Vautrollier, Thomas (DNB00)

VAUTROLLIER, THOMAS (d. 1587?), printer, was a Huguenot of learning, who came to London from Paris or Rouen about the beginning of the reign of Queen Elizabeth. He was admitted a brother of the Stationers' Company on 2 Oct. 1564, and probably worked as a servant to some printer till 1570, when he established a press in Blackfriars. His first publication was ‘A Booke containing divers Sortes of Hands,’ 1570. In 1578 he printed ‘Special and Chosen Sermons of D. Martin Luther,’ without a license, and was fined 10s., and in the following year was fined for a similar offence. In the general assembly of the church of Scotland, 1580, a recommendation was made to the king and council that Vautrollier should receive a ‘licence and priviledge’ as a printer in Scotland. The exact date of his arrival in Edinburgh is not known. He brought a large supply of books with him, and traded as a bookseller for several years before he started a press. This appears from a complaint made against him by Charteris and others, so that in 1580 the town council demanded custom for the books he imported (Town Council Records). Vautrollier, when he came to Scotland, brought a letter of introduction from Dr. Daniel Rogers [q. v.], one of the clerks of the privy council, to George Buchanan (1506–1582) [q. v.] During his absence from London the press there was in full operation under the management of his wife. It appears that Vautrollier returned to London, and shortly afterwards had to leave for Edinburgh again, as it is supposed he had incurred the displeasure of the Star-chamber by the publication of Bruno's ‘Last Tromp,’ dedicated to Sir Philip Sidney. On his way to Scotland he was plundered by robbers. Having succeeded in establishing his press in Edinburgh in 1584, Vautrollier was patronised by James VI, and printed the first of the king's published works, ‘The Essayes of a Prentise in the Divine Art of Poesie,’ 1584, and, at the desire of the king, an English translation of Du Bartas's ‘History of Judith,’ 1584—both issued ‘cum privilegio regali.’

In 1584 Vautrollier printed six distinct works, and in the following year only two. In 1586 he returned to London, having obtained his pardon, taking with him a manuscript copy of John Knox's ‘History of the Reformation,’ which he ‘put to press, but all the copies were seized [by the order of Archbishop Whitgift] before the work was completed’ (Works of John Knox, vol. i. p. xxxii). No perfect copy of this edition is extant.

After his return he dedicated to Thomas Randolph (1523–1590) [q. v.], master and comptroller of the queen's posts, a work which he translated and printed, titled ‘An excellent and learned treatise of Apostasi … Translated out of French into English by Vautrollier the printer.’ In this dedication, which is dated ‘from my poor house in the Black ffryers the 9th May 1587,’ he acknowledges to Randolph ‘the great duty wherein I stand bound to your worship for your great favours and assistance in my distresses and afflictions.’ Vautrollier remained in London till the time of his death, which took place some time before 4 March 1587–8, for on that day the Stationers' Company ordered ‘that Mrs. Vautrollier, late wife of Tho. Vautrollier, deceased, shall not hereafter print anye manner of book or books whatsoever, as well by reason that her husband was noe printer at the tyme of his decease, as also for that by the decrees sette downe in the Starre Chamber she is debarred from the same.’ In 1588, however, she printed several works probably left by her husband in an unfinished state. Vautrollier had several privileges conferred upon him, among others one from James VI in 1580. He had also liberty to employ in his printing office ‘six Frenchemen or Duchemen, or suche like’ (Stationers' Reg. B. fol. 487 b).

Vautrollier had four devices, all of which have an anchor suspended by a right hand issuing from clouds, and two leafy boughs twined, with the motto ‘Anchora Spei.’

Vautrollier had a number of children, sons and daughters. The following appear in the register of Black Friars—Simon, Thomas, Daniel, and Manassie. A daughter Jaklin was married in 1588 to Richard Field (fl. 1579–1624), Shakespeare's friend and fellow-townsman, who succeeded Vautrollier in his house and business. On that ground Field has been reckoned among Vautrollier's apprentices, and the further fanciful theory has been educed that Shakespeare, like his friend Field, acquired a knowledge of printing in Vautrollier's workshop (Shakspere and Typography, 1872).

[Dickson and Edmond's Annals of Scottish Printing (containing list of publications and a facsimile of device); Arber's Transcript of the Stationers' Company Registers; Harleian MS. 5910; two manuscripts by George Chalmers in Advocates' Library, entitled ‘Hist. Annals of Printing in Scotland’ and ‘Printing in Scotland;’ Ames's Typogr. Antiq. ed. Herbert.]

G. S-h.