Whitchurch, Edward (DNB00)
|←Whitby, Daniel||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 61
WHITCHURCH or WHYTCHURCH, EDWARD (d. 1561), protestant publisher, was a substantial citizen of London in the middle of Henry VIII's reign. His business was probably that of a grocer. He accepted with enthusiasm the doctrines of the protestant reformation. In 1537 he joined with his fellow citizen Richard Grafton [q. v.] in arranging for the distribution of printed copies of the Bible in English. In that year Grafton and Whitchurch caused copies of the first complete version of the Bible in English, which is known as 'Thomas Matthews's Bible' and was printed at Antwerp, to be brought to London and published there. Whitchurch's name does not appear in the rare volume, but his initials, 'E. W.,' are placed below the woodcut of the 'Prophete Esaye' [see Rogers, John, 1500?–1555]. In November 1538 Coverdale's corrected version of the New Testament was printed in Paris at the expense of Grafton and Whitchurch, whose names appear on the title-page as publishers of the work in England. Subsequently they resolved to reprint the English Bible in Paris in a more elaborate shape, but after the work was begun at the French press the French government prohibited its continuance. Thereupon Grafton and Whitchurch set up a press in London, 'in the House late the Graye Freers,' and, with some aid from Thomas Berthelet, they published the work, which was known as 'the Great Bible,' in April 1539. No fewer than seven editions appeared before December 1541. The second edition of 1540, with Cranmer's 'prologe,' seems to have been printed independently by both Whitchurch and Grafton. Half the copies bear the name of Whitchurch as printer, and half that of Grafton. The third, fourth, and fifth editions (July and November 1540, and May 1541) bear Whitchurch's imprint only. Whitchurch and Grafton printed jointly the New Testament in English after 'Erasmus's text in 1540; the primer in both English and Latin in 1540; and two royal proclamations on ecclesiastical topics on 6 May and 24 July 1541 respectively [see Grafton, Richard].
After Cromwell's fall, Whitchurch and Grafton offended the government by displays of protestant zeal. On 8 April 1543 Whitchurch, Grafton, and six other printers were committed to the Fleet prison for printing unlawful books; Whitchurch and Grafton were released on 3 May following (Acts of Privy Council, ed. Dasent, i. 107, 125; Strype, Ecclesiastical Memorials, I. i. 566). On 28 Jan. 1543-4 Grafton and Whitchurch received jointly an exclusive patent for printing church service books (Rymer, Fœdera, xiv. 766). On 28 May 1546 they were granted jointly an exclusive right to print primers in Latin and English.
In secular literature Whitchurch published during the same period on his own account a new edition of Richard Taverner's 'Garden of Wysedome' (1540?); Traheron's translation of Vigo's 'Workes of Chirurgerye' (1543, new ed. 1550); Thomas Phaer's 'Newe Boke of Presidentes' (1543); Roger Ascham's 'Toxophilus' (1545); and William Baldwin's 'Morall Phylosophye' (1547).
In Edward VI's reign Whitchurch was established at the sign of the Sun in Fleet Street, and was on terms of intimacy with the protestant leaders. His press was busy until the king's death, and he was occasionally employed by the government to print official documents. Early in 1549 Whitchurch and Grafton printed the first edition of the Book of Common Prayer (Cardwell, Two Books of Common Prayer, pp. xxxviii-xliv). He reprinted single-handed an edition of the New Testament in small octavo in 1547. Many editions of the prayer-book and of the Psalter in Sternhold and Hopkins's version came from his press during the next five years. He reprinted the Great Bible in small folio in 1549, and again in folio in 1553. He helped to project and he printed the translation of Erasmus's paraphrase of the New Testament, in which Nicholas Udall [q. v.], John Old, the Princess Mary, and others took part; the first volume appeared in 1548, the second in 1549. John Rogers was for some time Whitchurch's guest at his house in Fleet Street, and he published for him on 1 Aug. 1548 his book on ‘The Interim.’ In 1549 he issued a sermon by Bishop Hooper.
The accession of Queen Mary imperilled Whitchurch's position. He was excepted from pardon in the proclamation of 1554 directed against those who refused allegiance to the new ecclesiastical régime. He probably fled to Germany. His name was omitted from the list of stationers to whom Queen Mary granted the charter of incorporation constituting them the Stationers' Company in 1556, nor was he mentioned in the confirmation of that charter by Queen Elizabeth on 10 Nov. 1559. But after Elizabeth's accession Whitchurch resumed business in London, and in 1560 he published a new edition of Thomas Phaer's ‘Regiment of Life.’ This was his last undertaking. He is apparently the ‘Maister Wychurch’ who was buried at Camberwell on 1 Dec. 1561.
Whitchurch married, after 1556, the widow of Archbishop Cranmer; she was Margaret, niece of Osiander, pastor of Nuremberg. She survived Whitchurch, and married on 29 Nov. 1564 a third husband, Bartholomew Scott of Camberwell, justice of the peace for Surrey (Narratives of the Reformation, Camden Soc. p. 244).
[Ames's Typogr. Antiq. ed. Herbert; Strype's Works; Chester's Life of John Rogers; Dore's Old Bibles, 2nd ed. 1888.]