BOWYER, WILLIAM (1663–1737), English printer, was born in 1663, apprenticed to a printer in 1679, made a liveryman of the Stationers’ Company in 1700, and nominated as one of the twenty printers allowed by the Star Chamber. He was burned out in the great fire of 1712, but his loss was partly made good by the subscription of friends and fellow craftsmen, as recorded on a tablet in Stationers’ Hall, and in 1713 he returned to his Whitefriars shop and became the leading printer of his day. He died on the 27th of December 1737.
His son, William Bowyer (1699–1777), was born in London on the 19th of December 1699. He was educated at St John’s College, Cambridge, and in 1722 became a partner in his father’s business. In 1729 he was appointed printer of the votes of the House of Commons, and in 1736 printer to the Society of Antiquaries, of which he was elected a fellow in 1737. In 1737 he took as apprentice John Nichols, who was to be his successor and biographer. In 1761 Bowyer became printer to the Royal Society, and in 1767 printer of the rolls of the House of Lords and the journals of the House of Commons. He died on the 13th of November 1777, leaving unfinished a number of large works and among them the reprint of Domesday Book. He wrote a great many tracts and pamphlets, edited, arranged and published a host of books, but perhaps his principal work was an edition of the New Testament in Greek, with notes. His generous bequests in favour of his own profession are administered by the Stationers’ Company, of which he became a liveryman in 1738, and in whose hall is his portrait bust and a painting of his father. He was known as “the learned printer.”