Pynson, Richard

, the third on the list of our early printers, was born in Normandy, as appears by king Henry’s patent of naturalization, in which he is styled “Richardus Pynson in partibus Normand. oriund.” There were, however, some of the same name in England, about his time. The few particulars recorded of his life are chiefly conjectural, as that he was either apprentice or son-in-law to Caxton. Mr. Ames intimates that he was in such esteem with the lady Margaret, Henry VIIth’s mother, and other great personages, that he printed for them all his days, and | obtained a patent from the king to be his printer, in 1503, or before. He appears to have resided in the vicinity of Temple-bar, for some time on the city side, and for some time on the Westminster side of that ancient boundary. If he was made king’s printer so early as 1503, as asserted by Ames, he did not assume the title till 1503, when he first added it to his colophon. This honour seems to have been accompanied with some small salary, and the title of Esquire. Soon after his commencement in business, he employed one William Tailleur, a printer of Roan, to print Littleton’s Tenures, and some other law pieces for him because our laws being all made in the Norman French tiJl the beginning of the reign of Henry VII. and the printers of that country understanding the language better, were certainly more capable of printing them correct. Afterwards he, as well as others, had such helps, that the statutes and other law books were all printed at home. About 1525 he began his controversy with Redman, who had stolen one of his principal devices, and affixed it, without apology, to a number of the books printed by him. Redman he abuses in very gross terms, and even quibbles upon his name Redman quasi Rudem&n. Yet, notwithstanding this dispute, Redman succeeded Pynson, by removing into the very parish and house of Pynson.

Pynson was the first who introduced the Roman letter into this country. He appears to have had patrons who contributed to the expense of some of his undertakings. When he died is uncertain, nor is it ascertained what was the date of the last book printed by him. Some think he died before 1529, others later. Bertholet succeeded him as king’s printer in 1529, but it has been conjectured that Pynson only retired from business at that time. Pynson is esteemed inferior, upon the whole, as a printer, to Wynkyn de Worde; but, says Mr. Dibdiri, “in the choice and intrinsic worth of his publications, has a manifest superiority.” This is very high praise, and appears to be just. Symptoms of true, useful learning appear on Pynson’s list, which cannot be said of his predecessors, whatever value collectors may fix upon their productions. 1

1 Dibdin’s Typographical Antiquities, vol. II.