Cromwell's Edinburgh press and the development of print culture in Scotland

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Spurlock, R.S. (2011)

Alasdair Mann, the noted scholar of book culture in early modern Scotland, has suggested that a significant change had occurred in Scotland's relationship with the printed word by the late seventeenth century. This study sets out to explain how the interregnum served as a ‘watershed’ during which a consumer demand was created for popular print and how this in turn necessitated a significant increase in the production and distribution of printed material. Beginning with the sale of the press and patent of Evan Tyler to the London Stationers’ Company in 1647, the article charts the key factors that transformed Scotland's printing industry from the production of official declarations and works for foreign markets to the production of polemical texts for a Scottish audience. These developments also witnessed publication of the first serial news journal and the growth of a competitive market for up-to-date printed news. More than just an anomaly that flourished during a decade of occupation, these fundamental changes altered Scotland by introducing the large-scale consumption of chapbooks and printed ephemera, thereby initiating the nation's enduring print culture.
  • References (107)
    107 references, page 1 of 11

    8 James Watson, James Watson's Preface to the History of Printing 1713 (Greenock, 1963), 8; George Chalmers, An Historical Account of Printing in Scotland during Two Centuries . . . 1507 to 1707, 2 vols (Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland [NLS], MS Adv. 17.1.16) i. fo. 186); George Chalmers, The Life of Thomas Ruddiman, A.M. (London, 1794), 117; James Chalmers, An Historical Account of Printing in Scotland from 1507 to 1707 Containing Anecdotes of the Printers with Their Works and the Several Patents to the Kings Printers, 2 vols (NLS, MS. Adv. 16.2.21), i. fo. 287; H. G. Aldis, List of Books Printed in Scotland Before 1700 (Edinburgh, 1970), 114.

    9 W. J. Couper, Scottish Rebel Printers (Edinburgh, 1912), 9-15.

    10 Stevenson, 'Revolutionary regime', 315-37; M. A. E. Green (ed.), Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, 1651-1660 [CSPD], 1651, 65.

    11 Stevenson, 'Revolutionary regime', 327; A. J. Mann, ' “Some property is theft'': copyright law and illegal activity in early modern Scotland', in Robin Myers, Michael Harris and Giles Mandelbrote (eds), Against the Law: Crime, Sharp Practice and the Control of Print (London, 2004), 31-60, 34; Cyprian Blagden, The Stationers' Company: A History, 1403-1959 (London, 1960), 142; Robin Myers, The Stationers' Company Archive, 1554-1984 (Winchester and Detroit, 1990), 5.

    12 Stevenson, 'Revolutionary regime', 326.

    13 Blagden, Stationers' Company, 142.

    14 Arthur Williamson, 'Scotland: international politics, international press', in S. A. Baron, E. N. Lindquist and E. F. Shevlin (eds), Agent of Change (Amherst, 2007), 193-215; Joad Raymond, Pamphlets and Pamphleteering in Early Modern Britain (Cambridge and New York, 2007), 161-201.

    15 Edinburgh, National Records of Scotland [NRS], PA2/24, fo. 245.

    16 In March 1648 the man running Tyler's press, John Twyn, was called before parliament to answer for printing a declaration of the Commissioners of the General Assembly. Asked on whose authority this had been done, Twyne 'declared that he had warrant from Mr Andrew Kerr, clerk to the general assembly of the church'. After producing his warrant for inspection, it was returned (NRS, PA2/24, fo. 6v.). This incident demonstrates the strict control that was exerted over printing under the Covenanter's government.

    17 During the previous two decades authority over the print industry had been the prerogative of the Privy Council. For its exercise of this power, see Mann, 'Some property is theft', 36.

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