Carter, William (DNB00)


CARTER, WILLIAM (d. 1584), printer, son of John Carter, a draper of London, was put apprentice to John Cawood [q. v.] for ten years from the feast of the Purification, 1562–3, as appears from the register of the Stationers' Company, which, however, makes no further mention of him. For some time he acted as amanuensis to Dr. Nicholas Harpsfield, the catholic divine, and he was concerned in printing and publishing several of their books. His secret press was at last discovered by the vigilance of Aylmer, bishop of London, who wrote thus to Lord Burghley on 30 Dec. 1579: ‘I have founde out a presse of pryntynge with one Carter, a verye lewed fellowe, who hath byne dyvers tymes before in prison for printinge of lewde pamphelets. But nowe in searche of his Howse amongest other nawghtye papystycall Books, wee have founde one wrytten in Frenche intyled the innocencey of the Scotyshe Quene, a very dangerous Book. Wherein he calleth her the heire apparant of this Crowne. He enveyth agaynst the execucion of the Duck of Norfolke, defendeth the rebellion in the north, and dyscourseth against you and the late L. keper’ (Lansd. MS. 28, f. 177). On this occasion Carter escaped prosecution, but three years later he was apprehended on a charge of printing a book entitled ‘A Treatise of Schism,’ which was alleged to contain a passage inciting the women at court to assassinate Queen Elizabeth. The obnoxious work was seized in his house on Tower Hill, and he confessed that 1,250 copies of it had been struck off. Conflicting statements have been made concerning the authorship of this book. Camden says suspicion fell on Gregory Martin, but Wood assigns the authorship to the jesuit, Robert Parsons, and says the full title of the treatise is, ‘A Brief Discours contayning certayne Reasons why Catholiques refuse to goe to Church,’ 1580. Dodd (Church History, ii. 122) indignantly denies that the alleged treasonable passage is to be found in any of Gregory Martin's writings, but in point of fact it occurs in sheet D ii of that author's ‘Treatise of Schisme. Shewing that al Catholikes ought in any wise to abstaine altogether from heretical Conuenticles, to witt, their prayers, sermons, etc.,’ Douay, 1578, 8vo; and it is in the following terms:—‘Judith foloweth, whose godlye and constant wisedome if our Catholike gentlewomen woulde folowe, they might destroye Holofernes, the master heretike, and amase al his retinew, and neuer defile their religion by communicating with them in anye smal poynt.’ Carter on being brought to trial at the Old Bailey contended that this passage in his reprint of Martin's book was not applicable to Queen Elizabeth, and that its meaning was strained by the lawyers, but he was found guilty of treason. The next morning he was drawn from Newgate to Tyburn and there hanged, bowelled, and quartered, 11 Jan. 1583–4.

[Aquepontanus, Concertatio Ecclesiæ Cathol. in Angliâ, ii. 127a–133 a; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), ii. 68, 69; Camden's Annales of Elizabeth (1625–9), iii. 57; Stow's Annales (1615), 698; Strype's Aylmer (1821), 30; Strype's Annals (fol.), ii. 587, 588, iii. 281, append. 198; Challoner's Missionary Priests (1741), i. 160; Fuller's Church Hist. (1655), ix. 169; Dodd's Church Hist. ii. 122, 157; Fulke's Defence of the Transl. of the Scriptures (Parker Soc.), p. xiii.; Clay's Liturgies and Occasional Forms of Prayer in reign of Eliz. (Parker Soc.), 596; Ames's Typogr. Antiq. (Herbert), 1204; Morris's Troubles of our Catholic Forefathers, 2nd series, 13, 33; Notes and Queries, 6th ser. xii. 345.]

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