Copland, Robert (DNB00)

COPLAND, ROBERT (fl. 1508–1547), author and printer, was, according to Bagford, in the service of Caxton. Copland himself, in the prologue to ‘Kynge Appolyn of Thyre’ (1510), mentions that he gladly follows ‘the trace of my mayster Caxton, begynninge with small storyes and pamfletes, and so to other,’ but a few lines lower down he requests the reader ‘to pardon myn ignorant youth,’ and this at a period eighteen or nineteen years after Caxton's death. He was undoubtedly in the office of Wynkyn de Worde, who left him ten marks, and who in the same and other works is referred to as ‘my mayster.’ The first volume bearing his imprint is ‘The Boke of Justices of Peas … emprynted at London in Flete-strete at the signe of the Rose Garland by Robert Copland,’ in 1515. W. de Worde issued the same book in 1510 and 1515. Copland was a bookseller and stationer as well as printer, as appears from the colophon to ‘The Questionary of Cyrurgyens’ (1541), ‘translated out of the Frensshe, at the instigacion and costes of the ryght honest parsone Henry Dabbe, stacyoner and biblyopolyst in Paules churche yarde, by Robert Coplande of the same faculte.’ His known typographical productions are only about twelve in number. They are all rare, but are not distinguished for mechanical excellency. Herbert says that in ‘The xij Fruytes of the Holy Goost,’ printed by him in 1535, the comma stop is first to be found in black-letter books, the virgil or dash being used previously. In Andrew Borde's ‘Pryncyples of Astronamye’ the author speaks of his ‘Introduction to knowledge’ being at that time printing ‘at old Robert Copland's, the eldist printer of Ingland.’ This date is believed to have been about 1547, which brings us to the time (1548) when Robert's successor, William Copland [q. v.], issued his first dated book. Stow records that a ‘William Copland, Taylor, the king's merchant,’ was churchwarden in 1515 and 1516 at St. Mary-le-Bow, and gave the great Bow bell, but what relation he was to the two printers of the name is not known (Survey, 1754, i. 542).

The most famous of Copland's literary productions are two pieces of verse, ‘The Hye way to the Spyttel Hous’ and ‘Jyl of Breyntford's Testament.’ The former is a dialogue, written with much force and humour, between Copland and the porter of St. Bartholomew's Hospital. ‘It is one of the most vivid and vigorous productions of the time’ (C. H. Herford, England and Germany in the Sixteenth Century, 1886, p. 358), and is full of curious information about the cheats and beggars who resorted to the hospital at some period after Henry VIII's statute (1530–1) against vagabonds (see l. 375), and subsequent to the Reformation (1. 551). ‘Jyl of Breyntford’ is based upon a coarse popular tale. Both pieces were in Captain Cox's library. Copland translated three romances of chivalry as well as other works from the French, and contributed verses to several books. It is extremely probable that we owe the first English version of ‘Eulenspiegel’ to him. Three undated editions of ‘Howleglas’ were issued by William Copland between 1548 and 1560. Wood believed him to have been a poor scholar at Oxford.

The following is a list of his writings:

  1. ‘The Kalender of Shepeherdes,’ London, W. de Worde, 1508 and 1528, 4to, translated from ‘Le Compost et Kalendrier des Bergers,’ first printed in 1493, and afterwards with variations (see Nisard, Livres Pop., 1864, i. 84–121). It contains many curious scraps of folklore, and consists of prose and verse mingled with woodcuts. In the prologue we are told that having come across the work ‘in rude and Scottish language,’ the translator ‘shewed the said book unto my worshipful mayster, Wynkyn de Worde, at whose commandment and instigation I, Robert Copland, have me applied directly to translate it out of French again into our maternal tongue.
  2. ‘Kynge Appolyn of Thyre,’ London, W. de Worde, 1510, 4to (translated from the French ‘Appolyn, roi de Thire;’ the Roxburghe copy in the possession of the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth is the only one known, reproduced in facsimile by E. W. Ashbee, 1870, 4to).
  3. ‘The Myrrour of the Chyrche … by Saint Austyn of Abyndon,’ London, W. de Worde, 1521, 4to, translated, with additional verses (see Notes and Queries, 4th ser. xi. 401), from the ‘ Speculum Ecclesiæ’ of Edm. Rich, archbishop of Canterbury (see Hook, Lives of the Archbishops, iii. 218–22), possibly from a French version.
  4. ‘A Goosteley Treatyse of the Passyon of our Lorde Jesu Chryst, with many deuout contemplacyons, examples, and exposicyons of the same,’ London, W. de Worde, 1521 and 1532, 4to (translated from the French by Chertsey; Copland only supplied the verse).
  5. ‘The Introductory to write and to pronounce Frenche, compyled by Alexander Barcley,’ London, R. Copland, 1521, folio (at the end ‘The maner of dauncynge of base daunces … translated out of frenche by R. Copland’).
  6. ‘The Rutter of the See, with the Hauores, Rodes, Soundynges, Kennynges, Wyndes, Flodes and Ebbes, Daungers and Coastes of Dyuers Regyons,’ &c., London, R. Copland, 1528, 12mo (from the ‘Grant Routier’ of Pierre Garcie, first printed at Rouen about 1521, and frequently after. The ‘Rutter’ was also added to and ran through several editions).
  7. ‘The Secret of Secrets of Aristotyle, with the Gouernale of Princes,’ London, R. Copland, 1528, 4to (translated from the French with ‘L'Envoy’ in verse by the translator).
  8. ‘The Hye Way to the Spyttel Hous’ [col.] ‘Enprynted at London in the Flete-strete, at the Rose Garland, by Robert Copland,’ n.d., 4to (printed after 1535, only two or three copies known; reproduced in Utterson's ‘Select Pieces of Early Popular Poetry,’ 1817, ii. 1–50, in Hazlitt's ‘Remains of the Early Popular Poetry of England,’ iv. 17–72; and analysed in Herford's ‘England and Germany in the Sixteenth Century,’ 1886, pp. 357–62).
  9. ‘The Complaynte of them that ben to late maryed,’ London, W. de Worde, n.d. 4to (8 leaves). ‘Payne and Sorowe of Euyll Maryage,’ W. de Worde, n.d. 4to (4 leaves). ‘A Complaynt of them that be to soone maryed,’ W. de Worde, 1535, 4to (13 leaves). All three are evidently translated from the French (see Collier, Bibliog. Account, i. 524–6).
  10. ‘The Life of Ipomydon,’ London, W. de Worde, n.d. 4to (adapted from the romance of Hue of Rotelande; the former Heber copy is the only one known).
  11. ‘The maner to liue well … compyled by maistre Johan Quentin,’ London, R. Copland, 1540, 4to (translated from the French).
  12. ‘The Questionary of Cyrurgyens, with the formulary of lytel Guydo in Cyrurgie,’ &c., London, R. Wyer, 1541, 4to (translated from the French).
  13. ‘The Knyght of the Swanne: Helyas,’ London, W. Copland, n.d. 4to (the copy in the Garrick collection in the British Museum is the only one known; reprinted in Thoms, ‘Early Prose Romances,’ vol. iii.). 14. ‘The Art of Memorye, that otherwise is called The Phœnix,’ London, W. Middleton, n.d. 8vo (translated from the French).
  14. (a) ‘Jyl of Breyntford's Testament. Newly compiled’ [col.] ‘Imprented at London in Lothbury ouer agaynst Sainct Margaretes church by me Wyllyam Copland,’ n.d. 4to (printed shortly after 1562; the only copy known is in the Bodleian Library, privately reprinted by F. J. Furnivall as ‘Jyl of Breyntford's Testament, the Wyll of the Deuyll, and other short pieces,’ 1871, 8vo); (b) ‘Jyl of Braintford's Testament newly compiled’ [col.] ‘Imprinted at London by me William Copland,’ n.d. 4to (printed after (a) according to Furnivall; Collier and Hazlitt take the opposite view. Collier's copy of (b), described in his ‘Bibl. Account,’ i. 152–5, cannot be traced; no other copy is known. There are many variations between the two editions).
  15. ‘The Seuen Sorowes that women have when theyre Husbandes be deade. Compyled by R. Copland,’ London, W. Copland, n.d. 4to (12 leaves; copy in British Museum, not seen by Halliwell and Furnivall, dialogue in verse, with woodcut).
  16. Copland also contributed verses to Chaucer's ‘Assemble of Foules,’ 1530, W. Walter's ‘Spectacle of Louers,’ n.d. (see Collier, ii. 482–3), and a prologue to ‘The Castell of Pleasure,’ W. de Worde, n.d.

[Weever's Ancient Funerall Monuments, 1631, p. 402; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), i. 252; Warton's Hist. Engl. Poetry, 1840, i. p. clxxxiii, iii. 259; Ames's Typogr. Antiq. (Herbert), i. 345–52; the same (Dibdin), iii. 111–26; Ritson's Bibl. Poetica, 173; Corser's Collectanea Anglo-Poetica, pt. iv. 445–55; Collier's Bibl. Account, 1865, 2 vols.; Cat. of Books in the Brit. Mus. printed before 1640, 1884, 3 vols. 8vo; W. C. Hazlitt's Handbook, Collections, and Remains of Early Popular Poetry, iv. 17, &c.; Jyl of Breyntford's Testament, ed. Furnivall, 1871, 8vo; Captain Cox, his Ballads and Books, ed. Furnivall (Ballad Soc.), 1871.]

H. R. T.