Thomas Vautrollier

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Title page to Vautrollier's first publication in England, A Booke containing divers sortes of hands (1570). Beauchesne's 'Book containing diverses sortes...' (1570).JPG
Title page to Vautrollier's first publication in England, A Booke containing divers sortes of hands (1570).

Thomas Vautrollier or Vautroullier (died 1587) was a French Huguenot refugee who became a printer in England and, briefly, in Scotland.

Vautrollier emigrated to London from Paris or Rouen about the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth I (1558), and was granted letters of denization on 9 March 1562. He was admitted a brother of the Stationers' Company on 2 October 1564, and probably worked as a servant to some printer until 1570, when he established a press in Blackfriars. In 1570 he issued his first publication in London, A Booke containing divers sortes of hands. This was the first writing-book to be printed in English. In full, the title page read

Elizabeth I of England Queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until 1603

Elizabeth I was Queen of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death on 24 March 1603. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the last of the five monarchs of the House of Tudor.

Denization is an obsolete or defunct process in England and Ireland and the later Kingdom of Great Britain, the United Kingdom, and the British Empire, dating back to the 13th century, by which an alien (foreigner), through letters patent, became a denizen, thereby obtaining certain rights otherwise only normally enjoyed by the King's subjects, including the right to hold land. The denizen was neither a subject nor an alien, but had a status akin to permanent residency today. While one could become a subject via naturalisation, this required a private act of Parliament ; in contrast, denization was cheaper, quicker, and simpler. Denization fell into obsolescence when the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act 1914 simplified the naturalisation process.

Blackfriars, London area of central London, England

Blackfriars is an area of central London, which lies in the south-west corner of the City of London.

A Booke containing divers sortes of hands, as well the English as French secretarie with the Italian, Roman, Chancelrie and court hands. Also the true and just proportion of the capitall Rom(an)ae set forth by John de Beau Chesne. P(arisien) and M. John Baildon. Imprinted at London by Thomas Vautrouillier, dwelling in the blackefrieres

As Vautrollier had registered two books of "copies" or sample alphabets with the Stationers' Company in 1569, it is possible that this volume combined originally separate works by the writing-master John de Beauchesne and by Master John Baildon, a curate of St Mildred in the Poultry. [1]

John de Beauchesne calligrapher and writing-master from France

John de Beauchesne, also known as John de Beau Chesne, Jean de Beauchesne and Jehan de Beauchesne was a French Hugenot writing master and calligrapher. He relocated to London around 1565, in the reign of Elizabeth I. In 1570 he co-authored A Booke containing divers sortes of hands, the first writing manual published in English. He travelled to Italy and France, where he published additional writing manuals, returning to England by 1583. In his later years he was appointed writing master to two of the children of James I, Elizabeth and Charles. Beauchesne died in London in May 1620.

St Mildred, Poultry Church in London

St Mildred, Poultry was a parish church in the Cheap ward, of the City of London. It was rebuilt after the Great Fire of London and demolished in 1872. St Mildred in the Poultry was the burial place of the writer Thomas Tusser. Some description of the church and its monuments is given in John Stow's Survey of London.

In 1578 he printed Special and Chosen Sermons of D. Martin Luther, without a license, and was fined 10s., and in the following year was fined for a similar offence. Shortly thereafter – the exact date is unknown – Vautrollier arrived in Edinburgh with a letter of introduction to George Buchanan. He brought a large supply of books with him, and traded as a bookseller for several years before he started a press.

George Buchanan Scottish historian and humanist scholar

George Buchanan was a Scottish historian and humanist scholar. According to historian Keith Brown, Buchanan was "the most profound intellectual sixteenth century Scotland produced." His ideology of resistance to royal usurpation gained widespread acceptance during the Scottish Reformation. Brown says the ease with which King James VII was deposed in 1689 shows the power of Buchananite ideas.

During his absence from London, the press there was in full operation under the management of his wife. It appears that Vautrollier returned to London, and shortly afterwards had to leave for Edinburgh again, as it is supposed he had incurred the displeasure of the Star Chamber by the publication of Giordano Bruno's Last Tromp, dedicated to Sir Philip Sidney. Having succeeded in establishing his press in Edinburgh in 1584, Vautrollier was patronised by James VI, and printed the first of the king's published works, The Essayes of a Prentise in the Divine Art of Poesie (1584), and, at the desire of the king, an English translation of Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas's History of Judith (1584) — both issued cum privilegio regali.

Star Chamber

The Star Chamber was an English court of law which sat at the royal Palace of Westminster, from the late 15th century to the mid-17th century, and was composed of Privy Councillors and common-law judges, to supplement the judicial activities of the common-law and equity courts in civil and criminal matters. The Star Chamber was originally established to ensure the fair enforcement of laws against socially and politically prominent people so powerful that ordinary courts would probably hesitate to convict them of their crimes. However, it became synonymous with social and political oppression through the arbitrary use and abuse of the power it wielded.

Giordano Bruno Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, mathematician, cosmological theorist, and poet

Giordano Bruno was an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, mathematician, poet, cosmological theorist, and Hermetic occultist. He is known for his cosmological theories, which conceptually extended the then-novel Copernican model. He proposed that the stars were distant suns surrounded by their own planets, and he raised the possibility that these planets might foster life of their own, a philosophical position known as cosmic pluralism. He also insisted that the universe is infinite and could have no "center".

Philip Sidney 16th-century English poet, courtier, and diplomat

Sir Philip Sidney was an English poet, courtier, scholar, and soldier, who is remembered as one of the most prominent figures of the Elizabethan age. His works include Astrophel and Stella, The Defence of Poesy, and The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia.

In 1584 Vautrollier printed six distinct works, and in the following year only two. In 1586 he returned to London, having obtained his pardon, taking with him a manuscript copy of John Knox's History of the Reformation, which he "put to press, but all the copies were seized [by the order of Archbishop Whitgift] before the work was completed". [2]

John Knox Scottish clergyman, writer and historian

John Knox was a Scottish minister, theologian, and writer who was a leader of the country's Reformation. He was the founder of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland.

John Whitgift Archbishop of Canterbury from 1583

John Whitgift was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1583 to his death. Noted for his hospitality, he was somewhat ostentatious in his habits, sometimes visiting Canterbury and other towns attended by a retinue of 800 horses. Whitgift's theological views were often controversial.

Despite these conflicts with the authorities, Vautrollier quickly became one of the most highly thought-of printers in London. He was especially associated with the printing of works of Protestant theology including John Calvin's Institutes and a Latin version of the Book of Common Prayer. He also printed Ovid, Cicero, and other standard classical authors whose works were in demand as schoolbooks. [3] At one point Vautrollier obtained the right to "the sole printinge of other latten [Latin] bookes as the Newe Testament". [4]

Among his publications were textbooks such as Richard Mulcaster's Positions, a manual on child-rearing, and his Elementarie, a grammar book on "right writing of our English tung". [5]

In 1579 Richard Field from Stratford-upon-Avon, a schoolfellow of William Shakespeare, was apprenticed to Vautrollier. After Vautrollier died, Field worked with his widow Jacqueline to run the business, which continued to concentrate on Protestant polemics. Field and Jacqueline were married in 1589, two years after her first husband's death.

Music printing

Vautrollier also printed music, working with the Roman Catholic composers William Byrd and Thomas Tallis who were granted a monopoly of music printing in 1575. After his death Thomas East acquired the fount of music type and specialised in music printing as the assignee of Byrd (Tallis having predeceased Vautrollier). [6]

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  1. Wolpe, Berthold, 'John de Beauchesne & the First English Writing-Books', also in Osley, A. S. (1980). Scribes and sources: Handbook of the chancery hand in the sixteenth century : texts from the writing-masters (1 ed.). Boston: D. R. Godine. ISBN   9780879232979..
  2. Works of John Knox, vol. i. p. xxxii, cited in George Stronach, "Thomas Vautrollier", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 1885–1900
  3. Honan, Park, Shakespeare:A Life, Oxford University Press, New York, 1999, p.61.
  4. Fellows, Edmund, William Byrd, Oxford University Press, London, 1948, p.9.
  5. Zurcher, Andrew, Edmund Spenser's the Faerie Queene: A Reading Guide, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 2011, p.14
  6. Jeremy L. Smith, ‘East, Thomas (1540–1608)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008, accessed 21 November 2014 (subscription or UK public library membership required)

Wikisource-logo.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : "Vautrollier, Thomas". Dictionary of National Biography . London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.