Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Awdelay, John (fl.1559-1577)

AWDELAY, or AWDELEY, JOHN, otherwise called John Sampson and Sampson Awdelay (fl. 1559–1577), was a London printer and miscellaneous writer. Dibdin assumed that he was an original member of the Stationers' Company, which was incorporated by charter in 1556; but from a reference to him in the company's register of that date, he would appear to have been merely a printer's apprentice at the time (Arber's Transcript of the Stationers' Register, i. 47). Before 1559, however, he had become a freeman of the company; on 24 Aug. of that year he 'presented' an apprentice of his own, and on 6 Nov. obtained licenses for printing his first publication, a 'morning and evenyng prayer.' From 1561 to 1571 his name occurs repeatedly in the Stationers' Registers as obtaining licenses for printing books and pamphlets, and as 'presenting' apprentices, and throughout those years he apparently drove a thriving trade. On several occasions he was fined for illegally printing 'other men's copy,' and on 22 July 1561 a penalty of 'xij' was imposed on him 'for that he ded revile Rychard Lante with unseemely words.' The last mention of him in the Stationers' Registers is under the year 1577, when with other printers he signed a petition to the queen against certain monopolies in printing recently granted by her, and nothing is known of him after that date. He dwelt in Little Britain Street, described on his title-pages as 'without Aldersgate' or 'by Great S. Bartholomew's.'

Awdelay's publications were of an essentially popular kind, and consisted mainly of ballads, news sheets, and religious tracts. One of the most important books reprinted and published by him was Fitzherbert's 'Boke of Husbandry.' Many of his publications were of his own composition. One of the earliest of them, 'The Wonders of England,' 1559, a folio sheet of eleven ten-line stanzas, relating to English historical events from the death of Edward VI to the accession of Elizabeth, was from his pen. But the most important of his literary efforts was a little volume entitled 'The Fraternitye of Vacabondes,' licensed about July 1561, and published by himself in 1565. It is an elaborate description of the habits and organisation of the beggars of the day, and is of great value to the student of social history. On the back of the title-page are some doggerel verses by the author. It was reprinted in 1565 and in 1575, and Harman's 'Caveat,' a book on the same subject published in 1575, was obviously largely indebted to it. Awdelay was strongly opposed to Catholicism, and wrote some verses to warn 'the symple sorte' against its delusions, as a preface to 'A briefe Treatise agaynst certayn Errors of the Romish Church, by Gregory Scot,' published by him in 1574. Awdelay's other works were:

  1. 'Ecclesi. xx., Remember death and thou shalt never sinne,' 30 April 1569 (sheet).
  2. 'Cruel Assault of God's Fort,' in verse (sheet).
  3. 'Epitaphe upon Death of Mayster John Veron, preacher. Quod John Awdelay' (fol. sheet).
  4. 'A Godly Ditty or Prayer to be song unto God for the preservation of his Church, our Queene and Realme, against all Traytours, Rebels, and Papistical Enemies, by John Awdelay,' 1570' (broadside).
  5. , 6. It is probable that the epitaphs of 'Doctour Hodden' and 'Masterr Fraunces Benyson,' published by Awdelay in 1570-1, were also written by him.

[Arber's Transcript of the Stationers' Registers, i. 47-442 passim; Hazlitt's Bibliographical Handbook, p. 18; Hazlitt's Collections (1867-1876), p. 18; Ames's Typographical Antiq. ed. Herbert and Dibdin, iv. 563; Watt's Bibliotheca Britannica; Collier's Stationers' Registers, i. 23, 42; Awdelay's Fraternitye of Vacabondes, ed. Viles and Furnivall, reprinted for the Early English Text Society in 1869, and for the New Shakspere Society in 1880.]

S. L. L.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.11
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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276 ii 12 Awdelay, John: for 1575 read 1567