Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lichfield, Leonard

LICHFIELD, LEONARD (1604–1657), printer and author, born in 1604, was son of John and Margaret Lichfield. His father was printer to the university of Oxford from 1617 to 1635, and was also yeoman bedell. Leonard succeeded him as university printer, was ‘privilegiatus’ on 12 Nov. 1630, and also became one of the superior bedells. During the civil war from 1642 to 1646 he was employed by the king to print his declarations, proclamations, and other public papers. After the surrender of Oxford he had his house and goods burned, and was reduced to poverty (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1644 p. 73, 1661–2 pp. 135, 238, 245). On 29 Oct. 1649 the council of state ordered him to enter into heavy recognisances not to print any ‘seditious or unlicensed books’ (ib. Dom. 1649–50, p. 524). He died in 1657. Lichfield ends a volume of Oxford poems addressed to Queen Henrietta Maria, entitled ‘Musarum Oxoniensium Charisteria’ (1638), with a few verses entitled ‘The Printer's Close,’ to which his name is subscribed. The lines, which may have been supplied by one of his university friends, are reprinted in Brydges's ‘Restituta,’ i. 147–8.

By his wife Ann (d. 1671) he had a son, Leonard, who carried on the business. When Charles II and his court removed from London to Oxford in order to escape the plague in November 1665, Lichfield was licensed by Arlington to print ‘The Oxford Gazette,’ a folio half sheet, containing the government's official notices—the earliest English periodical of the kind. It appeared bi-weekly from 14 Nov. 1665 till the end of January 1665–6, when on the return of the court to London the publication was continued there as ‘The London Gazette’ (Nichols, Lit. Anecdotes, iv. 58). Lichfield in December 1679 was a candidate for the yeoman bedelship (Wood, Life, ed. Bliss, p. lxxxvii); he died 22 Feb. 1685–6, and was succeeded by his son Leonard (fl. 1711).

Another of John Lichfield's sons was Solodell Lichfield, who was elected sub-bedell of law 22 Jan. 1634–5; was ejected by the parliamentary visitors in 1648; was restored in 1660, and was chosen yeoman bedell on Edmund Gayton's death in 1666. According to Wood he kept a public inn at Oxford, ‘and was good for nothing but for eating, drinking, smoaking, and punning’ (Wood, Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, iii. 758; Wood, Life and Times, Oxf. Hist. Soc., i. 76, ii. 95, 218, 474, cf. iii. 180). At his death in 1671 he was one of the superior bedells.

[Griffiths's Index to Wills at Oxford, p. 39; Addit. MS. 24492, f. 115; Hearne's Notes and Collections (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), vol. iii.; Cat. of Books in Brit. Mus. printed to 1640; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714.]

G. G.