Monthly Archives: May 2008

Where’d who go?

If anyone actually gets that reference I will be amazed.

I apologize for my absence.  I was in New York for a friend’s wedding and just got back.  The wedding was great, both tasteful and comfortable (a very difficult comination).  I think everyone had a good time.  Of course, what would be a trip to New York without a visit to the emergency room?  The night before the wedding, my poor girlfriend fell down a flight of stairs at a restaurant and had to be rushed to the hospital.  Nothing broken, fortunately, but she did have a really nasty gash on her leg which required three layers of stitches.  I have to say that if you are injured and require emergency services, New York is the place to do it.  The EMTs, nurses, and doctors (we went to St. Vincent’s) were all fantastic, and we really liked the doctor that sowed her up, named Jim.  We didn’t catch his last name.  The EMTs also earned particular distinction for their professionalism and bedside manner.

Anyway, I’ll have more on Gilbert Mabbott in a day or two.  I have to write up two conference papers I’m presenting next month, so stay tuned.  To put in some quick plugs, my girlfriend and I are both giving papers at SHARP, so if you’re there, we’re the ones talking about Isaac Newton and Gilbert Mabbott, respectively.  You can visit her blog, too!  It’s in the blogroll.  Also, I’m presenting at the IHR Turning Points conference the day before, so if you’re there, I’m the one talking about the Agreements of the People (Mabbott will probably work his way in there, too).  Finally, my advisor, Sears McGee is presenting at the symposium honoring John Morrill at the University of Hull in July.  I’m sure it will be great, and I’ll be there, too, as a whole bunch of Mabbott’s newsletters are in the Hull City Archives.  Hopefully I’ll see you in England!

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Regarding aforesaid crazy idea

I thank you for your responses.  I have since learned that £46 (not £49; I should always doublecheck) was actually a little low to pay this Mr. Paxton for paper, ink, and parchment.  To put it in perspective, there is a case where Robert White was paid 18s to print three reams worth of a pamphlet.  On the other end, John Crouch (of the Man in the Moon) claimed that one penny was just enough to pay for paper and ink (which works out to 216 sheets for 18s).  Obviously, there is some discrepancy.  £46 seems excessive, but the fact that Paxton received more (for periods of several months up to almost a year) on occasions would indicate more of a prodigious use of paper than anything else.

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A crazy idea

Okay, here’s a crazy idea.  I don’t have any real proof, and it’s probably just a weird coincidence.  There’s a publisher, C. W., that pops up, I think in late 1647, does a lot of work in the second half of 1648, and then more or less disappears, near as I can tell (I did some quick-and-dirty EEBO searching).  I checked Plomer (whose Dictionary of English Printers is now on Google books) and he lists no C. W.s except Charles Webb, whom he lists as active 1658-60.  Glancing on EEBO, I only found a Charles Wright, publishing in the early 1630s.  Now, it looks like William Clarke was behind one of the published versions of the king’s trial, signing it C. W.  Here’s the crazy: I think the publisher C. W. may have been William Clarke, too.

It makes some sense.  To be a publisher, all a person needed was the capital to pay for everything (ie, no printing skills).  Mabbott’s imprint had disappeared by late 1648, so the army may have needed a new way to get its info out.  That explains C. W.’s frequency in late 1648.  Also, I think the C. W. I saw from 1647 was in September, while Mabbott was temporarily sacked from his post.  C. W. seems to exlusively publish army-related news.  I tried to follow a money trail, but couldn’t find one, by looking at Clarke’s contingencies accounts, though he does pay a Mr. Paxton over £49 for paper, ink, and parchment.  That seems like a lot, but then I’m sure the New Model’s hq went through a lot of paper.   Anyway, that’s my crazy idea for the day; it probably won’t play out.  If anybody actually reads this blog, what do you think?

It’s about 30 minutes later.  I just found something published by a “C. Withrington.”  That’s probably C. W.  However, it’s not military news, and the print looks distinctly different.  I don’t know, it’s probably time to put this in the “too crazy” idea pile.

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Mabbott, Skippon, and the Moderate

So now I’m starting to wonder a bit more about Mabbott and the Moderate.  I found a letter by Clarke published by Robert Austin.  I can’t figure out Austin’s connection, but his publication was not licensed.  Anyway, I looked through the rest of the stuff published and I found that Perfect Diurnall and the Moderate had the only other copies.  This plays well with my theory that Mabbott had some kind of connection to the Moderate and Samuel Pecke.  I’m thinking that it will be worthwhile to sit the two newsbooks side-by-side to see just how much intelligence they share, and perhaps cross-check that with Walker’s Perfect Occurences.

I’m still digging around in the Provost Marshal position that Mabbott supposedly wanted for himself.  As I said in my last post, I don’t think Mabbott wanted to be Provost Marshal.  I’m starting to wonder if te office was not instead a hodge-podge solution to a number of problems, as well as a Presbyterian reaction against Major General Skippon.  Skippon had had more or less the powers of the Provost Marshal and may have earned some enemies among Presbyterians from his firm control of London during the Second Civil War.  I need to look into it some more.

I like the sense of freedom I have in my research these days.  Although so much of Civil War history has been well worn, I am still finding new pieces of evidence.  I am not just checking references; I feel like an honest-to-God historian.  There is something very gratifying in it.  I suppose that this is not uncommon, but it’s great to be in a profession that allows me such freedom.

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Another way that love is similar to tape

Flight of the Conchords is really funny.

I did a lot of work today.  I can’t really recap all of the weird things a I discovered or decided to change in my methodology, but there are two big points.

One is that at some point in the summer of 1648, Mabbott seems to have gone into partial retirement.  Not really, but his imprimatur more or less disappears except from newsbooks.  I don’t know yet why, nor have I locked down when it happens quite yet.  My guess is late June because that’s when he gets in trouble with Dillingham, and someone starts the Moderate.  For a long time I have believed that Mabbott was not the editor of said newsbook, though he acted as patron, but maybe I’m wrong.  Certainly, editing a newsbook would take him away from some of his other duties.  Then again, I don’t yet know if that is when or why his imprimatur stopped appearing (though it was around in early June, and gone by August).  I found a note in the LJ thanking Mabbott for running a letter over from Colchester in late August, so maybe he was just away.  It is a problem I will continue to work on.

Importantly, it would seem that the publishers that he licensed most seem to have dropped off in his absence.  At least, that’s what happened to the ones who printed military news, like George Horton, H. Becke, and Robert Ibbitson.  Ibbitson is still around, but publishing less frequently.  It isn’t something I was expecting to find, but it does support my argument that Mabbott acted as patron to the London news industry.  I still have a lot more work to do to find the boundaries of his absence and its effects on the presses, but it is a promising start.  I know Mabbott was pretty much gone in August and September, and it looks the same until the end of the year.

Second, I spent most of the day looking at evidence from late August and September 1648 over Mabbott’s request for more powers for suppressing pamphlets.  The old story was that he requested these powers, eventually decided not to take them up, and a Captain Francis Bethan was appointed Provost Marshal in his stead.  I now believe that this contention is wrong.  If anybody actually cares to find out why, you are welcome to contact me.

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May 1648

I’ve been noticing that H. Becke seems to have become a useful Army printer.  He tends only to print pro-army kinds of stories, always licensed by Mabbott.  Conversely, Ibbitson, who had previously played such a role, has been publishing a lot less.  I don’t know much about Becke, but I’ll see what I can find.

I want to look more into this affair with the petitioners from Surrey.  In May, some rowdy petitioners allegedly threatened some of the MPs and harrassed the soldiers, who eventually opened fire on them.  It looks like there was a real attempt to present the army and parliament’s side of the story, always licensed by Mabbott.

May was a busy month for publishers.  It would seem that Mabbott was knocked back a bit.  He licensed some seemingly Presbyterian works and it looks like there were a lot more unlicensed works than usual.  By the end of the month he seemed to be getting back together again.  However, an “R.W.” and B. A. (Bernard Alsop I think) have been printing some pretty questionable material with his imprimatur.  I’m not yet sure what to make of all of this.  I’m beginning to wonder how much truth there was in Mabbott’s resignation letter, saying that the licenser’s opinion accounted for too much of what got licensed.  If it’s bare narrative, he seems to let a lot of matter through.  On the other hand, he will only license Independent, pro-Army, or occasionaly pro-Parliament polemic.  I guess that makes sense, though it is a little surprising in some ways.  I wonder if Cromwell thought he was getting his money’s worth in Mabbott.

There was one really clever piece of propaganda/news, published by Becke.  There was a letter, with the author expressing his desire for a peaceful solution in Kent (I think it was Kent), worrying about the effects of the army’s victory or its failure.  The next item reported that with a little fighting, there were no casualties, and that Fairfax looked to be finding a peaceful solution to the problem.  LIke I said, clever.

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Madman Magot

So what did I find today?  Well the title of this post comes from two back-to-back pamphlets in early May 1648.  I’ve seen this referenced before, but this is the first time I’ve seen them myself.  The more famous one is Thomason penning in “adman” after Mabbott’s initials: G. M.adman.  In the next pamphlet, though, he writes something else that gets lost in the binding.  I like to think it’s “Magot.”  I’m not sure, though.  I’m curious as to what made Thomason lash out that particular day.  Was the news on the Scots and Col. Poyer too upsetting?

As well, considering the number of pamphlets on the subject, the visitation on Oxford must have been terribly traumatic.  From what I’ve learned from Charles Weber, this should mark the godly overhaul of Oxford. Apparently, it ruffled more than a few feathers.

The Presbyterians were on quite the offensive.  Relatedly, I would like to see if there is an article on the Truth of Jesus Christ petitions.  These were heavily Presbyterian works.  The original was subsequently supported by ministers from all over England.

Bernard Alsop and Robert White seem to have had access to the same newsletter from Berwick.  It appeared in the Moderate Intelligencer, a separate published by White, and a separate published by Alsop.  Internal evidence suggests that each had their own copy.  While White might may have gotten the copy from Dillingham (or vice versa) Alsop’s newsbook, Perfect Weekly Account, does not seem to have had a copy, and it appears that Robert Ibbitson did not publish it either.  I’m not sure what this means, and certainly it wouldn’t be the first time that two publishers got a copy of the same material to print, but I’m wondering how Ibbitson got cut out of the loop.  Because of Walker?  Since I assume that commercial rivalry precluded Alsop and White simply sharing the letter, how did it get to the both of them?  Either they had a connection to the same correspondent, or someone received it and shared it with them both, but not the the other major player, Ibbitson.  LIke I said, I’m not sure entirely what to make of it, but it could potentially be very interesting.

There isn’t enough evidence to be sure, but it seems possible that Mabbott shared the letter with Alsop and White but skipped Ibbitson because Ibbitson was working with Henry Walker by that time (Packets of Letters).  There does seem to have been a decrease in the amount of Mabbott-licensed Ibbitson offerings.  At this point, Mabbott wouldn’t have crossed Dillingham, either.

That’s my update for today.  I hope it’s not too cryptic.  My thanks to Mercurius Politicus for his latest post.  It’s on programming.  I may not use it, but I’m glad someone is putting together this stuff in case I end up needing to.

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