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In The Savoy: A Study in Post-Restoration Imprints by C. William Miller
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In The Savoy: A Study in Post-Restoration Imprints
C. William Miller

BIBLIOGRAPHERS OF THE PERIOD OF THE English Restoration have for years associated the imprint phrase "In the Savoy" with presswork issuing from the King's Printing House. They have not, however, recognized the value of the phrase in identifying the printers of a large number of proclamations and books, especially plays, whose title-page imprints carry "In the Savoy" but fail to name the printer. Consequently they have not attempted what this note tries tentatively to do; that is, to set down the history of the phrase and to distinguish among the seventeenth and early eighteenth-century printers who used it.

The Savoy was a large, sprawling structure situated in the Strand next to Somerset House and almost directly opposite the New Exchange. It was built originally in 1245 by Peter, Earl of Savoy, from whom it received its name. In the Restoration its ample apartments served as quarters for not only the King's Printing Press but also a prison; a parish church; religious assembly halls for the English dissenters, the French, Dutch, High Germans, and Lutherans; and a hospital harboring the poor. The Savoy fell into disuse and ruin late in the eighteenth century and was razed early in the nineteenth to clear the approach to Waterloo Bridge.

The location in the Savoy of the King's Printing Office


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dates probably from the early weeks of September, 1666, when the great fire of London destroyed along with Baynard's Castle the neighboring shop of Thomas Newcombe, the printer of the London Gazette and the more active of the two printers working for the King under the patent held by the assigns of John Bill and Christopher Barker. The last extant issue of the Gazette which Newcombe signed with his Baynard Castle address is dated August 30, 1666; the issue of September 3, Number 84, is lacking in files of the news-sheet and was presumably destroyed by the fire. If we are to believe J. G. Muddiman, the next issue of the Gazette to appear, that of September 10, "Newcombe was compelled to print . . . in the open air, in the evil-smelling churchyard of the Savoy, choked with the bodies of the dead from the plague."[1] The imprint of this issue, however, reads simply "London, Printed by Tho. Newcomb."

The exact date on which the King's Printing Office was moved to the Savoy, therefore, remains in doubt, but there can be no question about the fact that by November 8, 1666, Newcombe and the patentees of the King's Press had decided to make the Savoy their permanent quarters; for on that date Newcombe first used the imprint phrase "In the Savoy" on two different publications printed in his shop. One was the issue of the London Gazette dated November 8, 1666; the other was the King's proclamation "prohibiting the importation of all sorts of manufactures" printed "By the Assigns of John Bill and Christopher Barker" and likewise dated November 8, 1666.[2]

From November 8, 1666, to July 19, 1688, the imprints on issues of the London Gazette run in an unbroken succession: "Printed by Tho. Newcomb in the Savoy." The forty-four entries in vol. 1 of Wing's S.T.C. bearing the imprint "In the Savoy by Thomas Newcombe . . ." are similarly distributed


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through the years from 1667 to 1688. No imprint containing "In the Savoy" is linked with any printer's name other than Newcombe's during those years, and no imprint bearing the name of Thomas Newcombe or the Assigns of Thomas Newcombe after 1688 contains the phrase "In the Savoy." The later Wing volumes will, of course, have to be checked in order to verify these findings, but in the light of the specific corroborative evidence furnished by the London Gazette imprints, there is little likelihood that any additional data uncovered will change the terminal dates of Newcombe's printing activity in the Savoy. Further, an examination of a substantial number of the publications bearing Savoy imprints without Newcombe's name printed between those terminal dates reveals the presence of ornaments and decorative capitals clearly identifiable as Newcombe's. Those books lacking ornaments present a typography in no way inconsistent with the assumption that Newcombe was the printer. Thus one may conclude with reasonable certainty that any proclamation or book with a Savoy imprint published between November 8, 1666, and July 19, 1688, came from the presses of Thomas Newcombe.

That conclusion, however, needs one qualification. Sometime between December 21, 1681, and January 11, 1681/2, Thomas Newcombe, Sr., died, and his son, Thomas Newcombe, Jr., also free of the Stationers' Company and presumably working with his father, inherited the business and assumed his father's responsibilities.[3] Although the clerk of the Stationers' Company was making a distinction between father and son in Stationers' Register entries as early as October 27, 1677, no Newcombe imprint either in the London Gazette or in vol. 1 of Wing's S.T.C. makes the differentiation. Further, Thomas Newcombe, Sr., appears to have been actively engaged in his work almost to the end of his life, for his last entry in the Stationers' Register occurred on December 5, 1681. Therefore it


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seems safe to conclude, finally, that all material containing the imprint phrase "In the Savoy" printed between November 8, 1666, and December, 1681, was issued by Thomas Newcombe, Sr., and all material signed "In the Savoy" and printed between January, 1681/2 and July 19, 1688, came from the presses of Thomas Newcombe, Jr. Only a check of Wing's later volumes will determine whether the second Thomas Newcombe or any succeeding Savoy printer issued imprints carrying the phrase "In the Savoy" without his name. All eighty-seven imprint citations of this special sort gathered so far fall within the dates assigned exclusively to Thomas Newcombe, Sr.

The imprint of the London Gazette for July 23, 1688, links the Savoy phrase for the first time with a printer named Edward Jones. The explanation for his replacing the younger Thomas Newcombe as the King's Printer midway during the year of the "Bloodless Revolution" is almost certainly political. Plomer states that Bill, Hills, and Newcombe were obliged to retire in favor of Jones "on the accession of William" because they had printed the declaration made by James 11 against the Prince of Orange.[4] Plomer's argument may be sound, but the date of the London Gazette first bearing Jones' name indicates clearly that Jones had taken over the duties of the King's Printer some months before William's Tor Bay landing on November 5, 1688.

Whatever the political maneuvering was that led finally to Jones' gaining the patent as printer to the King, the fact is that from July 23, 1688, until February 18, 1705/6, two days after Jones' death, the imprints on issues of the London Gazette read without deviation: "Printed by Edw. Jones, in the Savoy." And thirty-two of the thirty-three entries in the first volume of Wing's S.T.C. containing the Savoy phrase dated from 1688 to 1700 are signed by Edward Jones.

The single Wing entry (C6729) linking the phrase "In the


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Savoy" with another printer's name is Thomas Coxe's A Topographical, Ecclesiastical and Natural History of Great Britain. In the Savoy: by Eliz. Nutt: and sold by M. Nutt . . . and J. Morphew . . ., 1700. 4° O[xford: Bodleian]. Further investigation of this volume has revealed that Wing's imprint citation is accurate; the difficulty rests with the patently incorrect date "MDCC", which occurred as a result either of a typesetter's error or of someone's deliberate attempt at false dating. The text following this title-page in the Bodleian copy and in others similarly dated[5] is typographically in the same style as portions of the text of Thomas Coxe's Magna Britannia (6 vols.) printed in the Savoy by Eliz. Nutt some twenty years later in 1720-1731.

Following Edward Jones' death, "M. Jones," apparently Jones' widow, undertook to manage the Queen's Press and to print the London Gazette. The news-sheet imprints indicate that her tenure of office extended from February 21, 1705/6, until February 26, 1707/8, after which Jacob Tonson, Jr., assumed the publication of the London Gazette at his Gray's Inn shop, and J. Nutt, who had served Edward Jones in 1700 and 1703 as the retail bookseller for two of Jones' publications,[6] began operating the Savoy presses. Thus one may conclude that all publications containing the imprint phrase "In the Savoy" printed between July 23, 1688, and February 18, 1705/6, were the presswork of Edward Jones, and all material bearing the Savoy phrase between February 23, 1705/6, and February 26, 1707/8, came from the presses of M. Jones.

The evidence for determining the Savoy printers after 1708 is too sketchy to warrant any definite conclusions. The history reconstructed from scattered statements in Plomer's Dictionaries [7]


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reveals that the Office of Queen's or King's Printer passed successively from one member of the Nutt family to another. After J. Nutt's death in 1710(?), Benjamin Nutt seems to have held office in the Savoy. He was followed in 1720 by Elizabeth Nutt, whom Plomer conjectures to be J. Nutt's widow. Sometime in 1724 she, in turn, joined Richard Nutt in a partnership which lasted until 1738. Thereafter, until his death in 1780 when the King's Printing Office was moved from the Savoy to new quarters, Richard Nutt appears to have signed all imprints bearing the phrase "In the Savoy" with his name.



The King's Journalist 1659-1689 (London, 1923), p. 193.


Robert Steele, ed., The Late Earl of Crawford's Catalogue of Proclamations (Oxford, 1910), no. 3481.


See Henry R. Plomer, A Dictionary of the Booksellers and Printers Who Were At Work in England, Scotland and Ireland from 1641 to 1667, (London, 1907), pp. 136-37.


See his Dictionary . . . 1668-1725 (London, 1922), p. 174.


Parts of Thomas Coxe's Magna Britannia bearing similar spuriously-dated 1700 section title-pages: "A Topographical, Ecclesiastical and Natural History of [blank] with Pedigrees . . ." occur among the holdings of the libraries of Princeton University, University of Illinois, and Western Reserve. See also Notes and Queries 6th Series, VII, 69, 338.


See Edward Arber, ed. The Term Catalogues (London, 1906), III, 215-16, 349.


See his Dictionary . . . 1668-1725, p. 222, and his Dictionary . . . 1726-1775 (London, 1932), pp. 183-84.