Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lettou, John

LETTOU, JOHN (fl. 1480), printer, was the first printer who set up a printing-press in the city of London. He appears to have been of foreign extraction. His type, which is of peculiar excellence, so much resembles that of M. Moravus, a printer of Naples, that it is possible that Lettou learnt printing there. He printed in 1480, three years after Cotton set up his press in Westminster, an indulgence of Sixtus IV issued by John Kendall [see under Kendall, John, d. 1485], of which at least two editions are known. In the same year he printed, at the expense of William Wilcock, an edition by Thomas Penketh of Antonius Andreæ ‘Quæstiones super xii. libros Metaphysicæ.’ In 1481 Lettou printed, also at Wilcock's expense, an edition of Thomas Wallensis's commentary on the Psalms. About the same time he entered into partnership with William de Machlinia [q. v.], with new type, and they printed five law-books, including an edition of Littleton's ‘Tenures;’ a later edition of this work (1485?) bears the name of Machlinia alone as a printer, so that Lettou probably died or ceased printing about 1483. From the colophon to the first edition of the last-named work it appears his press was ‘Juxta ecclesiam omnium sanctorum’—the indefinite designation of eight London churches.

[Ames's Typogr. Antiq. ed. Herbert; Brit. Mus. Cat. of Early English Books to 1640; Gordon Duff's Early Printed Books, 1893.]

L. C.