Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Chiswell, Richard (1639-1711)

CHISWELL, RICHARD, the elder (1639–1711), ‘who well deserves the title of metropolitan bookseller of England, if not of all the world,’ says Dunton (Life and Errors, i. 204), was born in the parish of St. Botolph, Aldgate, 4 Jan. 1639. He carried on an extensive business at the sign of the ‘Rose and Crown’ in St. Paul’s Churchyard, where he published many important books, of which a 'st is given in the ‘Gentleman’s Magazine’ (liv. pt. i. 1793), where, however, it is not mentioned that hiswell was one of the four who issued the fourth folio edition of Shakespeare’s works (1685). Official publishing came to him. In 1680 he brought out the votes of the House of Commons by the authority of Speaker Williams, and an ‘Account of the Proceedings of the Meeting of the Estates of Scotland,’ 1689. The latter was continued by Richard Baldwin until October 1690, and contained the proceedings of the convention, with news and advertisements. Chiswell dealt principally in theology. Dunton tells us how ‘that eminent booqryseller and truly honest man . . . has rinted so many excellent books, written Both by the present and late archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop Patrick, Bishop Burnet, Bishop Vlyake, and other eminent divines’ (op. cit. ii. 666). According to Evelyn’s letter to Archdeacon Nicolson (10 Nov. 1699), Chiswell while printing Burnet’s ‘History of the Reformation’ lost the originals of some very valuable letters written if Mary Stuart to Queen Elizabeth and Leicester, which Evelyn had lent to the historian. Chiswell continued to publish books to within a short time before his death, which took place on 3 May 1711, and was buried (with his father and mother, and other members of the family) in the church of St. Botolph, Aldgate. The premises and business passed into the hands of Charles Rivington (d. 1742), who changed the sign of the ‘Rose and Crown’ to the ‘Bible and Crown,’ and laid the foundation of the famous house of Rivington, the oldest English publishing firm.

Chiswell’s first wife was Sarah, daughter of John King; and his second Mary, daughter of Richard oyston, bookseller to Charles I and Charles II. The second wife bore to him five children, who died young, and three sons who reached maturity: John, who died in India, Richard [q. v.], and Royston, who survived their father.

[Gent. Mag. liv. pt. i. 178-9; Nichols’s Lit. Anecd. iii. 609-ll, iv. 67, 73, viii. 464; Curwen's History of Booksellers (1873), p. 296; Morant’s Essex, 1768, ii. 562; Evelyn’s Diary, iv. 26.]

H. R. T.