Daye, Stephen (DNB00)

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DAYE, STEPHEN (1610?–1668), first printer in New England, was born about 1610 in London, where he served his apprenticeship. There is no proof in support of the assertion that he was descended from the printer John Day [q. v.] In 1638 the Rev. Joseph Glover, rector of Sutton, Surrey, who had interested himself in the young settlement of Massachusetts, procured a printing-press and engaged Day with three pressmen to go with him to America. The press and materials, paper, &c., were the property of Glover, who died on the voyage, and whose widow married the Rev. Henry Dunster, the first president of Harvard College. The press was set up in Dunster's house in March 1639 (J. Winthrop, History, i. 348), and the first production was a broadside, 'The Freeman's Oath,' followed by an 'Almanack.' The next was the first book ever printed in the British-American colonies, 'The whole Booke of Psalmes, faithfully translated into English Metre, imprinted 1640,' 8vo.

As early as 1636 some of the New England ministers had begun to prepare a metrical version of the Psalms, which was finally got ready for the press by Rich. Mather, Thomas Weld, and John Eliot. The type was a new fount, and the press work is creditable, but the punctuation and division of the letters are deplorable, and the misprints are innumerable. A second edition, somewhat amended, appeared in 1647. Dunster and Richard Lyon were appointed to revise the Psalms, and another edition was printed in 1650 by Daye's successor, Samuel Green. In the latter form the Psalms became the version in general use, and their popularity extended to England, where the first edition was printed by Johr Blayne in 1652. In 1758 the Rev. Thomas Prince published an improved edition, to which he added a collection of hvmns." Dr. N. B. Shurtleff brought out in 1862 a limited edition, 'A literal reprint of the Bay Psalm Book, being the earliest New England version of the Psalms,' Cambridge [U.S.], 8vo. A copy of the original edition of the Bay Psalm Book (1640), as the first book printed in what is now the United States, is among the choicest libri desiderati of the American collector. The late Henry Stevens gives an amusing descripition of his purchase of the copy now in the Lenox Library (Recollections of Mr. James Lenox, 1886, pp. 55-63). There are two copies in the Prince collection in the Boston Public Library, one in the Bodleian, but not one in the British Museum, where, however, may be; seen the second edition (1647), of which only one other copy is known.

In 1641 Daye had a grant of three hundred acres of land, of which he did not obtain possession until about 1657, and in 1642 he is described as owning several lots at Cambridge. He continued to print until the close of 1648 or commencement of 1649, when the press was put under the management of Stephen Green. His last book was Samuel Danforth's Almanack, brought out in 1649. He only printed about fourteen pieces, including single sheets and pamphlets. His name is not to be found on any imprint. His wages were low, he was in debt, he was merely a hired workman, and seems to have given but little satisfaction to President Dunster, who really conducted the business. He therefore resigned his employment and became a locksmith. In 1656 he unsuccessfully brought an action against Dunster with respect to his labours in connection with the press. He died at Cambridge, Mass., 22 Dec. 1668, aged about 58.

His wife Rebecca died 17 Oct. in the same year. An almanack of 1647 bears the imprint 'Cambridge, printed by Matthew Daye,' son of Stephen Daye (Mass. Hist. Soc. Proceedings,. iii. 154).

[I. Thomas's Hist. of Printing in America, Albany, 1874, i. 42-9, 383; Governor John Winthrop's Hist. of New England (1630-49), Boston, 1853, i. 348, ii. 194; Life and Letters of John Winthrop, by R. C. Winthrop, Boston, 1867, ii. 165, 238; Cotton's Editions of the Bibles in English, 1852; J. L. Sibley's Biogr. Sketches of Graduates of Harvard, Cambr. 1873, i. 209; The Prince Library, catalogue of the books and manuscripts now in the Boston Public Lib. 1870, pp. 6-7; Justin Winsor's Memorial Hist. of Boston, 1882, i. 455-6.]

H. R. T.