph Pulleyn, and another friend Mr Manard (Mr Mayner Weywick), had made a considerable purchase of books as co-partners in equal third[Pg 49] shares. The books, which, it is stated, were bought in France, consisted of 252 missals, 399 portifers (breviaries), and 570 Picas all printed upon paper. The whole were consigned to the care of Wandsforth, who deposited them in a room or chamber of his house, near the church of St John del Pyke at York, of which chamber Ralph Pulleyn had a key. As soon as the death of Wandsforth became known at York, Pulleyn hastened to the house of the deceased and took possession of all the books deposited there, not only those which had been bought in partnership, but others which were the sole property of Wandsforth, and caused them to be carried to his own house in Petergate. He alleged he was justified in taking this course by having advanced money to Wandsforth to enable him to defray the cost of printing some books and purchasing others. It was natural that Frederick, the testator’s brother, should feel much aggrieved by Pulleyn’s grasping conduct, and upon their encountering each other in the street of Petergate, near Pulleyn’s residence, high words passed between them which ended in an affray. When Frederick charged the goldsmith with detaining from him the property he was entitled to as his brother’s executor, and thus preventing him from paying his brother’s debts and legacies, and fulfilling the trusts of his will in other respects, Pulleyn said to him, ‘You shall have your brother’s goods delivered to you that ever I had of his.’ But when they went together to Pulleyn’s house only part of the books were offered to be given up, and these Frederick refused to accept, insisting upon having the whole. It was then that, to enforce his rights, he[Pg 50] resorted to legal proceedings against Pulleyn. Whilst the suit was pending, the contending parties were induced, by the good offices of friends, to agree to refer all matters in dispute to the arbitration of Sir John Symson, priest, one of the vicars choral of the cathedral, and Mr John Scauseby, a gentlemen residing in Goodramgate, and a formal deed of reference was executed. The books which had been purchased by the testator, jointly with Pulleyn and Manard, they divided into three equal parts and had them valued by John More, a moneylender, who lived in Walmgate, whose estimate amounted to the sum of £86, 19s. 8d. Those belonging solely to the testator, of which Pulleyn had taken possession, consisted of about 300 volumes, some bound and some not bound, which were estimated to be worth about £20. These were chiefly books used in the services of the church, as Primaria, Doctrinalia, Hymni et Sequentiæ; with some Alphabeta, and others, both in Latin and English, the titles of which unfortunately are not stated. The award of the arbitrators was in favour of Frederick Wandsworth, the complainant in the suit. It was pronounced in the presence of Ursin Milnour, and three other persons, who are described as laics of the respective dioceses of Rouen, Durham, and York.”

The original documents of this suit are still preserved in the registry of the Dean and Chapter of York, and it is much to be desired that a full reprint of them might be issued, as it is clear that they contain many points of interest passed over by Davies in his abstract, as well as names which might afford valuable evidence.

The books belonging to Wandsforth which are[Pg 51] mentioned by name are, we have seen, Primaria, Doctrinalia, Alphabeta, and Hymni et Sequentiæ.

The only trace of an early York Horæ or Primer now known is an unfolded imperfect quarter-sheet containing six out of eight leaves of signature P among the Bagford fragments in the British Museum. The book was of very small size, a 32º with fourteen lines to a full page printed in black and red. The type is apparently Pynson’s, and it is the only known book printed by him connected with York. But another proof of his connexion with York has lately come to light, for there has been found in the Plea Rolls for 1505 a notice of a lawsuit brought by Pynson against Frederick Frees, bookseller of York, for £5, 10s. 6d., perhaps relating to this very book. The Doctrinalia and Alphabeta were presumably school books, while the Hymni et Sequentiæ belonged to the edition already described. The foreign printed books belonging jointly to the partners consisted of Missals, Breviaries, and Picas. The Missal and Breviary, printed at Rouen by Violette, have already been described, but no copy of a foreign printed York Pica (or Directorium) is known. An edition, shortly to be described, was printed in York in February 1509-10, which is described in the colophon as revised and amended, and perhaps it was reprinted from the lost foreign edition. Its competition might account for the large number (570) remaining of the earlier edition in the hands of Wandsforth’s executors.

The books actually printed in York are six in number, and are the work of two printers, Hugo Goes and Ursyn Mylner. Goes has been conjectured from[Pg 52] his name to have been related to Matthias van der Goes, a printer of Antwerp, but for this no proof is forthcoming. In 1509-10 he printed an edition of the York Directorium, of which two copies are known, one in York Minster wanting about fifteen leaves, the other in the library of Sidney Sussex College wanting only the last leaf, which would either have been blank or have contained a printer’s device.

Davies in his History of the York Press has been singularly unfortunate in his account of this book. He quotes the very inaccurate transcript of the colophon printed by Ames, and then adds: “Neither the copy in the library of Sidney Sussex College nor that belonging to the Dean and Chapter of York now contains the leaf upon which this colophon was printed. It is to the valuable work of Ames that we are indebted for the only record of it that has been preserved.” Davies or his informant was probably misled by its occurring three pages before the end of the book. It gives full information, stating that the book was printed at York by Hugo Goes in the street called Steengate on the 18th of February 1509. The work begins with a preface by Thomas Hannibal, doctor of laws and canon of York, who, later, brought the golden rose from the Pope to Henry VIII., praising the edition as revised and corrected by Thomas Hothyrsall, vicar choral of the Minster. Then follows another preface in which it is stated that “the pica with its table which was composed by Robert Avissede, priest and formerly chaplain of the church of St Gregory in the great city of York, will last as long as the world endures.” It has still 118 years to run.

[Pg 53]

The book is printed with a fount of type which had belonged to Wynkyn de Worde, and which he had discarded shortly after 1500.

Besides the Directorium Goes is credited with two other books, editions of the Donatus Minor cum Remigio and Accidence. In 1664 Christopher Hildyard, a barrister in York, issued a little book on the antiquities of the city, and his own copy with manuscript additions is now in the British Museum. One of his notes relates to these books, of which he gives a fairly full description with the titles and imprints. They were bound up with a grammar printed by W. de Worde in 1506. He ends his note thus: “The book I have by me, new bound up by Mr Mawburn of York, bookseller, 1667, July 12.” Of the Wynkyn de Worde grammar of 1506, we know of an imperfect copy in the library at Lambeth, but of the two grammars printed by Goes in the Steengate, all traces have disappeared. Hildyard’s description is so clear and exact that there is no reason whatever for doubting his accuracy, and we can only hope that they have not been destroyed, but may be rediscovered some day on some unexplored library shelf.

What became of Goes is not known, but his name is connected with another very mysterious lost book. Amongst the numerous manuscript collections made by John Bagford, with a view to writing a history of printing, is the following entry, copied apparently from a colophon. “Donatus cum Remigio impressus Londiniis juxta Charing Cross per me Hugonem Goes and Henery Watson with the printers device H. G.” Puzzling as this entry is, I think it must be taken as[Pg 54] representing something which Bagford had seen, for he was hardly clever enough to invent, if it is a forgery, so tantalisingly ingenious an imprint. He would not have known, unless he carefully studied prefaces and epilogues, that at this time W. de Worde had in his employment an assistant named Henry Watson, nor was his eye correct enough to recognise that the type used by Goes at York was obtained from W. de Worde, even had he seen a copy of the York Directorium, which is most improbable. Yet here he combines in one address as partners two men who had both been closely connected with Wynkyn de Worde.

Whatever may be said against Bagford, there is no doubt that he was assiduous, if not always very accurate, in transcribing titles and imprints of scarce books that came in his way, and it is from his memoranda that much information on missing books has been recovered. Whether Goes worked in London before or after his sojourn in York, is impossible to determine until some further information, or the lost Donatus itself, is forthcoming. The earliest printer, at present known, who was established near Charing Cross is Robert Wyer, who was at work as early as 1524. Ames, under H. Goes, gives the vague entry: “He also printed a Latin Grammar at London in quarto, formerly among Lord Oxford’s books,” but this may merely be derived from Bagford’s notes. Lastly Ames quotes a broadside in the possession of Thomas Martyn, “A wooden cut of a man on horseback with a spear in his right hand and a shield, with the arms of France, in his left. Emprynted at Beverlay in the Hye-gate by me Hewe Goes, with his mark or rebus of a great H and a goose.”[Pg 55] Martyn died in 1771, and since his time no trace of this broadside has been found.

Ursyn Mylner, the second printer in York, has a much clearer history than his predecessor. He was born in 1481, but we find no mention of him until 1511, unless he is the Ursyn who supplied some books for the King’s library in 1502. In 1511 he was a witness in the lawsuit which we have previously described. About 1513 he printed two Nova Festa of York use. The first is an edition of the Festum Visitationis Beate Marie Virginis, and the colophon stated that it was newly printed by Ursyn Mylner dwelling in the churchyard of the minster of St Peter. This book was chronicled by Ames as in the collection of Thomas Rawlinson, and again I must add the sad statement, all traces of it have since been lost. I searched through Rawlinson’s sale catalogue—sixteen volumes—without result, but last year in the Bodleian I came across a note-book among the Rawlinson manuscripts in which he had entered fairly full notices of some of his books, and here I found the colophon as given by Ames. The date of the book can be accurately settled. In 1513 the Convocation of York ordered the Feast of the Visitation to be kept as a Festum Principale; by 1516 Mylner had moved to a new address.

The second of the Nova Festa was a small supplement to the Sanctorale of the Breviary and the only copy known, found in the binding of a book, is in the library of Emmanuel College. The book in which it was found was printed in 1512, and from the fact that these leaves, which are printer’s waste, were used in the binding, this binding may perhaps be attributed to Mylner. The[Pg 56] tract consists of four leaves in 8°, with thirty-three and thirty-four lines to the page, and commences with a large initial P printed in colour. The text is in red and black, and many of the lines end with small type-ornaments. It is slightly mutilated, but has most of the colophon, which runs: “Impressum Ebor per me Ursin Mylner commemorantem in simiterio ministerii Sancti Petri.” In the colophons to both these Nova Festa we find commemorantem in place of commorantem. It is probably the tract referred to vaguely in the introduction to Wordsworth and Proctor’s edition of the Sarum Breviary as “An English monastic Breviary supplement, with anthems and responds for St Thomas and St Edmund of Canterbury, was printed at York about 1513.” Presumably their information about it was obtained from Henry Bradshaw. In the more recently issued book on the Old English Service Books, York is credited with no printed Nova Festa.

After printing these two small tracts Mylner moved to a new workshop. In the lawsuit of 1511 he was spoken of as living in the parish of St Michael le Belfry, and the two tracts were printed “in cimiterio ministerii Sancti Petri,” but both addresses probably refer to the same place, as the church of St Michael’s le Belfry stands alongside the minster on the south side. A small passage adjoining this church, and forming the south entrance to the minster close, was formerly known as Bookbinders Alley.


Colophon and Devices from Whitinton’s Grammar, printed
at York by Ursyn Mylner in 1516.

Mylner moved to Blake Street in the parish of St Helen. It seems probable that his earlier shop, within the precincts of the minster, would be in the liberties, and outside the jurisdiction of the municipal [Pg 57]authorities, but Blake Street was another matter, and he would not be allowed to carry on his business as a printer without having been admitted to the freedom of the city. In 1515-16, therefore, we find the name Ursyn Mylner, prynter, entered on the roll of freemen. He did not obtain his freedom by patrimony, so that he had probably served his full term of apprenticeship.

In December 1516 he issued a Grammar of Whitinton. It is a small quarto of twenty-four leaves and only one copy is known. It was sold in Thomas Rawlinson’s sale in 1727 for one shilling, being bought by his brother Richard, and at the latter’s sale it was bought by M. C. Tutet; it is now in the British Museum. On the title-page is a woodcut of a schoolmaster with three pupils seated on a bench before him. This woodcut originally belonged to Govaert van Ghemen, who used it at Gouda in an Opusculum grammaticale printed there in 1486. About 1490, when he moved to Copenhagen, he parted with some of his material, and this cut, with a fount of type and some woodcut initials, passed into the hands of Wynkyn de Worde, who used it in several grammars issued about 1500. At the end of the book, below the colophon, is the printer’s device. This consists of a shield hanging from a tree supported by a bear, an allusion to the name Ursyn, and an ass. The shield is divided per pale, and bears on the one half a windmill, on the other a sun. The mill is obviously for Mylner, but what the sun is for is not clear. We see that Mylner had some connexion with Wynkyn de Worde, whose sign was the sun; and it is perhaps just possible that this might refer to some trade[Pg 58] partnership between the two men. Below the device is an oblong cut containing a ribbon in which the name Ursin Mylner is printed in full. In the centre is his trade-mark.

In this same year we find him mentioned as a bookbinder, entered in the accounts of the minster as paid for binding books for the choir.

After 1516 we find no further mention of Mylner. He was then only about thirty-five years old and may possibly have moved elsewhere; but no trace of him is found. From this time onwards to 1533 almost the whole York book-trade was in the hands of John Gachet, a stationer from France. Gachet’s name is first found in 1509, when, in partnership with another stationer, Jacques Ferrebouc, he commissioned Wynkyn de Worde to print for him an edition of the York Manual. This Manual is a very curious book. The colophon states clearly that it was printed in London by Wynkyn de Worde dwelling in the street called Fleet Street at the sign of the Sun, or in St Paul’s Churchyard under the image of Our Lady of Pity, for John Gachet and James Ferrebouc, partners. In spite of this assertion it is plain that the book was printed abroad. The paper, the type of the text and music staves, the illustrations, all are obviously foreign, and the particular device of De Worde on the title-page is only found in books printed for him in Paris. The colophon unfortunately does not state where Gachet and Ferrebouc were living, but the latter was certainly just before and after 1509 in Paris. Perhaps Gachet may have been the travelling member of the firm and have journeyed as far as York on his business tours.[Pg 59] By 1514 he was certainly settled there, for in that year he was admitted a brother of the Corpus Christi Guild. In 1516 and 1517 he published a series of service books, a Missal, a Processional, a Manual, a Hymnal, and a Book of Hours.

The Missal is a fine folio of 200 leaves, and there is a perfect copy with two leaves printed on vellum, which formerly belonged to Bishop Moore, in the University Library. Another copy, slightly imperfect, was given to Pembroke College Library by the Master, Bishop Launcelot Andrews, in 1589. Besides these, five other copies are known. The initial M of the word Missale on the title-page is a very large and elaborate letter, having a scroll up the centre limb on which is engraved the printer’s name M. P. Holivier. Similar ornamental letters containing their names were used by other Rouen printers, such as Morin.

The Processional is without date, and the colophon states that it was printed at Rouen by Olivier for John Gachet, alias de France. A copy of this edition is at Ripon, and there are perhaps others; but both Dr Henderson, in his list of York service books, and Davies have mixed up this edition with the later dated edition of 1530.

Of the Manual, also undated, only one copy is known, in the library bequeathed to Dublin by Narcissus Marsh, the Archbishop. It has no name of printer, but only the statement on the title that it was printed for Gachet. The Hymnal is known from two copies, one in the British Museum, and another in the library of St John’s College, Cambridge. It fortunately has a full imprint and colophon stating[Pg 60] that it was printed for Gachet by Olivier and finished on the 5th of February 1517. By an oversight in the printing of the Museum copy, four pages have been left quite blank.

After issuing this series of service books Gachet left York and moved to Hereford, where he published a book in May, but of his movements during the next few years we know nothing. Soon after his leaving York, two Rouen booksellers issued a Missal and Book of Hours, but in the interval between 1517 and 1526 no York books were issued. In this latter year Gachet once more appeared at York and published a Breviary, printed for him at Paris by François Regnault, the first York book printed at a Paris press, most of the previous service books having been printed at Rouen.

Between 1530 and 1533 Gachet issued another series of service books, two Missals, a Processional, and a Breviary. A Missal and a Processional were issued in 1530, and, though neither contains a printer’s name, they were certainly printed at Rouen. On the title-page of the Missal is the large M with the name Holivier engraved upon it, but by 1530 Olivier had ceased to print, and the book may be ascribed to his successor, Nicholas le Roux. Three copies are known of this Missal, two in Oxford and one in Marsh’s Library, Dublin. One of the Oxford copies was, sometime in the seventeenth century, bound in two volumes, with most disastrous results, for now one volume is in the Bodleian, the other in the library of Queen’s College. The Processional is an octavo of ninety-six leaves. Both Dr Henderson and Davies have in their descriptions[Pg 61] confused this edition with the earlier undated one issued about 1516. The present has the date 1530 upon the title-page, but contains no name of printer or place; the colophon merely states that it was printed for Gachet. The copy in the Bodleian is a very fine one and contains the signature J. Brooke, probably Sir John Brooke, the Yorkshire Royalist. It is in its original binding apparently executed in York, as the boards are lined with unused sheets of the York Breviary printed for Gachet in 1526. The British Museum copy has four quires, that signed F and the last three, printed in a different type, though the text agrees page for page with the ordinary copies. In them the colophon ends, “Impressum expensis honesti viri Johannis Gachet, in eadem civitate commorantis,” but in the Museum impression the final words, “in eadem civitate commorantis,” have been omitted. No edition is known from which these four quires in the Museum copy could have been taken. It may be that the original stock of these sheets was damaged in some way and reprints made to supply their place, an occurrence of which several examples are known, otherwise they are the only remains of an edition now lost.

The last book with a York stationer’s name in the colophon was a Breviary printed in August 1533 by Regnault at Paris for Gachet. In the same year Regnault printed a Missal. This has not Gachet’s name in the colophon, but was to be sold at Paris in the Rue St Jacques at the sign of the Elephant, Regnault’s own address. Regnault had been the most important printer of English service books, and we know from a letter written by him to Cromwell in[Pg 62] 1536, that he had a place of business in London from which he supplied the booksellers. By that time, however, his trade in such books had almost altogether disappeared.

Perhaps on account of the restrictions placed upon alien stationers by the act of 1534, we find among others taking out letters of denization in 1535 “John Gachet, alias Frenchman, of the city of York bookbinder, from the dominion of the King of France,” but we find no further mention of him as dealing in books, nor do we know anything of his later career. We meet, however, with other members of the family. In 1543 John Gachet, Frenchman, of the parish of St Michael le Belfry, occurs in a list of soldiers sent from York to Newcastle. If this was a son of our stationer, he died shortly afterwards, as in 1551 administration of the effects of John Gachet, son of John Gachet of York, stationer, dying at Rawcliffe, was granted to George Gachet, his brother. A William Gachet, stationer, was admitted to the freedom of the city in 1549-50, and the will of another William Gachet of York is dated 1551.

The books which had been printed specially for York booksellers had consisted entirely of service books, and about 1534 most of these ceased to be printed, being suppressed or falling into disuse. Thus though we afterwards find a continuous succession of stationers at York, no books are known specially printed for them. The enterprising stationers had all been foreigners, and foreigners were not viewed with favour in York or elsewhere at that period. They seem to have absorbed most of the trade to the detriment of[Pg 63] the natives, so that we find in 1554 the Company of Bookbinders and Stationers of York passing a bye-law that no stranger or foreigner should sell any book or books within the city, except freemen of the same city. Earlier acts had prohibited the taking of foreign apprentices, so that the acts and this bye-law combined absolutely prohibited any foreigner engaging in the book trade in the city. The later stationers were all natives; and if they had energy they did not show it in the form of commissioning books. When the service books began to be reissued in Mary’s reign, no York stationer’s name is connected with them. Of those that were issued all were printed in London and sold by London booksellers. Then came the Stationers’ Charter of 1557 and with it the extinction of the provincial trade.

From the Fabric rolls of York Minster, from the registers of freemen, and from various other sources, we obtain the names of a number of bookbinders who worked at York during the latter half of the fifteenth and the first half of the sixteenth centuries. A Thomas Messingham bound books for the Minster in red leather, probably the bright red deer skin often found at that period. Frederick Freez is called bookbinder, and about 1494 Peter Moreaux, another bookbinder, was made a freeman. John Welles, John Meltynbe and John Gowthwaite took up their freedom as bookbinders before 1557, and others, Thomas Newell and Edward Huby, who were not freemen, are mentioned in accounts as binders. Unfortunately we cannot point to any definite bindings as produced by these men, but it is not improbable that a full and careful examination[Pg 64] of the old bindings preserved in the Minster Library might produce some good results, at any rate this source of information still remains to be worked. A late writer on bookbinding, with more daring than discretion, ascribes one or two marks found on bindings to York binders. He writes as follows: “G. W., whose trade-mark occurs on the covers of many books bound in England, exercised his craft between 1489 and 1510. Either he or his son was probably associated later on with another stationer, I. G.; an elegantly designed stamp bearing both cyphers adorns many bindings executed between 1512 and 1535. These may perhaps be the trade-marks of Gerard Freez or Wandsforth, brother of Frederick, bookseller and binder of York, 1507-10, and of John Gachet, stationer and bookseller of Hereford and York, who was still carrying on business in 1535.” This is all futile suggestion. Gerard Wandsforth, who died in 1510, left no children, and John Gachet did not come to York until after Wandsforth was dead. Moreover the mark assigned by this authority to G. Wandsforth and read as G. W. is by all rules of traders’ marks W. G. If anything is discovered about York bookbinding, it will not be by this class of idle speculation. All that can be said is that we know of numerous York bookbinders, so that very many bindings were produced there, and no doubt numbers still remain awaiting identification.

In Gachet’s career as a stationer, a long period, the nine years between 1517 and 1526, remains unaccounted for. He had published a series of York service books in 1516 and 1517, the last, a Hymnal, being dated February 5, 1517. For some reason he became dissatisfied[Pg 65] with York, and moved to seek business elsewhere, and in May 1517 he appears to have been living in Hereford, where he issued an edition of the Ortus Vocabulorum with his name in the colophon.

Though printing was not actually practised in Hereford, three books at least are known which were printed for sale there. In 1502 the very beautiful Hereford Missal was printed at Rouen by Pierre Olivier and Jean Mauditier for a Rouen stationer, Jean Richard. We know accidentally that about the time this Missal was printed Richard was in England, for he was party to a lawsuit at Oxford, and he may have journeyed to Hereford to dispose of this book. But though intended for sale in the diocese, the imprint contains no mention of any local stationer. In 1505 a Hereford Breviary was issued by a stationer named Ingelbert Haghe, who was under the patronage, as he expressly tells us in the preface, of that “illustrissima virago” Margaret, countess of Richmond and Derby, a generous patroness of printers. Haghe was himself originally a Rouen stationer, but had come over and settled in England. On some loose leaves in the Bodleian originally forming the lining of the binding of a bible is an inscription stating that the book was bought from Ingelbert the Hereford bookseller in 1510 about the day of the Lichfield fair. The Hereford Breviary is a very rare book. The Bodleian has the Pars Estivalis which came from the Colbert sale. A copy was in Richard Smith’s sale in 1682, when it was sold for three shillings and eightpence. This may be the copy given at the end of the seventeenth century to Worcester Cathedral Library by Dr George Benson,[Pg 66] prebendary of Worcester and dean of Hereford. The third copy known is in private hands. It would seem that Ingelbert and his patroness Margaret quarrelled over the production of this book, for in the plea-rolls of 1505, the year in which it was issued, he is cited as defendant in a suit brought by Margaret, Countess of Richmond, the King’s mother, to recover the sum of one hundred shillings. He is there called stationer and bookseller of London, so that he may have had a shop in both places. Unfortunately we have only the mere mention of the case without any reference to its purpose, but the coincidence of the date and the known connexion of the Lady Margaret with the issue of the Breviary make it probable that it formed the subject of the dispute.

The only other Hereford book known is an edition of the Ortus Vocabulorum, of which the only known copy, once in the magnificent collection of Richard Vaughan of Hengwrt, is now in the Rylands Library, Manchester. The colophon states that it was printed in 1517 at Rouen by Eustace Hardy at the costs of Jean Caillard, a stationer in business at Rouen, and John Gachet living at Hereford. The copy is quite perfect and in good condition, and has the further interest of being in its original stamped binding. After this single venture we hear no more of Gachet at Hereford, or of anything being published there.

[Pg 67]



After an interval of about thirty years the Oxford press restarted on a brief career, this time apparently with the official sanction of the University. The first book issued was a commentary by W. Burley Super libros posteriorum Aristotelis. It is a small tract of ten leaves, and was finished on December 4, 1517. The printer, John Scolar, lived in St John’s Street, near Merton College. Nothing is known of him before he appears at Oxford as a printer, and nothing of his career in the University. Mr Madan remarks, “Although Scolar uses the arms of the University (their earliest occurrence in print), yet the registers of the University almost ignore the fact that for the second time the greatest literary invention since speech and writing were known was silently at work in its midst.” The expression “almost ignore” is rather disingenuous. Whether the registers did or did not ignore John Scolar we shall never know, since the volume covering the years from 1515 to 1526 is lost.

The text and notes of this volume are printed in two sizes of black-letter type, apparently identical with that used by Wynkyn de Worde. Some of the initials and the woodcut at the end are certainly his, and it[Pg 68] would appear as though Scolar had obtained from him the type which had been used for printing the work of Sirectus, published a year or two earlier at Oxford by Jacobi.

The next book, finished on May 15, 1518, is Dedicus’ Questiones super libros Ethicorum Aristotelis. A very interesting fact about it is the statement on the last leaf that the printer had a privilege for it for seven years granted by the Chancellor. No one was to print it in the University or sell copies printed elsewhere under pain of confiscation of the books and a fine of five pounds sterling. The notice ends with the expressive Latin adage, “Cornicum oculos configere noli.”

This is the first privilege which I have found in an English printed book, the next, six months later, having been granted by the King for Cuthbert Tonstall’s Oratio in laudem matrimonii Mariæ et Francisci. This privilege prevented anyone either reprinting it in England or selling foreign printed copies for the space of two years. This may seem a short time, but the subject was only of passing interest. The rise, growth, and scope of these privileges, which are the foundations of copyright, form a subject which has hitherto received little or no attention even from writers on copyright, though I think it would go far to prove that the perpetual copyright, which later on was claimed by the stationers, was never legally recognised, but that the power granted them by the charter enabled them to impose and uphold arbitrary restrictions which were not legally binding.

On the title-page of this and the preceding work is John Scolar’s device, the shield of the University[Pg 69] surmounted by a cap and supported by two angels. On the shield are the arms, the book with seven seals between the three crowns, but the motto on the book in place of the present “Dominus illuminatio mea” is “Veritas liberabit, bonitas regnavit.” Another woodcut containing the Royal arms and supporters is used in these books, which had been used previously by W. de Worde.

In June 1518 three books were printed: Questiones de luce et lumine, a tract of eight leaves, Burley’s Principia, also of eight leaves, and a Grammar of Whitinton. A new Oxford book from Scolar’s press was discovered recently in a volume of tracts in the British Museum. It is an edition of the Opus insolubilium, a text-book for the schools. It consisted originally of four leaves, but the last is unfortunately missing. On the first leaf is the woodcut of the University arms in fresh condition. This tract may perhaps be the first production of Scolar’s press.

The Questiones de luce et lumine has on the title-page a small rough woodcut depicting the visit of the Magi, belonging to a series made to illustrate a Book of Hours; and on the title of Burley’s Principia is a small neat woodcut, rather Italian in style, of a master seated before a desk with a pupil standing before him. At the end is a woodcut of the arms of England supported by the greyhound and dragon. Below are two portcullises, and above two angels hold ribbons bearing the motto

“Hec rosa virtutis de celo missa sereno
Eternum florens regia sceptra feret.”

This woodcut was part of the material obtained by the[Pg 70] Oxford printer from W. de Worde, and which after the cessation of the press was returned to him. We find him using it in some of his later books, by which time it had become slightly damaged by wormholes.

We hear no more of Scolar in Oxford after 1518, when he probably left the city; but his place was taken by Charles Kyrfoth, who issued in February 1519 a Compotus manualis ad usum Oxoniensium, a little treatise of arithmetic illustrated by wood engravings of the open hand with values attached to each part. It is a small tract of eight leaves, and we learn from Dorne’s accounts that its price was one penny. In the colophon Kyrfoth gives his address, as did Scolar, as St John’s Street, and as he used the same device of the University Arms, we may conclude he had taken on Scolar’s business. On the title-page is a large and curious woodcut divided horizontally into three portions. In the upper is a row of seven books. In the centre a master in an embroidered robe and crowned with laurel is seated at a desk, while on either side of him are scholars taking notes. In the lower part are five men in gowns holding books. In the text are four diagrams of hands. The only copy known of this book is in the University Library. Beyond the occurrence of his name in this colophon we know nothing further of Kyrfoth. He probably left Oxford soon after the issue of this book, for his name is not found in the list of inhabitants in the Subsidy Rolls of 1524.

Scolar, as we said above, left Oxford in 1518, but we meet with him again ten years later; for in 1528 he printed a Breviary for the use of the Benedictine Monastery at Abingdon, which will be noticed hereafter.

[Pg 71]

Between 1527 and 1557 nothing was printed at or for Oxford. The books printed for John Dorne, described in an earlier lecture, were the last enterprise of an Oxford publisher. Nor apparently was there any wish to continue printing, for while Cambridge was careful during the changes brought about by various acts to preserve her liberties, and when the act of 1534 against foreign stationers was passed to obtain a special exemption enabling the University to employ foreign stationers or printers, Oxford was content to let matters take their course. The roll of stationers continued unbroken, and here and there an interesting man, such as Garbrand Harkes, stands out, but there is little of interest to chronicle before the revival of the press at the end of the sixteenth century.

While Oxford was credited by many early bibliographers with a book printed in 1468, which was not really printed until 1478, so many of the same authorities credited Cambridge with a book printed in 1478 which was not printed at Cambridge at all. The mistakes and confusions about this book, only finally cleared up by Bradshaw in 1861, form a curious comedy of errors.

Among the documents used by Strype when writing his life of Archbishop Parker was a catalogue of the books bequeathed to Corpus Christi College by the archbishop, in which was an entry: “Rhetorica nova, impressa Cantab, fo. 1478.” This entry was communicated by Strype to Bagford, then collecting materials for a history of printing, and Bagford in his turn wrote about it to Tanner. Tanner’s brother passed on the information to Ames, who inserted it at the head of his account[Pg 72] of Cambridge printing, and from him it was copied by other writers, including Herbert.

In the meanwhile Conyers Middleton in his Dissertation concerning the origin of Printing in England, had turned the error into a new groove. Describing the edition printed at St Alban’s in octavo in 1480, he remarks: “The same book is mentioned by Mr Strype among those given by Archbishop Parker to Corpus Christi College in Cambridge; but the words, ‘Compilata in Universitate Cantabrigiæ,’ have drawn this learned antiquary into the mistake of imagining that it was printed also in that year at our University, and of doing us the honour of remarking upon it; so ancient was printing in Cambridge!”

If the University Librarian, as Middleton then was, in place of being facetious, had stepped down the street and examined the book for himself, much subsequent confusion would have been avoided. He must have had a poor opinion of Strype if he supposed that that learned antiquary would describe as a folio printed at Cambridge in 1478 an octavo with a printed colophon, “impressa apud Villam Sancti Albani. 1480.”

But Middleton’s plausible suggestion seems to have gained ground, and the Corpus volume was passed over as a copy of the St Alban’s book until 1861, when Bradshaw, at work on the manuscripts in the library accidentally met with it, and saw at once that it was not the St Alban’s book, but an unknown Caxton edition. It has no colophon, so that the concluding words “Compilata in Universitate Cantabrigiæ,” and the date 1478, might well deceive a casual observer into thinking it was printed at Cambridge in that year.

[Pg 73]

Printing was introduced into Cambridge at the beginning of the year 1521 by John Lair of Siberch or Siegburg, a town a few miles south-west of Cologne. Like most of the foreign printers settled in England, he made but little use of his proper surname, but used the place name instead and called himself John Siberch.

Nothing is known as to the date of his settling in Cambridge, but it was probably in 1519 or early in 1520, for in May of the latter year an edition of Richard Croke’s Introductiones in rudimenta Græca was printed for him by Eucharius Cervicornus at Cologne.

Croke was at this time Professor of Greek at Cambridge, but he was compelled to have his work printed abroad, since no English printer of the time possessed a fount of Greek type. Had he acted on his own initiative, he would probably have employed a printer of Paris where he had studied, or Leipzig where he had recently been a professor, both of which towns had excellent Greek presses. But if Siberch, a man presumably with practical knowledge, was already settled in Cambridge, what could be more natural than for the professor to hand over the arrangements of the printing to him, while he in his turn would no doubt entrust the work to a printer of the town from which he himself came, and not improbably to the master with whom he had himself worked. This, of course, is conjecture, but some curious evidence of Siberch’s having been in Cambridge when Croke’s book was published, came to light accidentally in 1889. In that year a volume was found in the library of Westminster Abbey printed at Paris in 1519, which had evidently been bound in Siberch’s workshop. In the binding were several[Pg 74] manuscript and printed fragments. The printed fragments consisted of leaves of the Papyrius Geminus printed by Siberch in 1522 and two leaves of a hitherto unknown edition of Lily’s Grammar; amongst the manuscript fragments was a letter to Siberch, to be referred to later, and a piece of the manuscript of Croke’s Rudimenta Græca, bearing upon it the rough pencil mark indicating the commencement of a new sheet and a fresh page, both agreeing with the printed book. The copy then had been returned from abroad, not to the author Croke, but to the man who had commissioned the book, Siberch. Had Siberch been abroad when the book was printed, he would either have corrected the proofs with the copy at Cologne, and in that case would hardly have troubled to bring over the then useless copy with him to England, or else proofs with the copy would have been sent to Croke, in which case we should not have expected to find it as waste in Siberch’s shop.

What Siberch’s exact position was in relation to the University is not quite clear. Dr Caius speaks of him as the University printer, but no direct evidence of this has been forthcoming. Mr Gray has, however, pointed out to me an entry in one of the Grace books recently printed, and which he was unaware of when writing his life of Siberch for the Bibliographical Society. This was one of the graces passed in congregation during the year from the feast of St Michael the Archangel [September 29], 1520 to the corresponding date of the following year. It runs: “Obligatur doctor Manfeld loco et vice magistri Norres pro summa pecunie quam recepit Johannes bibliopola ab universitate.” This debt is entered regularly in the proctors’ accounts,[Pg 75] printed in another recently-printed Grace book, from 1520-21 up to 1524-25, and the sum mentioned is twenty pounds.

We have therefore the clearest evidence that some time between September 1520 and September 1521 the University had advanced to Siberch the sum of twenty pounds, and I think we are quite justified in concluding that this was to assist him in his business as a printer. The sum of twenty pounds is considerably more than a University stationer’s fee, and must have been granted for a special purpose. If the exact date of the grace in the year could be ascertained, it would probably throw some light on the question. If early enough, it might be the cost of material to enable him to set up his press.

It is not until October 1521 that he uses the words, “Cum gratia et privilegio.” Bradshaw, in a bibliographical note on the book in which they first appear, writes: “In his dedication to Bishop Fisher he [that is, Siberch] styles himself ‘Io. Siberch Cantabrigiensis typographus,’ and it must have been on this occasion and through Bishop Fisher’s influence that he obtained leave to place ‘Cum gratia et privilegio’ on his title-pages.” This privilege was not I think the King’s privilege, such as London printers had just begun to obtain, but more probably one granted by the Chancellor similar to that given to Scolar the Oxford printer by the Oxford Chancellor, and this would further point to Siberch’s official connexion with the University.

The house where he lived and printed was described by Dr Caius as situated between the Gate of Humility and the Gate of Virtue, forming part of some property[Pg 76] bought by Caius in 1563 from Trinity College. It bore the sign of the King’s arms, which accounts for the use by Siberch in his books of two woodcuts containing the Royal arms. In the same house Erasmus lived when he was lecturing at Cambridge, and we know from his letters that he was on intimate terms with Siberch and the contemporary Cambridge stationers to whom he sends greetings by name at the conclusion of one of his letters.

Having obtained some type Siberch started to work for himself, and his first production was a speech of Dr Henry Bullock delivered before Wolsey when the Cardinal visited the University in the autumn of 1520. This is a small pamphlet of eight leaves, devoid of all ornament, and it was published between February 13, the date of the dedication and the end of the month, in 1521. The type used appears to be new, but where it was obtained is not settled. It bears a very strong resemblance to some of Pynson’s, but is not quite identical. At present we do not know much about the early business of type-cutting, but it seems clear that, soon after the commencement of the sixteenth century, different printers went to a common source for their type, and that type-cutting was not a part of the printer’s business, as it was when printing was first invented, but a special trade. New types would thus tend to conform more to a common model. Of this first Cambridge book four copies are known, but unfortunately there is no copy in Cambridge, the four copies being in the British Museum, the Bodleian, the Lambeth Library, and Archbishop Marsh’s Library, Dublin. The Bodleian copy had belonged to Richard[Pg 77] Burton, the author of the Anatomy of Melancholy, the Lambeth one to Archbishop Bancroft, so that at any rate for a few years, between 1646 and 1662, this latter copy was with the rest of the Archbishop’s books upon the shelves of the University Library.

About April, in 1521, according to Bradshaw’s calculation, Siberch’s second book appeared, the sermon of Augustine, De miseria ac brevitate vitæ, a book of twelve leaves. The printer had added a little to his stock of type, for there is a Greek motto on the title-page which is also enclosed between two border-pieces.

This type is interesting as the first genuine moveable Greek type used in England. A year or two earlier W. de Worde had introduced a few words of Greek into an edition of one of Whitinton’s Grammars, but the words were roughly cut on wood. Pynson did not begin to use Greek until 1524 in a work by Linacre, and in the preface he offers a curious apology for its imperfections, praying the reader to pardon missing breathings or accents, since he had but recently cast the Greek types and had not prepared a supply sufficient to finish the work completely.

The amount of Greek printing in all Siberch’s books put together is very small, hardly enough to call for the cutting of a special fount, for it must be borne in mind that a Greek fount is infinitely larger and more complex than a Roman. One specially complicated fount used at Venice in 1486 contained about 1350 sorts. It seems probable therefore that we must look to some foreign source for this type, and its identification might throw some further light on Siberch’s business career.

[Pg 78]

The two border side-pieces, each containing three small scenes in canopied compartments relating to the Last Judgment, evidently form part of a set for use in a Book of Hours. These identical border-pieces have not been found used elsewhere, but are evidently copied from, and resemble in every detail, two of a set used in a Book of Hours printed at Kirchheim. Very little, however, can be deduced from similarity of design, for printers copied designs which pleased them from any source, and often with such extraordinary accuracy as to require very careful scrutiny to distinguish the copy from the original.

This is the rarest of all Siberch’s books, for only one copy is known, now in the Bodleian. It formerly belonged to John Selden and went with the rest of his books to Oxford by bequest in 1659.

Of the next book four copies are known. It consists of a translation of Lucian’s πὲρι διψάδων by Henry Bullock, and a reissue of the latter’s Oration. On the title-page Siberch uses for the first time his ornamental border with the Royal arms at the base. A very curious statement, that this border is the first specimen of English copperplate engraving, has found its way into a number of books. Its earliest appearance seems to be in Herbert’s Typographical Antiquities, where a so-called facsimile is given. Now this facsimile itself is a very roughly-executed metal engraving, and from the text it is clear that Herbert made his description from this rough engraving and not from the book itself. The proof of this is clear. The engraver has added a rough facsimile of the two-lined colophon, immediately below the border, and Herbert, assuming[Pg 79] it to be part of the title-page, has so described it in his text. The most cursory glance would show this border to be a woodcut, but the old statement goes on being repeated.

The fourth book, Baldwin’s Sermo de altaris sacramento was issued in the summer, probably August, of 1521. In this is found for the first time the smaller device of the Royal arms. Eight copies of the book are known, two being in the University Library while another has lately been discovered in the library of Magdalene College. One of those in the University Library, which it is suggested may be an early copy sent to Nicholas West, bishop of Ely, to whom the book is dedicated, shows some variations from the ordinary copies. It is clear that it is an early issue, since the border is without a small break noticeable in other copies, and the first word of the title-page, Reverendissimi, has been misprinted Reverndissimi, a mistake almost immediately noticed and corrected. In this book, for the first time, Siberch begins to use one of his ornamental capitals, a fine six-line S.

Siberch’s fifth book, Erasmus De conscribendis epistolis, was issued in October 1521. This is a more important book in point of size than any which preceded it, containing eighty leaves, whereas the largest of the others only ran to twenty. It also shows certain marks of advance. We find for the first time a frequent use of fine initial letters, and it is the first book for which the printer obtained a privilege, unfortunately not printed in full. Four copies of this book are known, two in the British Museum, and two in Cambridge College Libraries, St John’s and Corpus. The last[Pg 80] copy has the additional interest of being bound by a contemporary Cambridge stationer, Nicholas Speryng, and bears his mark and initials on the binding.

The Erasmus was followed by Galen De Temperamentis, translated from the Greek by Linacre. This is the commonest of Siberch’s books, at least twelve copies being known, but some of these show important variations. The first intention seems to have been to issue the De Temperamentis alone, and it was so printed off on sixty-six leaves, with the signatures A⁴, Q⁶. Later it was determined to add another small treatise De inequali intemperie, so the last two leaves of the first issue, containing the end of the De Temperamentis were cancelled, and two new sheets R⁴ and S⁶ added. Finally a preliminary quire of eight leaves was printed, making the complete book consist of seventy-four leaves. One copy of the first state is known, first noticed by Mr Bowes in the library of Trinity College, Dublin, in 1894. On the verso of the penultimate leaf is a woodcut of the Adoration of the Shepherds and the colophon, on the verso of the last leaf the small block of the Royal arms and the date 1521. A transitional copy, containing the first issue with the end uncancelled, but the additional sheets added, is in the library of the Royal College of Physicians. All the remaining copies are of the revised issue. In it the last two leaves are mainly occupied with a list of the errata which had been found in the De Temperamentis, and on the verso of the last leaf is the device of the Royal arms. The woodcut of the Shepherds found in the early copies has not as yet been traced to an earlier source. It is apparently Low Country work of the fifteenth[Pg 81] century; Sir Martin Conway ascribes it to about the year 1485.

Two copies of the Galen were printed on vellum, both of which are now in Oxford, one in the library of All Souls College, the other in the Bodleian. This latter copy possesses a curious pedigree. It was presented to the Bodleian in 1634 by Thomas Clayton, Regius Professor of Medicine. In a long Latin note which he has written in the volume he states that it was given by Linacre to Henry VIII. who in his turn gave it to Cuthbert Tonstall, and after passing through various hands it had come into his possession, and he finally has deposited it in the Bodleian. It is an interesting copy, but whether it ever belonged to Henry is very doubtful. It is in the original binding, but this is simply an ordinary stationer’s binding impressed in blind with the two panels of the Royal arms and Tudor rose used by many of the London binders of the time. Again one sheet has been incorrectly printed. In printing the reverse side of a sheet in signature S, the workman has laid the sheet the wrong way round on the form and consequently the pages follow one another in the wrong order, a fruitful and common cause of waste sheets. Finally the ornamental initials in the early part of the book have not been printed in, and no attempt has been made to supply them by hand. It does not seem probable that so poor a copy would have been presented to the King. An early inscription shows that it belonged to Tonstall, who gave it to Richard Sparchford, archdeacon of Shropshire, who gave it to the church of Ludlow.

The seventh book is a translation into Latin by[Pg 82] Richard Pace of the sermon preached by John Fisher, bishop of Rochester, in London, to an audience said to have numbered thirty thousand, on the occasion of the public burning of Luther’s works. In this book for the first time Siberch made use of the device with his initials and mark within a chain work frame showing white on a black background, an uncommon style of device and one unlike any other used in England at the time. Of this book only four copies are known, two in the Bodleian, one in the library of Magdalene College, Cambridge, and one in the Rylands Library, Manchester.

The last dated of the early Cambridge books is the Hermathena of Papyrius Geminus, issued on December 8, 1522. No less than three different states of the title-page are known. The first is quite free from ornament, in the second an attempt seems to have been made to supply the want of the old border device, and the upper part of the title is enclosed in a frame made by two horizontal border-pieces joined at the sides by a plain fine. In the third state, a third border-piece has been added at the bottom of the page and the black lines extended on either side to join all three. The book contains twenty-six leaves, the last leaf containing on the recto the colophon and printer’s device, on the verso the small arma regia device. Six copies are known. With the title in the first state one copy remains, which formerly belonged to Bradshaw and is now in the University Library. Of the second state there are three copies, in Archbishop Marsh’s Library, in Lincoln Cathedral, and in St John’s College, Cambridge. Of the third state the two copies belong to [Pg 83]the British Museum and the Duke of Devonshire. These last two copies are both printed on vellum, but the museum copy wants the last leaf containing the colophon and devices.


Title-page of Fisher’s Sermon, printed at Cambridge
by John Siberch in 1522.

The publication of another Cambridge book, an edition of the Grammar of Lily and Erasmus, was proved by the discovery in 1889 of two leaves, found with some other most interesting fragments in the covers of a book in Westminster Abbey Library.

The Grammar is the De octo orationis partium constructione libellus written for the use of St Paul’s School. It was composed originally by William Lily, and Colet, the founder of the school, sent the work to Erasmus to emend. Erasmus so altered it that Lily would not permit it to be called his work, and as Erasmus for his part refused to put his name to Lily’s work, the book was published anonymously. It became very popular, and many editions were issued abroad for the English market, so that it is just such a book as a Cambridge printer might be expected to print rather than to import.

These nine books comprise the whole output of the early Cambridge press. Though Cambridge obtained a special privilege shortly afterwards giving the right to print, the right was never exercised, and nothing was produced in the town until the two Universities restarted their presses towards the end of the sixteenth century.

The bookbindings that can definitely be assigned to Siberch are at present few in number. He used one fine roll divided into four rectangular compartments, containing a pomegranate, a turretted gateway with[Pg 84] portcullis, a Tudor rose, and three fleurs-de-lys, all surmounted by a royal crown and within canopied archways. Below the fleurs-de-lys are his initials. This is a purely English design, and the tool was no doubt made for him after his arrival in Cambridge. Immediately Siberch gave up work, about 1523-24, the tool passed to Speryng, who mutilated it, so that we know fairly well the period during which it was used when undamaged. Its use in conjunction with other tools enables more of Siberch’s material to be identified. In the University Library is a copy of the Epistolæ of Paulinus, bishop of Nola, printed at Paris in 1516, whose binding is impressed with two well-executed panel stamps separated from each other by this roll. On one is depicted St Roche tended by an angel for the plague and a dog bringing him food, on the other St John Baptist, standing on a mound and preaching to four persons seated below him. These two saints were popular subjects for binding panels, and a number of varieties, mostly copied one from another, are known, but this particular pair are especially well designed and engraved, and were chosen by Dibdin to reproduce in his Bibliographical Decameron.

On a folio in the library of Clare College, Siberch’s signed roll is found used with another roll or band containing figures of seven peasants, one piping, the rest dancing with hands joined, a very favourite design with Netherlandish binders.

The two panel stamps and this second roll are all foreign in appearance, and were no doubt brought by Siberch from abroad. After he gave up work they remained in England. I have a work of Erasmus,[Pg 85] printed in 1532, certainly bound in this country, which has the two panels on the binding, while the roll with dancing figures occurs on a binding in St Paul’s Cathedral Library, lined with waste leaves of an Almanac for 1544. It is not improbable that Siberch had other panels, for we find, soon after he ceased to bind, stamps which were certainly his used in conjunction with others exactly similar in style. I saw lately a work of Erasmus, dated 1524, on which this St Roche panel was used, and with it was a panel with St Michael, and these two occur together elsewhere. One point, however, must certainly be noticed. The one panel binding that we can with certainty attribute to Siberch has three bands on the back, as was usual in the case of English bindings. Every other binding with his stamps which I have seen has four bands, and a binder would be most unlikely to change his habits on such a point.

The letter of Peter Kaetz to Siberch, referred to earlier, is of the greatest interest. It is written on one side of an oblong piece of paper, with the address on the other side. Unfortunately parts of the ends of some of the lines are missing, making parts of certain sentences vague, especially at the beginning, but generally the meaning is fairly clear. It has been translated by Mr Hessels as follows: “Know, Jan Siborch, that I have received your letter as [well as specimens] of your type, and it is very good; if you can otherwise ... and conduct yourself well then you will get enough to print. So I remain still in London because my master comes; I expect him from day to day, therefore I cannot even know when I cross, but so soon as I cross I shall do the best that is in my power. Item, I have[Pg 86] told Peter Rinck three or four times of the Pater noster, but he tells me that he cannot find it; and Gibkerken has not yet given Jacob Pastor the ring, but he carries it every day on his hand and he will not give it to Jacob Pastor. Item, I send you 25 prognostications and 3 New Testaments small. The prognostications cost one shilling sterling the 25, and the 3 New Testaments cost 2 shillings and 6 pence sterling, so there is still due to you, which I remain in your debt. I have no more New Testaments, otherwise I should have sent you more. I have nothing else to write except [to ask you to] deliver the accompanying parcel to Niclas, and greet Baetzken for me with your whole family, and do not forget yourself. Petrus Kaetz.”

Among the fragments found with it was part of the manuscript copy of Croke’s book printed in May 1520, a sheet of the Papyrius Geminus printed in 1522, and two leaves of the Lily’s Grammar. The book in which they were found must have been bound after December 1522, but the tools on the binding are not those known to have been used by Siberch, and the book may have been bound after Siberch ceased work by someone occupying his old workshop or who had obtained his waste material. From internal evidence the letter would appear to have been written in 1521 just after Siberch had started printing, the reference to the excellence of the type, of which proofs had apparently been sent, and the remark by Kaetz that if Siberch conducted himself well he would get enough to print, both pointing to this conclusion. One small point may be noticed here in passing. The tone of the letter is that of an older to a younger man, or at any rate, of a[Pg 87] man to one of his own age. Now in the colophons of books printed for Kaetz between 1523 and 1525 he is spoken of as “juvenis” and this may be taken as a slight argument for believing that in 1521 Siberch was a young man also.

The master to whom Kaetz referred was very possibly Christopher Endoviensis or Van Ruremond, who, when Kaetz set up in business on his own account, printed books for him. Van Ruremond we know printed English prognostications, single folio broadsides such as would be sold at a penny a piece, which as we know from Dorne’s day-book was the usual price of a single sheet, so that he may have been the printer of these supplied to Siberch at twenty-five for a shilling. The New Testaments were probably of a Latin version since they are called Nova Testamenta in the letter. Nicholas, to whom a packet was sent, was, we may suppose, Speryng.

After 1522 Siberch seems to have relinquished his business as a printer and stationer. We have no reference to him in accounts, and as his name does not occur in the Subsidy Rolls of 1523-24 it may be considered as fairly certain that he was not then in Cambridge. That he had definitely given up work is clearly shown by the dispersal of his material. The smaller neatly-executed cut of the Royal arms went to his friend Peter Kaetz, who, taking it with him on his return to Antwerp, used it in the edition of the Dutch Bible printed for him there in 1525 by Hans Van Ruremonde. Apparently the same block appears in an edition of Erasmus and Lily’s Grammar published at Antwerp by Godfried van der Haeghen in 1527 for sale in St Paul’s[Pg 88] Churchyard. The fine border of the Galen also went to Antwerp and is found eventually on the title-page of a Dutch Prognostication of 1536 printed by Hendrick Pietersen van Middleburch. From a comparison of a recently-issued facsimile of the Dutch book with the original Cambridge book, it is clear the border is identical in both. What has now to be done is to trace it between 1522 and 1536. Lastly, the fine binding roll which he possessed passed into the hands of Nicholas Speryng who attempted to obliterate the initial I upon it and substitute an N. The latest binding on which it is found in an unmutilated state is on a book printed at Venice and finished on November 10, 1522, so that the binding cannot be earlier than 1523. The mutilated tool is found used with others belonging to Speryng on the binding of a book printed in 1524.

For a considerable time after 1522 we have no information. The debt of twenty pounds continued to be entered in the proctor’s accounts up to the year 1524-25, after which it dropped out. In 1538-39 the debt is re-entered in a most interesting memorandum which may be translated thus: “Note; that twenty pounds sterling are owing to the university by ‘Dominus’ John Lair, an alien priest, and Doctors Rydley, Bullock, Wakefelde, and Maundefelde, and it has their bond signed by all their hands, and sealed with their seals.” After several entries of a similar tenor we come to the final one in the Audit book under the year 1553. “John Syberche owes out of the money advanced to him [xx. li.], as is evidenced by his bond contained in the common chest, and his guarantors are Doctors Rydley, Bullocke, and Manfyld, together[Pg 89] with Mr Wakfyld.” It would thus appear that like many another, Siberch was so influenced by the religious movements of the time, that he forsook his business in order to serve the Church, and it is therefore in this sphere that we should seek for further information about him. He seems also to have made use of his proper name Lair, sometimes corrupted into Law, rather than the name Siberch he had used as a printer.

Perhaps further search in this new direction may result in fresh discoveries.

The stationers of Cambridge, like the stationers of Oxford, were of two classes, those officially appointed by the University and those who traded independently. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries there are frequent references to the rights of the University over the stationers. They had certain official duties, such as the valuation of books and the supply of the necessary school books at fixed rates, and the stationers chosen by the University received a small fee or salary for such work. After the middle of the fifteenth century the stationers can be traced in an unbroken series, but though we know their names and find entries of their business in accounts, there, at present, our information ceases. Five names are given in Mr Gray’s account of the early Cambridge stationers for the second half of the fifteenth century, Gerard Wake, John Ward, Fydyon, perhaps Fitzjohn, William Squire, and Walter Hatley. Of these, two, Wake and Hatley, were bookbinders, and perhaps some of their work may yet be identified, and if one single volume could be ascribed to either with certainty and the stamps they used definitely ascertained, then much of their work could[Pg 90] be traced. William Squire is only known from receiving a settled fee of thirteen shillings and fourpence between the years 1482-6. He may perhaps, since we find the names Squire and Lesquier often used indiscriminately, be identical with the stationer William Lesquier whose goods were administered at Oxford in February 1501-2. Peter Breynans, another bookbinder, is mentioned in 1502, and a Lawrence Topfeller in 1506.

In May 1503 the award of Margaret, Countess of Richmond, and three other arbitrators was agreed to and signed. This covenant between the town and University contained special references to stationers, and enacted that only those stationers and binders who had always practised their trade should be considered under the jurisdiction of the University, a certain number, then in business, being exempted.

Our knowledge of early Cambridge bookbinding is curiously different from what we know of Oxford. There our knowledge of fifteenth-century work is full, and of early sixteenth almost a blank. For Cambridge there is a splendid series of early sixteenth-century work, while fifteenth-century specimens are almost unknown or at any rate unidentified. Mr G. J. Gray’s excellent monograph, lately published by the Bibliographical Society, has fully put on record what is known about Cambridge binding, and has the advantage of being well illustrated. The earliest examples facsimiled in his work are ornamented by means of the roll-tool, but there is a series of bindings ornamented with dies in the earlier manner produced probably about 1500, which may with considerable probability be ascribed[Pg 91] to a Cambridge binder. These bindings are very distinctive in appearance and may easily be distinguished from others of the same period. One peculiarity enables us to identify this binder’s work even when on the shelves. He always ruled two perpendicular lines down the back. The leather used is nearly always the red-tinted variety which seems peculiar to Cambridge. The scheme of decoration of the sides consisted of a large centre panel divided by diagonal lines into a kind of diamond-shaped lattice work, and in each division thus formed a die was stamped. These dies, mostly square or diamond-shaped, contained conventional flowers or strange animals and birds. The best two, which are very finely engraved, have two cocks fighting and a pelican feeding her young. This binder also made frequent use of a small tool of a spray of foliage, plain and not enclosed in a frame, and this he used to build up borders and to finish the ends of the bands, a noticeable peculiarity. The boards were usually lined with vellum.

When Dr James prepared his catalogue of manuscripts in the library of Pembroke College, the librarian, Mr Minns, added an appendix containing an account of the early printed books and a plate of facsimiles of stamps used on some of the bindings. Those numbered 21 to 32 belonged to this binder and occur on four bindings. Three of these are on printed books ranging between 1478 and 1490. The fourth specimen is more important as affording a definite clue to a Cambridge origin, for it is on the second volume of the college register. A search for and examination of such bindings as remain in Cambridge might result in the discovery[Pg 92] of some inscription or other evidence which might enable us to identify the binder.

The earliest of the important sixteenth-century binders and stationers is Garret Godfrey, and his name is first found affixed to a deed in 1503 which itself relates to the position of stationers and bookbinders in the University. He was a native of the Low Countries, and from the occurrence of the name Graten on some waste sheets extracted from some of his bindings, is supposed to have come from Graten in Limburg. He seems to have occupied a good position in Cambridge, and was chosen as one of the churchwardens of St Mary the Great in 1516, and continued to fill offices in connexion with the church for several years. He died in 1539 and was buried in St Mary’s, while his will, dated September 12, was proved on October 11.

Godfrey was well supplied with binding tools, and we find him in possession of at least five rolls. The most important contains figures of a griffin, a wyvern, and a lion, separated from each other by branches of foliage. Below the lion are the binder’s initials, the second having a sign like an arrow-head springing from the top, representing presumably his merchant’s mark. The workmanship of this roll very much resembles that of some of the fine London rolls of the time, those for example of John Reynes or Thomas Symonds, and it is quite probable that they may all have been engraved by the same man.

Godfrey’s second roll is divided into five divisions. The first four contain a turretted gateway with portcullis, a fleur-de-lys, a pomegranate, and a Tudor rose, each under a canopy and surmounted by a Royal[Pg 93] crown. The fifth contains the binder’s initials G. G. and between them a shield charged with three horse-shoes. This introduction of a private heraldic shield into a bookbinder’s ornament, is, so far as my experience goes, quite without parallel and certainly requires explanation. Occurring as it does, between the binder’s initials, it must obviously have some connexion with him, and the initials are certainly those of Garret Godfrey. The late Sir Augustus Franks suggested that the initials stood for Guido Gimpus. The name is not mentioned by Burke in his Armorial, but Papworth allows a coat “sable, three horse-shoes argent,” to a family, Vytan-Gimpus, on the authority of Glover’s Ordinary. A third roll containing the Royal emblem in compartments, in the same order as in the previous one, also contains his initials, but with no arms. This is a much narrower roll than the second, and poorer in design. The fourth and fifth rolls have no mark or initials, one is of diaper work, the other of interlaced strap work. In addition Godfrey used a few small dies.

Nicholas Speryng, the second stationer, came originally from the Low Countries, and is found settled in Cambridge, perhaps as early as 1506, certainly by 1513. It seems likely that he had worked as a binder before coming to Cambridge, and that he brought some of his binding tools with him. An examination of his bindings shows that he often worked in a more old-fashioned style and with older tools than Godfrey. The ornamental frames on the sides of his bindings are in many cases built up by a repetition of single stamps, a troublesome system superseded by the invention of the roll. As he possessed the stamps he[Pg 94] would naturally use them, but he would not have had them engraved had the use of the roll been then known to him. The two panel stamps which he used are also probably of foreign make. These contain representations of the Annunciation on the one side, and St Nicholas restoring the three murdered children on the other. The Annunciation was a very favourite subject with bookbinders, especially those of the Low Countries, while the St Nicholas had reference to the binder’s Christian name. It is curious to notice that the surname has been wrongly engraved, and reads Spiernick in place of Spierinck. Some years ago some fragments of an edition of Holt’s Grammar, the Lac Puerorum, printed in English at Antwerp by Adrian van Berghen, were found in the Bodleian, which, from the indentations still remaining on them, had clearly formed the boards of one of these bindings, and on one of the fragments the name Speyrinck was written. The piece of paper had doubtless formed the wrapper of a parcel addressed to him.

Speryng’s rolls were all engraved after he came to England. The finest, apparently engraved by the same hand as Godfrey’s, contains figures of a dragon, a lion, and a wyvern amidst sprays of foliage. Between the wyvern and dragon, in a wreath, are his mark and initials. A smaller roll is divided into five compartments, the first four containing a fleur-de-lys, a turretted gateway, a pomegranate, and a Tudor rose, each surmounted by a Royal crown and under a canopy, while the fifth contains his mark and initials. It is an almost exact copy of one of Godfrey’s rolls, with the badges arranged in a different order. There are two varieties[Pg 95] of this roll. In the earlier the binder’s initial S is a rather badly engraved letter of a curious script form, but at a later date it has been re-engraved in the more usual form. Weale, describing the earlier state in one place, reads the initials N. G., and in another ascribes the roll to Segar Nicholson, a later Cambridge stationer.

Speryng had also a roll of diaper work resembling, though clearly differing from, Godfrey’s, and another roll with a graceful pattern of twining foliage and flowers. He also, like Godfrey, had several dies.

There is a binding in Westminster Abbey Library on a copy of a Codex Justiniani printed at Paris in 1515 which both Godfrey and Speryng appear to have had a hand in with remarkable results. First the volume was bound by Godfrey, who ornamented the side with a framework made with his fine broad roll, with two parallel impressions of the same roll inside the panel. The volume somehow came later into Speryng’s hands. He filled up the vacant spaces with his own diaper roll, and then stamped his ornamental roll with his initials over Godfrey’s, mixing the ornaments in hopeless confusion. We find the body of Speryng’s wyvern with the head of one of Godfrey’s animals, and so on.

One roll used by Speryng had belonged to Siberch, and I found it many years ago on a binding in Westminster Abbey Library. Commenting on this binding Mr Gray writes: “We have evidence of Siberch’s grand roll being used by Spierinck on the binding of a Faber, Paris, 1526; the J is obliterated by the N being stamped over it, but not completely, for Siberch’s initial can be plainly seen underneath, and this roll was used with one of Spierinck’s own.” This explanation is hardly[Pg 96] clear. Speryng did not use Siberch’s roll on the binding and then attempt to stamp an N over the J. What he did do was to try and cut on the brass tool itself an N which should replace the J, but the work was clumsily done and portions of the J still show.

The binding of the Faber just mentioned is stamped with Siberch’s mutilated roll and one of Speryng’s diaper rolls, and this was the only known example of the use of the mutilated roll. Not long ago, however, I found in the library of Queen’s College, Oxford, a copy of the Decretals of Panormitanus printed at Lyons in 1524 in four large folio volumes in a magnificent Cambridge binding. On it is used the mutilated roll of Siberch, Speryng’s largest signed roll, and his smaller floral roll. Speryng died about the end of 1545 and was buried in St Mary’s Church. His will, dated August 20, 1545, was proved on January 27 following.

In 1523 an act was passed to prevent the taking of alien apprentices, and a further act of 1529 prohibited aliens, not householders, from exercising any handicraft, but in both acts the two Universities of Oxford and Cambridge were exempted. In the latter year Wolsey was petitioned by the University to be allowed to have three foreign licensed booksellers, and when in 1534 the act was passed restricting the dealings of foreign stationers, special permission was granted to Cambridge to elect three stationers or printers who might be aliens or natives. No similar privilege was either asked for by or granted to Oxford.

The University immediately appointed the three stationers, Nicholas Speryng, Garret Godfrey, and Segar Nicholson, who appear to have been themselves instrumental[Pg 97] in procuring the grant. Strangely enough the date of this grant providing for increased activity apparently exactly coincides with a remarkable cessation of work. No book is known bound by Speryng printed later than 1533, though he did not die until the end of 1545, while the latest dated book bound by Godfrey, who died in 1539, is 1535. After this date we find no more fine bindings. The beautiful broad rolls and panel stamps went out of fashion and were superseded by narrow rolls of formal renaissance ornament. As at Oxford the succession of stationers and binders continued unbroken; but their work is of little interest.

[Pg 98]



The next place after Cambridge is Tavistock, where a book was printed in 1525. It was an edition of the De consolatione philosophiæ of Boethius, translated into verse and divided into eight-line stanzas. In most manuscripts of the poem the author is given as Johannes Capellanus, but at the end of this edition are some verses whose first and last letters give the names of the patroness, Elizabeth Berkeley, and the translator, Johannes Waltwnem or Walton, said to have been a canon of Oseney. The colophon runs: “Enprented in the exempt monastery of Tavestok in Denshyre. By me, Dan Thomas Rychard, monke of the sayd monastery. To the instant desyre of the ryght worshypful esquyer Mayster Robert Langdon, anno d. MDXXV.” It was no doubt produced at the expense of Robert Langdon of Keverell, a rough woodcut of whose arms occurs at the end of the book. He was a wealthy Cornish gentleman, who married an heiress and died in 1548.

The book is printed in a neat and clear black-letter. On the title-page is a woodcut of the Almighty seated[Pg 99] in a diamond-shaped panel, the outside angles being filled with symbols of the four evangelists. Copies of this book are not so rare as is generally supposed. There are two in the Bodleian, and one in Exeter College, Oxford. One is in the Rylands Library, another in St Andrews University, while Lord Bute, Mr Christie Miller, and the Duke of Bedford all have examples.

The only other Tavistock book known is the Charter and Statutes of the Stannary, printed nine years later. The colophon runs: “Here endyth the statutes of the stannary, Imprented yn Tavystoke ye xx. day of August, the yere of the reygne off our soveryne Lord Kynge Henry ye viii. the xxvi. yere.” The book is in quarto, and contains twenty-six leaves of thirty or thirty-one lines. On the title-page is a woodcut of the King’s arms supported by angels, which occurs several times elsewhere in the book. The colophon is on the penultimate leaf, and on the recto of the last leaf is a woodcut of the crucifixion of St Andrew, on the verso the same woodcut of the Almighty as is used in the Boethius. Of this book only one copy is known, in the library of Exeter College, Oxford. It is a most beautifully preserved example, entirely uncut, and was bequeathed to the college with a number of other rare books by the Rev. Joseph Sandford.

The press at Abingdon is represented by one book only, and of that only one copy is known, preserved amongst Archbishop Sancroft’s books in the library of Emmanuel. It is a Breviary printed for the use of the brethren of St Mary’s Monastery, the black monks of the order of St Benedict. It is printed in red and black, in double columns, with thirty-four lines to the[Pg 100] page, and there are no headlines, catchwords, or numbers to the leaves. When complete it should have contained 358 leaves, but unfortunately two leaves of the Kalendar containing the months from May to August are missing. The Kalendar at present consists of four leaves, three signed AI, AII, AIII, and one unsigned leaf; and the missing two leaves should have come between AII and AIII, which looks as though the printer had originally omitted them by mistake. But so important an error could not remain uncorrected. A very curious point about the book is that one part is set up entirely in quires of sixes, while the rest is set up in a way common to several early English printers, in quires alternately of eight and four leaves, thus doing away with the half sheet. The colophon states that the book was printed by John Scolar in the monastery of the blessed virgin at Abingdon, in the year of our Lord, 1528, and of Thomas Rowland, the abbot, the seventeenth year. Another colophon gives the more exact date of September 12. Throughout the book occur some curious woodcut initials. Two, a large E and S, are exceedingly bad copies of good work. A large C contains the figure of a knight in armour, a very close copy of one used earlier at Cambridge.

The printer, John Scolar, is doubtless the Oxford printer of 1517-18, but where he had been or what he had been doing in the intervening ten years we have not the slightest evidence to show. Since he is not mentioned among the stationers and booksellers in the Oxford Lay Subsidy Roll of 1524, we may presume he was not in the town.

The last of these monastic presses was at St Alban’s.[Pg 101] The earlier press, spoken of in a previous lecture, was at work from about 1480 to 1486, but we have no reason for believing that it was connected with the abbey. The town is specifically mentioned in the colophons with no reference to the abbey, nor is any person connected with the abbey mentioned as favouring or assisting in the production of the books. As regards the revived press the case is quite different. The books were produced at the request of the abbot, Robert Catton, or his successor, Richard Stevenage, and the latter’s close connexion with the press is shown by the occurrence of his initials in the device placed at the end of some of the books.

The second St Alban’s press was at work from 1534 up to the time of the suppression of the abbey in 1539. One book, however, may be earlier than this date, a Breviary of St Alban’s use. The unique copy is in the library of the Marquis of Bute at Cardiff Castle, but I have never had an opportunity of examining it, nor have any facsimiles from it been published, so that it is impossible to determine when or where it was printed. The librarian at Cardiff Castle considers it to have been printed at the abbey about 1526.

In 1534 was issued the Lyfe and passion of Seint Albon prothomartyr of Englande, translated by John Lidgate, and printed at the request of Robert Catton, abbot of St Alban’s. This book, of which two copies are known, has no printer’s name or place of printing, but is generally ascribed to Herford’s press. The next book is Gwynneth’s Confutation of Frith’s Book, dated 1536. Of this there is a copy in the University Library. It again contains no printer’s name, but has a device[Pg 102] having in the centre the initials R. S. joined by a band, standing for Richard Stevenage, the last abbot of St Alban’s. In 1537 there is an edition of the Introduction for to lerne to reken with the pen. A copy was mentioned by Ames as in the possession of W. Jones, Esq., but this has since disappeared, though a last leaf containing the device is said to be amongst the Bagford fragments. There may be some confusion between this and Bourman’s edition, whose device was very similar to the one used by Herford. The description given by Herbert makes no mention of printer, place, or device, merely the date 1537.

Three more books are quoted by Herbert under the year 1538. A godly disputation between Justus and Peccator, The rule of an honest life, written by Martin, bishop of Dumience, and An epistle against the enemies of poor people. Two, if not three, appear to have had full colophons, stating that they were printed at St Alban’s by John Herford for Richard Stevenage, but unfortunately no copies of any of these books are now known, so that we have no book which contains Herford’s name which was printed at St Alban’s. These three books were originally mentioned in Maunsell’s catalogue, but Herbert’s entries are considerably fuller and must have been derived from some other source. There is no reason to doubt their genuineness, and we know from other evidence that Herford was at St Alban’s.

An undated book, printed at St Alban’s by Herford, was in Lord Spencer’s collection, and is now at Manchester. It is entitled, A very declaration of the bond and free wyll of man: the obedyence of the gospell and what the very gospell meaneth. This book, hitherto[Pg 103] unknown to bibliographers, contains the name of the place only, and has no date or printer’s name.

In 1539 Herford appears to have been indiscreet and to have printed some very unorthodox book. Among the State papers is a letter from Stevenage, the abbot, to Thomas Cromwell, in which he writes: “Sent John Pryntare to London with Harry Pepwell, Bonere [Bonham] and Tabbe of Powlles churchyard stationers, to order him at your pleasure. Never heard of the little book of detestable heresies till the stationers showed it me.” The book spoken of must have been considered to be of importance, when three of the leading London stationers were sent down to make inquiries about it. It may be that this was the undated book last mentioned, for it alone is without the name or device of the abbot himself, yet if the printer had thought that he was publishing anything obnoxious to the powers, he would hardly have added “printed at St Alban’s” to his book. The abbot’s letter was dated October 12, and two months later the abbey was handed over to Henry VIII.’s commissioners. Of Herford we hear nothing more for five years.

On the suppression of the abbey the printing material was moved to London, where it was used for a short time by a printer, Nicholas Bourman. Now the name of the last abbot of St Alban’s was Richard Stevenage or Boreman, and it is quite probable that this Nicholas was some relative to whom the presses and type were entrusted during Herford’s absence. The device used by Bourman was almost identical with that used at St Alban’s by Herford, the initials of Richard Stevenage in the latter being replaced by[Pg 104] N. B., and a book which had been printed in the abbey, the Introduction to learn to reckon with the pen, was reprinted by Bourman in 1539. The last definite date in a St Alban’s book is 1538, and, in the following year, Herford, the printer, was taken to London and presumably imprisoned or punished. The abbot was left with the printing material on his hands, which we may suppose from the occurrence of his initials in the device to have been at any rate partly his property. He therefore transferred it to London for the use of his relative until such time as Herford could resume work. This Herford did in 1544, and Bourman transferred the material back to him. After this Bourman’s name is found in no book, though he was a member of the Stationers’ Company and lived to the year 1560.

The death of Henry VIII. and the accession of Edward VI. in 1547 gave a fresh impetus to printing, and presses were set up in three new towns, Ipswich, Worcester, and Canterbury. For some years previous to this no book had been printed outside London, and with the religious opinions changing from day to day, even the London printers themselves hardly knew what they might or might not issue without fear of prosecution. Numbers of persons who had fled abroad returned, and with them came an immense number of foreigners seeking refuge from their own religious persecutions abroad. As might be expected, the three new presses were mainly devoted to printing books on the religious questions then occupying the attention of the public.

At Ipswich, some years before printing was introduced there, we find a book issued by a publisher. This was an edition of the Historia Evangelica of Juvencus,[Pg 105] and its imprint stated that it was to be sold at Ipswich in 1534 by Reginald Oliver. A copy occurred in the first part of Heber’s sale and was bought by Thorpe, the bookseller, but since then all trace of it has disappeared. The edition was probably that printed by Joannes Graphaeus at Antwerp with Oliver’s imprint added to a certain number of copies, and this is rendered more likely by the fact that the same printer issued in the same year an edition of the Rudimenta-Grammatices, a school-book which had been prescribed in 1528 by Cardinal Wolsey for use in the school which he had just founded at Ipswich. Wolsey prescribed the use of this book and others, not only for the use of his special school at Ipswich, but throughout England, and we find a number of editions printed at Antwerp to be sent over to England for sale. Juvencus was one of the authors whose book was recommended for use.

Of Reginald Oliver we hear nothing more. He took out letters of denization in 1535 in which he is described as “of Phrisia,” and is perhaps the Reynold Oliver who translated a tract about an earthquake in Mechlin in 1546 printed by Richard Lant.

As a stationer Oliver would be also a bookbinder, and perhaps the panel stamp may be assigned to him signed with the initials R. O. and a trade-mark. The panel is divided by a vertical line into two halves each filled by a large medallion. That on the right contains the Tudor rose, the left the Royal arms. In the left-hand upper corner is a shield with the cross of St George, in the right the binder’s mark. If he had been a London binder, this would have contained the city arms. There is nothing to connect this binding with[Pg 106] Oliver except the initials, but these are uncommon, and no other stationer with them is known.

The first person to begin printing at Ipswich was a certain Anthony Scoloker, whom most writers have considered to be a foreigner, but who is definitely spoken of in the Subsidy Rolls as an Englishman. He was an educated man, printing translations of his own from French and German, and it is not improbable that he had left England on account of religious persecutions, and had returned under the milder rule of Edward. His settlement in Ipswich for a few months may perhaps be traced to the influence of Richard Argentine, a schoolmaster and physician of that town, who was a vigorous reformer in the reign of Edward, a violent Catholic in the time of Mary, and a penitent Protestant again under Elizabeth, dying in 1568 as rector of St Helen’s in Ipswich.

Of the seven books printed by Scoloker at Ipswich, three were translations by himself, three by Argentine, while the seventh was translated by Richard Rice, Abbot of Conway. The first book issued was The just reckoning of the whole number of years to 1547 translated by Scoloker from the German; of this an imperfect copy is in the University Library. His two other translations were A Godly disputation between a shoemaker and a parson, of which there is a copy in a private library, and The Ordinary for all faithful Christians. Of this there is a copy in the Rylands Library. Argentine’s three translations are Luther’s Sermon upon John xx. and the true use of the keys, Ochino’s Sermons, and Ulrich Zwingli’s Certain precepts. Copies of these three books are not uncommon. The book translated[Pg 107] by Rice was Hermann’s Right Institution of Baptism.

The Just Reckoning was translated by July 6, 1547, and, we may presume, printed shortly afterwards, but the remaining six books were all printed in the first five months of 1548. The dates of the translations of the three books by Argentine are January 28, January 30, and February 13. At the end of Zwingli’s Certain precepts, the earliest of Argentine’s translations, occurs Scoloker’s device, a hand reaching from the clouds and holding a coin to a touchstone inscribed “Verbum Dei.” From the clouds in the left-hand corner a face, representing the Holy Spirit, blows upon the stone. Below is printed the text, “Prove the spirits whether they be of God.”

Scoloker’s residence in Ipswich was a short one, probably because he did not meet with sufficient encouragement, and by June 1548 he was settled in London, for a book by John Frith, dated June 30, was issued by Anthony Scoloker and William Seres, dwelling without Aldersgate. This was printed by Scoloker and has his device on the last leaf. At London he continued in business until at least 1550.

The next printer to be noticed is John Overton, if indeed he ever existed, for it may be stated at once that nothing is known of him but his name. This is found in the colophon of Bale’s Catalogue of British Writers from the time of Japhet, son of the most holy Noah, up to the year 1548, which states explicitly that the book was printed at Ipswich in England by John Overton on July 31, 1548. On the other hand we find on the title-page of a number of copies a no less[Pg 108] definite statement that the book was printed at Wesel by Theodoricus Plateanus on July 31, 1548. One thing is clear from an examination of the book itself, and that is that it was certainly printed abroad, and Bale himself, in the introduction which he wrote to John Leland’s little book, entitled The laborious journey and search of John Leland, writes, “Since I returned home again from Germany where as I both collected and emprinted my simple work De Scriptoribus Britannicis.” Most writers have tried to make the two statements agree by suggesting that the main body of the book was printed abroad and brought over in sheets, and that it was completed after its arrival with two sheets printed by Overton at Ipswich. But these sheets unfortunately are in exactly the same type as the rest of the book. The Ipswich colophon occurs in all copies of the book, but the Wesel imprint only in some. A possible explanation may be found in the legal restrictions regarding the importation of foreign books. As regards copies sold abroad it would not matter where they were printed, but imported copies might meet with difficulties. Hence perhaps the Ipswich colophon and the suppression of the Wesel imprint.

The suspicion which gathered round the book and its imprints naturally spread to the printer himself, Theodoricus Plateanus. Was he a real person or not? Like John Overton, his name was only known from its occurrence in this book, and it was often assumed to be fictitious. A recent fortunate discovery made by Mr Murray of Trinity has proved that he was a genuine printer. Fragments of several books in Latin and German were found used in the binding of an English[Pg 109] law-book, and on one of these was a colophon, dated 1548, the same date as Bale’s De Scriptoribus, “Drück tho Wesel by Dirick van der straten,” and leaves of Bale’s book were among the fragments. The discovery is particularly fortunate, not only as supplying the printer’s real name, which may enable us to trace him further, but also as showing us new founts of type undoubtedly used by him, and which were used also in several foreign printed English books which up to now could only be conjecturally assigned to certain towns or presses. Besides the De Scriptoribus Britannicis several other of Bale’s works can now be definitely assigned to him.

The last of the three Ipswich printers and the most important was John Oswen, perhaps from his name and later connexion with Wales, a Welshman. He printed in the town apparently only during the latter half of 1548, but in that period issued ten if not more books. These are all without exception works of the reformers, Calvin, Oecolampadius, Melanchthon, and others. Calvin is represented by two books, A brief declaration of the feigned sacrament, and A treatise on what a faithful man ought to do dwelling among the papists. Of the latter book there is a copy in the University Library, of the former no copy is at present known.

Melanchthon’s book Of the true authoritie of the Church, and Oecolampadius’ Epistle, that there ought to be no respect of personages of the poor, are both quoted by Herbert though no copies seem to be known at present.

Of the remaining six books, there are copies of two in the University Library, bequeathed by Mr[Pg 110] Sandars. These are: A new book containing an exhortation to the sick, of which another copy is in the British Museum, and a curious little 16mo volume, An invectyve agaynst dronkennes, of which the Cambridge copy is the only one known. Several bibliographies speak of it as a fragment, but though not in good condition it wants only the last leaf which would have been blank, or contained a device: all the text is complete.

There are copies of two other books in the library of Clare College, Peter Moone’s Short treatise of certain things abused in the Popish church long used, and John Ramsey’s Plaister for a galled horse. Both these books are rhyming attacks on the Catholics. There is another copy of the first in the British Museum, but the two leaves in the University Library which were supposed to belong to this edition are really from the press of William Copland in London. Of Ramsey’s book the copy at Clare is the only one known, but another edition was printed at London by Raynalde in the same year. The next book is a translation of Anthony Marcourt’s work, entitled, A declaration of the Mass; of this there is a copy in the Bodleian, and finally there is another issue of Hegendorff’s Domestical or household sermons, of which there is a copy in the British Museum.


Title-page of the Exhortation to the Sick, printed at
Ipswich by John Oswen in 1548.

Oswen and Scoloker between them printed within a year at least eighteen books at Ipswich, all of them expounding the religious views of the reformers, and examples of fourteen are known. Though there may have been other inducements which caused these printers to settle in that town, no doubt one of the chief reasons was its accessibility to the Continent. Numbers of English people who had fled abroad during [Pg 111]the religious troubles of Henry’s reign were pouring back into the country, and many would pass through Ipswich, and would purchase to carry with them for their own use and for their friends copies of the books which set forth the religious views for which they had undergone such hardships, but which seemed at last to be on the winning side. Again Ipswich, while easy to get to, was equally easy to get away from, so that perhaps discretion caused the printers to wait and see how their books were received before they definitely settled in an inland town.

Oswen, though he continued in business a few months longer than Scoloker, seems also to have found Ipswich an unremunerative centre for his work, and towards the end of 1548, crossing with his material from the east to the west of England, settled at Worcester. On January 6, 2 Edward VI., that is at the beginning of 1549, Oswen obtained a privilege from the King to print “every kind of book or books set forth by us concerning the service to be used in churches, ministration of the sacraments, and instruction of our subjects of the Principality of Wales and marches thereunto belonging for seven years, prohibiting all other persons whatsoever from printing the same.” What this privilege definitely meant, or what use Oswen made of it, is not clear. He certainly printed nothing concerning the service of the church, or for the instruction of the subjects, specially adapted to the Principality of Wales. He printed editions of the Prayer-book and New Testament, but they were in English and varied in no respect from the editions put forth by the authorised printers, Whitchurch and[Pg 112] Grafton. The three or four Welsh books issued in the vernacular during the period in which his privilege was in force, Salisbury’s Dictionary in English and Welsh and Introduction to Welsh pronunciation, extracts from the laws of Hoel, and the Epistles and Gospels in Welsh, books both for the instruction of the subject and the service of the Church, were printed by other printers. For these, or some of them, at any rate, privileges had been obtained from Henry VIII. By the beginning of 1549 Oswen was settled in Worcester in the High Street, issuing a book as early as January 30. Besides his printing office in Worcester he appears to have had another shop absolutely on the Welsh border, for at the end of some of his colophons are the words: “They be also to sell at Shrewsbury.”

Oswen’s four editions of the New Testament, from 1548 to 1550, as given by Herbert, seem to resolve themselves into one quarto edition dated January 12, 1550. Of the Prayer-book there were certainly three issues. The first is a quarto dated May 24, 1549. It contains an injunction which “streightly chargeth and commaundeth that no maner of person do sell this present boke unbounde, above the price of II Shillinges and two pence ye piece. And the same bound in paste or in boordes, not above the pryce of thre shillynges and eyght pence the piece.” The next edition, a folio, dated July 30, 1549, has a similar injunction fixing the price at two shillings and sixpence unbound, and four shillings bound. It will be noticed that His Highness’s Council in their wisdom decreed that the cost of binding a quarto and a folio should be exactly the same, namely eighteen pence. The last issue, the rarest of all, was a[Pg 113] folio printed in 1552. Apart from Prayer-books and Testaments we know of seventeen books printed by Oswen in the four years between 1549 and 1553. Seven in 1549, five in 1550, three in 1551, and two in 1553.

The first book issued in 1549 was Henry Hart’s Consultorie for all Christians. This is dated January 30, but is probably 1549 rather than 1550, since the printer has printed at the beginning his newly-granted privilege in full.

Six other books are dated 1549. Of these three, Hegendorff’s Household Sermons, The Dialogue between the seditious anabaptist and the true Christian, translated by John Veron, and the Spiritual Matrimony between Christ and the Church, are given by Herbert, but he had apparently never seen copies and none are at present known. Of Certeyne sermons appointed by the King’s majesty to be read, there are two copies in the British Museum. Herbert quotes A message from King Edward VI., concerning obedience to religion, as printed by Oswen at Worcester, August 5, 1549. This is apparently another edition of the message “to certain of his people assembled in Devonshire” printed by Grafton in July, but addressed to the people of Wales.

The last of the year’s books was a Psalter printed in red and black and issued on September 1, of which there is a copy in the British Museum.

For the year 1550 there are four books, and of these one St Ambrose, Of opression, said to be translated by Oswen himself, is known only from the entry in Herbert, derived from Maunsell’s catalogue. The other three, Zwingli’s Short pathway to the Scriptures, The godly sayings of the old, ancient faithful fathers translated by[Pg 114] John Veron, and Gribald’s Notable and marvellous epistle, are known, the first two from copies in the University Library and elsewhere, the last from a copy in the Bodleian. To the end of this year we may ascribe a very rare little octavo, Almanack and prognostication for the year of our Lord 1551. Practised by Simon Heringius and Lodowyke Boyard. In April 1551 a new edition was issued of Bullinger’s Dialogue between the rebel Anabaptist and the true Christian, which is known from copies in the Bodleian and Brasenose College Library. Herbert had quoted an earlier edition of 1549, of which no copy is known and which is perhaps due to some confusion with the present edition. Bullinger’s Most sure and strong defence of the baptism of children, translated by John Veron, was also issued this year, and a copy is in the Bodleian. The third and last book of 1551 was issued in May, Hooper’s Godly and most necessary annotations in the XIII. chapter to the Romans, of which there is a copy in the University Library.

From May 1551 until May 1553, exactly two years, no dated book is known from Oswen’s Worcester press, except the folio Prayer-book of 1552. Nor is there any undated book to be ascribed to these years, for Oswen’s books, so far as we know, are all dated. This is another of those unaccountable gaps that we so often find in the career of a printer.

The last two Worcester books were issued in 1553, a Homily to be read in time of pestilence, written by Bishop Hooper and dated May 18, and the Statutes of the seventh year of Edward VI. A copy of the Homily is in the University Library. It is a handsomely[Pg 115] printed thin quarto, and has on the title-page besides four border-pieces, a woodcut of the Royal arms with supporters, and another of the youthful king seated on his throne. The Statutes are described by Herbert from a copy in his own possession, but where it is at present is not known.

Oswen printed altogether at Worcester some twenty-one books, so that it heads the list of provincial presses as regards numbers. The press is also noticeable for the comparative excellence of the printing and the variety of good border-pieces and initial letters, very much superior to the material used by most of the contemporary printers. From the class of books he issued we can well understand the cessation of his press as soon as Mary succeeded to the throne.

There remain three books to be noticed which appear to be connected with Oswen. These are John Sawtry’s Defence of the marriage of priests, another book with a similar title by Philip Melanchthon, and lastly a Treatise of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The colophon of the first runs: “Printed at Awryk by Jan Troost, 1541 in August,” that of the second, “Printed at Lipse by Ubryght Hoff,” while the title-page says, “Translated out of latyne into englisshe by Lewes Beuchame in the yere of the Lorde 1541 in August.” The colophon of the last runs: “At Grunning 1541 April 27.” The three books are obviously from the same press; initials, borders, type, all agree, and copies are in some cases bound together. They are no less obviously printed in England, but by whom? The only clue so far is an initial M which appears identical with one used by Oswen, while on the other hand the[Pg 116] borders do not occur in any of Oswen’s books though he uses a large selection. Again, why should all three books be dated 1541 which, if they were the work of Oswen, must be a false date. Though admitting the clue which connects them with Oswen, it would be safer for the present until more evidence is forthcoming to class them under “printer unidentified.”

At present, though a good start has been made in the Catalogue of Early English Books in the University Library, a very great deal remains to be done, and if done at all to be done very carefully, on the subject of books with fictitious imprints or with none at all. Hitherto if there was anything the least strange in the appearance of a book, or if its subject were of a controversial nature, it was promptly docketed “printed at a secret press on the Continent.” That many such books were printed at Continental presses is quite clear, but in the majority of cases any danger in connexion with such books was not to the printer, but to the person who introduced them into this country. In consequence the foreign printers rarely tried to deceive, and once their types are properly identified, it is not difficult to ascribe foreign printed books to their right printers. But on the other hand, I suspect that a considerable number of books now generally ascribed to Continental presses were really produced in this country. The wording of various enactments against seditious books makes it clear that the authorities of the period at any rate considered that numbers were printed in this country, and if that is so we must look for them outside the ordinary and known productions of our regular printers. If we take away all the unsigned[Pg 117] books which may be clearly ascribed to foreign presses, a very large number will still remain about which we know, for the present at any rate, little or nothing.

Canterbury was the last of the provincial towns to start a press, and its first book was an edition of the Psalter printed in 1549. One or two early writers, however, quoted a book printed there about 1525. The title runs: A goodly narration how St Augustine the Apostle of England raysed two dead bodies at Longcompton, collected out of divers authors, translated by John Lidgate, Monke of Bury. Printed at St Austens at Canterburie in 4to. No copy of the book is at present known, but it is conjectured that, like another book connected with Canterbury, The history of King Boccus and Sydracke, it may have been printed by a London printer, “at the coste and charge of Dan Robert Saltwoode, monke of St Austen’s at Cantorbery.”

John Mychell, the first printer, seems to have begun his career in London, where he printed two books, the Life of St Margaret and the Life of St Gregory’s mother, at a printing office with a long and interesting history, The long shop in the Poultry. He probably worked there between the tenancies of Richard Kele, who left it in 1546, and his apprentice Alde, who worked there later. Mr Allnutt, in an article on Provincial Presses, asserts that he quitted Canterbury for London in the reign of Queen Mary and quotes these two books as proof, but that would mean that he came to London after 1555, in which case we might expect to find some mention of him in the Stationers’ Registers, and at that time, too, the long shop in the Poultry was occupied[Pg 118] by another printer. I think it may be taken for certain that he went from London to Canterbury.

Mychell’s first Canterbury book, the Psalter or psalms of David after the translation of the great Bible, printed in 1549, is an extremely rare book. The only copy quoted by bibliographers is one which was in Dr Lort’s sale in 1791. This copy passed to Lord Spencer and is now in the Rylands Library. It was reissued again in 1550 and a copy is in the University Library. The only known copy of the other book issued in 1550, John Lamberd’s Treatise of predestination, is also in the University Library. In 1552 and 1553 there were at least three issues of a Breviat Chronicle compiled or at any rate edited by Mychell himself.

The nine undated books which he issued were mainly theological and controversial. One of these, entitled Newes from Rome concerning the blasphemous sacrifice of the papisticall Masse, was printed for E. Campion. It is curious, considering the title of the book, that this E. Campion was in all probability the London bookseller of the time, Edmund Campion, the father of the celebrated Jesuit martyr.

Two others are quoted by Herbert, A short epistle to all such as do contempne the marriage of us poor preestes and The spirituall matrimonye betweene Chryste, and the Soul, no copies of either being at present known, though a title-page of the second is among the Bagford fragments.

Mychell printed also an edition of Stanbridge’s Accidence, of Lidgate’s Churl and Bird, and of Robert Saltwood’s Comparison between four birds. Saltwood was keeper of the chapel of the Virgin Mary at Canterbury[Pg 119] when on December 4, 1539, he signed the surrender. His name is not found after this nor does he appear in the list of pensioners. He seems to have taken an interest in poetry, and it was for him that the Boccus and Sydracke was printed, so perhaps we may trace to his instigation the separate works of Lidgate which Mychell printed. In the colophon to his own book Saltwood is described only as monk, with no mention of Canterbury, and the place of printing is not stated, so that it may have been issued by Mychell at London.

Mary’s succession seems to have caused the cessation of the press, and certainly the class of theological works, which had been its main output, was not such as would be received with favour under the changed conditions.

Mychell, however, still remained at Canterbury, though his press was idle. The only piece of printing that can be assigned to him after Mary’s accession is a semi-official tract of four leaves. Articles to be enquyred in thordinary visitacion of the most reverende father in God, the Lorde Cardinall Pooles grace Archebyshop of Caunterbury wythin hys Dioces of Cantorbury. In the yeare of our Lorde God M. V. C. Lvi. Pole was only consecrated Archbishop in March 1556, so that the pamphlet must have been printed after that date. No perfect copy is known, but the first and last leaves, which belonged to Herbert and which he described in his Typographical Antiquities, are now in the Douce Collection in the Bodleian. The pamphlet is unique in another respect, as it is the only piece of provincial printing in England issued during Mary’s reign.

Ames in his History of Printing, published in 1749, mentions two books printed for Martin Coffin, a stationer[Pg 120] living at Exeter. The first, an edition of Stanbridge’s Vocabula, was printed at Rouen by Lawrence Hostingue and Jamet Loys. This would put the date about 1505 when these two printers were in partnership and before 1508 when Hostingue left Rouen.

The other book is an edition of Catho cum commento, also printed at Rouen by Richard Goupil who was at work about 1510. This is also mentioned in Bagford’s notes. The first of these books was sold in Thomas Rawlinson’s sale where Ames probably saw it, and the second may perhaps have been bound up with it, but since that sale in 1727 all traces of them have disappeared.

Martin Coffin remained some time longer in England, for we find him taking out letters of denization in the year 1524 on April 28, and in these he is described as a bookbinder.

Lastly we may notice two books printed abroad which, by having the names of English towns printed in their colophons, have sometimes been considered as the productions of English provincial presses. The earlier of the two is The Rescuyinge of the Romish Fox written by William Turner under the pseudonym of William Wraghton. The book is a violent attack on Stephen Gardiner, then Bishop of Winchester, and ends with the colophon: “Imprinted have at Winchester. Anno Domini, 1545. By me Hanse Hit Prik.” The obvious meaning is that the fictitious Hans Hitprik has imprinted the book against the bishop, not at the town, of Winchester. Nevertheless the book has been quoted over and over again as a Winchester printed book.

[Pg 121]

The second book is Luther’s Faythfull admonycion of a certen true pastor, with the colophon, “Imprinted at Grenewych by Conrade Freeman in the month of May 1554. With the most gracious licence and privilege of God almighty, King of heaven and earth.” This last sentence is quite enough to show the nature of the work, and that the name of the place and printer are alike fictitious.

Both books are apparently from the press of Christopher Froschover at Zurich, a prolific printer of controversial books.

In Seyer’s Memoirs of Bristol, published in 1823, the claim was put forward for the existence of an early press at Bristol on the strength of extracts from some manuscript Kalendars to the effect that “In the year 1546 a press for printing was set up in the castle which is used daily to the honour of God.” No trace of anything printed at Bristol in the sixteenth century has been found, and perhaps the date quoted may be an error for 1646, about which time a press was certainly at work in the town issuing sermons and other tracts.

When we consider the places where presses were at work during this period, or where stationers lived who commissioned books, it seems surprising that other towns of equal or greater importance have nothing to show printed or published in them. So much that has come down to us has survived by so slender a chance that there is always the hope that further information may be found and other towns added to our list. Hereford is only represented in a colophon by the unique copy of one book, Exeter by two books which have been lost for over a hundred and fifty years.

[Pg 122]

Chester, for example, is a town where we might have expected to find books printed or published. The stationers there were certainly important, for they formed themselves along with the heraldic painters and embroiderers into a company which obtained a charter from the Mayor and Aldermen on the feast of St Philip and St James in 1534, formally enrolled in 1536. After some trouble I ran the registers of the Company to earth, but unfortunately the first volume has been lost, so that the records between the years 1536 and 1587 are missing, and any information about the period we are now concerned with, irrecoverable at present.

Chester was the centre of a large and important district, and was also the chief port of embarkation for Ireland (it was from there that Edward King set out on his ill-fated voyage), so that we might well expect its stationers to have published something, or some printer to have set up a press. And there are many other towns in a similar position. We know from records that they supported a number of stationers, and it is hard to believe that nothing was printed for them, even an almanack.

Within the period we have been examining, roughly the hundred years since the invention of printing up to the passing of the Stationers’ Company’s Charter in 1557, printing had been practised in nine provincial towns. The two fifteenth-century presses, Oxford and St Alban’s, ceased simultaneously in 1486. York, away in the north of England, had a press at work between 1509 and 1516. Then comes a curious revival; a second press at Oxford from 1517 to 1519, a press at[Pg 123] Cambridge in 1521 and 1522, at Tavistock in 1525 and 1534, at Abingdon in 1528, and a second at St Alban’s from 1534 to 1538. Then came the Reformation and the accompanying changes in the old order of things after which not one of the old presses ventured to start again. The accession of Edward VI. seems to have given a new impetus to book-production, and the remaining three of the early provincial presses were started during his reign, Ipswich working in 1547 and 1548, Worcester from 1548 to 1553, and Canterbury from 1549 to 1556.

When we come to sum up the books produced, it must be admitted that the output was miserably small. Between 1478 and 1556 the provincial presses of England issued about one hundred and eleven books, not three books in two years; twenty-one more books were printed for provincial stationers, bringing up the number to one hundred and thirty-two, not two books a year. Between 1478 and 1516, thirty books were printed in three towns; between 1517 and 1538, twenty-six in five towns; and between 1548 and 1556, fifty-five books in three towns. The output of many foreign provincial towns far surpassed that of all the English put together.

But in looking at the history of the book trade in England during the period, one point is especially striking, the very great disproportion between the numbers of printers and of stationers. The books produced by the English presses formed but an infinitesimal portion of the literature circulated in the country. The number of printers we can reckon fairly accurately, for there must be few, if any, who have left no trace; with stationers it is quite otherwise, for we are almost entirely dependent on records and registers, of which[Pg 124] vast numbers have utterly perished. In these early times, fortunately for us, if unfortunately for themselves, people seem to have been continually engaged in lawsuits, and it is from records of law pleas and actions that much of our information is derived, though often it consists of mere names.

It is very difficult for us now to arrive at a clear conception of the position of a stationer or the character of the book trade of that period. Reading and writing were not very common accomplishments, books were relatively expensive and purchasers must have been few, yet in a small town like Bury St Edmund’s we find about the year 1505 no fewer than six stationers. We know the names of six, there may have been more, yet how were even six to earn a livelihood? The trade of a stationer then was more comprehensive than now, for he was a bookseller and a bookbinder, but even then his business cannot have been large and would hardly be sufficient to keep him. It is clear, however, from numerous contemporary references, that stationers often engaged in other business apart from their own. We find them dealing in various things besides books, but by far the most favourite occupation supplementary to selling books was to keep a public-house. Numbers of the early stationers are spoken of also as beer brewers. In the Oxford University Archives we constantly find licences granted to the booksellers to sell wine or beer. The early English printer, Jean Barbier, who had worked at London and Westminster at the end of the fifteenth century, is cited in a London lawsuit as “Johannes Barbour nuper de Coventre, bere brewer, alias dictus Jehanne Berbier nuper de Coventre, prenter.” Anthony de[Pg 125] Solen, the first printer at Norwich, was admitted a freeman of that city on the condition “that he shall not occupye eny trade of marchandise eyther from the parts beyonde the seas or from London, but onely his arte of prynting and selling of Renysh wyne.” References to this dual business are very frequent, and it seems to have continued as late as the seventeenth century.

The importation of foreign books into England during the end of the fifteenth and early part of the sixteenth centuries must have been very large. The revival of learning was setting in, the country was gaining a reputation for scholarship and attracting foreign students, and every encouragement was given by the authorities to the book trade. In the grant given to Peter Actors, he was allowed to import books without paying customs, so that there was some tax upon imported books, though it was probably very slight.

For almost every class of book of a learned character the English purchaser was dependent on the foreign printer, and English scholars as a rule sent their own works to the Continent to be printed on account of the greater facilities and probably also for the lesser cost.

The two classes of tradesmen who dealt in books were well described by Fuller in the seventeenth century. The one he calls “stationarii, publickly avouching the sale of staple books in standing shops, whence they have their names,” the other he designates “circumforanean pedlers, ancestors to our modern Mercuries and hawkers.” No doubt, as on the Continent, the stationer was accustomed to send round periodically a van laden with books from town to town, and village to village, and, putting up at the village inn, advertise and show his wares there.

[Pg 126]

The chief opportunity for selling books was at the various fairs, and to these the agents of the London booksellers would journey, not only to sell books to the public, but to do wholesale business with the local stationers. It is quite clear that a large number of important foreign printers and publishers kept premises in London, and their representatives would also be present at the fairs. These fairs were very important centres of trade. They continued for a week, sometimes two, and while they continued, the ordinary shops of the town were compelled to close. There is evidence to show that to the principal fairs many of the London booksellers went themselves, leaving their shops in charge of an assistant. In 1487 an attempt was made by the Corporation of London to prevent London freemen attending local fairs, but a general outcry was made that many goods, amongst them books, would not be obtainable, and the ordinance was repealed. The subject of the book trade at fairs is too large to be considered here, but it must be remembered that by far the largest fair in England, a not unworthy rival to Frankfurt, was held at Sturbridge by Cambridge, and it retained its reputation for bookselling for some centuries.

After the first quarter of the sixteenth century the freedom of the foreign book trade was menaced by many ominous acts culminating in the act of 1534, which seriously interfered with the sale of foreign books and the trade of the foreign stationer, and about the same time the disuse and suppression of the various service books destroyed another branch of the trade.

The book trade received a further severe blow from the literary side by the advent in England of what was[Pg 127] contemptuously styled by many of the old scholars with distrust and dislike, the “New Learning,” the teachings of Luther, Melanchthon, and the reformers. The revival of learning and classical study which had given so great an impetus to the book trade was superseded by religious and doctrinal quarrelling, which, though for a time encouraging the importation of controversial pamphlets, soon brought down upon all concerned the heavy hand of authority, with the result that, while the literature of the “New Learning” was prohibited, the demand for books of other classes had ceased.

The last twenty years of Henry VIII.’s reign was an anxious time for printers and booksellers; it seemed impossible to foretell what might safely be printed. Books which one year were condemned to be burnt appeared a couple of years afterwards, “cum privilegio regali.” During these years, therefore, we find the provincial press almost entirely unrepresented: between 1538 and 1548 not a single book was printed, at any rate overtly, and in the ten years before that, hardly half a dozen. As we have seen, the short reign of Edward VI. saw more books printed in the provincial towns than had been produced since the invention of printing, but this fruitful time was short.

The accession of Mary was marked by an outpouring of seditious books which naturally did not please the ruling powers. Several enactments were issued against them, seemingly with little effect. Finally, in 1557, Philip and Mary, “considering and manifestly perceiving that several seditious and heretical books, both in verse and prose, are daily published, stamped and printed by divers scandalous, schismatical, and heretical persons, not only exciting our subjects and liegemen to[Pg 128] sedition and disobedience against us, our crown and dignity, but also to the renewal and propagating very great and detestable heresies against the faith and sound catholic doctrine of holy mother the church,” determined upon a decisive step. The weapon they forged was ingenious. They granted a Charter to the Stationers’ Company forbidding anyone to print who did not belong to it. The stationers were naturally active in putting down anything which competed with themselves, while the King and Queen could in their turn keep a firm grasp on the stationers. The various enactments of the Stationers’ Charter practically put an end to the provincial book trade.

In my brief survey of the subject I hope I have at any rate shown some of the many points of interest with which it abounds. It is one moreover eminently associated with the name of Mr Sandars. The provincial presses always had a great attraction for him, and to his liberality the University Library is indebted for many of the specimens it possesses.

Perhaps what may have struck you most is how much we have yet to learn on the subject, how little we really know. A good deal of what has been said has been, not about books which we now possess, but about books which we have lost. A cloud of obscurity still hangs over the subject, but the cloud has a silver lining. Think how much there still remains for us to discover.

[Pg 129]




When more than three copies of a book are known, only three are quoted, preference being given to those in the great libraries.


A British Museum. Q New College, Oxford.
B Bodleian. R Oriel College, Oxford.
C Cambridge University. S Queen’s College, Oxford.
D John Rylands Library. T St John’s College, Cambridge.
E Bibliothèque Nationale. U St John’s College, Oxford.
F Lambeth Palace. V Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.
G Balliol College, Oxford. W Trinity College, Cambridge.
H Brasenose College, Oxford. X Wadham College, Oxford.
I Clare College, Cambridge. Y York Minster.
J Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Z Norwich Cathedral.
K Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Aa Westminster Abbey.
L Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Bb Ripon Cathedral.
M Exeter College, Oxford. Cc Lincoln Cathedral.
N Jesus College, Oxford. Dd Worcester Cathedral.
O Jesus College, Cambridge. Ee Archbp. Marsh’s, Dublin.
P Merton College, Oxford. Ff Ushaw, St Cuthbert’s College.

Herb. = Herbert’s Typographical Antiquities.
Priv. = Copy in a private collection.

[Pg 130]


Rufinus. Expositio in simbolum apostolorum 4to A.B.C.
Aristotle. Textus ethicorum 4to A.B.D.
Egidius. De peccato originali 4to B.D.R.
Alexander de Hales fol. A.B.C.
Lathbury. Expositio super trenis Jheremie fol. A.B.C.
Phalaris. Epistolæ 4to D.J.X.
Mirk. Liber festivalis fol. B.D.F.
Alexander de Villa Dei. Doctrinale (fragments) 4to T.
Anwykyll. Latin Grammar Ed. I. (fragments) 4to C.K.W.
Anwykyll. Latin Grammar Ed. II. 4to B.
Augustine. Excitatio 4to A.
Cicero. Pro Milone (fragments) 4to B.P.
Hampole. Explanationes in Job 4to C.D. Priv.
Latin Grammar (fragments) 4to A.
Lyndewode. Constitutiones provinciales fol. A.B.C.
Swyneshede. Insolubilia 4to P.Q.
Terentius. Vulgaria 4to A.B.C.
[Pg 131]
John Scolar.
Burley. Super libros posteriorum Aristotelis 4to B.U.
Burley. De materia et forma 4to B.C.N.
Dedicus. Super librosethicorum Aristotelis 4to A.B.C.
Laet. Prenostica (fragments) b.s. C.J.
Questiones de luce et lumine 4to B.C.N.
Whitinton. De heteroclitis nominibus 4to B.C.N.
Opus insolubilium 4to A.
Charles Kyrfoth.
Compotus manualis 4to C.
Richard Pynson for George Chastelayn
s.a. (1507).
Lugo, P. de. Principia 4to A.C.D.
Wynkyn de Worde for Henry Jacobi.
s.a. (1513).
Sirectus. Formalitates 4to A.Q.
Peter Treveris for John Dorne.
Tractatus secundarum intentionum 4to C.
s.a. (1527).
Opus insolubilium 4to C.J.
II. ST ALBAN’S.[Pg 132]
Schoolmaster Printer.
Albertus. Liber modorum significandi 4to E.
Saona, L. de. Rhetorica nova 8º A.B.C.
Canonicus, J. In physica Aristotelis fol. B.Y.
Exempla sacræ scripturæ 4to A.
Book of St Alban’s fol. A.B.C.
Andreæ, A. In logica Aristotelis (1481) 4to O.X.Z.
Chronicles of England (1485) fol. A.D.K.
Datus, A. Super eleganciis Tullianis (1479) 4to C.
John Herford.
Life and passion of St Alban 4to A.B.
Gwynneth. Confutation of Frith 8º A.C.
Introduction to reckon with the pen (fragment) 8º A.
Disputation between Justus and Peccator 8º Herb.
Epistle against enemies of poor people 8º Herb.
Rule of an honest life 8º Herb.
Breviary of St Alban’s 8º Priv.
Declaration of bond and free will 8º D.
Rouen for Ingelbert Haghe.
Breviarium Herfordense 8º B. Dd.
Eustace Hardy, Rouen, for J. Caillard and J. Gachet
Ortus Vocabulorum 4to D.
L. Hostingue and J. Loys, Rouen, for Martin Coffin.
s.a. (1505).
Stanbridge. Vocabula 4to Herb.
R. Goupil, Rouen, for Martin Coffin.
s.a. (1510).
Cato cum commento 4to Herb.
Hugo Goes.
Directorium Sacerdotum 4to V.Y.
Accidence 4to.
Donatus 4to.
Ursyn Mylner.
Whitinton. De consinitate grammatices 4to A.
s.a. (1514).[Pg 134]
Festum Visitationis Beatæ Mariæ 8º Herb.
Supplement to Breviary 8º L.
P. Violette, Rouen, for Gerard Wandsforth.
Expositio Hymnorum et sequentiarum 4to B.D.
Wynkyn de Worde for J. Gachet.
Manuale Eboracense 4to B. Bb.Ff.
P. Olivier, Rouen, for J. Gachet.
Missale Eboracense fol. A.B.C.
Hymni 4to A.
s.a. (1516).
Manuale 4to Ee.
Processionale 8º Bb.
F. Regnault, Paris, for J. Gachet.
Breviarium 8º A.B.C.
(N. le Roux), Rouen, for J. Gachet.
Missale 4to B.S. Ee.
Processionale 8º A.B. Ff.
F. Regnault, Paris, for J. Gachet.
Breviarium 16º A. Priv.
John Siberch.
Bullock. Oratio 5to A.B.F.
Augustinus. Sermo 4to B.
Lucian. πὲρι διψάδων 4to A.F.T.
Balduinus. Sermo de altaris sacramento 4to B.C.W.
Erasmus. De conscribendis epistolis 4to A.K.T.
Galen. De temperamentis 4to A.B.C.
Fisher. Contio 4to B.D.
Papyrius Geminus. Hermathena 4to A.C.T.
Lily. De octo partibus orationis constructione (fragments) 4to Aa.
Eucharius Cervicornus, Cologne, for J. Siberch.
Croke. Introductiones in Rudimenta Græca 4to Cc.
Thomas Rychard.
Boethius. Book of Comfort 4to B.D.M.
Statutes of the Stannary 4to M.
John Scolar.
Breviarium Abendonense 4to L.
IX. IPSWICH.[Pg 136]
Anthony Scoloker.
Reckoning of years to 1547 8º C.
Hermann. Right institution of baptism 8º Priv.
Luther. Sermon on John xx. 8º A.B.
Ochino. Sermons 8º A.B.C.
Ordinary for all faithful Christians 8º D.
Zwingli. Certain precepts 8º A.B.C.
Disputation between shoemaker and parson 8º Priv.
For Reginald Oliver.
Juvencus. Historia Evangelica 8º.
John Oswen.
Calvin. Declaration of the feigned sacrament 8º Herb.
Calvin. The mind of the godly J. Calvin 8º A.B.C.
Exhortation to the sick 8º A.C.
Hegendorff. Domestical sermons 8º A.B. Priv.
Marcourt. Declaration of the Mass 8º B.
Melanchthon. Of the authority of the Church 8º Herb.
Book of Prayers (fragments) 16º Priv.
Invective against drunkenness 16º C.
Moone. Treatise of things abused 4º A.I.
Oecolampadius.[Pg 137] Epistle ... of the poor 8º Herb.
Ramsey. Plaister for a galled horse 4º I.
Theodoricus Plateanus, Wesel, for John Overton.
Bale. Illustrium Britanniæ scriptorum summarium 4to A.B.C.
John Oswen.
Book of Common Prayer fol. A.B.
Book of Common Prayer 4to A.C.
Bullinger. Dialogue between anabaptist and Christian 8º Herb.
Certain sermons appointed by the King’s Majesty 4to A.
H.H. Consultorie for all Christians 8º C. Priv.
Hegendorff. Domestical sermons 8º Herb.
Message sent by the King’s Majesty 16º Herb.
Psalter or Psalms of David 4to A.
Spiritual matrimony between Christ and Church 16º Herb.
Almanack and prognostication for 1551 8º.
Ambrose. Of oppression 16º Herb.
Gribald. Notable and marvellous epistle 8º B.
New Testament 4to A.G.
Veron. Godly sayings of ancient fathers 8º A.B.C.
Zwingli. Short pathway to the Scriptures 8º A.B.C.
Bullinger. Defence of the baptism of children 8º B.
Bullinger.[Pg 138] Dialogue between anabaptist and Christian 8º B.H.
Hooper. Godly annotations in Romans xiii. 8º A.B.C.
Book of Common Prayer fol. B.
Hooper. Homily in time of pestilence 4to A.B.C.
Statutes 7 Edward VI. fol. Herb.
John Mychell.
Psalter or Psalms of David 4to D.
Lamberd. Treatise of predestination 8º C.
Psalter or Psalms of David 4to C.
A breviat chronicle 8º A.B.
A breviat chronicle 8º A.
A breviat chronicle 8º A.
Pole. Visitation articles 4to B.
Erasmus. Two dialogues 8º A.C.
Hurlestone. News from Rome (for E. Campion) 8º A.B.C.
Lidgate. Churl and bird 8º B.
Melanchthon. Confession of faith of the Germans 8º Herb.
Ridley.[Pg 139] Exposition on Philippians 8º B.C.
Saltwood. Comparison between four birds 4º Priv.
Short epistle of the marriage of priests 8º Herb.
Spiritual matrimony between Christ and the soul (fragment) 16º A.
Stanbridge. Accidence 4to C.




Allnutt, W. H. English provincial presses. (Bibliographica, Pt. V., pp 23-46.) 8º. London, 1896.

Allnutt, W. H. Notes on printers and printing in the provincial towns of England and Wales. (Library Association Proceedings.) 8º. London, 1879.

Ames, J. Typographical antiquities: being an historical account of printing in England. 4to. London, 1749.

British Museum. Catalogue of books in the library of the B.M., printed in England, Scotland and Ireland, and of books in English, printed abroad to the year 1640. 3 vols 8º. London, 1884.

Cambridge University Library. Early English printed books, 1475-1640. Compiled by C. E. Sayle. 5 vols. 8º. Cambridge, 1900-7.

Cotton, H. A typographical gazetteer. Second edition. 8º. Oxford, 1831.

Duff, E. G. A century of the English book trade. Short notices of all printers, stationers, bookbinders and others connected with it, from 1457 to 1557. (Bibliographical Society Publications.) 4to. London, 1905.

[Pg 140]

Duff, E. G. Early English printing. A series of facsimiles of all the types used in England during the sixteenth century, with some of those used in the printing of English books abroad. Fol. London, 1896.

Duff, E. G. Early printed books. 8º. London, 1893.

Hazlitt, W. C. Bibliographical Collections and Notes. 8 vols. 8º. London, 1867-1903.

Herbert, W. Typographical antiquities. Begun by Joseph Ames. 3 vols. 4to. London, 1785-90.

Plomer, H. R. A short history of English printing, 1476-1898. 4to. London, 1900.

Plomer, H. R. Some notices of men connected with the English book trade from the Plea Rolls of Henry VII. (Library, Third Series, I., pp. 289-301.) 8º. London, 1910.

Weale, W. H. J. Bookbindings and rubbings of bindings in the National Art Library, South Kensington. 2 parts, 8º. London, 1894-98.


Bowes, R. Biographical notes on the University printers, from the commencement of printing in Cambridge to the present time. (Cambridge Antiquarian Society Proceedings, vol. v., pp. 283-363). 8º. Cambridge, 1886.

Bowes, R. Fascimiles of title-pages and colophons of early Cambridge books. (A series of photographs and lithographs.) 4to. Cambridge [1879].

Bowes, R. On a copy of Linacre’s Galen de Temperamentis, Cambridge 1521, in the library of Trinity College, Dublin. (Cambridge Antiquarian Society Proceedings, vol. ix. p. 1.)

Bowes, R., and Gray, G. J. John Siberch: bibliographical notes, 1886-1905. 4to. Cambridge, 1906.

[Pg 141]

Bradshaw, H. Doctissimi viri Henrici Bulloci oratio. With a bibliographical introduction by the late Henry Bradshaw, M.A. 4to. Cambridge, 1886.

Foster, J. E. On two books printed by Siberch, in All Souls College, Oxford. (Cambridge Antiquarian Society Proceedings, vol. viii. p. 31.) 8º. Cambridge.

Gray, G. J. The earlier Cambridge stationers and bookbinders, and the first Cambridge printer. (Bibliographical Society, Monographs, No. 13.) 4to. Oxford, 1904.

Gray, J. P., and Sons. A note upon early Cambridge binders of the sixteenth century. 4to. Cambridge, 1900.

Jenkinson, F. J. H. On a letter from P. Kaetz to J. Siberch. (Cambridge Antiquarian Society Proceedings, vol. vii. p. 188.) 8º. Cambridge, 1890.

Jenkinson, F. J. H. On a unique fragment of a book printed at Cambridge early in the sixteenth century. (Cambridge Antiquarian Society Proceedings, vol. vii. p. 104.) 8º. Cambridge, 1890.


Beck, F. G. M. A new Ipswich book of 1548. (Library N.S., vol. x. pp. 86-9). 8º. London, 1909.


Atkyns, R. The original and growth of printing. 4to. London, 1664.

Blades, W. The first printing press at Oxford. (Antiquary, 1881, I., pp. 13-17.)

Bowyer, W. The origin of printing, in two essays. 8º. London, 1774.

Gibson, S. Abstracts from the wills and testamentary documents of binders, printers and stationers of Oxford, 1493-1638. (Bibliographical Society Publications.) 4to. London, 1907.

[Pg 142]

Gibson, S. Early Oxford bindings. (Bibliographical Society Monographs, No 10.) 4to. Oxford, 1903.

Hessels, J. H. Fragments of a Latin Grammar. With an additional note, by W. Blades. (Athenæum, 1871, II., pp. 593, 622.) 4to. London, 1871.

Lindsay, T. M. An Oxford bookseller in 1520 [John Dorne]. (Report of Stirling’s and Glasgow’s Public Library.) Glasgow, 1907.

Madan, F. A chart of Oxford printing “1468”-1900. With notes and illustrations. (Bibliographical Society Monographs, No. 12.) 4to. Oxford, 1904.

Madan, F. The day-book of John Dorne. (Oxford Historical Society. Collectanea, vol. i.). 8º. Oxford, 1885.

Madan, F. The early Oxford press: a bibliography of printing and publishing at Oxford, “1468”-1640. 8º. Oxford, 1895.

Middleton, C. A dissertation concerning the origin of printing in England. 4to. Cambridge, 1735.

Pollard, A. W. A new Oxford book of 1517. (The Library N.S., vol. x. pp. 212, 213.) 8º. London, 1909.

Singer, S. W. Some account of the book printed at Oxford in 1468. 8º. London, 1812.

St Alban’s.

Blades, W. The Book of St Alban’s. Printed at St Alban’s in 1486. Reproduced in facsimile, with an introduction by William Blades. 4to. London, 1901.

Blades, W. The printer at St Alban’s. (Book-worm, I., pp. 169-172.) 8º. London, 1866.

Blades, W. The schoolmaster printer of St Alban’s. (Antiquary, 1880, I., pp. 28-30.)

Blades, W. Some account of the typography of St Alban’s in the fifteenth century. 8º. London, 1860.

Scott, E. Who was the schoolmaster printer of St Alban’s? (Athenæum, 1878, I., pp. 541, 763; II. pp. 497, 623.) 4to. London, 1878.

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Burton, J. R. Early Worcestershire printers and books. (Associated Architectural Societies’ Report, xxiv., pp. 197-213.)


Davies, R. A memoir of the York Press. 8º. Westminster, 1868.

Duff, E. G. The printers, bookbinders and stationers of York up to 1600. (Bibliographical Society Transactions, V., pp. 87-108.) 4to. London, 1900.

Henderson, W. G. Manuale et Processionale ad usum insignis ecclesiæ Eboracensis. Edited by W. G. H. (Surtees Society, vol. 63.) 8º. Durham, 1875.

Henderson, W. G. Missale ad usum insignis ecclesiæ Eboracensis. Edited by W. G. H. (Surtees Society, vols. 59, 60.) 2 vols. 8º. Durham, 1874.

Lawley, S. W. Breviarium ad usum insignis ecclesiæ Eboracensis. Edited by S. W. L. (Surtees Society, vols. 71, 75.) 2 vols. 8º. Durham, 1880-3.

Raine, J. Fabric Rolls of York Minster. Edited by J. R. (Surtees Society, vol. 35.) 8º. Durham, 1859.

Register of the Freemen of the City of York, 1272-1558. (Surtees Society, vol. 96). 8º. Durham, 1897.

Skaife, R. H. Register of the Guild of Corpus Christi in the City of York. Edited by R. H. S. (Surtees Society, vol. 57.) 8º. Durham, 1872.



Transcriber’s Notes:

New original cover art included with this eBook is granted to the public domain.

Variations in spelling and hyphenation are retained.

Perceived typographical errors have been changed.