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John Clay of Daventry: The Business of an Eighteenth-Century Stationer by John Feather
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Page 198

John Clay of Daventry: The Business of an Eighteenth-Century Stationer
John Feather

The history of the book trade sometimes has broader implications that is realised; it is for example, one of the service industries whose neglect has been regretted by historians.[1] The provision of paper and writing materials is a fundamental economic service; business and commerce, and much else, cannot function without these essential supplies. In outline, at least, the pattern of supply in England is clear enough. Until the middle of the eighteenth century, England was a net importer of paper.[2] Despite an abortive attempt to establish a papermaking industry in the late fifteenth century, it was not until 1588 that John Spilman opened the first successful English paper mill.[3] Even then, growth was slow, and it was not until the 1770s that James Whatman began to produce writing paper of a sufficiently high quality to displace all the imports of Dutch paper.[4] By the 1730s, however, low grade papers were produced in quantity by English mills, and were adequate for all normal purposes.

Despite the superficial difficulties in supply, paper was widely available throughout England by the early seventeenth century at the latest. This was true not only of the major centers where it was to be expected,[5] but also in much smaller communities such as Ormskirk in Lancashire (where there was a stationer in 1613), or Charlbury in Oxfordshire (1632).[6] Our concern here is with the business of a single stationer, John Clay, of Daventry in Northamptonshire, over a period of nearly 50 years from the early 1740s to the late 1770s, a history which exemplifies the trade, and from which we can study both sources of supply and the demand for paper in a small country town.[7]


Daventry is a small market town close to Watling Street (now the A5) in


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Northamptonshire, about 15 miles from Northampton itself. In the early eighteenth century its population was about 1,300,[8] and had risen to 2,582 by 1801.[9] The town had a claim to fame in the eighteenth century, for it was the seat of one of the most important of the nonconformist academies. The Academy was founded, in Northampton, by Philip Doddridge in 1729. It was his wish that his successor should be Caleb Ashworth, the minister at Daventry. When Doddridge died, however, Ashworth refused to move, and so the Academy moved to him in 1752. It remained in Daventry until 1789. The Academy's pupils during the Daventry years included Joseph Priestley, Samuel Palmer, and William Enfield.[10] It was also to prove of considerable significance for Clay's business.

John Clay

John Clay was baptised at St. Werburgh's, Derby, on 14 February 1713. (Derbyshire Record Office, D. 1145 [p]). His father, William, was a maltster according to Clay's own apprenticeship indentures, but was also at some time Post Master in Derby.[11] There was a large family of Clays in Derby; another John, apparently the stationer's uncle, was described as a maltster and innkeeper in various records from the middle of the century.[12] He, presumably, was William's successor in that part of his trade. William was certainly a man of wealth and property by provincial standards; when his son was apprenticed to John Smith, a Daventry bookseller, on 8 November 1729, he was able to pay the very substantial premium of £50.[13]

Why a Daventry stationer was chosen we do not know; certainly there were stationers in Derby by that time,[14] and we may suspect, but cannot prove, a family connection between the Clays and the Smiths. Little is known of John Smith's earlier history,[15] but one Obediah Smith was a bookseller in Daventry from about 1680, and was still there in 1704 (Plomer, p. 275). Obediah Smith has been made Free of the Stationers' Company of London in 1674,[16] and it is possible that Clay's master was Obediah's son


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and successor. John Smith was buried at Holy Cross, Daventry, on 10 September 1742,[17] and Clay succeeded to the business immediately. His first business records date from late autumn in that year.

Clay became a prominent figure in the life of his adopted town. He was a Burgess, and was elected Bailiff, the equivalent of mayor, for the first time in 1751. He held the office again in 1763, and was called upon for a third time when the elected incumbent died in 1771 (Baker, I, 322). As well as Bailiff, he was a magistrate, and several extant documents testify to his activities in that capacity.[18] He also kept some links with his native town, although he disposed of at least part of his father's property in 1741, when he sold it to William Fox, a cooper in Derby (see Deed in fn. 11).

The record of Clay's marriage to his wife, Anne, has not been discovered,[19] but it may have taken place shortly after Smith's death. His eldest son, Samuel, was born in 1744, a second son, William, in 1750, and his youngest son, Thomas, in 1758 (N.R.O. 96P/18, pp. 9, 18, 32). There were, it seems, no other children. All three sons were to play a part in the running and expansion of the family business in due course.

In addition to the main shop at Daventry, Clay established two branches. One, at Lutterworth in Leicestershire, may have existed as early as 1758;[20] the other, at Rugby in Warwickshire, was operational much earlier, in 1744.[21] A third branch, in Warwick, was probably initiated by Samuel in August 1770, and unlike his father, Samuel also had a small printing business.[22a] The whole business was a profitable one. Even before he was in charge, Clay was able to give £1.1s.od. to a subscription for new bells for Holy Cross church. In 1743, he gave a further 10s.6d.for 'chimes' for the church clock.[22b] It is, however, the continuity and expansion of the business which is the real testimony to its success.

John Clay was buried at Holy Cross on 18 November 1775, a respected citizen and a successful businessman (N.R.O. 96P/18, p. 122).

Clay's stock

The shops at Daventry, Lutterworth and Rugby, were essentially similar in the range of goods stocked and sold. No inventory of stock is extant, but the


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records of sales can show the relative importance of the various classes of goods on sale. To illustrate this, two typical months have been taken, one for Daventry and one for Lutterworth (Table I).

The figures for Daventry (Table I, column (a)) give the clearest and fullest picture of the business. Primarily, Clay was a stationer, dealing in paper and printed forms. The sale of books was the only other significant part of his trade. A more detailed analysis shows that the range of stock was comparatively wide. He sold paper of several sizes and varieties, such as 'Post' and 'Pott',[23] as well as notebooks of various kinds. He also stocked 'skins', that is sheets of vellum used for legal documents, including 'Text' skins which were blank forms of such documents. In addition, he sold various items of writing equipment, such as pens, pencils, rulers, and ink.

The books sold at Daventry were mainly schoolbooks in use at the Academy. It was the beginning of the school year, and, as a consequence, seven boys bought copies of Nathan Bailey's English and Latin exercises for schoolboys, first published in 1706 and reprinted many times. This was probably used for the first year of the classical course.[24] Another first year book was William Willymott's A select century of Corderius's Colloquies, and a third schoolbook of which multiple copies were sold was William Turner's Exercises to the accidence. Apart from the schoolbooks, the trade in books was small: a copy of Rowe's Poetical works; one of Joseph's Tripp's Praelectiones poeticae; a few chapbooks; a couple of magazines; and twelve Books of Common Prayer, presumably for Holy Cross.

A roughly comparable picture emerges from the analysis of a month's sales at Lutterworth ten years later. The figures in Table I, column (b), are distorted by an exceptional purchase. On 15 October 1778, the Churchwardens of Misterton, a village about 1 miles east of Lutterworth, bought new books for their church: a Bible (£3.10s.od.); a large Prayer Book for the reading desk (18s.od.); and a book of the occasional offices (2s.6d.). If we exclude this £4.10s.od., we arrive at a 'normal' month's sales. This adjustment is made in Table I, column (c). Again, the sale of stationery is preponderant, representing rather more than half of sales, with books contributing just under one-third. The stationery goods are much like those at Daventry ten years earlier, but the books are rather different. There are no academic books, and only one school book; most are part publications[25] and magazines.

The shop established at Warwick by Samuel Clay in 1770 was similarly stocked. Samuel's account book (N.R.O. D.2929) shows that he received the stock from his father; he did, however, pay for it, and the Warwick business


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was clearly treated as a separate enterprise. Nevertheless, Clay gave his son a good deal of help including, on 10 December 1770, a loan of £20.

The goods received by Samuel from John on 17 August 1770 are a useful exemplar of the range of the stock:

6 Bottles of Elixer of Health 
1 Paper Book 6 Rul'd 
1 D not Rul'd 
1 D 5 Rul'd ruff Calf 
12 Bottles Bostock's Elixer 
2 Highway Acts 
2 Turnpike D  
3 Forms of Proceedings 
2 Tutors for ye Flute 
1 D Fife 
2 Pillman's Writing Illustrated 
Again it is stationery and blank forms which are predominant, representing 14s.8d. . Books and pamphlets account for 7s.9d., and the remaining 15s.od. is an exceptionally large purchase of medicine. The sale of medicine had long been associated with the book trade,[26] but sales were slow (see Table I), and Samuel was clearly stocking-up. The music books are also interesting, since they represent another of Samuel's sidelines, music and musical instruments. A few days later he bought '½ Bundle 3.d Strings' for violins, also supplied by his father.

One final aspect of the business deserves to be mentioned, that of bookbinding. The only records which date back to Smith's time relate to his activities as a bookbinder,[27] in which he did a substantial trade. He bought tools and materials in 1717-18, and in several years thereafter. A number of names appear, including those of John Cooke and David Rice; they may have been either the suppliers, or the employees who actually did the binding work. On 27 November 1717 Smith calculated his profits on binding since 11 June as £15.5s.3d., but the record of books bound stops in 1724, and does not resume until 1763. At that time, Clay bought materials, and there are records of books bound between 1763 and 1772. Possibly there was a lack of skilled labour, for if no binding was done after 1724 it may be that there was no-one to teach Clay this craft during his apprenticeship. When the binding records resume, they show that little work was done, and the figures in Table I may be taken as typical.


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Overall, the business operated by Clay was that of a stationer who also sold books. Well over half of his income, and sometimes as much as three-quarters, came from the sale of stationery goods, of which he had a substantial and diverse stock. Bookselling, although of some cultural importance in these small market towns, was economically of far less importance. In other words, by the middle of the eighteenth century, these south midland towns could all sustain a well-established and profitable stationer's shop. The details of that sustenance, as shown by Clay's records of retail sales, will be discussed below. Before turning to that, however, we must deal with Clay's suppliers, on whom he depended for his stock-in-trade.

Sources of supply

The record of supplies and payments may be intermittent, but it covers the whole period of Clay's independent business life from 1742 to 1774.[28] Like Clay, we can most conveniently divide the suppliers into London and country, dealing first with the latter.

The country suppliers, country 'chapmen' as Clay called them although few if any were travellers, were chiefly local men, although there are a few examples of Clay dealing with traders as far away as Gloucestershire and Cheshire. Obviously, paper was the most important constituent of Clay's stock, and his sources indicate the extent to which papermaking had become a native industry by the middle of the eighteenth century. Indeed, almost all of the records of paper buying are from English mills.

Clay's chief supplier was Robert Allen of Boughton Mill, near Northampton. Boughton Mill was ancient, but had first been used for papermaking as recently as 1717, when it was taken over by one Mr. Allen (VCH Northamts, IV, 79). The Robert Allen with whom Clay dealt in the early 1740s was probably this man's son, for he did not die until 1797.[29] By that time his own son, Joseph, was in charge of the mill, as he had been since at least 1786.[30] In the early 1740s, when the records appear to be complete, Clay bought consignments of paper about once a month, and sometimes more frequently. In 1744, for example, there were 15 different transactions. Most were small, averaging about £2, but over the years it represented a substantial trade. Between January 1743 and March 1745, for example, Clay spent a total of £62.16s.3d. on Allen's paper.

A typical single purchase is that of 7 December 1743:

1 Rm. Large} Brown 
8 Rm. F [olio]}  18 
2 Rm. White Cap 
2 Rm. D. F [olio] 
1 Rm. Blew Cap 


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The white Foolscap ('Cap') and folio paper was always the most important part of Clay's stock of writing paper. Brown wrapping paper is also frequently mentioned. The Foolscap at 4s.6d per ream was reasonably priced; in 1784, after a sharp rise in the price of paper, the 'official' value of a ream of this quality of Foolscap, for revenue purposes, was 9s.od.[31] On the other hand, in October 1746, Clay bought similar paper at 4s.od. per ream from John Jones of North Newington Mill, near Banbury.

Jones was, in fact, Clay's second most important country supplier after Allen. He was at North Newington throughout Clay's independent career.[32] In 1746 alone Clay paid him a total of £25.10s.3d.. Primarily he supplied Clay with wrapping paper, often in large quantities, including, for example, 32 reams between 17 and 24 September 1746. He did supply some writing paper, but for this Clay generally relied on Allen. Clay's other provincial paper suppliers, all on a much smaller scale, included Thomas Ashby, of Brandon Mill, at Ryton, near Coventry (Shorter, p. 242); Mary and John Oram, stationers in Coventry who owned Beoley Mills in Worcestershire in the 1760s;[33] and John Durham, of Winchombe in Gloucestershire.

Durham may not have been a papermaker,[34] but rather a wholesale stationer. Clay dealt with him on a number of occasions; the most elaborate series of recorded transactions was in 1749-50, when Clay received parcels with unspecified contents to a total value of £110.18s.9d. The real explanation for Clay's dealings with Durham, however, is probably to be found in the fact that he supplied him with bottles of Cheltenham Water to which he had easy access in Gloucestershire. One supplier who was certainly a wholesale stationer was Dickinson Boys, of Louth, in Lincolnshire. Boys was in business from 1719 to 1767, and transformed the little stationer's shop which he had inherited from his uncle into a large and prosperous business with wide regional, and even national, contacts.[35] Clay bought pocket books from him as well as sheets of paper and also, on one occasion, binding supplies. Another supplier of pocket books, and probably of binding materials, was John Skoopholme, a bookbinder in Bristol, with whom Clay was dealing in 1749 and 1750.

For books, Clay dealt with the London booksellers, as will be discussed below, but, apart from the schoolbooks at Daventry, and part books and magazines, his book trade was chiefly in chapbooks and ballads. These were the largest category of books published in the provinces, and Clay followed the usual pattern in using easily accessible local sources. His chief suppliers were in Coventry: Thomas Luckman, owner of The Coventry Mercury who


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was the city's most important bookseller and printer; J. W. Piercy, who succeeded to Luckman's business in 1771; and John Bailye, a chapbook publisher in the 1770s, one of several members of his family in the book trade.[36] Typically, Clay's orders were for chapbooks, or chapbook format editions of such works as Isaac Watt's Divine songs, in multiples of 12. Less frequently, copies of individual titles were ordered on commission for a customer.[37] Ballad sheets came chiefly from two printers: Francis Makepiece (or Makepeace), a bookseller and printer at Southam, in Warwickshire, from the late 1760s until at least 1792;[38a] and John Cheney, of Banbury, Oxfordshire, who started a printing business in 1767, and soon came to specialise in ballad and chapbook printing.[38b] These sheets were bought by the ream.

Clay's dealings with provincial booksellers were very few. From John Baskerville, the Birmingham printer, he bought a copy of his Prayer Book (in 1760), and great Folio Bible (1763). He also dealt with Robert Martin and Thomas Warren of Birmingham, but each on one occasion only, in 1771 and 1761 respectively. The only other supplier of books, or rather of a single book in 1750, was Thomas Merrill of the famous Cambridge bookselling firm (Plomer, pp. 17-18, 164, 257, 168-169).

Clay went further afield in buying the miscellaneous supplies which were integral to his trade. We have already noted that Durham supplied Cheltenham Water, but the chief supplier of medicine who appears in the country accounts was Henry Smith of Oundle. Clay bought 11 dozen bottles of 'Tincture' from him between 1743 and 1752. Another tradesman in Oundle, Henry Austin, whom Clay describes as a hatter, supplied medicine between 1761 and 1768, and in 1771-73 John Leeming of Coventry appears several times in the accounts for the same reason. Other supplies came from Heatley Noble of Birmingham (pens, pen cases, ink, ink pots, sealing wax, and string, in 1757); Robert Taylor of Nantwich in Cheshire (quills on several occasions, 1755-61); Henry Walter of Birmingham ('7 Vellum Skins for Binding', 1764); and Edward Laxton of Peterborough, and James Thompson, whose place of residence is not given (both quills, 1742-76).

Although the records of purchases may be incomplete the general pattern of provincial purchasing is clear. Clay bought most of his paper direct from nearby mills, using one supplier, Allen, chiefly for writing paper, and another, Jones, chiefly for wrapping paper. This was supplemented with paper and blank books from wholesale stationers like Boys and the Orams. He bought ballads and chapbooks direct from the printers, and a very few


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books through other booksellers in the larger towns. All of these were in a fairly small area around Daventry, with a few exceptions like Durham, Boys, and Merrill. For medicine and other goods, Clay went farther afield if he had to, but the manufacturers and distributors of the south midlands were able to fulfill the greater part of his needs. For only two classes of goods did Clay have to resort to London: books (other than chapbooks and ballads), and imported paper.

The London accounts are rather less specific than those with the country suppliers. Clay tended to record merely that he had bought and paid for a number of parcels, without noting their contents. In fact, most of the London tradesmen with whom he dealt appear to have been wholesale stationers, like John Loveday of Fish Street Hill,[39] and others. He also bought some medicine from London suppliers, since, of course, patent medicines could only be bought from the patentees or their assigns; his medicine suppliers included How and Masterman of Gracechurch Street, and Francis Newbery. Newbery is particularly interesting in this respect. He was the son of John, the original patentee of Dr. James's Fever Powder (see note 26), and published many children's books and chapbooks. Significantly, Clay never seems to have bought books from him, for he was publishing precisely the kind of books which were available more easily from country printers like Cheney and Bailye (Maxted, p. 161; Plomer, Bushnell, and Dix, p. 178).

The bookseller with whom Clay dealt most frequently over the years was James Hodges, one of the most distinguished members of the London trade. He was Clerk of the City of London, and was knighted when he presented an Address to George II in 1758 (Plomer, etc., pp. 127-128). He was a publisher of practical books of all kinds, on crafts, science, and arts, which proved to be very popular. He also, however, supplied Clay with books published by others as well as his own, and seems to have acted, in effect, as Clay's London agent. Clay did have direct dealings with some other London booksellers, including James Buckland (from 1756), Thomas Payne (from 1759), and Richard Baldwin (from 1763). Indeed, the general impression is that these dealings increased substantially over the years, and that Clay began to buy more books from the middle of his career onwards. This is, to some extent, confirmed by the records of sales at all the shops.

Clay also dealt directly with the publishers of some of the magazines which were important to the trade of any provincial booksellers. He dealt with Edward Cave, the founder of The Gentleman's Magazine (from 1742); John Wheble, the publisher of The Lady's Magazine (from 1771); and others. In general, however, Clay's dealings with London were less important to the maintenance of his stock than his dealings with country tradesmen. There were problems of distance, cost, and means of payment. Above all, there was the fact that the local paper mills could supply, cheaply, the basic constituent of his stock, and this needed only a little supplementation from the


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London wholesalers. If he had had a larger trade in books, Clay would have been obliged to deal more with the London bookseller/publishers. As it was, he never really had a stock of books at all, except for chapbooks and ballads, and at Daventry, and possibly at Rugby, school textbooks of which the sale was almost guaranteed. Clay normally bought books only on commission for customers; indeed in the late 1740s, when he was newly in charge of the business, he was obliged to return a large number of 'books unsold' to Charles Hitch of Paternoster Row. The conclusion might be that he had attempted to stock the shop beyond the capacity of his market.

Clay's customers

Finally, we turn to Clay's sales. Of the surviving documents, the majority are day books of sales, or records of customers' accounts. The day books are probably records of sales to credit account customers, and of major cash sales; there do not appear to be any notes of other sales, although some otherwise inexplicable notes may relate to small cash transactions. From these documents we can build up a fairly comprehensive picture of Clay's customers, and of the role of the stationer's shop in the life of a small town.

At Daventry, the most consistently valuable customer was Thomas Caldecott. For example, in October 1768 (Table I, column (a)), he spent £6.5s.7d., nearly one-third of the recorded takings for the month. Caldecott was a lawyer; he was Recorder of Daventry from 1743 until his death in 1774 (Baker, I, 323). His purchases included paper, vellum, printed forms, ink, and pens. Another lawyer, Harris, also spent a substantial sum. At Lutter-worth the principal customer was once again a lawyer, Mr. Worthington; his purchases were very similar to those of Caldecott and Harris. Clay was crucial to the lawyers, not merely as a supplier of paper, but also because he was a Stamp Distributor.[40] The ubiquity of the stamp duties,[41] and the fact that stationers sold the documents to which the stamps were affixed, made a distributorship, which was a local monopoly, both logical and desirable for the seller of paper and vellum. Indeed it was often said that distributors increased their profits by overcharging for the stamps,[42] but there is no evidence against Clay in this regard. In fact, Clay was typical of country stationers in building his business around the supply of law stationery.[43] Other customers bought a few quires of writing paper from time to time, but this was a much less significant part of Clay's trade. Most of the customers were either the gentry of the locality, or Clay's fellow tradesmen.


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Among the book buyers, one group can be clearly distinguished from all the others: the tutors and students of Daventry Academy. It was, of course, they who bought the school textbooks and academic books which we noted at Daventry. Most of the other books sold were chapbooks and ballads,[44] some of them in bulk to pedlars and chapmen. Again, most of the customers were tradesmen, or minor gentry, many of whom also used Clay as a subscription agent for periodicals. Periodicals became an increasingly important part of Clay's trade, following the national trend of the great popularity of the monthly magazines in the middle of the century, following the success of the formula developed by Cave for The Gentleman's Magazine. From Daventry in 1770, for example, Clay was supplying The Gentleman's Magazine (to 23 customers), The London Magazine (34), The Universal Museum (4), The Critical Review (10), The Court Magazine (16), The Universal Magazine (12), The Royal Magazine (10), The Oxford Magazine (15), The Ladies Magazine (22), and two others, 'Review' (8), and 'The Gentleman's Museum' (49),[45] which cannot be identified.

There can be no doubt that Clay had a successful business career. That career illustrates a number of general points of importance. Firstly, it shows that even in a small market town remote from the new economic and industrial developments the pace and organisation of life was such that there was a growing need for documentation, and hence for the services of a stationer. A society which was becoming more complex, and subject to more taxation, had need of written and printed records on a far greater scale. Secondly, there were efficient mechanisms for the supply of the goods which the stationer sold, and the English paper industry was able to meet most of his demands. Thirdly, printed matter of all kinds was available even in small towns, although the demand was for a fairly limited range. Nevertheless, towards the end of his career, Clay was catering for a larger audience for books and magazines, a reflection of the growth in the popularity of the reading habit.

John Clay 'Booksellr a Burgess of this Corporatn', was buried at Holy Cross, Daventry, on 18 November 1775 (N.R.O. 96P/18, p. 122). He had outlived his second son, for William had died in his twenty-second year, shortly after becoming an ironmonger in Rugby. His body was brought back to Daventry, and he was buried there on 18 June 1772 (ibid., p. 118). The other two boys survived their father, although Thomas only for 6 years; he too was brought home for burial, on 26 July 1781 (N.R.O. 96P/19 Burials, p. 7). The whole enterprise which his father had established was now in the care of the eldest son, Samuel, who survived to the age of 56, and joined his parents and brothers in Holy Cross churchyard on 13 March 1800 (ibid., p. 50). He was the last of the Clays of Daventry, and the business apparently came to end with his life.



R. M. Hartwell, The industrial revolution and economic growth (1971), pp. 201-225.


D. C. Coleman, The British paper industry 1495-1860 (1958), pp. 91-100.


A. H. Shorter, Paper making in the British Isles (1971), pp. 15-17.


Thomas Balston, James Whatman, father and son (1957), pp. 21-44.


See, for example. A. Cecil Piper, "The book trade in Winchester 1549-1789. Extracts from the local records of the city," The Library, 3rd ser., 7 (1916), 191-197.


T. S. Willan, The inland trade (1976), p. 80.


The documents are in Northamptonshire Record Office (hereafter N.R.O.). Individual documents are cited below, but a complete list of the Clay records, compiled by Professor Jan S. Fergus of Lehigh University, can be consulted at the Office. I should like to thank the staff of the Office for their assistance.


Peter Whalley, The history and antiquities of Northamptonshire (1791), I, 41. Whalley's work was based on that of John Bridges, who collected his materials in the 1720s.


Parliamentary Papers (1801-02), VII, 245.


H. McLachlan, English education under the Test Acts (1931), pp. 152-165; and George Baker. The history and antiquities of the county of Northampton (1822-30), I, 335.


He is so described after his death in a Deed of 1741 dealing with the disposal of some property. The Deed is Derbyshire County Library, Derbyshire Deeds 1319.


I am indebted to the invaluable Name Index in the Local Studies Department of Derbyshire County Library for data on the family, and to the staff of the Department for their help. My colleague, R. P. Sturges, drew my attention to the existence of this Index.


John Feather, "Country book trade apprentices 1710-1760," Publishing History, 6 (1980), 85-99, no. 27.


Norman Taylor, "Derbyshire printers and printing before 1800," Journal of the Derbyshire Archaelogical and Natural History Society, 23 (1950), 38-69.


He is probably not to be identified with the John Smith who was a bookseller in Coventry in 1683, for whom see Henry R. Plomer, A dictionary of printers and booksellers . . . 1668 to 1725 (1922), p. 275.


D. F. McKenzie, Stationers' Company apprentices 1641-1700 Oxford Bibliographical Society, new ser., 17 (1974), no. 4474.


H. R. Plomer, E. H. Bushnell, and E. R. McN. Dix, A dictionary of the printers and booksellers . . . 1726 to 1775 (1932), p. 232. The date of burial is from N.R.O. 96P/18, p. 71.


For example, examining a vagrant in 1763 (N.R.O. D.6601), and sharing out the proceeds of a local charitable foundation in 1771-72 (N.R.O. D.6026).


It may be that they married in the bride's parish; certainly there is no record of the marriage in either Derby or Daventry.


N.R.O. D.2931, p. 14, has a reference to a customer in Lutterworth in that year.


N.R.O. D.2412, a ledger from the Rugby shop, begins in that year.


N.R.O. D.2929 is Samuel's ledger from Warwick. The stocking-up was between 12 and 27 August 1770. Samuel was also a hatter, according to Mr. R. J. Chamberlaine-Brothers of Warwickshire Record Office to whom I am much indebted for information about Warwickshire booksellers.


N.R.O. 96P/18. Smith gave £4.4s. od. to the same cause.


For paper names and sizes, see Philip Gaskell, "Notes on eighteenth-century British paper," The Library, 5th ser., 12 (1957), 34-42.


As it was, for example, at Bristol Baptist College in 1770-71; see McLachlan, op. cit., p. 95.


For the importance of part-books to provincial readers, fully borne out by Clay's records, see R. M. Wiles, "The relish for reading in provincial England two centuries ago," in Paul J. Korshin, ed., The widening circle (1976), pp. 85-115.


John Alden, "Pills and publishing: some notes on the English book trade, 1660-1715," The Library, 5th ser., 7 (1952), pp. 21-37. In the 1740s, John Newbery, the pioneer of children's book publishing, laid the foundations of his fortune by a good investment in a medicine patent; see Charles Welsh, A bookseller of the last century (1885), pp. 21-23. The connection arose from the similarity of distribution mechanisms; I have discussed the subject more fully in The provincial book trade in eighteenth-century England (forthcoming).


The only records of Smith's business are in N.R.O. D.4844, which are his binding accounts. Clay revived the use of this ledger when he revived the binding operation.


N.R.O. D.2927 (country suppliers); ML.689 (London suppliers).


The Gentleman's Magazine, 67 (1797), p. 715.


A. H. Shorter, Paper mills and paper makers in England 1495-1800 (1957), pp. 220-221.


21 George III c.24, First Table (Writing Papers).


The latest reference to him in Shorter, Paper mills, p. 225, is in 1778; Clay's accounts show that he was already there in 1746, 10 years earlier than Shorter's first reference to him.


Ibid., p. 247. The Orams had a shop in Coventry, and are rare examples of provincial stationers who became both producers and wholesalers of paper.


He is not in Shorter, Paper mills, a thorough and comprehensive work.


Richard W. Goulding, Notes on Louth printers and booksellers of the eighteenth century (1917), p. 2.


For information on Coventry booksellers I am again indebted to Mr Chamberlaine-Brothers. According to him, Clay also had connections with Elizabeth Jopson, Luckman's predecessor and founder of The Coventry Mercury; he was distributor of A book of accounts for the use of surveyors of the highways, which she published in 1767.


In some ledgers (e.g., N.R.O. D.2925, 2926, 2928-31) there are scribbled notes which include bespoke orders.


The first reference to him in Clay's accounts is in 1769; the last so far noticed is in The Universal British Directory in 1792. Mr Chamberlaine-Brothers has noted several references to him in The Coventry Mercury, 1779-88.


See John Cheney and his successors (1936).


Ian Maxted, The London book trades 1775-1800 (1977), p. 141; and D. F. McKenzie, Stationers' Company apprentices 1701-1800, Oxford Bibliographical Society, new ser., 19 (1978), p. 219.


There is no list of distributors, but Clay appears as such in, for example, Public Record Office I.R. 1/45-53, the records of duty paid on apprenticeship indentures.


S. Atkinson. Chitty's Stamp laws (3rd ed., 1850), pp. 1-4; and Edward Hughes, "The English stamp duties, 1664-1774," English Historical Review, 56 (1941), pp. 234-264.


One accuser was Joseph Hume, Radical M.P. for Aberdeen in 1821; Hansard, new ser., 4 (1821), cols. 1401-11.


This is confirmed by the few other businesses whose records have survived, such as the retail business of John Cheney of Banbury (in the archives of Cheney and Sons Ltd., of Banbury, Oxon); and the early 19th-century ledger of John Albin of Newport, Isle of Wight (Humberside Record Office, Beverley, SCR 441).


One pupil at the Academy, Master Watts, spent 6d. on a chapbook when he was buying other, and no doubt more edifying but less entertaining, works in 1768.


An error for The Gentleman's Magazine? The large number of subscriptions suggests that this might be so.